Sunday, February 19, 2012

Shrove Tuesday

A Brief History of “Shrove Tuesday”

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the last day of what was once called “Shrovetide,” originally a three-day period before the beginning of Lent. Eventually, the previous Thursday through Saturday was added to make a full week.

The word “shrove,” is from the Anglo-Saxon “to write down,” or “prescribe,” as in to prescribe a particular penance after confession. Shrovetide itself is the English equivalent of what became known in the greater part of Southern Europe, and eventually the Americas, as the “Carnival.” Strangely enough, this word, in spite of wild activities to the contrary, is derived from the Latin term for “taking away of the flesh" (carneum levare). The original idea was that during the week immediately before Lent everyone would go to his priest and confess his sins, and the priest would in turn prescribe or “shrive” what he needs to do in the way of penance during the upcoming Lenten season. Most of the time this meant depriving, or “taking away” some pleasure of the flesh.

Human nature being what it is, it is understandable that prior to a long period of going without a fleshly enjoyment of some kind, people allow themselves somewhat exceptional freedom in the way of festivity. Thus, this period has come to be known for great excesses in sin and vice of all kinds. In France and Latin countries it is called “Mardi gras” and in Germany “fetter Dienstag.”

The English custom of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday came from the need of using up all eggs and fat or oil, which were originally prohibited in the Christian’s diet during the forty days of Lent. This also partially accounts for the association of eggs with the Resurrection festival at the end of Lent.

Although the observance of Shrovetide in England never ran to the wild excesses which often mark this period in southern countries today, still various sports and games were common in almost all parts of the country. In the homes of the rich and powerful it was customary to celebrate the evening of Shrove Tuesday by the performance of plays, or to hold masquerade balls. And we learn from contemporary writers that the day was almost everywhere observed as a holiday, and many kinds of pranks and foolishness were tolerated or winked at in the schools and colleges.

Today, Shrove Tuesday has all but disappeared from Christian practice, while at the same time, sad to say, the wild mutation of Carnival has taken hold and indeed run amok. If I might make a small suggestion: The observance of Shrove Tuesday with a pancake supper and an evening devotion (for your convenience a version of the Office of Compline is copied below) would be a small way of paying homage to our Christian forbearers and setting our sights properly on the coming remembrance of the Passion of our Lord.

Here, let it be clearly understood that I do not intend to suggest the Roman practice of "penance," but rather the Biblical and God-pleasing practice as outlined briefly in the Augsburg Confession:

Article XI: Of Confession.

Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:12.

Article XII: Of Repentance (Penance).

Of Repentance they teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of sins whenever they are converted and that the Church ought to impart absolution to those thus returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.

Blessings and Peace!

Pastor Spencer

The Office at Compline

L: The LORD Almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.
P: Amen.

Lesson (First Peter 5:8)
L: Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

L: But You, O LORD, have mercy upon us.
P: Thanks be to God.
L: Our help is in the name of the LORD.
P: Who made heaven and earth.

ALL: I confess to God Almighty, before the whole company of heaven, and to my brethren, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault. Therefore I pray God Almighty to have mercy on me, forgive me all my sins, and bring me to everlasting life.
L: The almighty and merciful LORD grants to us pardon, absolution, and remission of all our sins.
P: Amen.

L: Restore us again, O God of our salvation.
P: And put away Your indignation toward us.
L: Be pleased, O God, to deliver me.
P: O LORD, make haste to help me.

Gloria Patri
ALL: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, for ever and ever. Amen.
[During Lent: Praise be to You, O LORD, King of eternal glory.]

L: Have mercy upon me, O LORD,
P: And hear my prayer.

Psalmody (Psalm 4, Psalm 31:1-6, and Psalm 134)
L: Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?
How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah.
But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself;
The LORD hears when I call to Him.
Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the LORD.
Many are saying, "Who will show us any good?"
Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD!
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.

P: In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
Let me never be ashamed;
In Your righteousness deliver me.
Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly;
Be to me a rock of strength,
A stronghold to save me.
For You are my rock and my fortress;
For Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me.
You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.
I hate those who regard vain idols,
But I trust in the LORD.

L: Behold, bless the LORD, all servants of the LORD,
Who serve by night in the house of the LORD!
Lift up your hands to the sanctuary
And bless the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion,
He who made heaven and earth.

Lesson (Jeremiah 14:9)
L: O LORD, You are in the midst of us, and we are called by Your name; leave us not, O LORD, our God.
P: Thanks be to God.

L: Into Your hands, O LORD, I commend my spirit.
P: Into Your hands, O LORD, I commend my spirit
L: For You have redeemed me, O LORD, God of truth.
P: I commend my spirit.
L: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
P: Into Your hands, O LORD, I commend my spirit.
L: Keep us, O LORD, as the apple of Your eye.
P: Hide us under the shadow of Your wings.
L: Save us, O LORD, waking, and guard us sleeping,
P: That awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in

Nunc Dimittis
ALL: LORD, now let Your servant depart in peace according to Your Word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel.

ALL: LORD, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. LORD, have mercy upon us.

The Lord's Prayer
ALL: Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
L: Grant, O LORD, this night
P: To keep us without sin.

L: Have mercy upon us, O LORD.
P: Have mercy upon us.
L: O LORD, let Your mercy be upon us.
P: As our trust is in You.
L: O LORD, hear my prayer.
P: And let my cry come to You.

L: Visit, we ask You, O LORD, our dwellings, and drive far from them all snares of the enemy; let Your holy angels dwell there to preserve us in peace; and may Your blessing be upon us always; through our Lord Jesus Christ.
P: Amen.

L: The LORD be with you.
P: And with your spirit.
L: We bless the LORD.
P: Thanks be to God.

L: The almighty and merciful LORD, the Father, the Son(+), and the Holy Ghost, bless and keep us.
P: Amen.

About Compline . . .

The term Compline comes from the Latin "completorium," completion, because this hour marks completion of the day: the end or close of the day. The term was first used in this way around the beginning of the sixth century by St. Benedict in his Rule. However, it is evident from church history that a mid-night hour of prayer existed in the Eastern Church already in the Fourth Century, being used by St. Basil at his retreat in Pontus by A.D. 362, and also in his monastery in Caesarea no later than A.D. 375.

The Office of Compline, can be divided into several parts; the introduction, the psalmody, with its usual versicles, the hymn, the lesson, the response, the canticle, the prayer, and the benediction.

The current Office has modified the simple Benedictine psalmody by the insertion of a fourth Psalm, and adds the solemn introduction of a benediction with another reading, and the confession and absolution of faults.

In addition, the Office of Compline is given a very distinctive character and greater solemnity by the addition of the beautiful response, "In manus tuas, Domine," and the great canticle "Nunc Dimittis." It has always been somewhat of a mystery as to why St. Benedict, who always favored solemnity in this Office, should have omitted these elements, especially the Nunc Dimittus.



Anonymous said...

This is a great family activity! Thank you for posting the devotion with it.

Shelley Ledford

Daniel Baker said...

Does the traditional pancake dinner include pączkis for dessert? Haha.

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