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 Issues | The Apocrypha | In Liturgy

The Apocrypha in Anglican Liturgy and Lectionary

This is not an exhaustive study of the subject.

The Benedicite, Omnia Opera, (the Song of the Three) has been sung in Christian worship from early times. Whilst this Canticle is sung far less in Anglican churches today than it once was it has survived through the various revisions of the liturgy from the Reformation onwards.

1549 Prayer Book

In the first English language liturgy of 1549 the English Reformers retained four references to the Apocrypha:
In the marriage service in the prayer of blessing ‘before the altar’
And as thou diddest sende thy Angel Raphael to Thobie, and Sara, the daughter of Raguel, to their great comfort…

In the Visitation of the Sick – second prayer after the versicles & responses
And as though preservedst Thobie and Sara by thy Angel from danger:

There were also two offertory sentences taken from Tobit Chapter 4.

1552 Prayer Book

All the above rereferences and verses were removed in the second prayer book under Edward VI.

1559/1662

In subsequent revision under Elizabeth I the two optional verses from Tobit were reintroduced but not the other two prayers. This is what is found in the 1662 service.

Calendars

In the Calendars of 1561 and 1661 (for daily use) there were over 100 lessons from the Apocrypha including Bel and the Dragon and the Story of Susanna.
In the revision of 1872 this was reduced so that there were readings appointed for just 21 days in the year, again in the daily lectionary.

Common Worship

Under the modern alternative services introduced as Common Worship there are options to use readings from the Apocrypha on various Sundays and weekdays. For example in the weekday lectionary Baruch can be read from 7 to 12 January whilst readings from Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, 1 Maccabees, Judith and Tobit are optional at various other times (in particular from Trinity 16 to Trinity 22).

Whilst offertory verses are included in Order Two and Order Two (Contemporary) there are fewer than in 1662 and the verses from Tobit are not among them.

Tobit 8.4-8 is included in the Marriage Service as one of the possible readings.

See Also

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