Tuesday and Thursday services of Christian Midday Prayer are an opportunity to gather as a community for meaningful worship in the midst of the day’s work, and for those leading to become familiar and comfortable with this form of leadership. These services are based on the liturgical tradition of Daily Prayer. These services are not intended to be simply an abbreviated version of a Sunday worship service. Sunday worship is rooted in the traditions of Word and Table – preaching and sacrament (Eucharist), while Daily Prayer is rooted in the contemplative traditions of the Daily Office, emphasizing prayer, psalmody, readings and silence. Emmanuel’s Christian services of Midday Prayer are intended to be simple, brief services (of no more than 15 minutes) for prayer, music, scripture and reflection. It is important to incorporate moments of silence into the service. While these services are intended to offer participants a time of pause for reflection and prayer, connection and worship, they are also an opportunity for those so interested to exercise creativity and employ approaches which may be new or different in a safe environment.
Room Set-up for Midday Prayer
There are a variety of possibilities for the set-up of the physical space. The chairs in the chapel can be set in the shape of an oval with each side facing the other. The Paschal (baptismal) Candle can be placed near the doors leading into the chapel next to the baptismal font, or beside the lectern. A small table may be placed in the center of the oval, draped in a cloth in the color of the liturgical season, as a focal point for the service. This table can be adorned simply, with candles, icons, art, or other symbols. The lectern or pulpit may be placed at the far end of the Chapel in front of the Communion Table.
A white board and markers can be found in the Cloak Room/Sacristry to display the order of service, hymn/song numbers and scripture references, thus reducing the need for verbal announcements.
Two Models for Midday Prayer
Below are two models or suggested orders of service for Christian Midday Prayer, adapted from sources and traditions for the Emmanuel College context. Each model includes references for more information, should you wish to follow up.
During the first week or so of the fall semester, we will explore both of these outlines intentionally. Following this, worship leaders are invited to choose and adapt whichever form they wish, or even create their own, keeping in mind the context of the community and in consultation with the Coordinator of Midday Prayer and Director of Chapel.
It is our hope that the experience of these two basic models of Midday Prayer will not only enrich our worship life and deepen our spiritual formation in theological education, but also serve as a resource for our various ministries. As such, they are not intended to be proscriptive but invitational, allowing both for regular use and the deepening practice that comes from experiencing the wisdom of the best of liturgical traditions, while inviting creative adaptations and artful liturgical improvisations.
This model is rooted in rich liturgical traditions of the Daily Office and the monastic tradition. The outline provided below is based upon the resources of Voices United (pp. 906ff) and Celebrate God’s Presence (pp. 724ff). It offers a simple structure that can be adapted to suit the liturgical season, scripture, theme or concern of the day, while also providing the structural building blocks for creative adaptations. It will not be possible to use all of the elements presented here within a brief 15-minute service. For example, while there are three opportunities for a Hymn or Song, two will be sufficient; you should choose one of the first two locations of an Opening Hymn, along with a Closing Hymn. Remember also to plan intentionally for the use of silence throughout. While 15 minutes is short, it need not feel rushed if well planned and calmly led.
Apostolic Greeting and/or Scripture Sentence(s)
[Words of Welcome]
[Opening Hymn/Song – if not earlier]
Scripture reading (s)
[a sung or responsive psalm can be used to replace the first reading]
[Silence and/or symbolic act of response]
Prayers of the People/Thanksgiving and Intercession
[Prayer of Jesus/Lord’s Prayer]
Taizé Prayer has its origins in the Taizé Community in France, founded in 1940 as a ministry of prayerful hospitality and reconciliation with refugees fleeing German-occupied France. It employs simple yet powerful prayers and meditative song, chant and silence. An abbreviated form of this style of worship is suggested below. For our purposes, at least five repetitions of the songs/chants will work well to deepen the contemplative experience of prayer. Usually only a few brief verses of scripture are read, as a focus for silent contemplation. Verbal announcements and spoken leadership is kept to a minimum. In addition, the set-up of the worship space is important – the use of icons/images/art and candles are helpful common. A resource for music and planning is the booklet Songs and Prayers from Taizé, found in the Vestry. Other Taizé songs can also be found in Voices United and More Voices. For further ideas and/or support, consult with the Director of Chapel and Director of Music. For more information on the Taizé Community, including digital versions of all the songs, see: http://www.taize.fr/en
[gathering in silence]
Scripture [only a few verses]
Silence [slightly longer than before]
Prayers with Sung Response [brief thanksgivings and/or petitions]
Silence [longer than before]
Song for Going Forth
Peace [or Going Forth in silence]
Tips for Your First Time Leading a Service of Midday Prayer
The Worship Team and Coordinators are your resources. If it is your first time, meet with the Coordinator of Midday Prayer the week before to discuss service outlines, including choices of prayers, themes, music, etc.
Normally, it is best to start with the lectionary/scripture readings for worship planning. What texts, scriptural themes or metaphors do you respond to most in the readings? What speaks to our context, time or concerns? Bring your own gifts, skills and passion to the creative process of interaction with both text and context.
Consult with the appointed musician for the day to seek their expertise in selecting appropriate music. Musical selections should be in place at least 48 hours before the service to allow musicians to rehearse and/or prepare.
Time the whole service ahead of time. Read the prayers and scripture with a stopwatch – 15 minutes isn’t long, and it is important to respect the participation of all who come to worship in the midst of their day, on their way to afternoon classes throughout campus.
Remember the room. Ensure that it is prepared well before worship begins, in order to create a space of calm, conducive to prayer. Consider the use of candles, liturgical colours, symbols, etc., to engage all the sense in worship. The supplies in the Vestry are available to help you prepare the space.
Pray. Relax. Commend your work to the purposes and guidance of God. Do your best, but remember that worship, like the rest of life, isn’t perfect. Thankfully, the Spirit can make of even our most humble offerings a rich blessing.
Enjoy! It is our privilege and delight to be able to worship together.
See also the “checklist” below.
A Checklist for Midday Prayer Services
___ Choose a date and sign up for leadership
___ Read scriptures and decide which will be used at the service
___ Draft an outline for the service, using one of the models provided, or another,
remembering that Chapel services should be no more than 15 minutes in length
___ Write prayers, or choose them from resources such as Voices United, Celebrate God’s
Presence, Gathering or other collections available in the library
___ Based on your readings, prayers and/or theme, consult with the designated musician for the day to choose music
___ Decide on the arrangement of the Chapel, and what furnishings (tables, candles,
cross, draping) you might use
___ Consult with the Director of Chapel regarding the final draft of the service at least 48 hours before the service is to take place
___ Rehearse the service in the Chapel, with those who are giving leadership.
ON THE DAY:
___ Set up the Chapel, and/or arrange for assistance from members of the Worship Team
___ at 1:25 ring the Chapel Bell (found in the storage room) on all floors
___ 1:30 service begins
___ 1:45 service ends. Tidy the chapel, return all furnishings and books to their places and
___ Have a great day, renewed by our common worship of God and knowing you
made an important contribution to our community life!
___ Communicate or meet with a student worship coordinator or Director of Chapel for reflection, feedback and evaluation on the experience of worship leadership