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.

Variations In The Component Parts Of Services Variety In Singing facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail