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THE REV. PHIL MASON ON THE EPISCOPALIAN LITURGY
"Allow me to expand a little on how music and worship function together in the Episcopal liturgy. The worship each Sunday has a theme. The theme is first determined by the church season: Christmas, Lent, Easter Pentecost, etc. The theme for any particular Sunday is determined by the "Common Lectionary" of scripture readings used by the Church.
The first hint of the day is the processional hymn. If we hear: "Now that daylight fills the sky", we might guess that we are in the season of Epiphany and today would be about God being revealed to us.
The next solid clue would be the Collect of the Day. If we listen carefully to this prayer, we should be able to guess a little more closely what this day is about. The Collect of the Day might begin, "O Lord, you have taught us that without love whatever we do is worth nothing." Therefore, we know that today is going to be about love and, since we notice that it is Epiphany, how that love is revealed to us.
Sure enough, the first reading is from Leviticus and teaches us how to treat each other with respect. The psalm fits in, too, and sometimes we might choose to sing it for the psalms were, after all, written for singing.
Moving along, then, we identify that the second reading is from First Corinthians. Paul is teaching about Christ's love. Then comes the sequence hymn before the Gospel, so how about, "Love Divine, All Love's Excelling"? This likely would be followed by a reading from Matthew, "love your neighbor, love your enemy," setting up the sermon next about how we might fit God's love into our lives.
At the offertory then we sing, "Lord, make us servants of your peace". During communion we find ourselves singing the beautiful prayer, "Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love". And, at the recessional, we are encouraged to take this message of love out into the world. "Go forth for God; go to the world in peace".
So, there we have it: prayers, music, and liturgy all expressing one theme as with a symphony, bearing a message for the Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, liturgical year."