Office of Readings & Morning Prayer (from the Dominican Priory of St. Michael the Archangel (Blackfriars), Cambridge)

Since we are totally dependent upon God, we must acknowledge and confess his dominion over us, continually giving him an unending sacrifice of praise. To that end, from the earliest days of the Church, Christians have devoted themselves to prayer at certain hours, especially at the first hour of the day when the rising sun dispelled the last shadow of night. In Morning Prayer we consecrate the day to God and give praise to him, particularly celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

After praising God through a hymn and psalms, the Office of Readings gives us an opportunity for prayerful meditation on more extensive passages of holy scripture and the writings of spiritual authors. It is followed by Morning Prayer, which contains further psalmody: a psalm associated with morning, a canticle from elsewhere in the Old Testament and a psalm of praise. Then follows a short reading, a response to the reading and the climax of Morning Prayer: the recitation of the Canticle of Zechariah (also known as the Benedictus) from St Luke’s Gospel (1:68–79). Morning Prayer then concludes with prayers of intercession, the Lord’s Prayer and a final prayer followed by a blessing.

The Office of Readings is also called Matins (which in Latin means morning, that being when traditionally the office is prayed) and Morning Prayer is also called Lauds (which in Latin means praises). The combined celebration of the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer prayed on Good Friday and Holy Saturday is also called Tenebrae (which in Latin means darkness, as traditionally it ended in darkness except for a single light representing Christ, the Light of the World).

On the Universalis website can be found the texts used for the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer.

On the Blackfriars website can be found the texts for:
     Maundy Thursday
     Good Friday
     Holy Saturday    

More information about the Dominican Priory of St Michael the Archangel (Blackfriars), Cambridge can be found on its website.

See also our series Introduction to the Prayer of the Church about The Liturgy of The Hours, including The Office of Readings and Morning Prayer (all the episodes are available as podcasts).


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