This term has seen a revival in the practice of Midday Prayer each weekday at 12.15pm in Westcott chapel. I asked one of the leaders of the daily midday office to share some thoughts on the practice.
1. Why start doing midday prayer?
Lots of reasons. It gives us an anchor in the middle of the day, and adds a nice ‘constant’ to the week, where our pattern of prayer at the other offices at Westcott is quite varied. It connects us to the spirituality of the Franciscan brothers who are part of our community at Westcott, and allows us to join them in their daily prayer.
2. Why is praying the midday office important for you personally?
The simplicity, the stability, the beautiful hymns — and a way of calling ourselves back to god in the midst of our work!
3. What do you think the midday office brings to the college?
We’ve found that there’s a much more ‘listening’ quality to our prayer at midday — the difficulty of singing together without music, and of saying the psalms together and keeping a rhythm of silence and speech in a much smaller group than at the morning and evening office, all give it a lovely monastic quality that can be lost in a community as big and busy as Westcott House!
4. What’s unique about this office compared to morning prayer, evening prayer, or compline?
The ‘little hours,’ the traditional short times of prayer kept in the monastic tradition around 9am (terce), midday (sext), 3pm (none), and before bed (compline) have long preserved a certain kind of stable and consistent quality — the texts do not change much with the calendar and seasons, and there are a range beautiful hymns, which we are singing a cappella. What we’re doing here draws on the three daytime little hours of the Benedictine pattern, modified as the Franciscans do by combining some of the material. They have a lovely way of marking the timelessness of eternity within the time of our daily round, calling us back to a prayerful orientation to our true end in the middle of the working day.