17 October 2009

The Prayer Book Office

I used the old Roman Breviary before I went to Seminary; the BCP Office (but in Latin and Greek and with the Breviary hymns and Collects and some antiphons) for my first 25 years in Holy Orders; then, after my Silver Jubilee, took up the Liturgy of the Hours: for a change; because it only required lugging one book around; because I wanted to experience the patristic lections. More recently ... but let's not go into that now.

I am not, therefore, an inherently prejudiced person. And I would like to canvas views on the BCP Office, by which I mean the Office starting at O Lord, open ... and ending with the Third Collect. In my opinion ...

Advantages: not too long - you don't find yourself running two hours together for practical reasons; you don't hurry through because there is a lot to say; it is accessible to the Laity; it combines a lot of the important elements of the Western Office tradition in a manageable format; gives the Apostles' Creed twice a day; includes the Athanasian Creed; gives a good diet of Scripture.

Disadvantages: the four lections give it a heavy, didactic, Reformation bias rather different from the emphasis on praise proper to Lauds and Vespers; no patristic lections; no hymns; Evensong combines Vespers and Compline so that it is not really totally suitable either for the traditional hour of Vespers (late afternoon) or that of Compline (bedtime); does not allow for the tradition (thought by many to go back to first century Judaism) of praising God at dawn with the use of the Laudate psalms, 148, 149, 150.

Over to you.


discipula said...

The difficulty about Laudate psalms at dawn is the great variation in the time of dawn in these latitudes: it makes it diffficult to maintain one's rule of life when the day begins with such an unruly member.

Scott said...

The BCP office can be a one-book affair: are there any 1662 BCPs bound up with the AV with Apocrypha?

I come back to the BCP (in my case, 1979 USA BCP + NRSV bound together) for manageability, alignment with our parish's public daily offices, and use of most of the Bible over the year.

In our parish church, we read a patristic lesson as the second one at Evening Prayer, so we don't miss those entirely. On my own, I read two biblical lessons.

I often venture into LotH or a monastery's office books for the enrichments but find I cannot sustain that for long.

Little Black Sambo said...

@Scott: The BCP was often bound up with the 1922 lectionary (i.e. all the lessons printed out in full and in their proper order) as "The Daily Service Book", making it probably the easiest book of all to follow. Is it true that the Canterbury Press is reprinting it?

Anonymous said...

O that the format of the Liturgy of the Hours could be transposed into a new Anglican Breviary. Barring that, I find that our 1928 American BCP Offices are quite serviceable and can be dressed up with hymns and collects of the Saints. And...we are Anglicans after all and our received Liturgy is the BCP, so we would do well to honour our authentic tradition as best we can.

LTRBTB said...

I've found that the tension is between the desire to say all 150 psalms in a week, and to actually get the whole thing done.

As a layman, I can do pretty much whatever I want.

A middle ground between doing nothing and doing the Pian office is to implement Sacrosanctum Concilium, namely:

1. Suppress Prime
2. Choose only one of the day hours
3. Use LOTH for Matins (this is of my own doing, and I often use the old breviary reading instead).

The baseline is the 1962 breviary, with adaptions for the modern calendar.

For me, this is the best of all worlds.

Unknown said...

As a layman who has said the daily office for many years now I have tried the "old" Roman Breviary in various versions such as the Anglican Breviary, BCP 1662/1928, SSF Celebrating Common Prayer (which in many ways I liked) and Common Worship but with all of these I have quickly reverted to the modern roman Liturgy of the Hours. It has the advantage of being all in one book, agreeing with the calendar used by most churches, not too long and legibly printed. When necessary one can easily find more recent feasts (ie 14th August) from other sources. Its disadvantages include the extraordinary choices of office hymns for both occasional and regular use, and some of the sewcond readings at the Office of Readings. Some of those readings are, to put it mildly, obscure and boring and I know plenty of peope besides myself who wish every September that St Augustine had not written "To the Shepherds".

The LotH is beginning to feel a bit dated - a child of its liturgical time - and one can see this particularly in the intercessions at Lauds and Vespers - but I am sure that Rome has more urgent things on its agenda currently than producing a complete update.

I shall seriously consider buying the promised new three volume L:atin/English edition of the old Breviary when Baronius Press finally produces it.

Canterbury Press has re-issued the 1928 Pryer Book with the full 1922 lectionary (see posting above from Little Black Sambo) in fairly legible type but I suspect that the binding would not stand up too well to heavy daily use and there is only one marker ribbon. A problem with the 1922 lectionary is that we have all become used to readings of somewhat shorter length and it makes little provision for feasts &c.,

The big problem with Common Worship offices - like everything with Common Worship - is that there are so many different options and alternatives that one is constantly darting about all over the book and making decisions about what to include and exclude.

I feel that simplicity of use is an important consideration as, in the modern world, is the amount of time that secular people can reasonably devote to it.

A weakness in most books - particularly Common Worship and Liturgy of the Hours - is the quality of the marker ribbons.

Anonymous said...

Here I go stumping for Lancelot Andrewes Press again...feel free to ignore me.

Their reprints of the Douglas Monastic Diunal and Matins books are well worth the investment. These I use for my private office. If I say the office with a "congregation," I have begun using LA Press's re-built, turbo-charged Book of Common Prayer. It combines elements of the monastic office with that of the BCP. Re-vamped format, Prime, Sext, Compline, etc. The main drawback (only to some) is that they approach the BCP from an Antiochian angle (no Filioque, Tikon Canon with souped-up epiclesus, etc.). Overall it is an excellent book - a smash hit with my people. I've created a booklet with the office hymns typical for Sundays including the Marian anthems to be sung at the close.

Antiphon said...

I've recently managed to obtain a second-hand copy of the 1963 edition of "The Prayer Book Office" by Paul Hartzell.

This fascinating work is basically an enrichment of the offices of Matins and Evensong from the 1928 USA BCP, with office hymns, antiphons and additional collects. It also has basic orders for Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Compline.

In some ways it is similar to "The English Office" as republished by Canterbury Press, although the latter has only Matins and Evensong.

Both these books would require a bible for the scripture readings, although the PBO has a lectionary. The EO does not, although I gather that some of the original editions were printed with the 1922 BCP lectionary.

The 1963 PBO also deserves a reprint; in some ways it is superior to the 1979 edition by Howard Galley.

Anonymous said...

I must argue against the BCP offices for Anglican and Roman Catholics. Let me support my argument with an example:

I have been praying the daily office from the Farnborough Monastic Diurnal according to the Ordo of the Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux, thanks in large part to the lessons helpfully posted on http://saintsshallarise.blogspot.com/.

On October 7, I prayed the office for OL Rosary, Class III. Psalms, antiphons, chapters, versicles and responses, hymns, etc. were all proper to the feast in the Monastic Diurnal, even on a Class III day. Now, had I been saying the
office according to the Liturgy of the Hours, there would have been fewer propers for the day, but enough that I would have observed the feast from the beginning to the end of each hour.

I note this because according to the Anglican Use kalendar, used by US Anglican Use Catholics and some other modern Anglo-Papalists, OL Rosary is a Memorial, and as such, she would rate the *second* collect of the day--no psalms, no lessons. In fact, if one said the AU office according to the Book of
Divine Worship, no proper collect is included--one would have to make do with the collect of the Visitation. When I really thought about this, I had to ask: if the
Anglican Use has "fixed" the 1979 B.C.P. for Roman Catholic use, and
this provides only one collect (if that?) which differs from what the
Episcopalians are doing on the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary, is this a sufficiently Catholic daily office?

Sir Watkin said...

The secular Roman breviary, alas, has been a grievous mess since 1911.

Fortunately there is an alternative (and a very good one): the Monastic Breviary, whether in Latin or the English version mentioned by Fr Rev'd up.

It has the additional advantage of using the original texts of the office hymns - untouched by Urban VIII's proto-Bugninian hand.

Sir Watkin said...

"are there any 1662 BCPs bound up with the AV with Apocrypha"

Probably not. Easy eno', however, to obtain B.C.P. and A.V. of similar size and get a bookbinder to make a single volume of them.

Unknown said...

Perhaps I am out of step with other contributors (I have never particularly been in step with anyone) but I do worry about calendars in the context of local/private devotion. It seems to me as a simple layman that adherence to a common calendar (and, indeed, lectionary) used by the whole Western church (whatever one may mean by that) is a bonding factor (to use popular management parlance)whereas everyone using different calendars is a divisive factor. It would be comforting to think that everyone was keeping the same observances on more or less the same days instead of the present situation where some churches, for example and especially in the USA, still keep Christus Rex on the last Sunday in October. It would also reduce the workload of those wonderful people who clearly enjoy compiling Ordos but who could then spend more time on their blogs!

Sir Watkin said...

Mr Kemp makes a good point, but the Western Church seems quite unconcerned about the divisiveness (if such it be) of different kalendars.

Even the unifying tendencies of Trent left the kalendars of various religious orders in place, not to mention that of the Ambrosian Rite (which has e.g. six Sundays in Advent and no Ash Wednesday).

In our own day Summorum pontificum, by promoting the wider use of the classical form of the Roman Rite, with its distinctive kalendar and lectionary, seems to signify that diversity in this area is not seen as particularly problematic.

Joshua said...

Press of business has led me, after over a decade using the LotH, then more recently the Roman Breviary, to adopt for daily use the Little Office of Our Lady.

I believe our English (and Scottish, etc.) forebears were quite devoted to this little book...

Joshua said...

Speaking of second readings in the LotH (almost typed LotR!), I for one rather like Augustine "On the Shepherds" - but anecdotal evidence tells me that in this I am in the minority...

I once looked up the full sermon: we only get half of it in the Office, so heaven knows how long the good Bishop preached for that day in Carthage so long ago.

(Predictably, all his anti-Donatist jibes were blue-pencilled as not suited to the enlightened benignity of the age of Paul VI.)

Canterbury Anglican said...

""are there any 1662 BCPs bound up with the AV with Apocrypha"

Probably not."”

Oh yes there are. I have a small 1662 and also a desk-size 1928 both bound with the AV and the Apocrypha.

For me, this is the English Office (and by that I mean all of it - including the confession etc). CW and CCP have too many options and poor language, whereas the Divine Office often lacks balance and coherence with regard to its use of Scripture.

I do think that the 1662 Office Lectionary with four Chapters a day (including the Apocrypha) has much to recommend it. I see very little to be gained from multiple volumes, multiple ribbons, multiple options and 'Saints' that few on these shores have ever heard of (though I not ‘knocking’ their holiness).

The BCP Office has stood the test of time. I dare say it'll still be about when all the others have been revised, re-printed, re-issued in leather with gold-leafing and we've all been fleeced again.

Fr Edward

Ken Eck said...

Fr, for those interested a new edition of Daily Office SSF will be out next year. This will bring the 'brown book' into line with the CW lectionary and collects.
Until then I shall stick with the Roman Breviary.

Adrian F Sunman said...

The Prayer Book Offices certainly have the beauty of simplicity and relative brevity. Of course when they were compiled, that was achieved at the expense of the greater richness of the Breviary with its hymns and antiphons. Ultimately, it depends on what you want to do. If you'tre happy with going through the Psalms once a month and reading the Bible systematically, maybe the Prayer Book Office is for you. If, however, you want to focus on praising God and want variety within that, maybe the Breviary is better.