This tidbit was an old favourite of mine back home. First, the canticle itself, from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:
It was introduced with the 1928 BCP. Before that (and in the 1662 BCP) you only had two choices between the First and Second Lessons of Morning Prayer:
- Te Deum Laudamus, that magnificent hymn that many French martyrs sang to their beheading during the French Revolution. However, like the Gloria in Excelsis, it’s notoriously difficult.
- Benedicte, Omnia Opera, the deuterocanonical/apocryphal (take your pick) song of Shadrach, Mishach and Abed-Nego in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace. If that’s what they sang in the furnace, there’s no doubt that they had divine asbestos in their clothing: it’s very, very long.
With the Benedictus es, Domine, a shorter piece between the lessons was possible, and our youth choir took advantage of that.
Below is an actual proper Anglican performance of same, at St. John’s Church in Detroit.
It shares a common defect with many proper Anglican performances: the organ, the sole instrument allowed, gets progressively louder, drowning out the choir and making it impossible for the congregation to sing along. This was a fault with much of the worship I grew up with. Unfortunately, loud organs wouldn’t end with my years as an Episcopalian, and now loud organs are replaced with loud praise and worship teams, with the same result: inhibiting the congregation’s desire and ability to join in the worship.