Finally, and this will have to be brief because I’ve spent time that I don’t have writing this—the preceding discussion has me wondering, “How exactly does Baptism work faith in infants?”
Dr. Marquart, I remember distinctly, said that babies do not have reason and so cannot understand the Word; thus in Baptism the word is applied to them through the water and the child receives faith and the Holy Spirit not through the ears and then the understanding, but through “the skin.” At the time I liked it. Then later I forgot about it. But now I’m wondering whether this might be the fruit of Marquart’s encyclopedic knowledge and decades long meditation on the Confessions and on the Lutheran theologians of the 16th and 17th centuries in the original languages.
I was doing research about this by looking through free books on Google, and I found a book by a Prof. M. J. Firey, who was a professor at a seminary of the General Council (I think). He writes in this book that Luther’s baptismal theology developed through three stages. In the earliest stage, he was still Augustinian, so he distinguished between the sign (baptism with water in the Triune Name) and the signified (regeneration through the Holy Spirit). In the second stage he (according to this guy) tended to stress that the promise (He who believes and is baptized will be saved) was necessary to be added to the sign (baptism) in order to bring comfort to the afflicted sinner. Then in the third stage, he was supposed to have emphasized God’s Word and ordinance in instituting the sacrament and how it transformed the earthly element (or transfigured it). The author points to the Small Catechism.
“What is Baptism? Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included [comprehended?] in God’s command and combined with God’s Word. Where is this written? Christ our Lord says in the last chapter of Matthew: therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
“How can water do such great things? Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with faith, which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God’s Word the water is plain water and no baptism. But with the Word of God it is a baptism; that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul writes in Titus, chapter 2: ‘He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ, our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Hopefully I remembered the catechism correctly because I didn’t go back and check. But the point is that the water of Baptism is more than plain water—it is life-giving water that effects new birth. I wonder then if that is where Prof. Marquart was getting his idea that in Baptism the Holy Spirit is given “through the skin.”
(In quoting Dr. Marquart, I’m not trying to suggest what he definitely meant or didn’t mean, or that he’d agree with what I’m saying. I’m pretty sure I didn’t hear him wrong, but I never sat down with him and had an extended discussion either.)
Anyway, that last question is something I will have to study some more.
The conclusion is this: I’m not disagreeing that Christ gives infants faith through the external word. I think that that is probably the right way to think about it. The problem is that we are not told exactly how infants are given faith. We have examples of them receiving faith or responding in faith while still in the womb, in response to a spoken Word. We have Jesus imparting blessing and the kingdom of God to babies seemingly through His spoken word and perhaps his touch, even though the babies don’t understand the words.
My concern is the way that we get to this conclusion. It seems that the route is through a theological apothegm which is very important, but which seems to be being misinterpreted and which seems to be now norming the words of Scripture. No Spirit apart from the word is a basic rule of orthodox theology. But it should not be expanded to mean that the Holy Spirit, once received, never does any comforting, leading, or preaching except during Divine Service, Bible class, or devotions. Nor does it mean that the promises Christians have been given regarding the salvation of infants only apply if they can be shown to have been in a church service or heard the bible read. Nor should this passage from the Smalcald Articles be used in such a way that we permit ourselves to believe that our negligence in prayer is not responsible, at least in part, for the feebleness and sickness of confessional Lutheranism, even though we are “zealous for the law” (Acts 21:20), or at least, zealous for pure doctrine.
All of those interpretations of the passage in the Smalcald Articles contradict what Luther repeatedly teaches elsewhere. It is true that we have had great trouble from evangelicals who have gotten us to think of the Spirit apart from the Word. But the situation isn’t helped by denying that the Holy Spirit comforts us inwardly after we have received Him through the external word, or that He leads our prayer, or that He offers unspoken sighs to God from our hearts which God hears, or that our prayers help us and the church, and our failure to pray harms us and the church. I suffered as an evangelical with lack of assurance of salvation. But the problem isn’t helped by denying the Spirit’s work in applying the word or teaching the Christian inwardly, or His work in teaching us to pray and intercede. “Whoever doesn’t pray will certainly lose his faith. Next to the preaching office, prayer is the greatest office in Christendom,” Luther writes (WA 34 , p. 395, 14f).
Finally, we risk undermining our own doctrine of the means of grace when we forget that the Word comes to us in human words. We should not insist or demand that God miraculously supersede the ordinary limits of human language (and human hearers). That’s why it isn’t right for me to walk into the pulpit with no preparation and start making stuff up. Of course the Holy Spirit can make such a sermon good, but it’s tempting God for me not to prepare. Likewise, when I preach too long for my hearers to be able to handle—refusing to recognize the limits of the people I’m preaching to—that is also tempting God. Of course, I’m not able to know how to preach exactly what people need, so after preparing every sermon I have to commend all of it—the writing, the delivery, and the fruit that it bears—into God’s gracious hands. But it’s still wrong if I slack off, because God uses human words to give His Spirit, and those words should be prepared with the same care you would in preparing any other address.
So if we say, “the kids hear the word, so God works faith through that—“ that may not be a bad conclusion. But it is bad if on the way there we reject his promise regarding children, denigrate the promises He has given to prayer, and read Scripture through the lens of our theological presuppositions.
But in saying all this, I don’t intend to direct any criticism at you, Dr. Heidenreich. I think these are dangers for confessional Lutherans in general. We rest on our laurels too much, and have a tendency to develop an idiosyncratic reading of Lutheran theology that does not necessarily fit with the Lutheran fathers (not to mention Scripture) and then look suspiciously at everyone who doesn’t talk the way we do. I guess I’ve been guilty of this. I spent a lot of years driven by hostility toward evangelicalism and as a result rejected things as “evangelical” that were really necessary and salutary for me.
And with that, I thank anyone and everyone who bothered to read all 4500 words of this. I usually think through things as I write and talk, which makes it difficult to keep things to a reasonable length.
Verbum Dei in Utero, part 1:
Verbum Dei in Utero, Part 2
Theology Like a Child:
- Luther: The Faith of Unbaptized Infants (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
The second problem I have with the dogmatic assertion that God works faith in infants through their hearing the preached word is the way that it often goes along with making “no Spirit apart from the Word” into a hermeneutical axiom, or an inviolable law for theology. The problem is that I think that that section of the Smalcald Articles (Part III, Article VIII) is being misinterpreted.
“We must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one except through or with the preceding outward Word [Gal. 3:2, 5]. This protects us from the enthusiasts (i.e., souls who boast that they have the Spirit without and before the Word.) They judge Scripture or the spoken Word and explain and stretch it at their pleasure, as Muenzer did. Many still do this today, wanting to be sharp judges between the Spirit and the letter, and yet they do not know what they are saying [2 Cor. 3:6]….Therefore we must constantly maintain this point: God does not want to deal with us in any other way than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. Whatever is praised as from the Spirit—without the Word and Sacraments—is the devil himself. God wanted to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word [Exodus 3:2-15]. No prophet, neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments . John the Baptist was not conceived without the word of Gabriel coming first, nor did he leap in his mother’s womb without Mary’s voice [Luke 1:11-20, 41]. Peter says, ‘For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’ [2 Peter 1:21]. Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy. Much less would the Holy Spirit have moved them to speak while they were still unholy. They were holy, says he, since the Holy Spirit spoke through them.” [SA III:8:3, 10-13]
This passage has been interpreted to mean that it is impossible for anyone to ever receive the Holy Spirit without the external word and sacraments. In addition, you would get the impression from confessional Lutherans that this also means that the Holy Spirit never speaks to us or comforts us except when we are actually engaged in hearing or reading the external word and receiving the sacraments.
Neither is supported by the text, if we read carefully. First of all Luther addresses two questions in the quotation—whether a person receives the Spirit apart from the “outward word”, and whether one may distinguish between “the Spirit and the letter” in the interpretation of Scripture. His concern in the first question is to point out not that the Holy Spirit never teaches or inspires things without there being an external word at the exact same time. His point is that the Holy Spirit does not come to people utterly without the Word. We should not look for the Holy Spirit to teach us via mystical experiences or introspection. But Luther affirms that a person may hear the Word and then ten years later believe it. Elijah and Elisha received the Spirit through the spoken Word, but the words they were given to say and the miracles they were given to do were not external words. The quotation from Peter shows the same thing. The prophets had the Holy Spirit, who then carried them along to write their prophecies.
There is a preceding, outward Word regarding the salvation of the children of Christians. It is not word that you speak directly to the child, but it is nonetheless a promise about them. These promises are frankly ignored and despised by everyone who has argued with me about this. They are simply dismissed and never addressed.
“I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and your offspring the land…and I will be their God.” (Gen. 17:7-8) Since we are the offspring of Abraham, the promise applies to us. God wants to be the God of our children. By what means He gives them the Holy Spirit we aren’t told, but we are told unequivocally that God wants to be our children’s God. That is why Peter says in Acts 2: “The promise is for you and your children…” Now if Baptism and the Holy Spirit is for me and my children, then if my child dies prior to baptism it would be unbelieving for me to think that God who promised me that it belonged to my child would now snatch it away because my child died prior to Baptism.
Even more important is the oft cited “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” (Luke 18:16) Clearly there is a preceding word here. The promise is “to the children belong the kingdom of God.” The instruction is that we are not to get in the way of people bringing their infants to God.
The only question is whether a Christian bringing a child in prayer to Jesus constitutes “bringing them to Jesus.” Or whether when Jesus says, “to such belongs the kingdom of God,” He means only certain babies.
Little babies are utterly passive. Like the elderly at the end of their lives, they have no reason and really can’t be communicated with by us. That is what Jesus means when He says that “whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Their reason and will can put up no resistance to Jesus.
But how does Jesus bless the little children? Through preaching? Through baptism? None of the above. He puts His hands on them and blesses them. What was the external word that the children heard? They didn’t hear any, except maybe the blessing. But their parents had an external word. They had heard about Jesus and believed that He would give blessing to their babies. But He says that the kingdom of God belongs to them. Similarly, the paralyzed man did not appear to have any faith in Jesus. He was simply brought. And Jesus gave him not just blessing or healing but the forgiveness of sins.
Now if Jesus says: let them come to me, the kingdom of God belongs to such as these—we are supposed to doubt that that promise applies to babies who died prior to baptism?
No, it can’t be, because when you bring someone to Christ in prayer, you truly bring them to Christ. That’s why Jesus says, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:19-20).” When the church prays, Christ is truly present, and we truly bring the person for whom we pray before Him.
If we doubt that the little babies of Christians are saved who die before baptism, we are actually doing what Luther accused Muenzer of doing—dividing between the Spirit and the letter, in a perverse hyper-Lutheran way. Scripture is unequivocal. The little children who are brought to Jesus in prayer, whose parents believe—the kingdom of God belongs to them, and they are not to be hindered.
This by the way is the only reason we can be certain that baptized babies are certainly in God’s grace. Everyone knows that not everyone who is baptized believes, and certainly not everyone who hears the Word believes. We would really have no certainty about little babies except for the promise “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”—without that promise we would be left in doubt, because babies do not give evidence of faith. In fact, without this promise of Jesus we would have far less certainty about whether or not we should baptize babies at all. But the promise is that the kingdom of God belongs to them. So if that is so we can’t deny them baptism even though they can’t confess their faith or give any evidence of it.
Verbum Dei in Utero part 1: https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/verbum-dei-in-utero-part-1/
Verbum Dei In Utero part 3:
Theology like a child: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/
Dr. Heidenreich has done me the honor of debating me about the place of prayer in the salvation of unbaptized infants. This has been helpful to me in helping me not to go too far in what I’m saying and in helping me to think about the issue. Earlier this week I started another post in response to some of his comments on this blog, but didn’t finish it. Below is a comment of his from my facebook page, where Dr. Heidenreich is responding to me after I asked him, “Does it matter whether an infant in the womb hears God’s Word preached in English or Japanese [or Latin]?” I was trying to make a point that I spell out below.
What matters when we are speaking of the faith of infants is not what language the Word is spoken in. What matters is what the speaker means by the words. Does a baby “understand” or “comprehend” the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost”? Is it a valid baptism if the infant does not yet speak the language the words are being spoken in? Is it a valid baptism if it is done by a Roman Catholic priest in Latin? You know the answers to these questions. The Word, in and with the water, does great things. It does seemingly impossible things. God gives any necessary “understanding” to the hearer. However, even if the baptism uses English words for English speaking persons, yet the English words are spoken with the intended meaning a Mormon gives them, it is not a valid baptism and does not give the hearer faith and salvation. What matters is the fact that God works through the external Word and grants the hearer the supernatural gift of faith through such simple and virtually inexplicable means. The fact that a few words can instil faith in the hearer is, indeed, an extraordinary event. It defies all academic, linguistic, scientific, and neurological explanations. It is a supernatural event, and we simply place our faith in the power of the Word that is so clearly testified to by so many miraculous events in Scripture. The natural workings of the means of grace don’t have to make sense to our doubting minds. “If they have not heard the Word, by which faith comes, as adults hear it, they nevertheless hear it like little children. Adults take it up with their ears and reason, often without faith; but they hear it with their ears, without reason and with faith. And faith is nearer in proportion as reason is less, and he is stronger who brings them than the will of adults who come of themselves.” [Luther’s Sermon for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany; Matthew 8:1-13; from his Church Postil of 1525, as translated in The Sermons of Martin Luther, volume II, page 90,¶42, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI] As for things Luther taught repeatedly and publicly that might conflict with the way I have applied the Confessional statements I have quoted, it is only right and proper to interpret the Confessions in light of the orthodox doctrine confessed by the subscribers and later orthodox dogmaticians. Lutheranism does not agree with Luther on every point, including on things he repeatedly and publicly taught. The most public and well-known source material for your contention is Luther’s Baptismal Booklet. As I already pointed out on your blog, that booklet is definitely NOT part of the Book of Concord to which our pastors and churches subscribe. Despite pleas from Jakob Andreae, several princes (including Ludwig VI of the Palatinate) and their theologians specifically objected to its inclusion in the Book of Concord. [Kolb p 346-347]
Why is it different for a baby to hear the Word in the womb—so that they can hear it in any language—yet it is necessary for adults to hear it and understand it?
I certainly grant that God works faith through the spoken word in infants, who as far as we can tell, do not understand or have the capacity of using language. Luther says that very thing in the sermon from the Church postil you quoted, where he explains how prayer for the infant gains for them the gift of faith. He says, “The church prays, and God grants faith to the child through the Word in Baptism.” It may well be that it is by means of the external word which the baby hears that God gives the Holy Spirit to them while still in the womb. I’m not denying that. I don’t think that Luther was saying dogmatically that God has to give faith apart from means to unbaptized babies.
I have several problems with the theory that God gives faith to babies in the womb through the preached or read word. This is what I used to believe. I think my pastor taught it to me when I was a kid.
The first is that we don’t make the external word cease to be words, performing a sort of Lutheran transubstantiation on preaching. The divine Word comes in human words, just as the Son came in human flesh. When Christ appeared in human flesh, he did not swallow up his humanity in his divinity, nor did He display the splendor of His majesty; and when the Word of the Lord comes to us on Sunday morning, it comes in human language, and therefore we receive it like other human words, in that we hear it in our own language and we read it so that it can be heard. Then the pastor comes and preaches it, explaining it, applying it. But if the word and faith have nothing to do with understanding all of that is a waste of energy. The pastor could mumble the words inaudibly and as quickly as possible, skip the sermon, and everyone could be home in 45 minutes.
Understanding and faith are not to be divorced so radically. Otherwise we eliminate the means from the means of grace, which is where Rome developed the practice of adoring the sacrament more than eating and drinking it. Bread normally is to be eaten and words are normally to be heard and understood. This is the teaching of Scripture:
This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says, ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive…lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.’…Hear then the parable of the sower: when anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart… Matthew 13:13-15, 18-19
…Earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to
men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation…the one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, so that the church may be built up. Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is being played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. Therefore one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful…You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, then ten thousand words in a tongue. 1 Cor. 14:1-3, 5-14, 17-19
Paul is making this point: one can speak by the Holy Spirit in language that is unintelligible to others, but others are not edified by it. Why? Because they can’t understand it. He writes in Romans 8 that the Spirit groans to the Father with sighs that words cannot express. That is truly prayer, but it edifies no one else, because they can’t understand it.
Which teaches two things: normally the Holy Spirit is given through the Word together with understanding of the word. Secondly it teaches that the Holy Spirit can be present or operative where the understanding is not engaged. Apparently when people speak in tongues they themselves did not necessarily know what they were saying, which is why it was necessary for them to “pray for the power to interpret.” Paul does not condemn them for praying in tongues without understanding, but says that that does not build up the church.
The application of this to the present discussion is that the preached word normally works through the understanding. A second application is that the Holy Spirit is able to speak within and through a person without that person or anyone else understanding him, but we should not expect that the Holy Spirit will edify the Church through words that are not understood.
Verbum Dei in utero part 2: https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/verbum-dei-in-utero-part-2/
Verbum Dei in utero part 3:https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/verbum-dei-in-utero-part-3/
- Baptism: God stakes His honor, power, and might on it. Lenten Vespers Sermon Feb. 20 2013 (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- “The Secret Place of the Most High”. Lent Midweek Sermon. “What Benefits Does Baptism Give?” (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- Do Babies Believe the Gospel When They Are Baptized? Martin Luther (1524) (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- The Monster of Uncertainty Invocabit Sermon 2013. Matthew 4 (deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com)
- Babyâs First Bites Begin In Utero (plumorganics.com)
To be reborn in Baptism
They bring them to be sacrificed
As Abram did his offspring.
And all His kingdom gives them:
It bathes them, swaddles them in spice
And seals the tomb and leaves them.
This is my pearl, my highest good
Which calms my soul in all distress
Against the devil, hell, and death.
–Christian Fabricius, 1646
Ich bin getauft in Christi Blut,
das ist mein Schatz und hoechstes Gut,
des troest ich mich in aller Not.
Trotz sei dem Teufel, Hoell, und Tod.
This may be useful for pastors planning Advent or Lent midweek services; I translated this, such as I could, from the hymnal of our sister church in Germany. I liked some of the differences in the SELK vespers service, as well as the rubrics, and thought the suggestions about Advent worship were helpful.
(SELK Gesangbuch p. 262-264)
Advent and Lent Worship
1. The midweek (Wochengottesdienste) services in Advent and Lent can be held according to the order of Vespers.
For the Psalmody in Advent Psalms 19, 24, 25, 80, and 85 are suggested (in conjunction with the antiphons 664-667). In Lent Psalms 22, 32, 38, 43, 51, and 130.
The Responsory can be done according to the usual form, but also in the form for festival seasons (p. 295). In place of this also a hymn stanza can be sung: in Advent, “Ach, mache du mich Armen” (Gesangbuch 9:4)(LSB 354 st. 4) and in Lent “Ehre sei dir, Christe” (Gesangbuch 57:7) .
Another prayer can be spoken in place of the preces.
The song of praise (Magnificat or Nunc Dimittis) is dropped when the litany (Ges. Nr. 138) is sung in place of the Kyrie Eleison. In this case, the Lord’s Prayer, silent prayer, and Prayer of the day follows the litany.
In the Vespers at the hour of the Lord’s death and on Holy Saturday, the Entrance is dropped.
2. The midweek services in Advent and Lent can also be held in a simple form of devotion/meditation, for instance in the following way: Hymn- Votum (?)- Entrance Prayer, Scripture Readings interspersed with hymns or hymn stanzas [In Lent: Hymn “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy”]-Sermon-[In Lent: Luther’s Explanation to the Second Article from the Small Catechism-Hymn-Closing Prayer, Lord’s Prayer, Blessing, Hymn Stanza.
3. As Scripture readings for the Advent Services, the Messianic prophecies are considered (for instance Zech. 9: 9-10, Zeph. 3:14-17, Mal. 3:19-24; Is. 35:3-10; 40:1-11; 45:1-8; 63, 15-64; 26:1-12), Sections from the Revelation of John (1:4-8; 19:6-16; 3:14-22, or 22:1-13, 20), as well as from the Gospels (Matt. 21:1-9, Luke 21:25-33 or Mark 13:5-13; Matt. 11:2-10 or Luke 1:5-25; John 1:19-28 or Luke 1:26-38).
In Lent, besides texts from the Old Testament (for instance, selections from Gen. 1:1-3; Exodus 12:1-14; Genesis 22:1-13; Jeremiah 15:15-21; selections from Isaiah 59; Selections from Isaiah 45 and Isaiah 53: 4-12), before all will sections of the Passion History of the Lord be read, (Matt. 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23 or John 11:46-57, 12:1-11, 13:1-38; 18-19).
Vespers (Evening Prayer)
[Hymn of the Congregation]
The congregation rises.
If no compline will be held, the confession of sins with the foregoing “Our help is in the name of the Lord” can be spoken here.
C: be gracious to me and hear me.
L: Make haste, O God, to deliver me,
C: Make haste to help me, O Lord.
L: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
C: As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever and ever. Amen. Hallelujah.
In place of the Hallelujah from Septuagesima Sunday till the evening of Holy Saturday:
Praise be to You, Lord, King of eternal glory.
The Congregation sits.
Praying the Psalms (Psalmody)
A psalm or (and) a psalm-hymn, or instead of this on feast days and during festival seasons also a hymn appropriate to the time or season.
More readings may follow.
After the (last) reading, the following responsory is sung
Cantor: Your word is a lamp to my feet…
Especially on feast days and festival seasons, the responsory on p. 295 may be sung.
Where no responsory will be sung, the reading will close with the following sung or spoken versicle:
Cantor (L): But You, Lord, have mercy upon us.
C: Thanks be to God in eternity.
[Interpretation or Reading from the Church Fathers]
The congregation sings [responsively with the choir] an evening hymn, or the Hymn of the Week, or a hymn for the season.
Song of Praise/Canticle
If there will be no compline, the Nunc Dimittis can be sung instead of the Magnificat.
Where circumstances demand it, the singing of the canticle can be omitted completely. The canticle is also dropped when instead of the Kyrie Eleison the Litany will be sung. In this case the Litany is followed by the Lord’s Prayer, the silent prayer, and the prayer of the day.
The Congregation rises.
The Kyrie, Our Father, Preces, and Prayer of the day can also be spoken.
Responsive Prayer (Preces) Or one of the responsive prayers (1-5) on pages (296-305)
L: Lord, be gracious to me,
C: Heal my soul, for I have sinned against you.
L: Lord, show us your grace
C: And help us.
L: Let your kindness, Lord, be upon us
C:as we have hoped in you.
L: Let us pray for the Holy Church of God:
L: Let us pray for our shepherds and teachers:
C. Lord, take not from their mouths the Word of Truth.
L: Send the messengers/heralds of salvation to the ends of the earth
C. and convert the hearts of the unbelieving.
L. Spread your goodness over those who know You
C: and Your righteousness over the godly.
L: Let us pray for all who are ordered to us/commanded to us/ commended to us [for spouses, parents, children, and our whole household]:
C: Help, my God, Your servants, who depend on you
L: Lord God of Sabaoth, comfort us,
C: Let the light of Your countenance rest upon us.
L: Rouse Yourself, Christ, and help us
C: and redeem us for the sake of your goodness.
L: Lord, hear my prayer,
C: and let my cry come to you.
L: Let us pray.
In times of need or distress in the Church, or in other particular circumstances, a definite request can be named during the silence of prayer by the cantor, lector, or a member of the congregation.
Prayer of the Day
The prayer-leader prays one of the following prayers of the day or a general prayer or the collect of the previous Sunday or feast day. (On Saturday evening and on the day before a feast day he prays the collect for the following day.)
Lord God, dear Father in heaven: we pray You, purify us from all sins of this day, and let Your patience with us have no end, that we after the work of the day may find quiet for the weary body and peace for our souls, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Here an evening hymn can be sung if one has not already been sung above.
The almighty and merciful God, the +Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve us (you).