Episcopal artists interpret ‘Praying the Hours’

Margaret Adams Parker, “Magnificat,” “Benedictus” and “Nunc dimittis,” etchings.

The latest online exhibit at Episcopal Church & Visual Arts, “Praying the Hours,” refers to the concept of offering prayers at set times of day. The Book of Common Prayer offers services for morning, noon, evening, and nighttime.

The ECVA exhibition features 33 images from 16 artists that are intended to capture the mystery of God present in daily life. In a message of welcome, the ECNA board of directors encourages use of the images for parish discussions, centering prayer groups, art guilds and personal devotion.

Ruth Tietjen Councell, “Create,” collage.

The board’s message begins with an excerpt from Irish poet John O’Donohue’s “The Inner History of a Day”:

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the Eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Here is a selection of artwork from “Praying the Hours”:

Ruth Tietjen Councell’s collage is titled “Create.” She wrote that she was inspired by the verbs in a version of Morning Prayer: “open, create, renew, restore, sustain. Especially ‘create’ – to make something out of nothing … While experimenting with using these verbs as a focus for a piece of art, I amassed quite a collection of trials, tests, and practice pieces. This collage is made up of those scraps.”

Julie Christian Bender, “Majesty/Compline,” oil painting.

Julie Christian Bender’s “Majesty/Compline,” refers to the nighttime prayer that derives its name from the “completion” of each day. “Traveling through Glacier National Park with my family, the awe and wonder of the majestic mountains, the stillness of the lake and crisp air lifted my spirit and renewed my strength,” she wrote.

Jeanne Harris Weaver, “Glory to God,” oil painting.

Jeanne Harris Weaver, the creator of “Glory to God,” noted that “as I walk the beach, I pray and meditate in the morning, close to the cleansing waters. First, a prayer of thanksgiving and glory to God; then my prayers for the day followed by peaceful meditation awaiting God’s answers.”

Chris Odom, “Spirit/Saintly Smoke,” photograph.

Chris Odom’s photograph, “Spirit/Saintly Smoke,” was taken on All Saints’ Eve at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway, Ark. He noted that there was a candlelight vigil on the outdoor labyrinth. “I took several photographs of the event, but as I was leaving the space, I noticed the wisps of smoke rising from a torch and floating to the heavens, with the church’s steeple in the background. Quite symbolic for the meditative and reflective nature of the evening.” Margaret Adams Parker’s three etchings are titled “Magnificat,” “Benedictus” and “Nunc dimittis.” She wrote that they are for a series titled Canticles (or “little songs” in Latin) that use papers and inks of different colors to embody the movement from morning to evening. “The individual titles are drawn from devotional hymns of the Daily Office, a tradition stretching back to medieval Christian monasticism,” she wrote.

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