It is a scenario familiar to any priest preparing for morning prayer. The Book of Common Prayer, whether Rite I or Rite II, provides the order of worship, but the components that vary, from the canticles to the scripture readings according to the lectionary, have to be looked up in other sources and inserted into the order of worship, and heaven help the young curate who confuses Year One and Year Two. There has to be a simpler, more efficient way.
But wait, there’s an app for that.
Venite.app, the liturgical labor of love of the Rev. Gregory B. Johnston III, combines all of the various elements of the daily prayers, and with a few key strokes can generate a printable or email-able bulletin for any given order of worship, from Morning Prayer to Noonday Prayer to Compline. Venite.app also includes Supplemental Prayers, such as Lancelot Andrewes’ Private Prayers, as well as canticles from Enriching Our Worship.
Venite.app combines two interests that Greg has pursued for many years. Well before he entered divinity school after his graduation from Harvard, Greg loved the Daily Office and especially Morning Prayer, which he often prayed while commuting. But lugging around the several texts needed was burdensome in more ways than one. Greg has also long been an active coder, “since I was maybe ten years old,” he recalls, so he has the technology skills for creating a comprehensive and easily navigated digital source. What started as a personal hobby turned into a more dedicated project when he was a student at Berkeley, and he shared early versions of the app with like-minded friends.
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic, however, has accelerated its popularity far beyond anything he expected. “A year ago, there were maybe a dozen users, but the current number is well over 1500,” Greg reports. “All of a sudden, people were scrambling to create online worship for the first time, and Venite transformed from a niche app for Daily Office enthusiasts to an essential part of many church’s remote liturgies. It has proved particularly helpful in a small church with part-time staff.”
That profile certainly describes Greg himself. After graduating from Berkley/YDS in 2018, he spent the next two years as curate of St. Anne’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Lincoln, MA. This past August he accepted the call as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in the historic Charlestown neighbor of Boston, just a short walk from Bunker Hill. He and his wife Alice, along with their young son, who was born during Greg’s senior year in seminary, live next door.
When asked whether he has plans for copyrighting or otherwise monetizing his app, Greg stresses that venite.app, which uses open source programs, is free for anyone to use and is available at www.venite.app. According to Greg, the three best ways to support the app are: “pledge to your local parish, and participate fully in its worship and community life, pray regularly for me and for the community who pray … with you, and share the app with a friend.”