The Great Litany

On the first Sunday of Lent, Feb 14th at St. John’s we will pray the “Great Litany.” For 472 years Anglicans have prayed with deep faith this litany during penitential times and in times of discernment, distress, war and disaster.  The Great Litany (BCP: 148-53) was written by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and first published in 1544. It was the first “liturgical service” made available in the English language and has been included in every edition of the Book of Common Prayer since 1549. The Great Litany is a time-honored text in the Anglican liturgical patrimony.

This Litany is composed of 42 petitions. It begins with the invocation of the blessed and glorious Trinity, one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The petitioner asks the Lord, that in spite of one’s sins, in mercy apply the saving mysteries of His Incarnation, Nativity, and submission to the Law, Baptism, Fasting, Temptation, Agony, Passion, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and the Coming of the Holy Ghost to heal the mortal soul and mind.

God applies each of these saving actions to deliver us from evil and wickedness, from the lies of the devil and from everlasting damnation. They deliver us from blindness of heart, pride, hypocrisy, envy, hatred, and malice; from all inordinate and sinful affections, and the deceit found in the world. Christ may now find in us our “lamps lit” (Lk 12:35) so in the hour of our death and in the day of our judgment we may attain God’s heavenly Kingdom as our eternal home.

We pray for the Church through-out the world, for her ministry and for Christians who suffer for their faith and conscience, for Christians who have wandered away from the faith that they may return, for all civil authorities, peace, and for all in need.

The petitioner’s primary identity is that of a penitent. He seeks earnest forgiveness and amendment of life. He prays for his enemies. He prays for justice and for his triumph over every evil, and for eternal life and peace, and with all the saints he prays for the repose of the dead in Christ.

Anglicans understand the power of prayer. Prayer brings us in line with the way of truth; it can give us a heart to love and a desire to live after God’s commandments. Prayer can inspire, purify, preserve, protect and comfort. It can strengthen the weak-hearted, raise up the fallen, and beat down Satan who always lurks at the Christian’s door.

With all these prayers and intentions in mind the Great Litany concludes with the Agnus Dei, the Kyrie eleison, the Lord’s Prayer and a concluding collect asking that we may obtain what we have prayed for.

What’s in a Name? Anglican? Episcopal?

  • Are we Anglicans or are we Episcopalians?  Or maybe we are both?
  • Who are we since our separation from the Episcopal Church?
  • Did the Episcopal Church give us our identity?
  • Did you know that when our Church and property were consecrated in 1944 and again in 1962 our given name was “St. John’s Church?”
  • And, finally, does any of this matter?

Anglican or Episcopal

Both “Anglican” and “Episcopal” are our “family names.” Our “Anglican” genealogy is traced back to the Catholic Church in England. From this Church of the second century England we are organically linked to the Apostles and to Jesus Christ Himself!

Our “Episcopal” genealogy is traced back to November 1780 when the title “Episcopal Church” was first used.  In August 1783 this name was officially adopted, long before it was widely accepted.

St. John’s in Fort Worth is part of a world-wide family called “Anglicans” and members of the “Anglican Communion.” We have more than 70 million brothers and sisters serving Jesus Christ in 38 Provinces spreading across 161 countries.  Our family is on every continent worshiping the holy and blessed Trinity in many diverse languages, dialects and cultures. And yet we are uniquely unified through our apostolic history, our biblical and sacramental theology, our liturgical Patrimony and our relationship to the ancient See of Canterbury.

If this is true does it matter which name we choose to be known by?  “Anglican” or “Episcopal?”

The answer to this important question today is yes, it matter a great deal.

The reason it matters is tied up in why we separated from the Episcopal Church. When St. John’s joined our Diocese and withdrew from membership in the Episcopal Church we dissociated ourselves from the moral, theological, and disciplinary creations and innovations that have consumed the Episcopal Church and that have moved her away from the apostolic faith and order of biblical Christianity.

After the separation we found ourselves in a totally new place.  We have spent the last five years adjusting to all of this.  But today is about our future. St. John’s needs to make a clear differentiation between us and our beliefs as orthodox biblical Anglicans and the Episcopal Church.  In years to come there will be Anglican parishes in Fort Worth as well as congregations associated with the Episcopal Church. It’s important for us to make a clear distinction from the Episcopal Church because for those who are unfamiliar with the Anglican way they could conclude that our differences are few.  Yet we know that there are a great many differences between us and most congregations of the Episcopal Church.

Anglican

So what’s in a name?  A name is like a lens through which people come to understand who we are. 

Our name will speak volumes about what we believe and what we are committed to as a traditional orthodox Anglican parish.  Our name will tell all Christians that we are intent on teaching the historic Catholic faith and order that belongs to historic Anglican Christianity.

Maybe it’s time for us to transition from St. John’s Episcopal Church to St. John’s Anglican Church?  It seems to fit!

Choral Evensong

Choral Evensong 2Choral Evensong will be celebrated on November 1st, being the Feast of All Saints, at 7:00 pm.  Please join us!

Holy Scripture calls Christians to pray.  St. Paul tells the Church in Thessalonica to “pray constantly,” (1Th 5:17).  St. Jude writes in his letter “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit;” (Jud 1:20).  Choral Evensong is a beautiful part of Anglican worship.  Choral Evensong is offered to God by His people in every part of the world. When you come to Evensong you are stepping into unceasing prayer. 

Evensong is a beautiful way to close the day, whether the service is held on Sunday evening or in a mid-week evening.  We spend time in prayer, examining the day past while listening and participating in music that is especially selected to bring us into deeper understanding of the mysteries of our faith.

How long does Choral Evensong last?  Approximately 35-45 minutes

What should I expect at Evensong? Hymns, Scripture readings, Anglican chant and anthems sung by the choir.

Will there be a sermon?  No.

Why does the choir sing so much at Choral Evensong?  In Choral Evensong the congregation sings hymns and some service music.  The choir sings settings of the Canticles: the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis. The petitions of prayer and the people’s responses are sung between the clergy officiating and the choir with the people joining.

In addition to the singing of the hymns, the Choir sings the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

How will I know what I should do during the service? A booklet outlining the service will be available.

When Evensong falls on a Sunday afternoon St. John’s provides a reception following Evensong? As important as it is for us to have time to reflect and ponder the mysteries of our lives, it is also important that we have fellowship with those in our community. The reception gives us a chance to talk and share with those who have celebrated with us.