Book: Daily Prayer

Prepared by the Office of Worship for the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1987,455 pp., $10.95.

Fifth in a series being prepared for trial use, Daily Prayer provides patterns and resources for a discipline of daily worship. The book includes services for Morning and Evening Prayer, and for Midday and Night Prayer. Also included are ample musical resources and a two-year daily lec-tionary to use with these services.

Daily Prayer can be adapted to a variety of situations—"useful for worship when the Church gathers, but also for individuals and families" (p. 8). It's a prayerbook that is both ecumenical in scope and contemporary in flavor. The inclusive language that the editors have incorporated throughout the book seems neither awkward nor obtrusive.

Nearly half of this resource is devoted to Services of Morning and Evening Prayer, coordinated with themes of the church year. Included are services for every day of the week during each special church season and daily services for a two-week span during "ordinary time." This may seem an embarrassment of riches in "once-a-week" denominations, for whom these services likely will provide ideas and texts for seasonal midweek services or other special occasions. But those who study the resource will discover that the services can be flexibly adapted for worship at committee meetings, retreats, judicatory assemblies, and a variety of other settings. Many people will also find these services a helpful discipline for personal worship.

Included in the musical section of the book are settings for the more frequently used psalms and canticles. These settings vary in style from chants to hymns. Also included are musical settings for the Service of Light (a part of Evening Prayer before Sundays and major festivals) and for Night Prayer. The section "Using Music in Daily Prayer" provides many helpful suggestions for singing major portions of these services.

Psalms, recited or sung, have always held a central place in services of Daily Prayer. One interesting resource included in this book is a series of psalm tones and musical refrains to use for singing prose texts of the psalms. These tones and refrains range from joyful to somber and are more contemporary than Gregorian in character. While it may be a considerable challenge for most Presbyterian and Reformed congregations to learn to sing the psalms to tones, we might at least learn to sing the eight refrains at appropriate places during the reading of a psalm. In fact, this could be quite effective.

Daily Prayer seems a bit too bulky to fit into an average hymnal rack. By comparison, the daily prayer section takes up only 119 pages in The Book of Common Prayer and 11 pages in the Lutheran Book of Worship, if s likely, therefore, that this volume will not be used in the pews of many churches. Instead, churches may choose to reproduce resources from this book in their worship folders or bulletins (permitted by the publisher if the bulletins are for one-time use only, is not to be sold, and include an acknowledgement).

I hope that Daily Prayer will find its way into many pastors' studies and into church libraries. As a stimulus to a discipline of daily worship in an increasingly secular age, it is a resource well worth having and using.

John G. Stevens is pastor of First Presbyterian Church, St. Anne, Illinois.