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Morning and Evening Prayer

The practice of daily, set prayer goes back to the Old Testament. The Psalms speak of prayer in the morning (Psalms 5:3), early hours (Psalms 130:6), evening (Psalms 141:2), and day and night (Psalms 92:2). Psalm 119:164 a says, “Seven times a day I praise you.” Scripture also mentions thrice-daily prayers (Ps. 55:17, Dan. 6:10).

One of the beneficial effects of the English Reformation was that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, the author of the first Book of Common Prayer made a deliberate effort to simplify the Daily Offices so that both clergy and laity could participate in it. The number of offices was reduced from seven to two. Morning Prayer was based upon the Medieval office of Matins together with elements from Prime. Evening Prayer was, in its essence, a combination of Vespers and Compline. The Office as a whole was revised around the importance of regular recitation of the Psalms and reading through the whole Bible. This gives the Anglican Office its distinctive character.

“There was never anything by the wit of man so well devised, or so sure established, which in the continuance of time hath not been corrupted: As, among other things, it may plainly appear by the Common Prayers in the Church, commonly called Divine Service. The first original and ground whereof if a man would search out by the ancient Fathers, he shall find, that the same was not ordained but of a good purpose, and for a great advancement of godliness. For they so ordered the matter, that all the whole Bible (or the greatest part thereof) should be read over every year; intending thereby, that the Clergy, and especially such as were Ministers in the congregation, should (by often reading, and meditation in God’s word) be stirred up to godliness themselves and be more able to exhort others by wholesome Doctrine and to confute them that were adversaries to the Truth; and further, that the people (by daily hearing of holy Scripture read in the Church) might continually profit more and more in the knowledge of God, and be the more inflamed with the love of his true Religion.”  

            From the Preface to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, the first English Prayer Book