Morning Prayer originated in 1549. This was a time when religious reformation was sweeping through Europe. Martin Luther published his ninety-five theses in 1517; John Calvin was active in Geneva in the mid-1500's. Religious change was also taking place in England, the birthplace of the Episcopal Church. Prior to this time, people only occasionally attended their local parish church. Though services were generally held weekly, people often attended sporadically and received Communion once a year, usually at Easter. Regular worship took place mainly in monasteries, where a series of eight services were held daily. Monks said prayers and read prescribed Scripture passages at each service. The readings were designed so that the monks read through the entire Psalter every month (in the Western Church) and read through most of the rest of the Bible in the course of the year.
In 1549 Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, published the first Book of Common Prayer. In it he synthesized the eight monastic services into two: morning prayer and evening prayer. Prior to 1549, church services in England were conducted in Latin, which very few people spoke. The services usually included little Scripture reading, no sermon and were mainly focused on the Eucharist. Worshipers stood (there were no pews) and watched the priest mutter rapid-fire prayers from the altar located at the front of the church. The priest often had his back to them while he prayed and celebrated Eucharist. He did this in Latin, which they could not understand.
Archbishop Cranmer was very interested in making Scripture widely available in English to worshipers. He realized that the majority of people in England could not read, and so designed morning and evening prayer to include a large amount of Scripture reading in English. In this way, even though parishioners might not be able to read the Bible, they heard a great deal of Scripture read to them in a language they could understand. Like our services today, morning prayer in the mid-1500's included the reading of a Psalm, an Old Testament reading, an New Testament epistle (i.e. non-Gospel) reading, and a Gospel reading.
Cranmer also mandated that clergy preach at each service (a significant innovation for the Church at that time). Before this time, preaching was mostly done by friars: priests specially trained to preach and who were tasked to travel from town to town on preaching missions. Parish priests as a rule did not preach. For any of Archbishop Cranmer's clergy who were uncomfortable or unable to write their own sermons, he published a Book of Homilies that contained prewritten sermons that they could read to their congregations on Sunday morning.
St Philip's Episcopal Church
118 W Poplar St
Harrodsburg, KY 40330
Church building located on the corner of Short and Chiles Streets
Worship: Sundays at 10:00 AM
Nursery available every Sunday!
Children's Church on 2nd & 4th Sundays at 10:00 AM
Almighty God, assist us to see your vision of the growth and vitality of St. Philip's. Help us to reach those who do not know your saving grace. Deepen our commitment; increase our faith and trust, that we may live as witnesses to you. May the Holy Spirit lead us to the service you would have us do, as servants of Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.
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