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THE Priest's Prayer Book has been drawn up to assist the Clergy in those occasional Parochial Ministrations for which the Book of Common Prayer does not make provision. Many detached and partial efforts have been made to meet this want, and in particular much has been done to aid the Parish Priest in Pastoral Visitation of the Sick.
But for more than three hundred years the Church of England has been without a portable Sacerdotal, and the manifest inconvenience from the want of it must be the justification of the present volume, while the novelty and difficulty of the task are pleaded by the Editors in palliation of its many defects.
It has been compiled from a great variety of Service-books of the Eastern and Western Church, from many devotional and ascetic writings, and in part from the practical experience of the Editors, and is designed as a supplement to the Book of Common Prayer; but in no sense as a substitute for it; for which reason it does not reproduce any matter which may be found there.
Although mainly designed for the public ministrations of the Clergy, their more personal needs have not been neglected; and in particular, a large body of Private Prayers and Intercessions has been provided, to meet those special requirements of the Clerical life which are for the most part passed over in ordinary manuals of devotion. Want of room has forbidden the insertion of the Canonical Hours, since they alone, if fully set forth, would fill a volume larger than the present one.
The Offices are all cast in the mould of ritual forms which have been tested by the use of many centuries, and some few of them are unchanged versions of ancient Services. But the Editors have held themselves at liberty to exercise the same privilege of choice and adaptation to existing needs as was freely assumed by the medieval compilers of similar manuals, since their object has been to produce a practical Officebook, not a liturgical curiosity. The structure of the majority of the Offices will be familiar to all who are acquainted with that of the "Hours" of the Western Church, framed as they are of a sequence of Hymns, Psalms, Scriptures, and Collects, broken up by Versicles and Responses. This form has been adopted, not merely because of its variety and beauty, but also by reason of its distinctly congregational character.
Another quality which it also possesses, that of flexibility, has been found of primary advantage in constructing the Offices for the Sick. A rigid and invariable form, even if appropriate, either causes wearisome repetition, or compels the substitution of one that is inappropriate, for the sake of change; and this inconvenience makes itself especially felt