The Daily Office – Morning, Midday and Evening Prayer – is at the core of the life of the Northumbria Community. A regular cycle of daily prayers constitutes the essential rhythm of life around which other activities can take their proper place.
In this respect the Community follows the rich tradition of monastic communities through the centuries. At the Nether Springs, the mother house of the Community, the Office is said or sung at set times in the chapel; when companions in the Community meet together, saying the Office can be a routine part of the meeting; and individuals and families can use it in their homes as part of daily life.
The Office can be said anywhere, but, for Morning and Evening Prayer, it is recommended that a quiet place, as free from interruptions as possible, is chosen. Our lives are usually too full of noise, so this is the ideal moment of the day to experience real silence.
Starting and ending
Daily Office (and indeed all the liturgies in this prayerbook) are best begun and ended with a period of reflective silence; and by affirming that the prayers are said in ‘the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Many (especially those whose church tradition usually scorns such gestures) find that making the sign of the cross at this juncture helps to reinforce the significance of the words.
Sources and music
The words of the Daily Office are drawn from a variety of sources, such as St Patrick’s Breastplate, Teresa’s Bookmark, Columba’s Blessing, etc – and from Psalm 27 for Morning Prayer, Psalm 90 for Midday Prayer and Psalm 130 for Evening Prayer. There are sung versions of all parts of the Daily Office which are available in CD, download and sheet music from our Resources Shop. Many have found that the use of the CD whilst travelling to or from work by car can be very helpful.
Scripture readings and Meditations
Morning and Evening Prayer include scripture readings, meditations and prayers. Most of the selected scriptures are short and time should be allowed after each reading for its meaning to filter down from the head to the heart, and to seek the significance of each for that day. The relevant meditation for the day of the month follows, and repetition of them month by month turns them into familiar friends – they are worth learning by heart. Again, time should be allowed for new insights to develop in the mind and heart before moving on. Some find that the mornings tend to be too rushed for lengthy silences and that this can best wait till evening prayer. The important thing is to find a rhythm that works for you.
After the scripture readings and meditations, there is an opportunity to pray whatever is on your mind and heart, offering to God the concerns of the day, your personal needs and prayers for other people. A ‘prayer basket’ or ‘prayer pot’ may be used from which are selected three names for holding up before God. The basket or prayer pot contains slips of paper on which have been written the names of folk to be remembered in prayer. (It is of course important that names are added and removed regularly as circumstances change.) The selected slips may be placed where they can be seen from time to time during the day, or carried around, as a reminder for continued prayer. The Community also uses a quarterly Prayer Guide. (Contact Ellen in the office.) At the chapel at the Nether Springs the custom is to have a time of silent prayer after reading the day’s entry from the Prayer Guide. When there is no information about the particular needs of the persons, families and situations brought to mind, the following prayer is helpful: These dear ones, O Lord, bless Thou and keep in every place where they are.
This is specially devised for use in the middle of a busy working day. For this reason it is short, and can be prayed in the time it takes to boil a kettle, especially if committed to memory. Some find it helpful to make a point of saying it whilst moving around (whilst preparing lunch for instance) as a reminder to pray as we work and work as we pray. Others find it a welcome opportunity to withdraw from the tensions and busyness of the day to spend some time quiet and alone with God, putting the day’s work into a different perspective.
Midday Prayer retains the ‘thee and ‘thou’ forms of speech. This may seem unfamiliar to the many who are used only to modern language, but it is a deliberate attempt to highlight the contemporary relevance of the treasure of prayer from long ago.
Click the links to use Morning, Midday or Evening Prayer, and the Complines (which are ‘end of the day’ prayers).