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Speaking to the Soul: Lord, open our lips

Speaking to the Soul: Lord, open our lips

by Sarah Brock

Today’s Readings:  Monday in Holy Week
AM  Psalm 51   PM  Psalm 69:1-23
Jeremiah 12:1-16; Philippians 3:1-14; John 12:9-19

Psalm 51

Officiant       Lord, open our lips.
People           And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

The Book of Common Prayer, p. 80


You may recognize these words, paraphrased from Psalm 51:16, as the beginning of the Invitatory in the Morning Prayer liturgy. These words became very familiar to me during my nine months as a monastic intern at the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Boston. At 6 am morning prayer, these were some of the first words uttered, quietly chanted in the dim light of the new day. They follow closely on the heels of confession and forgiveness, chasing away the darkness of the night and the darkness of past mistakes. As each individual slowly begins to awaken to the new day, joining voices together to chant as one. These words strike a note to begin a fresh new day.


Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.


When you live in community with a group of people, eating and working and praying alongside one another day in and day out, these words become more than just another phrase spoken in church without much thought beyond Sunday morning. They become a reminder, a way to approach challenging relationships, a lens through which to see day-to-day life.


Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.


Not, ‘open my lips and I shall tell everyone I disagree with just how wrong they are’ or ‘open my lips and I shall express my anger at not getting my way.’ Or any other version of human response you might come up with over the course of a day. But, ‘open my lips and I shall proclaim your praise.’ A wise approach when you live and work and eat with the same people every day, inevitably encountering both fun and frustration along the way. Whether it’s monks or roommates or coworkers or strangers, this is wise advice for daily life.


Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.


As we enter together into this last week of Lent, into the darkness and conviction of Holy Week, through the darkest bit of the tunnel to next Sunday, these words strike me as a small candle with which to light the way. A chance, or rather a promise, to share a moment of light with those I encounter, especially this week. A promise to approach relationships from a posture of praise first. A promise to offer praise in the form of both words and actions.


Open my mouth, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.


What better way to start out each day?
What better way from which to approach encounter and relationship?
What better way to live life?



Sarah Brock is becoming a postulant in the Diocese of Massachusetts and lives in Boston.

Image Credit: My own. Chapel at the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Boston.


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Fred Loving

Thank you, Sarah. Really needed this today.

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