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The Following is a guide to our Weekday and Weekend Services
08:30 (Monday to Friday), 09:30 (Saturday)
Historically one of the first monastic offices of the day, this service last about 20 minutes, and is said, using the Celebrating Common Prayer book, and includes a section of the Psalms of David, together with two readings from the Bible. This service is said in the choir stalls by the resident clergy, Abbey parishioners, and anyone who wishes to join us.
Supported by the Mothers’ Union and our Youth Worker, this service takes the form of a simple Eucharist for parents, guardians, and toddlers (from 0 to school age). A children’s Bible story is read, songs are sung with instruments, and afterwards, there is time for a cup of tea or coffee and a chat in the Abbey Hall with those attending the service.
09:30 (Wednesdays and Thursdays)
This is a said service of Holy Communion, which takes place in the Lady Chapel on a Wednesday, using the Book of Common Prayer, and on a Thursday in the St Helen’s Chapel, using Common Worship.
17:30 (Monday to Friday)
Taking place at the close of the day, when the monastic community would say their service of Vespers, said Evening Prayer takes place in the choir stalls, and uses the Celebrating Common Prayer book, and like Morning Prayer, includes sections from the Psalms of David, with two readings from the Bible. At this service, we gather together the prayers, written and unwritten, of all those who have visited the Abbey that day.
This is a service of Holy Communion, which takes place in the Lady Chapel on Tuesday evenings, and uses Common Worship. The service lasts about 30 minutes.
08:00 Holy Communion
Using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer said Communion Service, this service is held at the High Altar, and includes a sermon. The service usually lasts around 40 minutes.
09:15 Informal Communion
Taking place at the Lady Chapel altar, this service uses modern language from Common Worship, and includes traditional and modern hymns, with a short sermon. The Sunday School (Noc Noc), which has been taking place in the Abbey Hall, join the service for Holy Communion and a blessing. The service usually lasts around 45 minutes.
10:30 Sung Eucharist
Taking place in the main body of the Church, this service is taken from Common Worship liturgy, at which the Abbey Choir sing, supported by occasional visiting choirs during the summer holiday. This service takes a more traditional approach to worship, and the liturgy, with parts of the service sung by the choir and clergy, together with the colour of the vestments worn by the clergy, servers, and choir, give glory to God. The service usually lasts just over an hour.
6:30 Choral Evensong (with Benediction on the third Sunday of the month)
Using the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, this service lasts around 45 minutes to an hour, and takes place either in the main body of the Abbey, or in the Lady Chapel. The Abbey Choir sing on the first Sunday of the month, although each service includes hymns and a sermon. On the third Sunday of the month, a short service of Benediction is held at the end of Evensong, where we adore Christ for His presence with us, and receive the blessing of his presence, in the form of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Morning and Evening Prayer:
The worship offered to God each day by the Christian Church has its roots in the worship of the Jewish tradition, from which today’s Church grew. The practice of saying prayers at fixed hours was widespread among the Jews, and was most likely taken over by the first Christians. These early Christians would gather together in communities, and begin their day with prayers focussing on the Cross, and end the day by lighting a lamp, to symbolise the Light of Christ. This is a tradition which some prayer books are now re-discovering.
Perhaps taking their inspiration from the Psalmist (“Seven times a day will I praise you” Ps.119.164), the Monastic Offices of Prayer eventually followed the form of: Mattins, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline, and undoubtedly the Benedictine Monks at Wymondham Abbey would have followed this pattern. At the same time, in cathedrals and non-monastic churches there was a simpler structure of Morning and Evening Prayer, which the laity as well as the clergy were encouraged to attend.
At the time of the Reformation (and the dissolution of the monasteries, which had a profound effect on Wymondham Abbey), the traditional Offices were combined into those of Morning and Evening Prayer, which the Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1549, called, Mattins (combining Mattins and Lauds) and Evensong (combining Vespers and Compline). Common to both offices was the recitation of the Psalter and readings from Scripture, which would have followed a set pattern, or ‘lectionary’, and would also include prayers for the Church, for the world, and for those in need. Canticles (chants or songs) from Scripture are also said – the ‘Benedictus’ – a passage from Luke’s gospel, which talks of ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel’, at Morning Prayer, and the ‘Magnificat’, or Mary’s Song, again from Luke’s Gospel, in which Mary rejoices in the Lord at having been chosen to bear the Christ Child.
The offices of Morning and Evening Prayer are said during the week at Wymondham Abbey, and we welcome all who wish to come and share in this worship of God, whether you wish to take a more active part, or whether you just wish to sit quietly and allow this time of prayer to create a ‘space’ in a busy life, and allow the thoughts and feelings suppressed by a busy life to be offered to God in prayer.
From the very earliest days of the Christian Church, in an act of worship instituted by Christ Himself, Christians have been gathering together for this central act of Christian worship. The word ‘Eucharist’ means ‘Thanksgiving’, and so, in this service, we give thanks to God for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, when we receive the elements of bread and wine, His Body and Blood, in an act which calls to mind Christ’s promise that He will be with us throughout all ages. The Eucharist has many names in the Anglican Church – among them are ‘The Lord’s Supper’, ‘Holy Communion’, and ‘The Mass’. In other denominations, such as the Orthodox Church, you may find the Eucharist referred to as ‘The Divine Liturgy’.
In the New Testament, the institution of the Eucharist is mentioned four times – once by St Paul in 1 Corinthians 11.23-25, once in Matthew 26.26-8, once in Mark 14.22-4, and once in Luke 22.17-20. Although John’s Gospel does not mention it explicitly, there is a strong reference in John 6.32-58. References to the celebration of the Eucharist in the early Christian community occur in Acts 2 (Jerusalem), and Acts 20 (St Paul during his visit to Troas). The references to the Eucharist in the New Testament show that from a very early date, the service was a regular part of Christian worship, and that it was instituted by Christ himself. As with the offices of Morning and Evening Prayer developing from Jewish tradition, so it is with the Eucharist, which developed most strongly from the Passover meal, and from the meal held in Jewish homes on the evening of the Sabbath.
The service in which the Eucharist is celebrated has many parts, all of which play a key role in our understanding of what actually happens. Broadly, the Eucharist (as the Western Christian Tradition has received it), has two parts: The Liturgy of the Word, and The Liturgy of the Sacrament. The first of these, the Liturgy of the Word, reflects the Jewish tradition of gathering in the Synagogue to recite the Scriptures, wherein God’s interaction with humankind is recorded. The second of these, the Liturgy of the Sacrament, recalls the Jewish worship of the home, and of the meal offered in every Jewish home on the eve of the Sabbath. Again, here the record of God’s involvement with humankind as recorded in the Scriptures, would be recalled, and the bread and wine would be shared amongst those gathered. Jesus, being a Jew himself, partook in such a meal on the night before he died, and therefore gave the sharing of bread and wine a whole new meaning. As Jesus passed the bread around those gathered, he declared that it was ‘my body, given for you’, and likewise when the wine was passed around, Jesus said, ‘this is my blood, shed for you’. These words are spoken by the priest at the altar during the Eucharist, and in so doing, the bread and wine on the altar become, for those gathered, much more than just simple symbols. They become the very body and very blood of Christ himself, because that is something that Christ himself promised at the Last Supper – “This IS my body, this IS my blood”.
Whether it is at the quiet, reflective service of Prayer Book Holy Communion, the Informal Communion, or the great solemnity of the Sung Eucharist on a Sunday morning, the actions of the priest and people recall the actions of Christ’s pilgrim people over many centuries. In this central act of Christian worship, the Church recalls the simple meal that Christ shared with His disciples, and in this meal, all the Holy People of God are invited to feed on the Body and Blood of Christ, wherein we receive strength for our earthly pilgrimage and our journey through life, at the end of which, we shall join in the heavenly banquet promised to us by Jesus Christ Himself.
The service of Benediction in which we adore Christ for His presence with us, and receive the blessing of His presence, is a service which is closely linked with the Holy Eucharist. At Benediction the Christian is able to adore Christ for a period of time longer than is generally practicable at a celebration of the Eucharist. Devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament stimulates believers to a deeper awareness of Christ’s presence, and is an invitation to communion with Him in the Holy Eucharist – and with our fellow Christians. Devotion to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament inspires Christians to imitate Christ in lives of loving service to each other and to God. Devotion to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament renews the Spirit of God in us, giving us the wisdom to see the way He is calling us to follow Him, and giving us the strength to proclaim in our lives the truth we hear in our hearts.