BIDDING-PRAYER (0. Eng. biddan, to pray, cf. Ger. beten), the formula of prayer or exhortation to prayer said in England before the sermon in cathedrals, at university sermons, in the Inns of Court and elsewhere on special occasions. Such formulae are found in the ancient Greek liturgies, e.g. that of St Chrysostom, in the Gallican liturgy, and in the pre-Reformation liturgies of England. The form varies, but in all the characteristic feature is that the minister tells the people what to pray for. Thus in England in the 16th century it took the form of a direction to the people what to remember in "bidding their beads." In course of time the word "bid" in the sense of "pray" became obsolete and was confused with "bid" in the sense of "command" (from O. Eng. beodan, to offer, present, and hence to announce, or command; cf. Ger. bieten, to offer, gebieten, to command), and the bidding-prayer has come practically to mean the exhortation itself. A form of exhortation which "preachers and ministers shall move the people to join with them in prayer" is given in the 55th canon of the Church of England (1603).
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