I was surprised to hear that the celebration of Matins at St. Blasius is the only one regularly offered in the Island now. We are indeed privileged; though it is only a short time ago that we had it twice a month. I probably should not be surprised, as opportunities to attend services using the Book of Common Prayer have become more and more rare. We should, I feel, make the availability of Matins made known more widely, so that those who value the beauty of the 1662 Prayer Book can attend. We must make it easier to do so by having Matins at a regular time each month
We do have the celebration of Matins on the third Sunday each month unless that clashes with a major festival when the Eucharist takes precedent.
The strong sense some of us have that the Book of Common Prayer is God's treasured gift granted to the Church of England should need no defence by those brought up with the services. These have come under fire from well meaning people who claim the language is not that of later C20th when most of the simplifications have been made. The Prayer Book language, being C17th, was also not current even in my long ago youth; in the 1950's. Matins - with communion following about once a month- was the usual main Sunday service overall in the Church of England and we, old and young, more literate or less, coped with it perfectly well. It became familiar and understanding came with that familiarity.
The richness and beauty of the prose seeped into our consciousness and I believe evoked responses that flat modernity will never achieve.
The old "Thee" and "Thou" by which God is addressed haven't been in daily use, apart from some dialects, for hundreds of years. They are similar to the French "tu", a version of "you" which is closer and carries a respectful sense of belonging and love, being part of God's family. Many churches still use the traditional version of the Lord's Prayer (hallowed be thy name - thy will be done) it's familiar, it conveys reverent love, and I think few find it hard to understand.
A further rich gift to us is the language of the Psalms, of which Matins gives us experience. Good poetry, it's said, communicates before it is fully understood or, to be banal, reaches parts of our spirit plain language doesn't touch. We can hope that more churchgoers may learn to love this service and the echoing meanings of words that become parts of our language and thought, and which link us to our forebears in an unbroken stream of worship. These days of excuses for everything, we may become more aware of how "the devices and desires of our own hearts" lead us to "our manifold sins and wickedness" of which the older service is unafraid to speak.
All are most welcome to join us to celebrate Matins on the third Sunday of the month. Please check our website (st-blasius-church.org.uk) for details of our services.