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LUKE xi. 1, 2.
And it came to pass, that as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples; and he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father, which art in heaven.
AFTER the Absolution, (the various forms of which, in the Liturgy, and their respective correctness, have been already discussed), two Rubrics succeed in the Order for Morning Prayer, concerning each of which I have an observation or two to make. These Rubrics occur in the Order for Morning Prayer; for the Rubrics
of general import are not repeated in that for Evening Prayer.
The first directs the people to answer "Amen," at the end of the Absolution, and at the end of all the prayers in general. This constitutes the tenor of our service, social worship; and gives it a responsive and alternate form; although it be not broken throughout, as it is in some parts, for the sake of variety and relief, into actual versicles. You may observe in the Prayer-Book, that the word "Amen" is sometimes printed in a Roman character, and sometimes in an Italic letter: when it occurs in the first-named form, the word "Amen" is to be pronounced aloud by the Minister, as well as by the people; when it occurs in the Italic letter, it is to be pronounced by the people alone. This you may reckon a minute observation; but it shews the attention of the compilers of
the Liturgy, even to the smallest points of decency and order. Wheresoever the Priest and the people join together in any prayer, confession, or creed, there, generally speaking, both utter "Amen;" but, in other cases, the Priest is to recite the portion of prayer, praise, or thanksgiving, by himself, with an audible voice, whilst the people, in their turn, respond, or answer, "Amen." Hence you may learn the propriety of accompanying the minister with your minds alone, where you are not directed to speak aloud; and only to repeat in these instances the word " Amen ; instead of whispering, or muttering, in a low voice, every word which the minister recites, as some do, to the great annoyance and disturbance of those who have the misfortune to sit near them. All improprieties of this kind might be avoided by simply attending to the directions and hints
which the Rubrics, and the manner of printing the Prayer-Book, supply; that is, provided people will use their Prayer-Books duly and properly. I confess it has often been an offence to me, to see so many, during the service, without a Prayer-Book in their hands. There is no better way of fixing the attention upon the service of Almighty God, than by following the minister, with your eyes upon your books, continually. There are many who content themselves with using their PrayerBook whilst the Psalms, the Collects, the Epistles and Gospels, or such parts of the Liturgy as they do not so well remember, are reading; and, at other times, lay them wholly aside. Let me advise you, on the contrary, to read them, mentally or aloud, as the case may require, from the beginning of the service to the end;-for, beloved, whilst your eyes are off your books,
your devotion is liable to be broken (or distracted, at least) incessantly;-your lips may move, indeed, a careless Amen may now and then escape them ;— but whilst their eyes are turned hither and
thither, drawn now by the dress, now
by the persons of the congregation,— by the coming in of one, and now by the going out of another; where are the hearts of those who lay aside their books, and how are they employed? I am sure the more devout part of my hearers will admit that improprieties of this kind call aloud for a remedy; and, I believe, a simpler, or an easier one, cannot be found than that which I have just prescribed.
The next Rubric orders the saying of the Lord's Prayer, and also directs the manner how it is to be said, both by minister and people. All are to kneel, and to repeat it together; and this last