- Last Updated on Friday, June 01 2012 01:16
- Visit The Mission of St. Clare's Daily Office page (English)
- Oraciòn Matutina Diaria y Oraciòn Vespertina Diaria (Español)
- Or get just the readings for each Sunday at:
What is the Daily Office?
The Daily Office is a uniquely Anglican contribution to the private devotional life of a Christian. It recovers an ancient practice from the early Church and has helped many at Servants of Christ both worship the Lord during the week and build connections with other members of the church.
The Daily Office always includes a reading from the Psalms. For thousands of years the Psalms have nourished the spiritual lives of believers in their repetition of praise and worship, and in their expression of our deepest dependence on God. The readings from Scripture are mixed with biblical poems called “canticles,” which are taken from both the Old and New Testaments. There are also a variety of prayers, many of which have been used in private devotion for centuries.
Where did it come from?
At the time of Christ, the Jewish Temple offered two times of public prayer every day, one at 9:00 AM and one at 3:00 PM (they used sundials to tell the time). Jewish people who could not make it to the Temple were expected to prayer privately at these times. The first Christians, being Jewish, adopted this pattern and began adding additional times to it, until eventually there were a total of seven standard times for prayer [presumably because the Psalmist wrote, “Seven times a day do I praise you, because of your righteous judgments.” [Ps. 119:164] One was even in the middle of the night! (Ps. 119:62 “At midnight I will rise to give you thanks, because of your righteous judgment.”) Husbands and wives were encouraged to wake each other up to pray together! Fortunately, that isn’t part of the Daily Office today . . .
Eventually these seven times of prayer became standard for monks and nuns in monasteries, but such a serious commitment of time became just too impractical for most lay people and the practice died out.
In 1549 Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, revived the old original idea of having two times of prayer a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. He developed a pattern for reading so that if followed, one would read the Old Testament once a year, the New Testament twice a year, and the Psalms every month.
Today we have the opportunity to participate in this ancient practice by following the Morning Office. In just one time of devotion a day, you can read the Psalms a little over three times a year and almost the entire Bible in two years. (Feel free to read more!)
Why does it matter for us?
Many at Servants of Christ have found it an encouragement to be engaged in the same devotions during the week—to be contemplating the same passages of scripture, to be moved by the same Psalms, and to be engaged in worshipping together. Give the Daily Office a try—even if only a few days a week at first. For many it has become one of the high-points of their day.