Lay Reader’s Guide to Evening Prayer

An outline to assist lay readers leading a congregation in the order of Evening Prayer, following the Book of Common Prayer (2008) of the Reformed Episcopal Church.

Note that except for page numbering, this guide is perfectly adaptable to the order of Morning Prayer.

Preparation is the key to leading worship well:

a. Arrive early to make your preparations in an unhurried, calm, prayerful manner.

b. Check the calendar for the proper liturgical week and day, possibly noting any special observances:

This calendar link is recommended:

Select the Monthly Calendar for the current year.

c. Select the readings, and using Sunday, 9/18/2011 as an example, you will have found that this is the 13th Sunday after Trinity Sunday. On Sundays when the prayers are the principle observance, it is appropriate to use the lessons appointed for Holy Communion that begin on page 119. The lessons for the 13th Sunday after Trinity start 1/2 way down the page on page 227. You will find the complete rubric (instructions) for selecting the lessons on page xiii.

For special occasions and holy days, you will find collects and lessons for Holy Eucharist in the section that beings on page 245 (Hoy Days) and 279 (special occasions) and for Morning and Evening Prayer on page l (small roman numeral “L”) and lii.

The Collect of the Day (and week when collects are not appointed for weekdays) is also on that page, so mark that page. You will use the Collect of the Day during the order of Evening Prayer when you get to page 32.

You will find the regular lessons appointed for Morning and Evening Prayer in the section that begins on page xvi. In the case of the lessons appointed for Evening Prayer on Trinity 13, you will be on page xli, and usually, if you use these, you would select the lessons on the first group of lines marked “Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity.”

To add an Old Testament lesson to the ones appointed for Holy Eucharist, use one of them (usually the first one) appointed for Evening Prayer (or Morning Prayer where you will find the “appointed” old testament lesson marked with an *).

d. Assign readers if desired. Readers may be assigned to read the various lessons. This may include leading the recitation of the Psalm.

e. Make a note of any special intentions, such as personal prayer requests.

Evening Prayer Starts Here

0. Give such instructions as may be appropriate. Example: “The order of Evening Prayer begins in the Book of Common Prayer on page 22. Please stand.” The officiant (leader) should give such instructions throughout as may be necessary for the participation of all the people. Be attentive to the needs of those who are new, visitors, and persons with special needs.

1. All standing. The officiant reads one or more (one is sufficient – generally not more than three) of the opening sentences that begin on page 22.

2. Sing opening song. (If there is no bulletin or hymn board, or if otherwise appropriate, announce the opening song. Example: “Our opening song/hymn is found in the handout.” If the officiant is processing, process during the opening hymn.)

3. (When appropriate, the officiant may say: “Our service continues with the confession at the top of page 25.) The officiant, facing the congregation, says, “Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God.” (bottom of page 24)

4. All kneeling, pray the confession.

5. The officiant remains kneeling and prays the collect for Trinity 21 on page 238 (a prayer of forgiveness).

GRANT, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

6. (When appropriate, the officiant may say: “We continue with the Lord’s Prayer on page 26.”) All say the Lord’s prayer together.

7. The officiant continues with “O Lord, open though our lips,” etc.

8 The Psalm appointed may be led by the officiant or by a reader. Psalms may be read responsively by 1/2 verse (at the *) or whole verse, or in unison, ending with the Gloria Patri, sung or said, at the bottom of page 26.

9. The lessons (2 or 3) are read (appointed readers very desirable), each followed by a canticle that is sung or said in unison. If three lessons are used (i.e. OT, Epistle, Gospel), you may use two canticles from the first section on pages 27-28, and then the Gospel lesson followed by one of the canticles from the section that begins on page 29.

10. The Apostles Creed, page 30, (normally) or the Nicene Creed page 31, is said in unison.

11. If there is a sermon, this is the best place to do it.

12. After the sermon, all rise, and introduce the prayers with the versicle and response at the bottom of page 31. At “Let us pray.” it is traditional for all who are able to kneel. Continue onto page 32.

13. The officiant reads the Collect of the Day (from page 227 for Trinity 13) followed by the Collect for Peace and Collect for Aid Against Perils, page 32

14. Sing 2nd song

15. Pray remaining prayers beginning on page 32 – 34 (skipping the three Canadian prayers if not in Canada). The officiant may have these prayers be said by the other participants.

16. After the Prayer for All Conditions of Men, the people may be invited to offer their prayers. The people may say their own prayers or offer prayers from other sections of the Book of Common Prayer. The sections that begin on page 54 and page 598 are especially appropriate.

17. End prayers with the prayer of Thanksgiving on page 35, which all may say together, and the officiant praying A Prayer of St. Chrysostom.

18. Sing closing song.

19. Close with the benediction at the bottom of page 35.

Other notes:

1. If desired, more songs may be sung.

2. Occasionally, the family prayers may be used in lieu of Evening Prayer.

3. The Litany (page 39) or the Lesser Litany (page 43) may be used in lieu of the prayers that begin on page 32.

4. I based this guide on my 31 years of experience as a licensed lay reader.

5. Nothing in this guide should be taken to replace or subvert the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer, proper ecclesiastical authority, or the canons of the church or diocese. I invite your attention the the following excerpt from Title I, Canon 24 of the Reformed Episcopal Church and the excerpt from Canon XIV of the Missionary Diocese of the Central States that follows below it:

Reformed Episcopal Church, Canon 24, Of Lay Ministry

Section 1 (a) Lay Readers. A competent person ready and desirous to serve the church in the public services statedly as a Lay Reader must procure from the Bishop or Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese or Missionary Diocese a written license. Such license shall not be granted to any but a male communicant of this Church who has attained the age of eighteen years, and must be given for a definite period, not longer than three years, and may be renewed from time to time, or revoked at any time. Such license may be given for any vacant Parish or Mission, or for a Congregation without a Minister, but where a Presbyter is in charge, his request and recommendation must have been previously signified to the Ecclesiastical Authority. A license shall not be granted for conducting the service in a congregation without a Minister, which is able and has had reasonable opportunity to secure the services of an ordained Minister. If the Lay Reader be a student in any Theological Seminary, he shall also, before acting as such, obtain the permission of the presiding officer of such institution and of his own Bishop.

(b) A Lay Reader shall be subject to the regulations prescribed by the Ecclesiastical Authority, and shall not serve in any Diocese other than that in which he is licensed, unless he shall have received a license from the Bishop of the Diocese in which he desires to serve.

(c) In all matters relating to the conduct of the service, and the Sermons or Homilies to be read, he shall conform to the directions of the Minister in charge of the Parish, Congregation, or Mission in which he is serving, and, in all cases, to the directions of the Bishop. He shall read only the Morning and Evening Prayer (omitting the Absolution and substituting the Collect for the Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity for the same), the Litany, and the Office for the Burial of the Dead. He shall not deliver sermons or addresses of his own composition, unless, after instruction and examination, he be specially licensed thereto for urgent needs by the Bishop. He shall not wear the dress appropriate to Clergymen Ministering in the Congregation.

Missionary Diocese of the Central States, Canon XIX Of Lay Readers

Section 1. No one shall officiate as Lay Reader in this Diocese without a license from the Bishop. A licensed lay reader serves under the direction of the Presbyter or Minister-in-Charge of the local work where the lay reader is on the roll of the Parish Register.

Section 2. It shall be the duty of the Lay Reader to assist the Minister in the church services and prayer meetings as the Minister desires and directs or as the Bishop so directs when a Church has no minister.

This entry was posted in Ministry. Bookmark the permalink.