Re: [liturgy-l] Digest Number 1982
> Subject: Re: Morning vs Evening (When the Liturgical Day Begins)Ah but this might be a question of lack of culture, yes?
> Father Robert Lyons, SST wrote:
>> Our books should reflect our conviction that a day runs from
>> sunset to
>> sunset... but frequently they don't.
> Perhaps because few if any of us have a real conviction that the day
> *does* run from sunset to sunset.
> In real life the day does run from morning to evening. What on
> earth is
> gained by trying to pretend that there is a liturgical day that does
If you do serve the offices of the church as set forth by the fathers
from the beginning on a daily basis, in time you actually do come to
think of the evening as the start of a new day. Tonight we will begin
singing of the glorious Apostle Thomas and, coincidentally or not,
also of St Innocent of Moscow. We hadn't thought much about them this
week, and won't, until tonight, but tonight will be all about them,
for it's the beginning of their day. And after singing about them for
an hour or so, as we do, and bringing out the first light of evening
and blessing God for the day which has just ended with the setting of
the sun, and for the new (new!) light of Christ which is now shining
in our hearts, in the darkness of this world (and, not
coincidentally, also amid the gathering shadows of Crow Hill, outside
sultry Kampala), we really will have a sense that something new is
beginning, as many things do, in darkness, in stillness, in the
earth, to be kept secret until it is revealed in splendor, and we
exclaim: "The Lord is God, and he has shone upon us!", after which we
will perfect and fulfill what has thus begun, by the service of the
We know from the scripture that "there was evening, and morning: one
day" (Gn 1.4 I think). Not even: "the first day"-- for there had not
yet been a second; how could you call that day "first", since doing
so would already make it relative to a "second"-- and that second had
not yet been brought into existence-- that would only come later; nor
was God under any compulsion to bring it forth at all-- but God had
created "one day", and if there was ever to be a second, it would
have to have the same shape, the same order, if it was to be a "day"
at all, yes? For the first ever, is the definition of the whole
class, otherwise you call it something else.
But in our modern culture, we say a day begins at midnight. Why?
Isn't that an odd and arbitrary moment? Everybody's asleep, nobody
even notices it. As though the creation of a new day meant nothing at
all! Or the day begins in the morning, when we get to work. That
makes some felt sense, but it's all about us. The ancients were
possibly less interested in themselves and much more sensibly (and
sensorily!) counted twelve hours starting when the light ended, and
again when it began. They lived in the fields, their feet were in the
soil and they saw the sun, moon and stars overhead. They knew when
God's day began or ended.
For the new day begins when God creates it, not when we get off to
work, whether that work is the work of the midnight office or the
financial office. The service books set forth the work of man, who
responds to God, and "man goes forth unto his work until evening", as
it says in Psalm 104, so they begin when man's work begins, with the
early morning office. And after all, the beginning of Vespers is
still the end of the old day, even on man's schedule-- the change to
the new day, which in fact we have gathered to observe, does not come
till the Prokeimenon in the middle of Vespers-- and so the vesperal
service is appropriately put in the service book at the end of the
human workday. But *God's* work begins with the separation of light
from darkness and the creation of "evening, and morning, one day",
and so the day itself, apart from the work man will do in it, begins
with the evening, during Vespers. We ask mercy for the day past and
bless him for the new day coming, and after that, we receive a little
"rest for our infirmity", as the prayers say-- but only so much as,
and only so that, we may rise early with the Morning Star, to await
the Rising Sun of Justice, when we will behold the Dawn of Mercy and
praise his marvelous works as is due.
In the world of banks and offices, some of this may have been
forgotten; but shall the Church also forget?
> In the CofE over the last decade there has been something of anSome things may seem like reality to us, but it could be only that we
> encouragement in revision of lectionary and sanctorale and daily
> to pretend that the day begins in the evening. Personally, I am
> to say that the 'final' versions of these works have discarded the
> It's still available as an option for the cognoscenti ('anoraks' if
> prefer!), but there is no encouragement to observe evening prayer
> as if
> it were the start if the day, except for a small number of red letter
> feasts. That seems like reality to me.
have not seen what reality is. "There was evening and there was
morning: one day."
Best regards from somewhat muggy kampala,
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