A community reshaping itself to be fit for God's purpose.

Thursday, February 6, 2020
An Ode to Evensong

This coming Sunday is the second Sunday of the month when led by the St. Martin’s Chapel Consort, we sing Evensong at 4:30 pm. What, some might ask, is Evensong? So here's a little historical context.

In 1549 Thomas Cranmer, then Archbishop of Canterbury set about to create a prayer book in English for use by ordinary people. In his first Book of Common Prayer , that is, prayer common to the whole people of God and not confined to priests, monks, and nuns, Cranmer combined the monastic seven offices of the Liturgy of the Hours into two public services of Matins and Evensong.

Cranmer intended the new services of Matins and Evensong to be public services for which the clergy were to open the church doors and ring the church bells to summon the laity to daily prayer. Even today, the English clergy are required to recite the two daily offices as public services. I remember as a young curate one parishioner who lived close by the church telling me that she so appreciated hearing the bells for daily prayer as they brought her great comfort. She was less pleased when I reminded her that the purpose of ringing the bells was to summon her from the comfort of her sitting room to join me in the church. Oh the insensitivity of young clergy!

For over 650 years, Matins and Evensong were the staple services of Anglican worship. Some older St. Martin’s parishioners will remember the days before the 1979 Prayer Book revision, when Matins and Evensong were the two principal Sunday services with the Eucharist celebrated quietly at 8 am only.

Public Prayer is referred to as the Daily Office because office comes from the Latin officium meaning the duty or the work of God. Hence our use of the word office simply follows from this - as the place where we go to work or perform our duties. Later Anglican practice revived the office of Compline - the final of the seven offices of the monastic day. The 1979 Prayer Book added both midday and night offices alongside two forms for morning prayer and three for evening prayer.

Two things more. The Daily Office is known as the Public Prayer of the church as compared with private individual prayer. Public Prayer is like a great 24/7 wave of prayer encircling the earth. When we pray the Daily Offices, we are like lamps plugging ourselves into the global electric current of Christian public prayer. Each office, morning, midday, evening and night reflects our daily circadian cycle - from the energy of awakening to the quieting in preparation for sleep as well as articulating the shifting mood of the day's progress. Note how the photo above evokes the feel of twilight, which corresponds to Evensong's tone.

At St. Martin’s all are welcome to join Linda+ and myself as we say Morning Prayer, Tuesday through Thursday at 9 am. Evensong is increasingly the worship experience of choice for Millennials and younger adults. I think its popularity is partly that 4:30 pm is a better time of day for them, and partly that Evensong requires less liturgical participation than the Eucharist. One can simply come and be soothed by its rhythms.

While officially speaking, Evensong is not a substitute for the Sunday Eucharist. However, with declining regularity of attendance at Sunday morning worship, Evensong at 4:30 pm offers an alternative for those who might want to have a more leisurely start to Sunday – at least on the Second Sunday of the month. Why only once a month? It's a matter of supply and demand. Generating higher demand will lead to increased supply.

See you in Church this Sunday - either morning or evening, and for some maybe both!


Episcopal 101
Saturday, February 8,
8:30 am - 12 pm, Stearns Room
Mark+ intends to cover Episcopal-Anglican History, The Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Spirituality, and the Eucharist in this extended session. Anyone who would like to know the answers to questions but have been afraid to ask is welcome.
Providence Lost
Wednesday, February 12, 7:00 pm
Providence Lost is a 30-minute documentary film by Oscar Dupuy d'Angeac, which highlights the housing crisis in Providence. It tells the story of the Trottier family's eviction from their Providence apartment and subsequent spiral into homelessness. Mark your calendars and join us in the Great Hall for the showing of this poignant film and discussion to follow. For more information and to register, please click here.
Show that St. Martin's Cares!
St. Martin's Cloak Ministry provides clothing and toiletries to the very needy. Please consider d onating a package of socks or boxers to a shelter resident to show that St. Martin's cares. Outreach baskets are at the back of the church. Thank you!

Friday, February 21, 5 - 7 pm
The Hospitality Committee will be hosting a TGIF on Friday, February 21, 5 - 7 pm in the Great Hall. Come join us for a glass of wine and some nibbles after work! Catch up with your fellow parishioners or, better yet, invite a friend to visit St. Martin's for the first time. This is strictly a social get together.

Hope to see all of you at what promises to be an enjoyable gathering with friends, both old and new! Please contact Jennifer Kiddie for food donations and contact Natasha Lofgren if you’d like to volunteer at this event.
Estate Sale Coming Soon
Save the date! St. Martin's next Estate Sale will be held Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8. Start your spring cleaning a little early and set aside some items you don't need anymore, then donate them to St. Martin's. Items that sell best include small furniture, lamps, art work, decorative pillows, dishes, and glassware. All proceeds go to support St. Martin’s Church and its ministries. Watch for details to come.
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St. Martin's Church | 50 Orchard Ave, Providence RI |02906
(401) 751-2141