Though I have plenty to say on morning (and evening) prayer, I think this is going to be my last word on it for the time being. These thoughts ostensibly are to help Chutney make some choices to help him compose a service. (Though I’m not sure if that is a single meta-service or several more proper/particular ones.)
If I had to have one piece of advice left, I’dÂ say be sure it isn’t too precious or theoretically uniform. For most of the last forty years it has been quite fashionable for professional liturgists to dictate that worship has some immutable theological thrust to which its practice must conform. The results tend to be more often than necessary wordy, pale, stilted, and unsettling. There’s lots of evidence that liturgists have profound egos. My shelves are full of the stuff (which makes its elimination that much easier.)
Like quaint neighborhoods near “urban renewal” zones, Unitarian Universalists, having such a small corps of professional liturgists and little access to others, has largely been spared. I suppose we get het up on the Great God Community. Some of the new texts sound like something UNESCO would gush, but good liturgics would flush these out. Most of the people who would scold me for praying “Our Father . . . ” wouldn’t say it if the gender was changed or neutralized anyway.
So all in all, I think we’re in pretty good stead for making worship an occasionally messy (on paper) compote with odd little rationales and understandings, while becoming aware that it needs — to use that theater term — good production values.
Past reformers often miss this point, valuing purity and underappreciating method, but the people in the pews instinctively get it.
Last word. If you would like some really rich reading on the history of daily prayer, read George Guiver’s Company of Voices: Daily Prayer and the People of God (2001).