Something I’ve come to appreciate about the Daily Office is its treatment of the week. On their own, “every day is like another,” as Paul told the Romans. But as those very same verses imply, we have the power to infuse those days with meaning and turn something as mundane as the passing of the days into a proclamation of the Gospel. What a beautiful expression of the great redemption is working for his creation!
I would not go so far to say that each day of the week has a definite theme. A couple do, but for the most part it’s about tenor or mood. It comes about by two avenues: adapted Jewish liturgical tradition, and Christian liturgical tradition.
A 1st-century church manual known as The Didache (specifically chapter 8) informs us that Jews had a practice of fasting on two days in a week: Monday and Thursday. I don’t know why, but it seems logically spread out through the week and away from the Sabbath Day. According to that same document, though, Christian were instructed to fast on Wednesday and Friday. Again, I’m not sure why it was decreed then, but this instruction is in perfect harmony with the universal Christian calendar that eventually came to the fore.
In particular I refer to the Easter celebration. It was eventually agreed that Easter would always be celebrated on a certain Sunday of the year, thus locking the 40-day fast of Lent into place such that it starts on a Wednesday, and culminates in Jesus’ arrest on a Thursday, death on a Friday, and repose on Saturday. These are the events that typify the Christian week to this day! Sunday is resurrection-themed, Wednesday is vaguely more penitential than Monday and Tuesday and Thursday, Thursday has potential for a Maundy Thursday Eucharistic theme, Friday is the top penitential day remembering the death of Christ, and Sautrday is the Sabbath kind of day matching Jesus’ day in the tomb, while anticipating the Resurrection Day about to dawn.
Some of these are expressly written for their particular days, and others I just have arranged to be on those days. It’s about praying the gospel through the week, not about fulfilling some kind of law or rule, so don’t feel like I’m trying to set these out as “the way things must be!”
Finally, before presenting these sample prayers, I’d also like to remind you that these are just snippets from more fully-developed spiritual disciplines including many other ingredients such as reading & praying the Psalms, which I’ve also discussed before using this day-by-day theme.
Sunday Morning: O God, who makes us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your Son our Lord: Grant us this day such blessing through our worship of you, that the days to come may be spent in your favor, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
On Sunday: O God our King, by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ on the first day of the week, you conquered sin, put death to flight, and gave us the hope of everlasting life: Redeem all our days by this victory; forgive our sins, banish our fears, make us bold to praise you and to do your will; and steel us to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last great Day; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sunday Evening: Lord God, who Son our savior Jesus Christ triumphed over the powers of death and prepared for us our place in the new Jerusalem, may praise you in that City of which he is the light; and where he lives and reigns forever and ever.
On Sunday: Eternal God, who led your ancient people into freedom by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night: Grant that we who walk in the light of your presence may rejoice in the liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sunday Night: O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and holy rest, and peace at the last.
Monday Noon (or Tuesday or Thursday): Almighty Savior, who at noonday called your servant Saint Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles: We pray you to illumine the world with the radiance of your glory, that all nations may come and worship you; for you live and reign forever and ever.
Monday Evening: Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, creator of the changes of day and night, giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent, bestowing upon us occasions of song in the evening. As you have protected us in the day that is past, so be with us in the coming night; keep us from every sin, every evil, and every fear; for you are our light and salvation and the strength of our life. To you be glory for endless ages.
Monday Night: Look down, O Lord, from your heavenly throne, and illumine this night with your celestial brightness; that by night as by day your people may glorify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Tuesday Evening: Almighty, everlasting God, let our prayer in your sight be as incense, the lifting up of our hands as the evening sacrifice. Give us grace to behold you, present in your Word and Sacraments, and to recognize you in the lives of those around us. Stir up in us the flame of that love which burned in the heart of your Son as he bore his passion, and let it burn in us to eternal life and to the ages of ages.
On Tuesday (or Monday): Almighty God, we give you thanks for surrounding us, as daylight fades, with the brightness of the vesper light; and we implore you of your great mercy that, as you enfold us with the radiance of this light, so you would shine in our hearts the brightness of your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Tuesday Night: Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life ay rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
On Wednesday: Grant us, Lord, the lamp of charity which never fails, that it may burn in us and shed its light on those around us, and that by its brightness we may have a vision of that holy City, where dwells the true and never-failing light, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Wednesday Night: Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thursday Evening: Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love.
On Thursday: Lord Christ, your saints have been the lights of the world in every generation: Grant that we who follow in their footsteps may be made worthy to enter with them into that heavenly country where you live and reign forever and ever.
Thursday Night: O God, who are the life of all who live, the light of the faithful, the strength of those who labor, and the repose of the dead: We thank you for the timely blessings of the day, and humbly beseech your merciful protection all the night. Bring us, we pay, in safety to the morning hours; through him who died for us and rose again, thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ.
Friday Morning: Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Friday Noon (or Wednesday or Saturday): Blessed Savior, at this hour you hung upon the cross, stretching out your loving arms: Grant that all the people of the earth may look to you and be saved; for your tender mercies’ sake.
Friday Evening: O Lord Jesus Christ, who by thy death didst take away the sting of death: Grant unto us thy servants so to follow in faith where thou hast led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in thee, and wake up after thy likeness; for thy tender mercies’ sake.
Friday Night: Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
Saturday Morning: Almighty God, who after the creation of the world did rest from all your works and sanctify a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Saturday Evening: O God, the source of eternal light: Shed forth thine unending day upon us who watch for thee, that our lips may praise thee, our lives may bless thee, and our worship on the morrow may give thee glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
On Saturday (or Friday): Almighty and most merciful God, kindle within us the fire of thy love, that by its cleansing flame we may be purged of all our sins and made worthy to worship you in spirit and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Saturday Night: We give you thanks, O God, for revealing your Son Jesus Christ to us by the light of his resurrection: Grant that we sing your glory at the close of this day, our joy may abound in the morning as we celebrate the Pascal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord.