Tag Archives: Morning Prayer (Anglican)

The Rhetoric of Liturgy

I got to go to the London office last week, but the reason is not important here.

I landed on Sunday morning, but my hotel room wasn’t available yet. “Go have a coffee and come back in a bit,” the desk clerk said. So I walked toward the office location to verify that I could get to it on time the next morning.

Along the way I passed St. Paul’s Cathedral. I can’t help but think of the song “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins when I think of that place, but it’s truly a magnificent site.

English: St Paul's from the south west in 1896.

English: St Paul’s from the south west in 1896. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I got there in time to attend a Choral Mattins service. For those of you like me who weren’t raised in Catholic, Anglican, or other high-church traditions, a Mattins (or Matins) has all the basic parts of a Mass, but without observing Communion. The “Choral” part was provided by a gifted choir of men and boys, singing many of the prayers that are offered throughout the service.

During the homily (sermon), the reverend referred to the Te Deum (song of praise) that the choir had just finished. He said that the Te Deum had been offered in that location for 1,400 years. I had to chew on that notion for a bit – my church just celebrated its 40th anniversary last month.

Then he made what I thought was a truly profound statement: The rhetoric of liturgy is etched into our Christian experience.

The Rhetoric of Liturgy. The words we use as part of the teaching of our community, in the context of what we do as we gather. It becomes a part of how we identify ourselves. It is etched into our existence. It is how we teach our children and grandchildren what we believe, who we are, who we belong to.

And it doesn’t matter if your church is 40 or 1400 years old, high and formal or hip and trendy. You have a Rhetoric of Liturgy. Celebrate it. Be mindful of it. Be careful with what it teaches your children.

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