Preces (Latin "preces", plural of "prex", "prayer") are, in liturgical worship, short petitions that are said or sung as versicle and response by the officiant and respectively. This form of prayer is one of the oldest in Christianity, finding its source in both the pre-christian Hebrew prayers of the Psalms in Temple Worship, [] as well as pagan practices common in the ancient worldFact|date=April 2008.

The Anglican tradition

An example familiar to Anglicans is the opening versicles and responses of the Anglican services of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the "Book of Common Prayer":

:"Priest:" O Lord, open thou our lips::"People:" And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.:"Priest:" O God, make speed to save us::"People:" O Lord, make haste to help us.:"Priest:" Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. :"People:" As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. :"Priest:" Praise ye the Lord. :"People:" The Lord's name be praised.

This particular form has existed in all of the liturgical churches since well before the Reformation. The responses continue later in the service, after the Apostle's Creed.

There are many musical settings of the text, ranging from largely homophonic settings such as those by William Byrd and Thomas Morley, to more elaborate arrangements that may even require organ accompaniment.

The Roman Catholic tradition

The Latin Rite

In the Roman Rite, the term "preces" is not applied in a specific sense to the opening versicles and responses of the different liturgical hours, on which those used in the Anglican services are based. In the Roman Rite Liturgy of the Hours, the word "preces" is freely used in the Latin text with its generic meaning of "prayers", but it has a specialized meaning in reference to the prayers said at Morning and Evening Prayer after the Benedictus or Magnificat and followed by the Lord's Prayer and the concluding prayer or Collect. They vary with the seasons (Advent, Christmastide, Lent, Eastertide, and Ordinary Time), being repeated generally only at four-week intervals, and with the celebration of saints. In the most widely used English translation of the Liturgy of the Hours, they are referred to as Intercessions, and are very similar to the General Intercessions found within the confines of the Mass.

An example is that of Morning Prayer on Thursday of Week 2 in Ordinary Time::"Versicle:" Blessed be our God and Father: he hears the prayers of his children. :"Response:" Lord, hear us.:"Versicle:" We thank you, Father for sending us your Son: - let us keep him before our eyes throughout this day. :"Response:" Lord, hear us.:"Versicle:" Make wisdom our guide, - help us walk in newness of life.:"Response:" Lord, hear us.:"Versicle:" Lord, give us your strength in our weakness: - when we meet problems give us courage to face them.:"Response:" Lord, hear us.:"Versicle:" Direct our thought, our words, our actions today, - so that we may know, and do, your will.:"Response:" Lord, hear us.

The Latin Rite before 1962

In earlier iterations of the Roman Breviary before 1962, however, the "preces" proper referred to a series of versicles and responses which were said either standing or kneeling, depending on the day or season in which the prayers were to be uttered. There were two forms, the Dominical or abridged preces, and the Ferial or unabridged preces. These were said, as in the Anglican communion, at both morning (Prime) and Evening (Vespers) Prayer. Here follows the Dominical preces from the common Prime office, from an edition of the pre-1962 Breviary online [Order of Prime|]

:"Versicle:" Lord, have mercy upon us.:"Response:" Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord have mercy upon us.: Our Father. "(Said aloud, and the rest silently until:)":"Versicle:" And lead us not into temptation.:"Response:" But deliver us from evil.: I believe in God. "(Said aloud, and the rest silently until:)":"Versicle:" The Resurrection of the body.:"Response:" And the Life † (Sign of the Cross) everlasting. Amen.:"Versicle:" Unto thee have I cried, O Lord.:"Response:" And early shall my prayer come before thee.:"Versicle:" O let my mouth be filled with thy praise.:"Response:" That I may sing of thy glory and honour all the day long.:"Versicle:" O Lord, turn thy face from my sins.:"Response:" And put out all my misdeeds.:"Versicle:" Make me a clean heart, O God.:"Response:" And renew a right spirit within me.:"Versicle:" Cast me not away from thy presence.:"Response:" And take not thy Holy Spirit from me.:"Versicle:" O give me the comfort of thy help again.:"Response:" And stablish me with thy free Spirit.:"Versicle:" Our help † (Sign of the Cross) is in the Name of the Lord.:"Response:" Who hath made heaven and earth.

After which would follow the General confession of sins.

This form of prayer has ceased to be used in all of the Roman rite, aside from some of the more traditional groups.

The Mozaribic Rite

In the Mozarabic Rite the "Preces" or "Preca" are chants of penitential character used only in Lent. They are in the form of a litany, with a short response (usually "miserere nobis" - have mercy on us) to each invocation

The Opus Dei "Preces"

In the Catholic prelature Opus Dei, the Preces are a special set of prayers said by each member every day.


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