16 July 2017


Liturgia Horarum or Breviarium Romanum? A case could be made either way. The LH has advantages. It was a good idea to make the Office of Readings something that could be flexibly disposed of at any time of day (the General Instruction actually allows it after Vespers of the day before); and so to make it less of a burden to those who are not required by monastic discipline to rise in the middle of the night. Prime clutter up the start of the day for a secular priest, suitable though it is for the monastic way of life. And Terce, Sext, and None can be difficult for those with a mobile lifestyle. Breviaries, even if small enough to cram into a pocket, are quite a weight to lug around. The old office was never perfect for the secular priest. This is shown by the fact that, de facto, he used to say it in amalgamated lumps, without any regard to the Authenticity of Time. And if you belonged to the right priestly associations, you even had faculties to say Lauds from midday the day before. The Office was regarded as a Legal Obligation To Be Fulfilled and not at all as the sanctifying of each hour by its proper Liturgy.

But LH has its very real and quite considerable disadvantages and difficulties. The main problem is the usual one: the Bugninides were never content to go for a minimalist organic evolution and improvement of what we inherited. Once they felt the wind in their sails, like all Committee-liturgists they couldn't stop just cramming in all the 'good ideas' that anybody round the table could dream up. So the psalms at Lauds and Vespers were reduced from five to two; contrary to the immemorial tradition of the Roman Rite, 'New Testament Canticles' were crammed in; those dreadful 1960s-style intercessions were confected.

Another case for using the LH is that S Pius X had already upset the immemorially ancient Roman distribution of the psalms; and Urban VIII had corrupted the texts of the Office Hymns (LH restores many of these in their original, ancient, texts).

I would only point out
(1) that it is legitimate to use the LH, but for Vespers on Sundays and Festivals, to say the BR. That is the one service which survived almost unchanged the redistribution of the psalter under Pius X. 1962 Sunday Vespers is the only surviving Office in an authorised form of the Roman Rite which S Benedict or Augustine, Anselm, Lanfranc, or Pole or S Edmund Campion, would comfortably recognise; and
(2) that the same is true of Sunday and Festival Lauds, if one is prepared to expand the S Pius X provision of psalms so as to include the three he missed out (see beneath).

The original Lauds psalms were (Vulgate numbering):
62+66 with one concluding Gloria Patri.
148+149+150 with one concluding Gloria Patri.


Janol said...

I have a question: Does/would the Anglican Benedictine Monastic Breviary qualify, be authorized, for official liturgical Church prayer?

As an ex-Anglican laywoman, who had used to recite the Anglican Benedictine Monastic Diurnal, I struggled many years being faithful to recite only “authorized” editions of the Liturgy of Hours. Repelled by the English Grail psalms, I went to the Latin and French editions of the LH. I very well realize that not being a Religious obliged to pray the Office that I could use any version of the Office out there and pray it “devotionally”, but that is not what I have wanted to do.

With Summorum Pontificum I went to the 1963 Monastic Diurnal. Then with Anglicanorum Coetibus, I gave myself permission to use the Anglican Monastic Diurnal which I had so loved. My question is, does/would the Anglican Monastic Diurnal qualify as “authorized” for official liturgical Church prayer?

Aloysius Beckett said...

I agree that there is much to be desired in the LOH - particularly the number of Psalms prayed at the various hours, and the missing psalms or parts of psalms. I find the latter to especially insidious. As a cleric, what I really wish is that one could pray the Roman Breviary in the vernacular, as my Latin is not very good.

Matthew said...

It's important to remember that the Divine Office is not primarily something done privately (and inaudibly, and in their studies/bedrooms/fireside chairs) by clergymen and ecclesiastically-minded laypeople, but the (corporate) 'prayer of the Church'. This is something to which the Ordinariate with its links with the Anglican tradition of public daily Morning and Evening Prayer should give priority, and which by doing could quite possibly help to restore to the Latin Church a more balanced diet of worship. I leave to others the question of what rite should be followed -- suffice it to say that neither the Paul VI breviary nor the traditional Roman office are the best thing that could have been devised for this purpose, and the Prayer Book services while loved by many are eccentric in structure and very weak in festive and seasonal material.

Father Stephen Schumacher said...

I've heard it said by several authors or commentators that the "restoration" of the hymns in the Liturgy of the Hours is not an authentic restoration: i.e. that the hymns of the LoH are better described as new compositions, which, while closer to the ancient and medieval texts, are not simple restorations. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I saw this documented with side-by-side comparisons, but Laszlo Dobszay contends as much in his book The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite (p. 119).

While I agree that the modifications committed upon the ancient hymns by the humanists were a butchery, I am not convinced that the LoH hymns are any better--and at least the BR hymns have the authority of having been prayed for a couple hundred years!

Patrick said...

I agree with Janol. The Anglican Monastic Diurnal has a great deal to commend it.

Tom B. said...

As a layman in the American Ordinariate, eagerly awaiting the approval of the Divine Worship Daily Office, I have found one can easily enrich the rather stark prayer book office with ample materials from the Anglican Breviary (invitatories, hymns, responsories, Canticle antiphons, sanctoral material incl. traditional Matins hagiographies and Patristic readings). Another good resource is Fr. Samuel Weber OSB's excellent "Hymnal for the Hours" designed for the LOTH but easily transposable to the Anglican Use.

I also do appreciate that the Ordinariate restores proper First Vespers/Evensong to every day ranked Feast and above -- something lost in 1955 that even the "usus antiquior" lacks today.

Usually, work and family life prevents me from sticking to full Mattins and Evensong, though, so I have really grown to love the Little Office of Our Lady -- triply Patrimonial: Benedictine of pre-Great Schism vintage; a prized jewel of the medieval English Catholic piety; and a manifestation of the ancient & venerable Roman Office tradition. A great Latin and Gregorian chant primer, too. Because of its manageable length for laity and rather unchanging nature, it does not take too long for its psalms, antiphons, chapters and hymns to start "sedimenting" into one's soul and giving spiritual nourishment throughout the day, in between the hours.

the Savage said...

A related question for those who are bound to or follow the Ordinariate form of the divine office. While Rome has not approved a final version or versions for the Ordinariates, it has issued guidelines for Morning and Evening Prayer, and there are broadly similar ad experimentum versions of the office in place - as found in the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham for the UK and the proposed American version found online at prayer.covert.org. But one major point of divergence between the offices for the Ordinariates is in their respective lectionaries. The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham uses a variety of sources for its readings, taking the principal reading for Morning Prayer from the two-year cycle of readings from the Liturgy of the Hours, supplementing it with the Gospel from that day's mass readings, and taking Evening Prayer readings from the Book of Divine Worship (itself based on the cycle of readings in the 1979 ECUSA Book of Common Prayer). By contrast, the Ordo for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter bases its Ordo on the Church of England's 1961 Table of Lessons (the version found in Fr. Hunwicke's own admirable Ordo). So which one is to be preferred? There is something to be said for following the main readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, which can also be supplemented with the patristic readings found in the LOTH or the two-year cycle prepared for Pluscarden Abbey. It is also, I think, salutary to be able to meditate on the gospel of the day, particularly for those who are unable to assist at daily mass. On the other hand, the 1961 Table of Lessons follows an admirably well thought out pattern of reading the scriptures in course while retaining such ancient features of the liturgical year as reading Isaiah during Advent and Genesis during the pre-Lenten season, Exodus in Lent etc. There is also some irony in the US Ordinariate following the 1961 Church of England office lectionary while the UK Ordinariate follows the 1979 ECUSA version!

A priest said...

Many interesting points Father, as usual, but thirty years of experience of the BR leads me to conclude that it is much better than LOH, whatever advantages it may have. The notion of cosmic liturgy should not be forgotten. While keeping close to the true liturgical times is preferable, as BR tells us,the sanctification of hours past or to come should not be belittled God,who is not restricted by our time, is surely well pleased.

Tom said...

As a priest and relgious I am bound to the LoH but I found, after experimenting with Latin versions (my Latin is very poor), an English translation of the BR from 1963. It's the full BR in a single volume (18.5x11.8cm) with an earlier version of the Grail psalms. I pray the hymns and psalms as a 'devotional' addition to the regular Office. It's not perfect but it's better than anything else I have found especially if one lacks the Latin for the BR. I have found it rewarding and somehow more natural that the chopped-up, pre-digested LoH. I have prayed the latter since before I joined the Capuchins, so for over thirty years, and its strengths (more extensive readings from the Fathers) are outdone by its faults (chopped up psalms, missing verses, boring prayers etc).

I can't agree that the Pian distribution was a bad idea. One covers the whole psalter in a week with few repetitions. It is a shame that the reformers did not simply reduce the the obligation on diocesan clergy and permit the vernacular BR already available. That said I worked for many years in Second and Third level chaplaincies all the while using both that English BR and the LoH together. I did not find it a terrible burden.

For your diary: it is to be hoped that next year's FOTA conference in Cork will be on the Divine Office and its reform. At least it is a possibility. Perhaps we will see you there, Father?

Capreolus said...

Ultimately, it's a question of sacrifice, isn't it? I mean, reciting the Breviary (the pre-Pius X or Pius X version). It's not convenient, certainly, but it can be done, even in a combat zone or out in the field. At the same time, the BR has a certain flexibility (through anticipation or aggregation of the Hours) that renders it easier for a busy priest to recite licitly, so to speak.

Personally, I find the ferial references to the times of day quite consoling, even when I'm reciting that particular Hour after the proper time. On festive and ferial days, the connection and amplification of the Office with the Mass has nothing whatsoever to compare with it in the N.O. system (not even between the N.O. Mass and LOTH, oddly enough).

Augustine Pinnock said...

A huge problem with the LH is that it is missing three psalms, as they were considered 'too mean' by the reformers. While the Divino Afflatu reforms are problematic, I don't think it is a good idea to use the LH instead, as, although Urban VIII corrupted the hymns, the hymns of the LH are atrocious. I have recently begun to pray the Office using a 1946 breviary set owned by my grandfather. Prime takes about twenty minutes and Terce, Sext, and None about ten minutes each. A solution to the problem of the Office could be to return to the use of the pre-1911 breviary, but to remove the obscure confessors from the universal calendar and put them in local or congregational observance unless they hold a widespread following. This would reduce the length of the Office, and I believe is the solution proposed by the men at The Current Tridentine Ordo blog. If time is still a problem for a secular priest, a solution would be to reduce the obligation rather than mutilate the office. In the short time in which I have been praying the breviary regularly, I have yet to spend more than two and a half hours on it in a day. Perhaps someone could enlighten me as to why a priest couldn't manage to conduct his business in the remaining 13-14 hours of the day in which he is awake?

Augustine Pinnock said...

I forgot to say that it would also help to reduce the rankings of some of the feasts. Why so many confessors deserve ta double ranking I don't know. Also, it does not terribly matter whether one understands what one is praying, as the Office contains divinely inspired prayers and has been approved by the Church. As the Douay-Catechism of 1649 says, "a psalm is of the same value in the sight of God, in the mouth of a child, or woman, as from the mouth of a most learned doctor."

Pater Raphael said...

I have been praying the office in diverse forms for almost 30 years now. I must say that Father has made some good points. The modern LoTH is quite practicle for active priests and religious, and I must admit, that I do use it when travelling especially, just because of the convenience. (I have a complete set in my kindle). If I did not have the electronic version, then I would not even use it in those circumstances. The actuale books (either 3 or 4 volumes, depending on the language - latin is a 4 book set) are extremly expensive and heavy for the content. They are a pest to drag around with you. But what I hate most about them is the censorship of the Readings and the Psalms.
The old Breviarium Romanum, which I did pray during my seminary days for a couple of years, is much more practicle, and does not really take much longer. I found, vigils and lauds of BR took me only about 10 minutes longer than Office of Readings and Lauds in the LoTH. But for someone who cannot be exclusively Vetus Ordo, it is the calendarial differences which caused me to give up on it. That was the worst problem for me. Of course, if you are only using the BR and not going to NO Mass as well, then maybe it is not such a jar, but continuously changing feasts, and from the 4th Sunday after Pentecost to the 17th of Ordinary time, were just too much.

Luckily, since I became a monk, I follow the new monastic breviary, which is NO, with monastic saints added to the calendar (that means many of the old saints of the BR which were left out of the LoTH)as well as the Psalter in a one week cycle, and most importantly ALL 150 Psalms, no left out verses. On feast and sollemnities there are 3 nocturnes at vigils with the Gospel of the feast. (On Sundays too). Also the little hours are all given and compulsory - not like in LoTH - there is no repetitions of psalms at certain offices. However, there is no Prime.

NSP said...

@A priest:

Dear Father,

Thank you for your comment. I am a layman not bound to pray the Breviary but I do it since I have learned to love it. I have been praying the LotH since around 2008 and have switched to the BR since the beginning of this year.

Today I procrastinated a bit and had skipped the minor hours, but after reading what you wrote("...the sanctification of hours past or to come should not be belittled God,who is not restricted by our time, is surely well pleased."), I went back and prayed them after Vespers, and received great consolation from them.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Psalms 148, 149 and 150 as the end of the lauds really matter. Thank you, Father, for pointing out this important issue. As for the different versions of the BR, however, I personally ended up with pre-Pius X as most convincing. The distribution of the matin and vesper psalms is very logic and easy - you just continue starting from psalm 1 on Sunday until you end up at Psalm 108 on Saturday, augmented by the sequence of the vesper psalms starting with Psalm 109 on Sunday and ending with Psalm 147 on Saturday, whereby all Psalm which are applied to other hours are omitted. At Matins you read through much more psalms then in any of the later versions, and this has a special somehow cleansing effect for my soul. Unfortunately, you almost never will be able to pray the ferial psalter entirely through one week without being disturbed by some feasts, as there are simply much too much semi double and double feasts which in the times before the reforms of Pius X required the festive, mostly Sunday setting of psalms which therefore are repeated endlessly. A solution I use to avoid this is to apply the rubric of Pius X that on semi doubles and minor doubles the ferial psalter is to be taken. Another possibility might be to use the calendar of 1570, but then the relationship to the daily EF mass is often interrupted, which basically follows the post Leo XIII-calendar without much omissions or changes compared to 1910, but much more feasts compared to 1570.

carl said...

I find the omission of Prime from the LH to be grievous, though it was one of the few things mandated by Sacrosanctum Concilium. It actually strikes me as a better 'morning prayer' than Lauds, particularly with the collects which are directly aimed at sanctifying the emerging day. Though it was mandated that Prime be suppressed, I wish the LH had inserted its collects into its Lauds.

Pater Raphael: A one-week NO monastic breviary sounds fascinating. Is it only available to members of your community?