Little Hours

I take some interest in the Little Hours of Terce, Sext, and None, but it has little to do with monasticism and Anglo-Catholic spirituality. These are not times of public gathering but times of private prayer. For both laymen and clerics it would be too burdensome to gather for a public office, and it is better that people privately remember the death of Christ. For this reason, the Church should encourage only that the faithful say the Lord’s Prayer at these times, leaving the rest to the discretion of each person. These three times, after all, do not correspond to ancient times of sacrifice, but are better given to recollection of Christ’s one sacrifice. Not public acts of worship but quiet meditations, they are amply supplied by primers or even the Puritan Valley of Vision and need no recognition in the public Prayer Book.

On Sundays and other holy days, the usual point of the Little Hours is rendered redundant by the public remembrance of Holy Communion. Though the Lord’s Prayer be prayed, the specific memory of Christ’s condemnation, crucifixion, and death can only on those days be a light shadow of the solemn celebration, unless the meditation be then focused upon the sacrament received that day.

Combined with recollection of God’s mercies and appeal for his help at meals and other times, a very informal use of the Little Hours can help maintain a good balance between priestly worship, in which the whole Church is united with Christ in praise and intercession, and personal recollection and examination.

At Terce on Friday

The Lord’s Prayer.

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified; Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before thee for all estates of men in thy holy Church, that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may truly and godly serve thee; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

At Sext on Friday

The Litany, if not already said.

Psalm 90.

At None on Friday

The Lord’s Prayer.

O merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics; and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

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