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Variations Of Words And Phrases

Much has been said from time to time
concerning Extempore Prayers and Extempore Praise, as opposed to those
which are more carefully prepared and agreed upon.

The discussion has been somewhat confused by the misuse of the word
Extempore. Prior to the invention of Printing every one who had to
conduct Services was required to know them by heart, so as to be able
to say them without book. The fact that he used no book did not make
the prayers extempore. In like manner one who is about to conduct the
prayers of a Congregation may carefully prepare his subjects, phrases,
and words, so as to avoid disorder in the subjects and unfitness in the
words. His prayers in that case are not strictly extempore.

If however he determines to leave the order of subjects and the choice
of words and phrases to the impulse of the moment, his thoughts may
travel too fast, or too slowly, or too irregularly for the essential
result: for the blessing which Christ promised is to those who unite
in worship. (S. Matth. xviii. 19, 20.)

When a few people gather together with the same difficulties,
temptations, dangers, sins, successes, a truly extempore prayer may be
made by one of them without creating any discord of desire amongst the
rest: but as soon as the congregation begins to include men and women
of different occupations, tempers, ideas, talents--if moreover the
persons for whom intercessions should be made are widely scattered and
very variously employed--it becomes necessary to supplement by careful
preparation the impulses of any one who leads the worship of a
congregation. There is also great advantage in choosing the best
phrases for expressing and including the worship of all.

We cannot doubt that the earliest prayers of the Collect form had local
colouring; but those which have survived for our use are so expressed
as to include many local applications, and a very great variety of

Further, it will be clear that an extempore prayer may be part of a
form of Service, just as much as a printed prayer. If the Service is
composed of, The short Prayer, a Lesson, the long Prayer, the Sermon
and several Hymns at fixed, or unfixed, places, the Service is a form.
The description of the Holy Communion in the time immediately after the
death of S. John the Evangelist (Justin Martyr, Apology i. 65-67, {3}
see p. 58) shows us a form which provided for the essentials of such a
service, with prayers, praises, lessons, offertory, Consecration,
Communion, in order, although he who conducted the Service had a
certain amount of liberty in using parts of it.

We may assume then that forms are good, and that it is good to have
preparation and order and chosen phrases. The next question is how to
provide for that Variety which shall sustain interest and engage the
mind of the worshipper in the great business of his Service.

We may consider Variety of method, Variety of singing, and Variations
in the component parts of the Service.

Next: Variety Of Method

Previous: Extempore Worship And Forms Of Worship

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