Christmastide – Prayers fro Advent Through Epiphany From the Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle
Phyliss Tickle has helped us rediscover the ancient monastic tradition of “praying the hours.” This is a discipline where scriptures, refrains, chants and prayers are used at appointed times during the day as a means of focusing on God. In this volume she gives us the specially designed liturgy of the church season of Christmas.
Each day has a morning “office”, a midday “office” and a vesper’s “office.” Within each is a call to prayer, a request for presence, a greeting, a refrain, a reading, a psalm, the prayer of the week, the Lord’s prayer and the concluding prayer.
Review: My friend Mary Lou Carney who attended a Compline service in Savannah, GA with me sent me this book one December. I decided not to try and do all three daily offices, but rather to simply do the morning office during my morning devotional time. I then did other offices when time or circumstances allowed it.
The book tells how to chant, using an asterisk in the middle of the line to go up the syllable before and then to go down the syllable before the last at the end of the sentence.
It takes some doing, but I tried it and learned to enjoy it. Here are my observations:
The words are quite beautiful. Some are scriptures, some are very eloquent scripture-like thoughts. However it’s the process of actually voicing the whole format, through prayers, calls for presence, scripture, refrains, etc., that takes you to a different place. One night after dinner I was doing vespers. When I finished, I opened my eyes and saw a lush nativity display and other Christmas decorations. I realized that although I was seated in a room full of interesting things to look at, during vespers the only thing I had been aware of were my eyes on the book and my mouth running across the words. There’s no contemplation involved in the words because of the stringing them along trying to sound something between saying the words and singing them. However they feel holy and calming and beautiful as they come across my tongue. I decided that this method of half singing/half saying makes it feel like a very different type of conversation or expression than any other. Not at all like a conversation with a friend. Not at all like reading a passage aloud. More like floating along with a passage, not trying to communicate or to grasp ideas but rather simply to be an instrument with one note that sounds praise to God.
You may not be up to praying the hours year round and this book offers readers a chance to try it for a short Church season.
Added by Karen Barber on June 29, 2011