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The Bishop’s Page
      Nov. 22, 2016

At this time of the year, it has become my custom to share these thoughts with you re: liturgical matters for the Advent season.  I hope they are of interest to you.



ADVENT WILL SOON BE UPON US and with it the beginning if a new Christian year. As you know, we go to Year A in the Eucharistic Lectionary and to Year One for the Daily Office. In addition to those changes, I would like to suggest that you give some thought to an Advent Customary in your worship services.  There is a rich selection of Advent hymns in The Hymnal 1982, which I commend to you.

Though there is a definite penitential theme in Advent, nonetheless, this is not a “little Lent.” The Gloria in Excelsis should not be used during Advent, and either the Trisagion or the Kyrie should be used in its place.  You may wish to begin the service each Sunday with the Penitential Order and perhaps use the Decalogue on the first Sunday of Advent. The opening acclamation is not changed, but remains “Blessed be God…”

I suggest for those of you using Rite II, that you go to Eucharistic Prayer B for the Advent and Epiphany Seasons, due to its emphasis on the incarnation. In place of the usual fraction sentence, the Agnus Dei would be appropriate. You may wish to change the form of your usual Prayers of the People, switching to either Form I or V during Advent. Please remember “Gregory and Foley, our archbishops.” Instead of the usual blessing at the end of the service, I suggest that you use one of the seasonal blessings for Advent found on pages 22 and 23 of The Book of Occasional Services.

If you do a Festival of Lessons and Carols during this season, make certain that the selections are for Advent, not Christmas. We need to resist the inclination to start celebrating Christmas prior to the night-time service on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

The Advent Wreath should be lit for all Eucharists during Advent, including weekday celebrations. I want to draw your attention to the guideline on page 30 of The Book of Occasional Services, which reads as follows: “The Advent Wreath is a visual symbol marking the progress of the season of Advent.  When it is used in the church, no special prayers or ceremonial elaboration beyond what is described on page 143 of the Prayer Book is desirable. At morning services the appropriate number of candles is lighted before the service begins.”

I hope these comments are helpful to you.  With a little additional planning, your Advent services may be an enrichment to the spiritual life of your congregation.