Menzies Raynor wrote a fascinating little book, the Universalist Manual, which though not terribly successful, and filled with pompous, Latinate reworkings of plain collects and services, nevertheless gives us a window into the reforming yet liturgical edge of Universalist worship. I believe he will be seen as an early example (if not the first) of trying to empower modernized lay-led worship through standard liturgical works. To this end, the Gospel Liturgy of the next generation was more successful. For now, we have an example of his theory and one of his prayers.
Closing Prayers and Benedictions
With respect to praying after sermon [sic], the practice among Universalist ministers is not uniformly the same; nor is it necessary that it should be so. Some close the services, after preaching, with a hymn and the benediction; whist others offer a short prayer after the sermon, either before or after the last singing, and then dismiss the congregation with a benediction. In relation to this matter no advice seems necessary. Let each minister, or leader of the public services, adopt such course as he shall judge expedient, and as shall appear to be most agreeable to the people among whom he officiates.
Some short forms for prayer after sermon are here given.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we would offer unto thee our united thanksgiving and praise for the continued manifestations of thy goodness; and especially for this occasion of social worship. May the religious services in which we have been engaged, have a sanctifying influence on our minds. And grant that the instruction which have here been communicated, as far as they accord with the truth of thy holy word, may by thy grace, be so engrafted in our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living, in the faithful discharge of our duty, and in cheerful obedience to thy holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- In Universalist Manual, or Book of Prayers and other Religious Exercises: adapted to the use both of public and private devotion in churches, Sunday schools, and families, by Menzies Raynor. (New York: P. Price “No. 130, Fulton-Street” also, Boston: “A. Tompkins, 32 Cornhill” and Utica, New York: Grosh & Hutchinson, 1839), p. 99-100.
There are two more closing prayers, and six benedictions to follow.