Holy Hour without a priest

27 October 2017

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or to add to the answers given below.


Your answers

What should a Holy Hour in church on a Thursday evening consist of? Can it be lay-led? We are looking for opportunities during an extended interregnum in an Anglo-Catholic church.

In answer to the first question, there is no official Church of England lit­urgy for eucharistic adoration, but a Service of the Word (Common Wor­ship main volume, pages 21-27) not on a Sunday or a principal feast is required to contain a greeting, a col­lect, a reading, prayers (including the Lord’s Prayer), and an ending.

The Roman Catholic Rite of Eu­­charistic Exposition and Benedic­tion includes most of this in its four parts: (i) in exposition, a hymn (tra­ditionally O salutaris — “O saving Victim”, New English Hymnal 269) is sung and the sacrament is ex­­posed; (ii) in adoration, there are readings, songs, and prayers, and perhaps a homily; and (iii) in Bene­diction a hymn (traditionally Tantum ergo — ”Therefore, we, be­­fore him bending”, NEH 268) is sung, a collect (e.g. for Corpus Christi) is said, and the people are blessed with the Blessed Sacrament; and (iv) in reposition, the sacrament is replaced in the tabernacle while an acclamation (traditionally Psalm 117) is sung.

There are only two places where the Roman Catholic service conflicts with the Anglican rubrics: there is no greeting, as the service begins with exposition; and the Lord’s Prayer is not obligatory, although it could be included in the prayers.

In answer to the second question, in the Roman Catholic Church, au­­thorised lay people may, in the ab­­sence of a priest or deacon, expose and repose the sacrament and lead eucharistic adoration, but they may not cense the sacrament or give Benediction.

They must be vested appropri­ately (either alb, or cassock and cotta). In the Church of England, it would seem appropriate to allow lay people who are authorised to ad­­minister communion to officiate at eucharistic adoration without Bene­diction, and to burn incense in a bowl before the altar if desired. They should vest in the same way as a server at the eucharist.


(The Revd Dr) Daniel Trott

Upper Norwood


Holy Hour is essentially a eucharis­tic devotion. It is normally led by a priest, but could be led by an au­­thorised lay minister/Reader or a lay eucharistic assistant, with the omis­sion of Benediction. Suggestions for a lay-led service follow.

The service is divided into four 15-minute sections with Bible read­ings, prayers, a quiet time, and final devotion.

Section 1. Adoration. The altar having been prepared beforehand, the minister brings the Blessed Sac­rament from the aumbry or tab­ernacle and places it in the mon­strance. If you do not have a mon­strance, you could use a ciborium. All kneel. The Litany of the Blessed Sacrament is said.

Secton 2. Meditation. The Gospel for the coming Sunday is read, fol­lowed by quiet reflection. A short spoken meditation on the Gospel could be included if felt appropriate.

Section 3. Petition. Intercessions are led, followed by a time of silent prayer.

Section 4. Final Devotion. O salutaris hostia might be sung, fol­lowed by a simple devotion. This might be followed by Tantum ergo. The minister replaces the Blessed Sacrament in the aumbry or taber­nacle. The Divine Praises are led by the minister. All say or sing Psalm 117 with the traditional antiphon. Depart in silence.

(The Revd) John Luff,



Your questions

The collect for the 19th Sunday after Trinity (1662) states: “O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee. . .”. Is this just a statement of the obvious, or is there some deeper theological meaning?

M. D.


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