I will not be able to post much of an Ordo because of our diocesan synod this week. However if and when I get a moment I will try to write one for next week.
I will not be able to post much of an Ordo because of our diocesan synod this week. However if and when I get a moment I will try to write one for next week.
I wrote the following a while ago … I refined the whole thing into an M.Div thesis but the core thought is laid out (if imperfectly) here:
The first Book of Common Prayer of 1549 radically simplified the Divine Office by taking a few elements from several Hours1 contained in the Breviary tradition and from them constructed the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer. Percy Dearmer writes that:
The First Prayer Book was an English simplification, condensation, and reform of the old Latin services, done with care and reverence in a genuine desire to remove the difficulties of the Mediaeval rites by a return to antiquity.2
A contemporary Catholic Anglican, Mark Haverland the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Anglican Catholic Church, writes:
One of the great advantages of the Prayer Book tradition begun 1549 was the collection into a single volume of the essential material for most acts of worship, which in the Middle Ages was scattered in several volumes.3
In another one of his many writings Percy Dearmer wrote more elaborately concerning the Book of Common Prayer and its Catholic pedigree:
Far more important are the next two prefaces, which are taken from the First Prayer Book of 1549. The first, ‘Concerning the Service of the Church,’ is an adaptation of that to the reformed Breviary of Cardinal Quignon, which it follows in all essentials. This model, which the English Church thought the best for that of the introduction to its Book of Common Prayer, was published by authority of Pope Clement VII. in 1535. Nothing could more clearly show the Catholic idea which the compilers of our Prayer Book had of the meaning of the word ‘reformed.’ The words of the preface make this point still clearer. It is not concerned with sacraments or ceremonial, but throughout only with the practical question of restoring the lectionary and psalter to its ancient thoroughness and simplicity in accordance with the ‘godly and decent order of the ancient Fathers.’ Four times in this short preface is the authority of these ‘ancient Fathers’ invoked. In accordance with their example the language is to be that which is understood; untrue, uncertain, and superstitious readings are to be dropped, and nothing to be read that is not in Scripture, or ‘agreeable to the same.’ This is the most important of our prefaces, because it stood alone at the head of the First Prayer Book, and it has been with us ever since. If Cranmer meant that Book to lead to Protestant practices, he certainly concealed his purpose remarkably well.4
On this basis Catholic leaning Anglicans have often claimed that the Office of Morning Prayer is in fact such a simplification, condensation and reform of the Latin (Medieval) Offices of Matins, Lauds and Prime and that Evening Prayer is likewise such a simplification, condensation and reform of Vespers and Compline.5 It is also not uncommon to find claims being made that in the Book of Common Prayer we find preserved the Benedictine monastic tradition of prayer but made available to all praying members of the church and therefore is not reserved monastics alone.6 This is of course a variation on the theme that in the Book of Common Prayer a genuinely ancient and Catholic tradition is being revived and that therefore the reformation as represented in and by the Book of Common Prayer is catholic. The claim is then made that in the Book of Common Prayer there is preserved a monastic and patristic perspective which is unlike the medieval scholastic perspective. This is contrasted with the Continental Reformation which is then said to have valued the monastic and patristic perspective to a much lesser degree such as is visible in the different liturgical texts and ceremonies used by them.7 Catholicism on the continent of Europe in the Counter Reformation began to emphasize the Mass and extra liturgical devotions such as Benediction and the Rosary to fulfill the religious needs and duties of most of the laity. This is evident even today given the popularity of both the Rosary and the service of Benediction in many conservative Roman Catholic parishes even today. What is absent from parish use in the Roman Catholic Church since the Counter Reformation is precisely the celebration and performance of the Divine Office. It is true that in the Anglican Reformation that is as it were a threefold emphasis in religious life. In the Book of Common Prayer the most important service is that called Holy Communion which is the equivalent to the Mass. The second most important service as that of the Divine Office represented by morning and evening prayer which are the equivalent of the medieval divine office. A third emphasis, though not present in the Book of Common Prayer as such, is private devotion. The private devotions of the people is the practical incarnation in the daily lives of the people of the doctrine prayed in the Book of Common Prayer.8
Though perhaps not strictly speaking false, this is at least a significant stretching of the truth. It is more truthful to say that Matins, Lauds, Prime, Vespers and Compline are, as we shall see, represented in Morning and Evening Prayer by certain elements taken from these Offices. If all that was done to the Divine Office was that they were simplified, condensed, and reformed they would still retain some of their essential medieval features.9 However, since the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, even some of the essential features of the Medieval Offices have disappeared. A mere backbone of Scripture and Psalter is pretty much all that is left as essential. In describing the essential features of the Divine Office contained in the Book of Common Prayer, Percy Dearmer writes:
What is the character of the Divine Service, as the choir offices are called? It is the daily reading and hearing of Holy Scripture – primarily the recitation of the Psalter, accompanied by prayer and by meditation upon the teaching of the Bible.10
It is true of course that Psalter and Scripture reading is also an essential feature in the Medieval Offices, so how is the Book of Common Prayer different? The Book of Common Prayer radically breaks with the traditional way of reading and hearing Scripture and the recitation of the Psalter. In the Medieval tradition the reading and hearing of Scripture, as well as the recitation of the Psalter, is woven into a Temporale and a Sanctorale:
A reoccurring issue in matters of liturgical reform – from before Trent- is the question of the interrelationship of the temporal and sanctoral cycles. The temporal cycle is that which governs the Christian year, beginning in Advent, then Christmas and Epiphanytide (with Christmas ending on the 40th day of the feast of the Nativity, with the feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary in the Temple), Septuagesimatide Lent, and Eastertide. The sanctoral cycle is of course the calendar of the saints, martyrs and prophets, which has inevitably grown and expanded over the centuries. 11
Which in certain seasons, such as Christmastide, produces a very complex combination of liturgical celebrations as demanded by the temporal and sanctoral cycles respectively:
This is (perhaps dizzyingly) complex, but it is possible to see here that the temporal cycle (Christmas and the Circumcision) is harmonized with the sanctoral, despite the fact that there is a crowd of feasts and octaves to commemorate. They do not displace one another, they overlap. Very often they overlap specifically in the readings, where (especially at Matins) although the office is on the festal structure (three nocturnes instead of one), the readings and responsories at the first nocturne are those of the ferial office (or temporal cycle), not the festal office (or sanctoral cycle).12
These cycles create a definite and clear theological teaching and hermeneutic which is conveyed by the practice of reading and hearing Scripture and the recitation of the Psalms. The Book of Common Prayer almost entirely obliterates the Sanctorale Cycle, and effectively cripples the Temporale Cycle, thereby leaving the interpretation of the Scriptures and Psalter in the Divine Office mostly to the individual imagination. The structure of BCP Morning Prayer and the Medieval Matins, Lauds and Prime, and the BCP Office of Evening Prayer and Vespers and Compline are also radically different. The Medieval Offices can be described as prayers that teach the Christian Faith by exegeting Scripture (by means of the Sanctorale and Temporale Cycles), the Book of Common Prayer Offices can be described as prayers which, while immersed in Scripture, are characterized by the near absence of exegesis.
This structural difference results in the elaborate ritual of the Medieval Offices, containing the antiphons and hymns accompanying Scripture, being deleted in the Book of Common Prayer in the interest of creating a prayer office characterized by austere simplicity. The Protestant reformers, for all their insistence on simple worship, paradoxically ignored the biblical precedent given in the Old Testament for how to worship God: with ritual and hymns and the elaborate beauty of incense and vestments. Likewise, the reformers also failed to recognize that the sevenfold nature of the Medieval Office is itself embedded in biblical exegesis. The sevenfold structure is justified on the basis of Psalm 119: 164: “Seven times a day do I praise thee.” It is also justified on the seven redemptive moments in our Lord’s suffering as evidenced in a medieval verse:
At Matins bound, at Prime reviled, condemned to death at Terce; nailed to the Cross at Sext; at None his blessed side they pierce; they take him down at Vesper-tide, in grave at Compline lay; who henceforth bids His Church observe these seven-fold hours alway.13
In reducing the number of offices to only two the Reformers did away with this biblical reading of the Offices.
Also, the yearly (temporale) distribution of Scripture readings in the Medieval Office is anchored in the Lord Jesus Christ as presented to us in the Gospels so that certain books are reserved for certain seasons, thus bringing out the way in which they speak of Jesus Christ. The book of the prophet Isaiah is therefore read in Advent, Genesis is read in Lent, and so forth.14 The Book of Common Prayer, again, entirely severs these exegetical ties by not keying the Scripture readings to the liturgical seasons and also deleting all of the exegetical keys of those Scriptures from the Offices: the hymns, antiphons, anthems, responseries, ceremonial, and patristic readings.
In sum: the Medieval Office teach the Christian faith by exegeting Scripture by connecting it with the Temporale and the Sanctorale. The Book of Common Prayer attempts to teach Scripture by immersion in Scripture, hoping that mere immersion will result in mature Christian faith without providing the parameters necessary for Christian exegesis. If the history of the Church, and the overcoming of many heresies, has taught us anything … It is that Scripture is used by heretics and catholics alike. Scripture alone does not suffice. The thing with prayer is this: the things you pray, will end up being the things you believe. Restoring our ways of prayer along the lines of the Anglican Breviary is therefore, as I see it, an urgent necessity.
Gregory Wassen +
1Hours of the Breviary are Offices which are said/sung at particular times throughout the day and night.
2Percy Dearmer, Evereyman’s History of the Prayer Book, p. 66.
3Mark Haverland, Anglican Catholic Faith and Practice, (Anglican Parishes Association, Athens Georgia, 2011), p 111.
4Percy Dearmer, The Parson’s Handbook, (Grant Richards, London, 1899), p. 10-11.
5John Purchas, Directorium Anglicanum, p. 86.
6Brother John-Bede Pauley, OSB, The Monastic Quality of Anglicanism, in “Anglicans and the Roman Catholic Church,” (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2011), p. 162.
7Brother John-Bede Pauley, p. 164-165.
8Martin Thornton, English Spirituality, (Cowley Publications, Cambridge Massachusets, 1986), p. 274-278.
9Such as is evident from the reforms of the vary same Offices done in the Roman Church. Though the Liturgy of the Hours of the 1970-ies do seem to have more in common with the Cranmerian reforms and suffer much the same troubles.
10Percy Dearmer, ibid, p. 145.
11Laurence Paul Hemming, Worship as Revelation, (Burns & Oates, London, 2008), p. 129.
12Laurence Paul Hemming, Worship as Revelation, (Burns & Oates, London, 2008), p. 134.
13Ethelred L. Taunton, The Little Office of Our Lady; A Treatise, Theoretical, Practical and Exegetical, 1903, p. 62.
14Pius Parsch, The Breviary Explained, p. 90-93.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. The full Lenten Propers, however, will not be in use until Sunday. The ancient use of Sarum would have us say the 15 Gradual Psalms each ordinary weekday in Lent as well as the 7 Penitential Psalms at each of the Seven Day Hours on such an ordinary weekday. That may be a feasible thing for those in need of sever penance (who isn’t ? ) and who also have no day-job and family to concern themselves with. Those of us in need of said penance but who do have day-jobs might instead give up some more time for Lent and add the following devotions:
On Monday: the Office of the Dead immediately following Vespers of the day
On Wednesday: the Gradual Psalms immediately preceding Matins
On Friday: the Seven Penitential Psalms with the Litany immediately following Lauds
Throughout the entire Lenten period. Though fasting and abstinence are important, the focus on prayer is even more so. The Roman Catholic Church has some sensible guidelines regarding fasting and abstinence here: Fasting & Abstinence. Anglican Catholics, as Catholics, have nothing to lose from looking at our Mother Church’s suggestions especially of they are good and sensible ones! So I suggest those guidelines and the devotions mentioned above for Lent. The Litany as contained in the BCP (as far as I am concerned) makes a mockery of the traditional Litany (of the Saints) and fails to serve the traditional (Catholic) purpose of that Litany. The emendations recommended in Ritual Notes and/or the Anglican Breviary are recommended.
The Seven Penitential Psalms and the Gradual Psalms may be found in this pdf document: Penitential & Gradual Psalms (Orthodox Western Rite version). The Litany is included in the Anglican Breviary (as are the Seven Penitential Psalms, but having them grouped together has its advantages).
Have a blessed Lent.
Of your charity please pray for the soul of the recently departed Grietje Kuik Koerts. Her sudden and unexpected departure has left us with deep grief and sorrow. I will from now on have an emptiness in my soul that has her shape until such a time as we shall be re-united in Christ.
She died in her sleep Februari 10 in her home in the Netherlands after returning home from having spent a whole month of visiting with me and my family in South Florida. Those memories are now more precious than I ever thought they would be. This picture is her at Lantana beach. She has never enjoyed a winter at the beach that much before. I am glad I was able to share that with her.
May the Lord embrace you in His love dear Oatie.
Gregory (Jarno) Wassen +
THE COMMON FORMS
Prayer is always to be vocalized. It does not suffice to merely “mentally peruse” the Breviary:
To pray is to ask to be made ready to hear. … prayer is a kind of hearing – not a mere opening of the ears, but a trained attentiveness in a habit acquired over years, even decades; a directedness towards in a particular manner. ‘I pray you …’ is a construction now rarely heard in contemporary speech, but once it meant a gracious form of address, attempting to draw towards one the attention of one greater than oneself, an openness for them to speak, to act, to direct their attention to the one uttering the request.
Laurence Paul Hemming, “Worship as Revelation: The Past, Present and Future of Catholic Liturgy,” p. 1.
Even mere reading was out loud in ancient times so that Phillip was able to hear the Ethiopian Eunuch read the prophet Isaiah (Acts 8). Directing ourselves to anyone other than ourselves requires speech. If prayer occurs only within our own minds it is a monologue rather than the beginning of a dialogue. The Anglican Breviary correctly, in my view, requires that – at least – “each word thereof must be formed with the lips” which includes those words which are directed to be “silent” by the Rubrics. Silent means whispering words not merely thinking the words. In reading the Breviary we are about to enter a dialogue, we direct ourselves to God.
The Introduction to the Office
The Office is preceded by introductory devotions which help us break free from our previous activity and to prepare for an entirely different kind of activity. These introductory devotions are not “unnecessary repetitions” or “expendable elements” hindering rather than serving the performance of the Divine Office. The introductory devotions are:
These prayers are the means of preparation for the prayer of the Divine Office. They do not themselves require preparation. It is unfortunate that the Book of Common Prayer and the 1962 (and later) Roman reforms of the Breviary have eliminated these preparations from the Divine Office. Even though these introductory devotions may be relative latecomers in the development of the Divine Office, that does not mean they are without function. The introductory devotions themselves break us out of whatever we were doing before, sleep, work, whatever, and render us prepared for the performance of the Divine Office. To make this point more clear let me add the following: Just because the Book of Revelation is a relatively late addition to the canon of Scripture it does not therefore follow that it is without function, expendable, or an unnecessary addition to the Bible. The same is true for the introductory devotions of the Anglican Breviary. That is not to say that the introductory devotions are of as much authority and necessity as the Book of Revelation, but the analogy serves to undermine the principle that “late addition” equals useless, expendable and/or unnecessary addition.
How these Payers are used
The Aperi Domine is always used in combination with the Prayer of St. Gertrude they are never separated. The are always said before beginning an Office. When once said and more Hours are aggregated (adding several Hours into one sitting as it were) they are NOT repeated for each Hour aggregated. They are said ONLY once at the beginning of the first Hour of the aggregation.
The Pater noster, Ave Maia, and Credo in Deum are always said before Matins (no matter where Matins may or may not occur in an aggregation) and similarly before Prime (no matter where Prime may or may not occur in an aggregation), they are also always said after Compline immediately following the Marian Antiphon (of which more will be said later). This trio is referred to as The Triple Prayer and above is described how this devotion is used. The other Hours of the Anglican Breviary are preceded not by the Triple Prayer but by the Dual Prayer which consists of the Pater noster and the Ave Maria. They are always used when beginning any Hour of the Divine Office which is not Matins or Prime, in aggregation, however, they are not repeated at the beginning of those Hours which are part of the aggregation. Therefor if it should occur that Compline is followed by Matins in an aggregation the Triple Prayer will be said for the ending of Compline as well as for the beginning of Matins.
Once these introductory devotions have been completed the Divine Office proper begins with the Opening Versicles which is where the next post will pick up.
The Anglican Breviary’s “Prefatory Note” explains that it is critical that to begin to use the Breviary you must understand the Breviary as a book first. The Roman Breviary of 1911 – after which the Anglican Breviary is modeled – consists of 4 volumes. One volume for each season of the year (Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn). Each volume contains the entire Psalter distributed over one week and the course of the weeks are distributed over the Lunar (Jewish) and Solar (Roman) Calendars: the Church Year and the Kalendar of Saints and Feasts (Temporal and Sanctoral cycles)respectively. The Anglican Breviary, unlike its Roman counterpart, is contained in only one volume. The Temporal and the Sanctoral are contained in its entirety in this one book. This makes the Anglican Breviary different and in some ways easier to use. There are also some disadvantages to this one volume breviary the most important of which is perhaps the size of the book. It is not easily pocketed and taken to work, on a journey, and does not usually fit in the hymnal racks behind our pews in our churches. But it is what it is. The Anglican Breviary consists of, roughly, 4 divisions or parts (not related to the 4 seasons of the year). These are:
There are also some introductory and some appended materials of which more later. Upon opening the Anglican Breviary you will notice that (once you get past the introductory material easily recognized by the Roman numerals) there are two systems of pagination. There are numbers on the bottoms of the pages and at the top of the pages. The numbers at the top of the ages are accompanied by a letter A, B, C and so on. Thus we get p. A1, A2, and when the new letter begins B1, B2, and so on for all the letters used. The letter tells you which section you are in, the Common Forms, the Psalter, the Common of the Saints etc. I have just now mentioned to sections not mentioned before. Time for a closer look.
The Common of the Season can be said to be preceded by the Common Forms, the Ordinary, and the Psalter. Or, perhaps oversimplifying a bit, you can consider the Common of the Season as subdivided into three sections:
The Hours of the Anglican Breviary are “sevenfold” which means that the day and the night are divided into 7 moments of prayer of varying lengths. The word “Hour” does not mean that each prayer moment lasts an entire Hour, rather the word indicates a particular time that a particular prayer service (Vespers, Lauds, or whatever) is to be performed. To use the Anglican Breviary you need to be well at home in these sections first. If you are not yet at home with the Common of the Season in its three constituent parts, you do not have the foundation upon which the other divisions of the Anglican Breviary need to be built.
All 4 divisions of the Anglican Breviary interact with one another in particular and often unique ways which provide a mass of devotional content and draws those praying it ever deeper into union with Jesus Christ. The wealth of the Anglican Breviary guarantees that no single individual will be able to comprehend it all – and very often – few individuals are capable of praying all the Hours contained therein. This is NOT a disadvantage of the Anglican Breviary but rather one of its many strengths lacking in the extreme austerity of the Book of Common Prayer’s Morning and Evening Prayer. It (the Angican Breviary) removes the Divine Office out of the hands of the (nominalist) individual and firmly requires that an entire people use it to make sure the entire Office is actually performed. The Prayer Book services can easily be prayed by individuals as they desire, but the Divine Service (or Office) as contained in the Anglican Breviary does not fit in most people’s lives today. There is too much to be done for most individuals. A whole people of different circumstances of life are a necessity to ensure that the Office is performed entire. This should shatter at once the arrogant, “rugged individualism” we encounter so often in today’s culture. The almighty ego – I – is put in its proper place among others. It begins to realize the need to be a part of God’s people. Just for starters …
To be sure: the Anglican Breviary is complex. Full stop. Yet Our Lord said “Do this in remembrance of me.” and the editors of the Anglican Breviary want you to understand that this is not merely in relation to the Sacrifice of the Mass. The obedience of daily prayer such as it was gradually developed in the Church (in a way very similar to the development of the Mass and the Canon Scripture itself ! ) originates as an act of obedience. The Holy Spirit, St. Paul assures us, guides our prayer insofar as we do not know how to pray (Romans 8, 26) and the result of that guidance is (in the Western Church anyway) the sevenfold prayer as found in the Anglican Breviary. It is important to realize that just as the Church Year is modeled on the Life of Christ as portrayed in the Scriptures, so the sevenfold daily prayer is modeled on “seven moments in the Lord’s Passion” and thus brings us into intimate contact with the reality upon which our salvation is based:
At Matins bound, at Prime reviled, condemned to death at Terce; nailed to the Cross at Sext; at None his blessed side they pierce; they take him down at Vesper-tide, in grave at Compline lay; who henceforth bids His Church observe these seven hours alway.
The editors of the Anglican Breviary, in the Prefatory Note, continue to explain how the Mass and Office are covered under one act of obedience to the Lord’s command. The sacrifice of the Mass most obviously obeys the “do this in remembrance of me” but, as said editors explain, the part of the Mass which immediately precedes the Canon – the Proanaphora – also obeys that command. The Proanaophora, with its readings from Scripture and the homily, directly prepares for the performance of the Sacrifice of the Mass offered in the Canon (which contains the “do this” ). But Matins, Lauds, and Vespers are also directly preparatory for that same sacrifice. The other Hours, say the editors, were added later. The precise evolution of the sevenfold structure of daily prayer is not as clear as the editors seem to think, but the orientation of Matins, Lauds, and Vespers toward the Mass is unquestionable (the propers of Mass and these Hours are easily seen to carry the same theme). But again more of that later. The Major Hours or Great Hours (Matins, Lauds, Vespers) are the oldest in our sevenfold structure, the suggestion by Fr. Pius Parsch that these three Hours are to be our focus for performance seems quite reasonable. A good start is made if daily Lauds and Vespers were prayed and eventually Matins were to be added to the daily routine. This is not intended to neglect or devalue the Minor Hours, but rather to integrate our lives into the sevenfold cycle of prayer so far as is possible for us today.
The purpose of this post was to introduce the Anglican Breviary as a book, and to inspire you to stay with it. The struggle with the Breviary is not unlike wrestling an angel, you may feel crippled but in fact your blessing will far exceed the pains of the struggle!
My next post in this series will be about the Common Forms, and I hope to complete a series of posts which – if read carefully – will help you understand the Anglican Breviary so that you will be able to compose the Offices correctly without relying on a detailed Ordo.