The Theory and the Practice of Liturgy at Holy Trinity

This past Tuesday we held a Prayer Procession and Eucharist for the Feast pof St. Michael and All Angels. We called it Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones, and, looking at the bulletin I posted the other day, you might think it was a pretty formal affair.

It wasn’t.

It really wasn’t. Indeed, it ended up being so “informal” (some might even have called it “chaotic”) that I figure I need to say something here about the difference between the theory and the practice of liturgy at the Church of the Holy Trinity.

You see, when I am designing a liturgy, alone in my quiet office, I routinely forget that we are a small church in a poverty-stricken neighborhood. I routinely forget that not everyone speaks the way I do, and not everyone reads my big words and complex sentences as easily as I do—I after all, already know what it is that I’m trying to say! I routinely forget that straight lines aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. As a result of this routine negligence on my part (there I go again!), the written part—the theory—of our liturgies often looks quite different from the practice.

The practice of liturgy the other evening went like this:

  • We started out with four children and five adults (none of whom were related to the children). Two of the adults were unable to process, one due to fatigue and the other due to disability.  This left three adults with four children.
  • The children had come over to the church looking for Soup After School. When I told them that Soup After School doesn’t start until next Tuesday, they decided to participate in the service anyway.
  • When the three girls asked if they could take their turns reading the prayers (the boy was by far the youngest, and too young to be reading yet), I agreed, not really thinking through the fact that the language would be above their reading (and probably comprehension) level. We ended us with one of them reading with me following along and prompting where needed (about 1 in 3 words).
  • Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones turned out to be a good hymn choice, since when in doubt, you can just sing “Alleluia” really loud, over and over again.
  • Let’s just say that flinging holy water around was a big hit, and the priest might not have been the only one wielding the aspergillium (or fingers). . .
  • Halfway through the procession, the little boy decided he didn’t want to be with us, so I said he could do his own thing as long as he crossed the street with us. At one point he decided to push that boundary by sitting down in the middle of the sidewalk. His big sister had a word with him and eventually persuaded him to come along before I had to pick him up and carry him across the street, but it was a close thing!
  • Back at the church for Eucharist, the kids came up to acolyte—1 for the wine, 1 for the water, 1 for the handwashing, and 1 for the bells.  Lots of whispered instructions ensued.
  • We all hit the snack cabinet after mass was over and clean-up done. If you have donated juice and granola bars or other healthy snacks, this is what your donations are going towards!

In other words, this was an awful service from the standpoint of theoretical liturgy, since next to nothing went as planned. From the standpoint of practical and pastoral liturgy, however, this service was every inch a success!

Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

Gustave Doré, The Celestial Rose—An Illustration from Dante’s Paradiso



Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

Procession and Eucharist

for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels

6:30 pm, September 29th

at the

Church of the Holy Trinity





About the Service

For centuries, Christians have prayed in processions around their neighborhoods, setting forth with their bodies what they profess with their words: the Lord Our God has dominion over all. When faced with what may seem to be insurmountable challenges, we carry the cross in which we find our triumph, and call upon the Lord who has created and redeemed us.

On the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, we remember that as Christians we have been placed by God under the protection of Michael, chief among the archangels. Michael is the warrior angel who defeated Satan during the war in heaven. He is a protector against the darkness and the enlightener of minds. Like all the holy angels, Michael is the faithful servant of God, a messenger who does God’s will on Earth.

How appropriate, therefore, that on this Feast of St. Michael and All Angels we should process around this our neighborhood, proclaiming the dominion of our Lord and asking the angels to watch over us. As the days shorten and troubles multiply, the angels remind us that our lives are wrapped in God’s fierce and tender care.

Let us extend that same care to each other.



 Procession of the Angels

Speaking parts in bold face type are to be said by all the people together


Opening Acclamation

Priest                Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word.

People             Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion.

Priest              Let us pray.

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals: Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

People                Amen.


Reading           Daniel 10: 4-6, 8-21

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris), I looked up and saw a man clothed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the roar of a multitude. I was left alone to see this great vision. My strength left me, and my complexion grew deathly pale, and I retained no strength. Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a trance, face to the ground. But then a hand touched me and roused me to my hands and knees. He said to me, ‘Daniel, greatly beloved, pay attention to the words that I am going to speak to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.’ So while he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. He said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. So Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, and I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia,* and have come to help you understand what is to happen to your people at the end of days. For there is a further vision for those days.’ While he was speaking these words to me, I turned my face towards the ground and was speechless. Then one in human form touched my lips, and I opened my mouth to speak, and said to the one who stood before me, ‘My lord, because of the vision such pains have come upon me that I retain no strength. How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For I am shaking, no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.’ Again one in human form touched me and strengthened me. He said, ‘Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!’ When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.’ Then he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? Now I must return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I am through with him, the prince of Greece will come. But I am to tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth. There is no one with me who contends against these princes except Michael, your prince.

Reader                The Word of the Lord

People                Thanks be to God.


The Procession


Priest                he Lord be with you.

People             And also with you.

Priest                Lift up your hearts.

People             We lift them to the Lord.

Priest               Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

People             It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Priest               It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. In praising your faithful angels and archangels, we praise your greater glory; in honoring them, we honor you, their creator; and in asking for their protection, we ask only that they do your divine will, for you are gracious, O Lover of Souls, and to you we give praise: Father Son and Holy Spirit.

People             Amen.

Priest                Let us go forth in peace;

People             In the name of Christ. Amen.

The people begin singing and processing westward on Prast, going as far as the third house.












The procession having stopped in front of the third house, the priest says:

Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it?

People             Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?

Prayer Leader 1 (PL1)                Let us pray

Heavenly Angels, mighty ones obedient to God’s spoken Word: in that Word you have shared with us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory. Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth, and especially this city of South Bend; that through your ministry our Lord might renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life, send us honest and able leaders, and enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression. Let peace might prevail with righteousness, and justice with order, so that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The people resume singing and processing westward, going as far as the third house.


O higher than the cherubim,

More glorious than the seraphim,

Lead their praises, Alleluia!

Thou Bearer of the eternal Word,

Most gracious, magnify the Lord,

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


The procession having stopped in front of the third house, the priest says:

See, I am going to gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,

People        Those with child and those in labor, together; they shall return here.

PL2      Let us pray.

Holy Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray with us for all pregnant women and for the children they have conceived, that both may safely and happily come to the time of birth, and have occasion to rejoice in the loving providence of your Son, Jesus Christ, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, now and for ever. Amen.

The people resume singing and processing westward, going as far as the third house.


Respond, ye souls in endless rest,

Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Ye holy Twelve, ye martyrs strong,

All saints triumphant, raise the song,

O, Praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


The procession having stopped in front of the third house, the priest says:

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

People             ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

PL3      Let us pray.

Heavenly Angels, inhabitants of that heavenly kingdom where no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love, no hands raised but the hands of praise: So mightily spread the good news abroad, that we all might be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

The people resume singing and processing westward, going as far as the third house.


All ye who are of tender heart,

forgiving others, take your part;

Alleluia, Alleluia!

All ye who pain and sorrow bear,

Praise God and on him cast your care;

O, Praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia! Alleluia!


The procession having stopped in front of the third house, the priest says:


Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.

People        This is my comfort in my distress, that your promise gives me life.

PL4      Let us pray.

Heavenly Angels, you bear witness to the truth that the Lord does not willingly afflict or grieve His children: Look with pity upon the sorrows of your fellow servants who mourn, and watch over our weakness in mercy. Pray with us that the Lord might nourish our mortal souls with patience, comfort us with a sense of His goodness, lift up His countenance upon us, and give us peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The people resume singing and processing westward, going as far as the NE corner house.


All ye who are of tender age,

‘round whom such worldly tempests rage;

Alleluia, Alleluia!

His word, a lantern for your feet,

Will guide your steps when goals compete.

O, Praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia! Alleluia!


The procession having stopped in front of the corner house, the priest says:

You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.

People             Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.

PL5                  Let us pray

Heavenly Angels, watch over our children, who are growing up in an unsteady and confusing world. Shine your holy light upon them, that they may see that the ways of God give more life than the ways of the world, and that following Him is better than chasing after selfish goals. Bear them up when they fall, that they might take failure, not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Strengthen them, that they might hold onto their faith in God, and keep alive their joy in His creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The people resume singing and process southward down Meade, going as far as the SE corner of Meade and Frederickson.


All ye who lie in prisons drear

Know that your Lord and Savior’s near

Alleluia, Alleluia!

Let all that is within you bless

Him who hears you in your distress.

O, Praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia! Alleluia!


The procession having stopped in front of the corner house, the priest says:

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in Peter’s cell.

People             When Peter came to himself he said, ‘Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me.

PL6                  Let us pray.

Heavenly Angels, you shone your light in Peter’s cell when he was imprisoned: visit our jails and prisons with that light. Watch over all prisoners and captives, bringing the guilty to repentance and amendment of life according to God’s will, and giving all of them hope for their future. When any are held unjustly, bring them release, and pray that God might forgive us, and teach us to improve our justice. Watch over all those who work in these institutions; make them humane and compassionate; and save them from becoming brutal or callous. And since what we do for those in prison, we do to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, constrain us to improve their lot. All this we ask in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The people resume singing and process eastward down Frederickson, going as far as the third lot (which is vacant).


All ye who struggle for the right,

Praise God who puts it in your sight.

O Praise him, Alleluia!

His justice let us each pursue.

Praise Him who gives to each her due.

O, Praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia! Alleluia!


The procession having stopped in front of the third lot, the priest says:

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

People             And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

PL 7                 Let us pray.

Heavenly Angels, guide the people in this land who live with injustice, addiction, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Pray God’s mercy upon us, that we might extend our hands in in mercy to our neighbors. Fight alongside those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all, so that every one of us might enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The people resume singing and processing eastward, going as far as the third house.


All ye who labor without pay,

God bless you in your work today.

O Praise him, Alleluia!

May God who knows your works and thought

Now bring you pay for what you’ve wrought.

O, Praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia! Alleluia!


The procession having stopped in front of the third house, the priest says:

They were broken in pieces, nation against nation and city against city, for God troubled them with every sort of distress.

People             But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.’

PL 8                 Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, we remember before you those who suffer want and anxiety from lack of work. Guide the people of this land so to use our public and private wealth that all may find suitable and fulfilling employment, and receive just payment for their labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The people resume singing and processing eastward, going as far as the third house.


Praise God ye who advance in years

Praise God with laughter and with tears

O Praise him, Alleluia!

Praise Him with sore and aching joints

All weaknesses our Lord anoints

O, Praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia, Alleluia! Alleluia!


The procession having stopped in front of the third house, the priest says:

How attractive is wisdom in the aged, and understanding and counsel in the venerable!

People             Rich experience is the crown of the aged, and their boast is the fear of the Lord.

PL 9                 Let us pray.

Heavenly Angels, whom God has spared the aging of our mortal frame, watch over all those whose increasing years bring them weakness, distress, or isolation. Pray that our Lord provide for them homes of dignity and peace, understanding helpers, and the willingness to accept help. And as their strength diminishes, pray that our Lord increase their faith and their assurance of His love. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The people resume singing and processing eastward, going as far as the SW corner house.


All ye who learn and ye who teach

Praise God who gives us ears and speech

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Praise God from whom all wisdom flows

Praise Him whose light first in you rose.

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


The procession having stopped in front of the corner house, the priest says:

Let the wise also hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill,

People             The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

PL 10                Let us pray.

Heavenly Angels, to whom divine knowledge has been revealed, watch over the schools where our children study, that in safety they may prosper as lively centers for sound learning, new discovery, and the pursuit of wisdom. Pray that those who teach and those who learn may find our Lord to be the source of all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The people resume singing and process north on Olive to the front of the church


O friends, in gladness let us sing,

supernal anthems echoing,

Alleluia! Alleluia!

To God the Father, God the Son,

and God the Spirit, Three in One:

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


The people having returned to the front of the church, the priest says:

The Lord raises up the needy out of distress, and makes their families like flocks.

People             The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth.

PL 10                Let us pray.

Heavenly Angels, You see the Lord set the solitary in families: watch over the homes in which His people dwell. Pray that our Lord put far from them every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Pray that he fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, and godliness. Pray that he knit them together in constant affection, turning the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents, that we may evermore have affection one for another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The people enter the church and are seated for the Ministry of the Word


The Ministry of the Word

Old Testament:            Genesis 28:10-17

Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the LORD stood beside him and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place– and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Psalm: Psalm 103 Page 733, BCP

The Epistle:     Revelation 12:7-12

War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world– he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah, for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death. Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

The people stand for the Alleluia and the Gospel







The Gospel:    John 1:47-51

The people respond to the announcement of the Gospel with Glory to you, Lord Christ. After the Gospel has been read, the Reader says, The Gospel of the Lord, to which the people respond, Praise to you, Lord Christ.

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Brief Sermon:

The Nicene Creed:       BCP 358

The Prayers of the People, Form III               BCP 387

Confession and Absolution      BCP 360

Passing of the Peace:   All are invited to share a sign of God’s peace with one another.

Holy Eucharist

Offertory Sentence:

Great Thanksgiving: Eucharistic Prayer A       BCP 361

The Lord’s Prayer, traditional  BCP 364

Breaking of the Bread:             A period of Silence is kept.

Fraction Anthem          BCP 364

Priest    Alleluia. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
People Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia.

Invitation to Holy Communion:           Communion is distributed to the people.

All baptized Christians are invited to share in Communion, and Gluten free wafers are available on request. Un-baptized persons or those wishing not to receive communion for any reason are welcome to come forward for a blessing, crossing their hands over their chests in indication.

Post Communion Thanksgiving and Blessing:            BCP 366


The Dismissal:            BCP 366