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Festivals; it being, surely, most important that people's attention should be directed more frequently and pointedly than is customary to the real meaning and right observance of those great occasions. This arrangement, together with others for the sake of marking particular week-days, will, it is hoped, sufficiently secure that variety of expression in the prayers, which is so pleasing to many minds, without at the same time detracting from the before-mentioned more important consideration.
Fourthly.-Opportunity for all the members of the household to join in united worship with their head, so as to make the petitions which he offers equally their own. In order to attain this advantage, the Litany form for confessions, petitions, and intercessions, has been generally adopted throughout the series; and in which the regularly recurring answers, such as, “Lord, have mercy on us," "Deliver us, O Lord," they can as easily repeat with him, as the usual response of "Amen," after the blessing or Lord's Prayer.
Fifthly, and lastly.
A sufficient number of Psalms and select passages from the practical parts of Scripture, ready at hand for every-day reading, so that something approaching to a complete service may be available for the use of those families who, from various causes, are precluded from attending the daily prayers at church. In some families it is usual to read a Psalm or chapter of the Bible, or both, either before or in the course of the prayers. But it frequently happens, especially in readings from the Bible, that whole chapters of great length are read through, merely because they are so divided, without any regard to the subjects treated of in them. Thus are people's minds fatigued and distracted by the variety of totally different, and often awfully sacred, subjects, which are
all at once thrust upon their attention. Both the Psalms and selections from Holy Scripture, in the present work, have, to obviate this evil, been classed as briefly as could be, under separate heads; and a certain regular order of subject has been observed, which, it is hoped, may prove useful for the sake of reference, and, perhaps, also in other ways besides. The Psalms, as well as the Scripture selections, have in all cases been given at length, and not in the form of mere references, from a conviction, that if the latter plan had been adopted, they would seldom have been read at all.
It may perhaps be objected, that the Psalms and Lessons, together with the Prayers following, make too long a service. But it will be found on trial that the time occupied by the whole will generally not exceed five or six, if, occasionally, ten, minutes. Should, however, some heads of families, from any unavoidable cause, be compelled to omit the first part of the service, the Prayers alone may be read, commencing with the Confession and Litany, and which will then engage them for so small a portion of the day as they cannot possibly think of grudging in this their bounden morning and evening sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God.
The Compiler is well aware how inadequately he has performed the task which he has presumed to undertake; and it is only because he has not yet met with any previous publication in which the designs above stated, and which appear to him important, have been wholly carried out, that he has been induced to make the attempt himself, which he would gladly have left to be executed by abler hands. When, however, he considers the sources from which the Family Prayers, now submitted to the public, have been drawn, he is not altogether without hope, that they may help to throw some additional
reality and warmth into the services of domestic religion, and to deepen that spirit of reverence which should ever be uppermost in the mind in all our approaches to the throne of grace.
And here it may be proper to add, that while in the selections which compose the following series of Prayers, the Compiler has been careful to exclude every thing which might justly give offence to seriously disposed yet over-sensitive persons, he has, at the same time, not scrupled to draw from whatever sources were best available for his purpose, so long only as those sources themselves were in the main authorised and catholic; an essential point in securing devotions for God's service at once chastened and fervent, but which commonly degenerate into cold stiffness or irreverent familiarity when derived from the unauthorised productions of a mere individual mind.
TO KNOW WHEN THE MOVEABLE FEASTS AND HOLY DAYS BEGIN.
EASTER-DAY (on which the rest depend) is always the First Sunday after the Full Moon which happens upon, or next after the Twenty-first day of March; and if the Full Moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter-day is the Sunday after.
Advent-Sunday is always the nearest Sunday to the Feast of Saint Andrew, whether before or after.
Weeks before Easter.