Saturday, October 23, 2010
The Integrity of the Service
While I am not in favor of adding a rule to this effect, I would plead for those tempted to respect the integrity of the Divine Service. When we treat the liturgical resources of the hymnal as raw material in the construction of something new, different, and, well, special, then we dishonor the integrity of the service.
Example, it may seem neat and kewl to insert the Words of Institution into the liturgy of Matins or Morning Prayer, but it is merely novelty and rather disjointed novelty, at that. Is is another thing to borrow the glorious Te Deum as a hymn for the Divine Service but it misunderstands and disrespects the integrity of the daily office and the Divine Service to mix and match.
Now there are occasions when things different are joined together -- I can only point to the Easter Vigil which ends with the Divine Service (albeit somewhat abbreviated due to the fullness of the liturgy that precedes the Divine Service. This is not some mish mash but a service with integrity and history.
There are occasions in which rites are inserted into the Divine Service. I can think of the baptismal liturgy as one and the rites of confirmation, reception of new members, installations of officers, installation of a Pastor or other called worker, etc... When this happens the liturgies are not mingled but one includes the other.
There are occasions when the Divine Service may be directly preceded by Matins or Morning Prayer or Vespers or Evening Prayer. These offices do not technically connect to the Divine Service but it is fine tradition to hold these daily offices on Sunday prior to the Divine Service (or, in the case of an evening service, possibly after the Divine Service).
I further caution against looking at bits and pieces of the Divine Services and cutting and pasting them together so that you end up with Divine Service Setting 18 (including snippets of 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5) as one of many variations on a theme... This is a bad idea for it promotes the idea of novelty as if the Divine Service needs to be shuffled up like a deck of cards from time to time in order to keep it "fresh." For surely it is "fresh" because Christ is there in the Word and at the Table and for no other reason.
Think of it this way. There are certain recipes that must be followed as they were intended or the outcome will not be the same. I would suggest that we hold to the integrity of the daily offices and the Divine Service understanding them to be somewhat similar to the recipe handed down within the family over the ages. We do not tamper with them (except where the options inherent in the liturgy are provided for). Again, my point is not a rule but simple request for those planning the services to respect the integrity of the service. Period.