Thursday, November 23, 2006

Celebrating Thanksgiving: A Western, Orthodox Holiday

One of the most fruitful steps toward baptizing Western culture — and for advancing Orthodoxy in the United States — is the Orthodox hallowing of the Thanksgiving holiday (celebrated today in the U.S.). A vital part of American (and Canadian) national identity, it is the only non-church national holiday specifically dedicated to the honor of God. St. Tikhon himself urged American Orthodox to adopt this holiday and composed a Service for Thanksgiving, which many U.S. Byzantine churches still celebrate. The 1906 Russian Observations upon the American Prayer Book made no objection, either to the 1892 Book of Common Prayer's "Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving for the Fruits of the Earth in Autumn." The following rubrics are taken from the 1892 BCP, 1928 BCP, and the Anglican Missal.

May these prayers lead us to a greater appreciation of Christ's bounty and beneficence, "that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful" and that we may serve Him all the days of our life. And on a personal note, I am grateful to and for those of you who have read the blog or contacted me with your comments. May God bless us and lead all of North America into His own Mayflower, the Church and Ark of our Salvation, cresting finally upon the shores of His eternal Kingdom.

Thanksgiving Day
Privileged Votive
Instructions from the Anglican Missal: On any day appointed by Civil Authority as Thanksgiving Day, is said in the United States the privileged Votive Mass ordered by Ecclesiastical Authority. And if on Thanksgiving Day a Holy Day occur, where obligation of Choir exists two Masses are said, one of the Feast without Commemoration of the Votive, the other of the Votive without Commemoration of the Fast or other Occurrence unless it be of a greater Feria, of a privileged Octave, of a Sunday, or of a II Class Double. But when both Masses are not said, the Votive alone is said, without any Commemoration unless it be of one of the aforesaid Occurrences. The non-Prayer-Book Propers given below are those authorized in the Missionary District of the Philippine Islands.

¶ Among the Sentences at the beginning of Morning Prayer shall be the following. (1892 BCP)
HONOUR the LORD with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty; and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. (Prov. iii. 9, 10). The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens: by his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. (Prov. iii. 19, 20).
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deut. xxxiii. 27.
Israel then shall dwell in safety alone; the fountain of Jacob shall be upon the land of corn and of wine, also his heaven shall drop down dew. (Deut. xxxiii. 28).
Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency? (Deut. xxxiii. 29).
Instead of the Venite, the following shall be said or sung (from the '28 BCP).

O PRAISE the Lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God; * yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.
The Lord doth build up Jerusalem, * and gather together the outcasts of Israel.
He healeth those that are broken in heart, * and giveth medicine to heal their sickness.
O sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; * sing praises upon the harp unto our God:
Who covereth the heaven with clouds, and prepareth rain for the earth; * and maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains, and herb for the use of men;
Who giveth fodder unto the cattle, * and feedeth the young ravens that call upon him.
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; * praise thy God, O Sion.
For he hath made fast the bars of thy gates, * and hath blessed thy children within thee.
He maketh peace in thy borders, * and filleth thee with the flour of wheat.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, * world without end. Amen.

After the General Thanksgiving, shall be said this which followeth. (1892 BCP)

MOST gracious God, by whose knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew; We yield thee unfeigned thanks and praise for the return of seed-time and harvest, for the increase of the ground and the gathering in of the fruits thereof, and for all the other blessings of thy merciful providence bestowed upon this nation and people. And, we beseech thee, give us a just sense of these great mercies; such as may appear in our lives, by an humble, holy, and obedient walking before thee all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all glory and honour, world without end. Amen.

For the Mass
Introit (Cibavit eos, Psalm 81)

Priest: He fed them also with the finest wheat flour:
People: And with honey from the rock hath he satisfied them.
Priest: Sing we merrily unto God our Strength:
People: Make a cheerful noise unto the God of Jacob
Priest: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
People: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Priest: He fed them also with the finest wheat flour:
People: And with honey from the rock hath he satisfied them.

The Collect.

O MOST merciful Father, who hast blessed the labours of the husbandman in the returns of the fruits of the earth; We give thee humble and hearty thanks for this thy bounty; beseeching thee to continue thy loving-kindness to us, that our land may still yield her increase, to thy glory and our comfort; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle of St. James, 1:16.

DO not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Gradual (Psalm 145)

Priest: The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord:
People: And thou givest them their meat in due season.
Priest: Thou openest thine hand:
People: And fillest all living things with plenteousness.

Alleluia (Psalm 147)

Priest: Alleluia.
People: Alleluia.
Priest: O praise the Lord, for it is a good thing to sing praises unto our God;
People: Yea, a joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful.
All: Alleluia.

The Gospel according to St. Matthew 6:25.

JESUS said, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? There-fore be not anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Offertory

O sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving: sing praises upon the harp unto our God.

Secret

We beseech thee, O Lord, give us a just sense of these and all thy great mercies: such as may appear in our lives by an humble, holy, and obedient walking before thee all our days. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Communion (Psalm 147)

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem: praise thy God, O Sion. For he hath made fast the bars of thy gates: and hath blessed thy children within thee. He maketh peace in thy borders: and filleth thee with the flour of wheat.

Postcommunion

Most gracious God, by whose knowledge the depths are broken up and the clouds drop down the dew: we yield thee unfeigned thanks and praise for the return of seed-time and harvest, for the increase of the ground and the gathering in of the fruits thereof; and for all the other blessings of thy merciful providence bestowed upon this nation and people. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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