Prayer Beads: The Anglican Rosary and Other Christian Prayer Beads


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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In the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the Rosary is a sacramental and Marian devotion to prayer to commemorate events in the life of Jesus. Many similar prayer practices exist in various other Christian communities, each with its own set of prescribed prayers and its own form of prayer beads or prayer rope. These other devotions and their associated beads are usually called “chaplets” are sometimes used by other Christians.

An Anglican Rosary made of Olive Wood & Chiastolite
An Anglican Rosary made of Olive Wood & Chiastolite

In the mid-1980s, Episcopalians in the United States participating in a study group dealing with methods of prayer developed a particular contemplative prayer form using prayer beads. Since then, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and other Protestant groups, have adopted or adapted the design of the Episcopalian prayer beads with their own set of prescribed prayers, thus giving rise to the term “Christian prayer beads.”

The string pf Anglican prayer beads, also known as the Anglican rosary is a loop of strung beads which Anglicans, as well as Christians of other denominations, use to order their prayer. It combines the elements of the Roman Catholic Rosary and the Jesus Prayer Rope of the Eastern Orthodox.

The Anglican rosary

The Anglican Rosary is designed using a cross and 33 beads to signify the traditional number of years of earthly life of Jesus.

There is one ‘Invitatory’ bead followed by four sets of seven beads each called a ‘week.’ In the Judeo-Christian tradition the number seven is deemed to be spiritually perfect and complete.

A single bead called the ‘Cruciform’ bead is positioned between each week. When the rosary is placed on a flat surface, the four Cruciform beads form a Cross.

The small beads in the week are often separated by small spacer beads.

The Anglican prayer beads are made of a variety of materials: precious stones, wood, colored glass, or even dried and painted seeds, and adorned with a variety of crosses or, occasionally, crucifixes. The Celtic cross and the San Damiano cross are two which are often used.

While the traditional Rosary used by Roman Catholics focuses on the seminal events in the life of Christ and asks the Virgin Mary to pray for their intentions, the Anglican rosary are most often used as a tactile aid to prayer and as a counting device. There are no set prayers for the Anglican Rosary. It is the choice of the individual or of the congregation.

The rosary is prayed, unhurriedly, three times to signify the Holy Trinity. This makes for ninety-nine prayers, and in Middle Eastern traditions, 99 is the complete number of the Divine Names similar to the Islamic tradition of reciting the 99 names of Allah.

The inclusion of the cross at the beginning or the end, brings the total number of prayers said to 100, which is the total of the Orthodox Rosary and represents the fullness of creation. The saying of the rosary is then followed by a period of silence for reflection.

The Book of Common Prayer brims with many choice prayers; particularly among the morning and evening prayers, the prayers of the people, the numerous collects and even lectionary readings. Psalms and Canticles are time honored devotions, as are the Jesus Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Serenity Prayer.

The standard Anglican set consists of the following pattern, starting with the cross, followed by the Invitatory Bead, and then, the first Cruciform bead, moving to the right, through the first set week to the next Cruciform bead, continuing around the circle. The prayer may close by saying the Lord’s prayer on the invitatory bead and/or a final prayer on the cross as in the example prayers given below. The entire circle may be done thrice, to signify the Holy Trinity.

The Cross

In the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Or

The Lord’s Prayer: 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 evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Or

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen.

Or

Blessed be the one, holy and living God. Glory to God forever and ever. Amen.

The Invitatory

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Or

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

Or

O God make speed to save us, O Lord make haste to help us. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, I snow and will be forever. Amen.

The Cruciforms

Oh Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.

Oh Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.

Oh Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.

Or

Guide us waking O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.

Or

Behold now, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord. You that stand in the house of the Lord, lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the Lord.

Or

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, Have mercy upon us.

The Weeks

Almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless us and keep us. Amen.

Or

Jesus, lamb of God, have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins, have mercy on us.

Jesus, redeemer of the world, give us your peace.

Or

I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?

My help comes from the Lord, the make of heaven and earth.

Or

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner.

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