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Out of the Question

20 March 2015


In Choral Evensong on Radio 3 on 31 December, the officiant said the General Thanksgiving from the Prayer Book. This was probably the first time I had heard that prayer for more than 40 years, after joining in with it regularly at evensong, to summarise the intercessions, or as a procession re-entered the quire, between 1957 and 1972. Is it still used regularly anywhere?

I was present in St Gabriel's, Pimlico, at the broadcast service, and similarly appreciated the inclusion of the General Thanksgiving by the Vicar.

The General Thanksgiving is often included by the lay precentor at the BCP choral evensong that is offered every Sunday at St Barnabas's, Woodford Green, Essex. All present are invited to join in reciting it, sometimes after a few minutes' corporate silent prayer, after the intercessions that follow the anthem.

It is sometimes replaced by corporate recitation of the prayer "for all Conditions of men" .

Richard Vincent

Like the questioner, I was surprised and delighted to hear the General Thanksgiving in that broadcast.

At St Andrew's, Twyford, South Derbyshire, the Book of Common Prayer is used at all services. I, as deputy warden, am responsible for matins once a month, and usually I open the intercessions with the General Thanksgiving, sometimes saying it alone, and sometimes inviting the congregation to join with me.

It seems to me that it creates a sense of balance before we embark on contemplation of all that is wrong in the world. Also, of course, like most of the BCP, it lifts the spirit with the beauty and splendour of its words.

Sylvia Fox,  Twyford, Derbyshire

The General Thanksgiving is regularly used at the chapel of Selwyn College, where evensong is offered three times a week.

Stephen Edmonds (Gosden Scholar),  Selwyn College, Cambridge

When I take my turn to lead evening prayer in our parish church, I almost invariably use this lovely prayer; others use it from time to time. I was brought up on morning and evening prayer in the 1940s and 1950s, though I seem to remember that it was used only occasionally even then. I was taught it by a great-aunt, who used it in her own devotions, as I do myself. The prayer is still to be found in Common Worship, but with the widespread demise of morning and evening prayer seems destined to remain unfamiliar - a great pity.

Incidentally, I thought it sad that "the officiant said" the prayer. It is surely a prayer that the whole congregation can say together.

Robin Brown,  Bedale

On coming to Suffolk nearly 60 years ago, I was appointed to the Office of Reader. We have several lay ministers in our parish, and each of us leads the prayers from time to time. We are all different in our approach. I divide the prayers into two sections: thanksgiving and intercessory. Having prepared beforehand, I have a short list of subjects that concern us all.

This is followed by a period of silence, so that we can reflect on the words we have heard, and mentally incorporate subjects peculiar to each of us. After the period of silence, we all say the General Thanksgiving.

Jim Lumsden,  Beccles, Suffolk

Canon Terry Palmer, of Magor, Monmouthshire, also affirms that it is still used and valued, but we have not heard from other clergy. We note that it would tend to be used only at services that do not include a Eucharistic Prayer. Editor

Why do many clergy wear a purple stole at funerals? Such a service is not a sacrament. I was always taught to wear a black preaching scarf.

P. W.

It is the custom in most C of E cathedrals and some larger parishes for the lay crucifer to wear a dalmatic. As the dalmatic is normally a vestment of an ordained deacon, where did this tradition originate, and is it appropriate?

G. S.

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 3rd floor, Invicta House, 108-114 Golden Lane, London EC1Y 0TG.


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