Day 5 – Strength Training

The next element is known as the “Preces”. It is the plural of “prex” in Latin which means prayer.

Open our lips, O Lord.
And our mouths shall declare Your praise. (2x)

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us. (2x)

“Preces” are short petitions or prayers that are said or sung as versicle (a short verse or sentence) by the leader and followed by a response from the people in the congregation. This form of prayer is one of the oldest in Christianity tracing its roots back to the Hebrew prayers of the Psalms in Temple Worship. An early example of a “Preces” is Psalm 136:

(Versicle) 1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
(Response) for his loving kindness endures forever.
(Versicle) 2 Give thanks to the God of gods;
(Response) for his loving kindness endures forever.
(Versicle) 3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords;
(Response) for his loving kindness endures forever:
(Versicle) 4 To him who alone does great wonders;
(Response) for his loving kindness endures forever:
(Versicle) 5 To him who by understanding made the heavens;
(Response) for his loving kindness endures forever:
(Versicle) 6 To him who spread out the earth above the waters;
(Response) for his loving kindness endures forever:
(Versicle) 7 To him who made the great lights;
(Response) for his loving kindness endures forever:
(Versicle) 8 The sun to rule by day;
(Response) for his loving kindness endures forever;
(Versicle) 9 The moon and stars to rule by night;
(Response) for his loving kindness endures forever:
(Versicle) 10 To him who struck down the Egyptian firstborn;
(Response) for his loving kindness endures forever; ….

You get the idea. If we were following the Anglican tradition exactly in the Daily Office then this portion would actually go like this:

(Versicle) O Lord, open thou our lips:
(Response) And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
(Versicle) O God, make speed to save us:
(Response) O Lord, make haste to help us.

However, while we have borrowed heavily from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in preparing our liturgy, we have made slight changes along the way. One of these changes is that we use this part of the “Preces” as an opportunity to chant these petitions corporately. We chant the first versicle together, take a cleansing breath, and then we chant the response together. Then we repeat the first versicle and response a second time, taking short pauses to quietly reflect as we go. We then repeat this process with the second versicle and response.

The first versicle and response are taken from Psalm 51:15:

Psalm 51:15
15 Lord, open my lips. My mouth shall declare your praise.

The second versicle and response are taken from Psalm 70:1:

Psalm 70:1
1 Hurry, God, to deliver me. Come quickly to help me, LORD.

The “Preces” provides an excellent opportunity to slow down and get focused on praising and worshiping God throughout the Daily Office.

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