Most active Christians engage in some sort of daily devotions; it is simply a natural part of the Christian faith to want to pray and express our gratitude to God our Father and Christ our Saviour every day of our lives. This is particularly true during Lent. Some do this in a completely unstructured manner, while others set aside a specific time each day for prayer, Bible study, and meditation each day. In this respect, Anglicans are among the most fortunate of Christians because of the Daily Offices that are established for us in the Book of Common Prayer.
At the time that the Church of England separated from the Roman Catholic Church, the daily cycle of monastic prayer consisted of a number of short breaks scattered all throughout the day and night hours, so that the monks and nuns were frequently interrupted from their work to break-off for one of the many short worship services of the day. In assembling the Book of Common Prayer, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer gathered all of the content of the monastic day into two short services that we know as Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, or together as the Daily Offices. Thus the numerous Collects, Canticles, Psalms, and Scripture readings of the monastic day are all encompassed in the Daily Office for that day. This, of course, required creating a Lectionary that would support the Daily Office with the appropriate Scripture lessons, one that reads through all of the major biblical doctrines in the course of each year.
The Daily Offices are extremely flexible in that they can be said by anyone, lay or clergy, male or female, individually, or in a group. All that is necessary is that the individual have a Prayerbook and a Bible, and then they can be said simply speaking the words, or the entire office can be sung. In all situations, they work to bring the user into the presence of God, always pointing us to Him with the most remarkable clarity.
For those who would like to hear the Daily Office read and sung simply but very well, I would like to direct your attention to the web site below called Cradle of Prayer (see also the blogroll at right) where another Continuing Anglican Priest and a lady Cantor offer the Daily Offices for every day. They do a magnificent job there!! Go to their Main Menu on the right, and then select the second item from the top to get to the services for the week. If you have a copy of the Book of Common Prayer 1928, open it up and follow along. If you do not have a BCP1928, just sit back and listen!