Of Kalendars and Scripture

In using the Anglican Breviary either individually or in a group (preferred of course! ) resource must be had to the Kalendar. The Anglican Breviary contains two such Kalendars: 1.) the Universal Kalendar which has an enormous number of feast to be celebrated, 2.) the Simple Kalendar which has less feasts and was designed for use by Anglicans.

Concerning Kalendars

The Universal Kalendar gives us the example of “living Scripture” by presenting to us the stories of saints whose lives are conformed to the Lord Jesus Christ. The latter is of course the Word of God in the flesh, which renders the saints who have achieved likeness wit Him “words of God in the flesh.” In other words the saints present to us a scriptural pattern of life and therefore provide the key to practice Scripture. In order to practice Scripture it must of course be understood, this too is provided for in references to Scripture in the “legends” themselves or stories of the saints and the Lessons taken from Scripture and patristic sources connected to their feasts from either the Proper or the Common. There is great virtue in the use of the Universal Kalendar as given in the Anglican Breviary.

The Simple Kalendar was designed with the principles of the Book of Common Prayer in mind, which expressed the desire to downsize the Breviaries to what was perceived as a more ancient use:

THERE was never any thing by the wit of man so well devised, or so sure established, which in continuance of time hath not been corrupted: As, among other things, it may plainly appear by the Common Prayers in the Church, commonly called Divine Service. The first original and ground whereof if a man would search out by the ancient Fathers, he shall find, that the same was not ordained but of a good purpose, and for a great advancement of godliness. For they so ordered the matter, that all the whole Bible (or the greatest part thereof) should be read over every year; intending thereby, that the Clergy, and especially such as were Ministers in the congregation, should (by often reading, and meditation in God’s word) be stirred up to godliness themselves and be more able to exhort others by wholesome Doctrine, and to confute them that were adversaries to the Truth; and further, that the people (by daily hearing of holy Scripture read in the Church) might continually profit more and more in the knowledge of God, and be the more inflamed with the love of his true Religion.

But these many years passed, this godly and decent order of the ancient Fathers hath been so altered, broken, and neglected, by planting in uncertain Stories, and Legends, with multitude of Responds, Verses, vain Repetitions, Commemorations, and Synodals; that commonly when any Book of the Bible was begun, after three of four Chapters were read out, all the rest were unread. And in this sort the Book of Isaiahwas begun in Advent, and the Book of Genesis in Septuagesima; but they were only begun, and never read through: after like sort were other Books of holy Scripture used. And moreover, whereas St. Paul would have such language spoken to the people in the Church, as they might understand, and have profit by hearing the same; the service in this Church of England these many years hath been read in Latin to the people, which they understand not; so that they have heard with their ears only, and their heart, spirit and mind, have not been edified thereby. And furthermore, notwithstanding that the ancient Fathers have divided the Psalms into seven portions, whereof every one was called a Nocturn: now of late time a few of them have been daily said, and the rest utterly omitted. Moreover, the number and hardness of the Rules called the Pie, and the manifold changings of the service, was the cause, that to turn the book only was so hard and intricate a matter, that many times there was more business to find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out.

These inconveniences therefore considered, here is set forth such an order, whereby the same shall be redressed. And for a readiness in this matter, here is drawn out a Calendar for that purpose, which is plain and easy to be understood; wherein (so much as may be) the reading of holy Scripture is so set forth, that all things shall be done in order, without breaking one piece from another. For this cause be cut off Anthems, Responds, Invitatories, and such like things as did break the continual course of the reading of the Scripture.

Concerning the Service of the Church, The Book of Common Prayer (1662)

To mend the situation the Book of Common Prayer conflates several Offices into Morning and Evening Prayer and extends the reading of Scripture significantly in comparison with the Breviaries of its time. The Kalendar in the Book of Common Prayer still provides special readings and psalms for certain feast days, but it has very few of them. The Book of Common Prayer also does not include the “legends” of the saints, nor does it include patristic commentary on the scriptural lessons which have been read. This is a rather extreme measure which has been amended in recent times by extending the Kalendar (such as in the current version of the Church of England) and providing books which contain legends and patristic readings for optional use to accompany the latest Book of Common Prayer.

The Anglican Breviary has already accomplished the same thing that the modern Book of Common Prayer has done – or rather the Book of Common Worship since it is not strictly speaking a Book of Common Prayer but an alternative allowed alongside the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The Simple Kalendar allows sufficient room for the regular recitation of the entire Psalter and a much wider selection of Scripture reading and has a good selection of feasts with their own special Psalms and readings. In this the Anglican Breviary is a revision of the Roman Breviary on the same principles as that of the Book of Common Prayer but without quite such radical cuts in the Kalendar. The Anglican Breviary is a designed for common prayer and for the reading of Scripture, the understanding of Scripture, and the living of Scripture so that we may become what our Lord Jesus Christ already is.

Scripture, Scripture, Scripture

The Book of Common Prayer – as Fr. Percy Dearmer never tired of reminding us – consists mainly of Scripture and can be used fully with just the addition of a complete Bible. Prayer Book and Bible make up a complete Daily Office for the Anglican Church and this is a great virtue. The heavy emphasis on Scripture could be perceived as typically Protestant. If that is true, than it speaks well of Protestantism. The life of a Christian is governed by Scripture. It is his foremost means of communion with Jesus Christ the Savior. The Divine Office begins with a citation of Scripture, we are given the Psalms as our prayers to God and as His words addressed to us, we have lessons from other Books of the Scriptures both Old and New Testaments. In the Mass or Divine Liturgy the Prayer Book starts with Scripture (Our Father – but even if a Missal is used the “name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” is also cited from Scripture to wit St. Matthew’s Gospel), it contains readings from Scripture and the very Sacrament of the Eucharist itself is governed by the words of and derived from Scripture. The same is true for other sacramental acts and services of the Church. This is true for the Anglicans as much as it is true for the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics. The centrality of Scripture is not itself a merely Protestant thing, rather it is a Christian fact. It is true that the over-emphasis on Scripture characterizes Protestantism which is evident even in the Book of Common Prayer itself (because the latter lacks “legends” and patristic commentary). The Book of Common Worship and the Anglican Breviary both address and mend this problem.

As I have said before on this blog, the Anglican Breviary is a Book of Common Prayer if properly understood. We can justly say that the Daily Office of the Book of Common Prayer is a condensed and reformed version of the Roman Breviary (Sarum Use), but reciprocally it is true to say that the Anglican Breviary is a more elaborate and revised Book of Common Prayer! The relation between the Anglican Breviary and the Book of Common Prayer is therefore – as I see it – not one of opposition or antagonism (not to mention competition) but one of kinship. The Anglican Breviary contains within itself the entire Book of Common Prayer and does not replace it when used, but it elaborates on the Book of Common Prayer which should also be evident from the very title of the Anglican Breviary itself: The Anglican Breviary : containing the Divine Office according to the general usage of the Western Church, put into English in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer. The cursive emphasis (mine) explains some of the quirks of the Anglican Breviary not found in the Pius X Breviary to which the Anglican Breviary is very similar. For example the lectionary of the Pius X Breviary and the Anglican Breviary differ slightly – the latter following the Book of Common Prayer. The Kalendar counts Sundays and Weeks after Trinity not Pentecost as is the Roman practice. The Anglican Breviary contains a Simple Kalendar which allows for a more regular reading of the ferial office in its entirety which the Roman does not. The Anglican Breviary favors and fully provides for Anglican Feast Days across the Anglican Communion, the Roman does not. The Anglican Breviary differs slightly in its rubrics in favor of Prayer Book principles where the Roman Breviary does not (simplification of Double Feasts to simples, more emphasis on Sunday, additions from Sarum and other cognate uses, etc.). In short the Anglican Breviary is a Book of Common Prayer as much as the Book of Common Worship is and perhaps ought to be authorized as an alternative to the Book of Common Prayer without abolishing the latter.

Be that as it may, in order to use either the Book of Common Prayer or the Anglican Breviary, resource must be had to the Kalendar. For only by consulting the latter can be determined how the Daily Office is to be read. Armed with the understanding of the Kalendar and its distribution of the Scriptures throughout the Divine Office one can open either Prayer Book and begin to say the Office.

Fr. Gregory Wassen +


~ Ps. A practical how to concerning Kalendar and Scripture is in the works.


About Father Gregory

I am an Anglican Catholic Priest, currently residing in Orvelte, the Netherlands.
This entry was posted in Anglican Breviary, Book of Common Prayer. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Of Kalendars and Scripture

  1. Jim Hicks says:

    Thank you for for this posting.

    As we approach Lent each year, I start to think about dropping the AB and going back to the (1928) BCP. The reason for that is the more intensive reading of Scripture. But I already have enough trouble when the OCA date for Easter (Pascha) differs from the Western. I could, of course, sit down and figure out the correct adjustment to the number of weeks, but I know I would get lost in mid-Lent and then in the Easter season. I normally end up going through Holy Week and Easter in the AB, then repeating the process at church during the Eastern Holy Week!

    • Jim, I beleive this year the date of Easter coincides on both the Julian and Gregorian, so that shouldn’t be an issue this go round.

    • fathergregory says:

      Hi Jim,

      I think the Antiochian Kalendar for the WR may solve that problem. It provides the Orthodox adjustments when Revised Julian Easter falls on a different date from the Gregorian date. Maybe having recourse to their Kalendar will help?

      Fr. Gregory +

  2. Excellent article, Father. It’s currently my practice to use the BCP, on which the AWRV parish office is based, with reference to the AB for antiphons, office hymns and so forth. I do hope soon to learn Matins according to the AB, though.
    I fell in love with the AB when I noted the simple layout. Very easy to use compared with say, the Monastic Diurnal from LA Press, which I bought first.

    • fathergregory says:

      Thank you Tony!

      I am thinking of doing some work like this blog for the Benedictine Office (LA Press edition) too. The AB and the BO are different yet similar. But I agree with you completely that the Monastic Diurnal (and I would add the Monastic Breviary Matins) is more complex.

      Fr. Gregory +

  3. Charles Smith says:

    Glad to see your posts again. I was using the AB a great deal, but, I discovered the monastic diurnal, and, I think there coverage of the Psalms is better than the AB. I liked the Coverdale version, but, felt like I was continually saying the Sunday psalms, almost everyday. Perhaps my impression was wrong, but, that is what I felt. I am glad your move went well for you and your family and that is all is well.
    In Christ
    Charles Smith

    • fathergregory says:

      Hi Charles,

      Thank you for your comment.
      Which version of the Monastic Diurnal are you using? The LA Press one or the Farnborough edition? I am planning – once I have a moment – to try and create a similar blog for the Monastic Diurnal in the LA Press edition (but I suppose that the two Diurnal’s are similar enough to be covered in one blog).

      The Psalter distribution in a Diurnal is partial and does not cover the entire Psalter. Most of the Psalter is contained in the Office of Matins. The distribution of both LA Press and Farnborough are the same because they both follow the distribution set forth in the Rule of Benedict. The Benedictine Office is absolutely ancient in its basic features and I have a very high regard for it. The Anglican Breviary on the other hand distributes the Psalms over one week over all the Offices of the day (and night) which the Monastic Office does not. The latter distributes the Psalms over these hours of the day (and night) unequally and some Psalms are said several times a week. In the Monastic Office the Psalter is said every week PLUS the Psalms that are repeated severeal times in a week.

      If – while you were using the AB – you were using the Universal Kalendar you may very well have been using the Sunday Psalms a lot. The Simple Kalendar allows for the recitation of the ferial Psalms so that the Festal Psalms and Sunday Psalms are reserved for fewer feasts and the Sundays where they belong.

      Its great to see interest in both the Monastic Diurnal and the Anglican Breviary!

      Fr. Gregory +

      • Charles Smith says:

        Yes, you are correct, I also use the Matins for the Office along with the Farnborough edition of the diurnal. I was saying the Carthusian Schema found on Kellerbook, and discovered that use both the Matins and Diurnal I got a taste of the Psalms much like the Carthusian monks. My Latin is only basic, but, I do try to say what I can in the Latin. I do so much anyone who does an Ordo. On many of the days I was fine with the AB, but, when it would have concurrences and push the office to another day, I did get really lost, and, then frustrated.

        Perhaps with the ordo, I will again be able to find myself around the AB.
        I do attend an Anglican Catholic Church in Ohio. Thank you again, Father.

        Charles Smith

      • fathergregory says:

        It is one of the great principles – I do believe – of the Book of Common Prayer that feasts should rarely be allowed to crowd out the ferial (daily) Office. The exposure to Scripture and its right interpretation are basic. They are not individual events ~ hence the reading of Scripture and Commentary in public services (Rule of Saint Benedict Ch. 9). The festal offices too should serve the right interpretation and application of Scripture. Once the feasts begin to crowd out the reading of Scripture we have only interpretation without that which is being interpreted! That is the genius of the Book of Common Prayer … But sadly it is also one of its weaknesses. Where the Book of Common Prayer immerses in Scripture without interpreting it (except by the Apostles Creed and less frequently the Athanasian Creed, and perhaps the 39 Articles). The Anglican Breviary does a much better job of that, especially if the Simple Kalendar is used rather than the Universal Kalendar.

        I would favor a revision of the AB in the direction of the Book of Common Prayer as follows: instead of using the “Our Father > Absolutions > blessings > versicles & responses” at the readings during Matins insert the readings from the Book of Common Prayer found in the Lectionary. If that makes Matins too burdensome, spread the readings over Matins, Lauds, Prime and Vespers – or something along those lines. God willing I will be able to write an Ordo again sometime later next month. I am wondering which ACC Parish you attend in Ohio? I have only been to one ACC Parish in Ohio that of St. James in Cleveland. I visited during our stay in Lakewood.

        Fr. Gregory +

  4. Dale says:

    Father Gregory, excellent work on this site. I would like to know your opinion on use of the “English Office” (Which has also been recently reprinted) as a supplement to the BCP office? Although I do have both the AB as well as the LA press (wonderful things these folks are doing) Monastic Diurnal, but find, like most of us having a full-time job, that using the BCP office and “English Office” about all that I can keep up with.

    • fathergregory says:

      His Grace Bishop Chandler once mentioned it to me. I am not familiar with the English Office but I am interested to find out more about it. In my experience though, saying Morning Prayer/Evening Prayer with all the readings without rushing anything, takes about as long as it takes me to do say the Office using the AB. I was also using the AB – and I have used the Monastic Office (Matins and Diurnal) while working full-time and being a husband and father. The Monastic Office (if Matins is included) is much too long. The AB significantly cuts the time spent saying the Office but it still requires great effort. The same is true of the BCP. I think it may be worth while to find a two year lectionary which covers the entire Bible (or most of it) for use with the AB and to attach appropriate patristic readings to it. Something like that has already been done by Roman Catholic Benedictines and what I have seen of it looks impressive! Yet this Two Year Patristic Lectionary includes readings from Vat. II and other authoritative RCC documents which are not relevant for non- Roman Catholics. Such a lectionary might also work with a BCP, perhaps even the so-called Orthodox Book of Common Prayer published by LA Press. As far as BCP’s go that is definitely my favorite!

  5. Dale says:

    “The English Office” does have a corresponding American version, “The Prayer Book Office: Anglican Divine Service.” In seminary it was actually the American book that I began to use, but it is now very, very hard, and expensive to find a copy of it, but the “English Office” has been reprinted (2006) by Canterbury Press; but, unlike their reprinting of the “English Missal” this version is red and black throughout, so is much easier to use. It contains morning and evening prayer as well as the psalter and all of the antiphons and office hymns for the full proper, both season, common and saints. It also has all of the services, based upon BCP offices for the dead. Excluding the Psalter the book is only 248 pages. I might add that it is fairly cheap as well. I use this book in conjuncture with an old edition of the BCP that contains the daily lectionary. I should also add, for those of us who have reached that stage in life where the size of print does matter, “The English Office” has very large and readable.

    I would also like to add that for those who still believe in the possibility of a western rite within the Byzantine Church, the churchmanship of the book is very old fashioned Anglo-Catholic and has only the traditional title of feasts, such as the “Conception of the BVM” rather than the “Immaculate Conception.”

  6. Jim Hicks says:

    A monastery whose website & Facebook page I visit frequently, sells a version of the 1928 BCP that has been revised for Western Orthodox use. If any of you are familiar with this revision, I would like to hear your comments.
    Father, Tony, et al, I have enjoyed reading your comments and suggestions. Yes, this year will be a bit easier as the Lentan/Pascha dates for East and West aren’t three weeks or a month off like they were one year recently!

    I particularly like the sugggestion of using the AB and the BCP Lectionary. I already do that for Sunday with the Mass readings. Somehow reading just a couple lines of the Gospel and then saying “and all that follows” has never seemed right to me! So I normally read both lessons from the BCP for Sunday and the Major Feast days. Any guidance on how to do this better will be appreciated. I will will see how it goes using the Daily Office readings for Morning and Evening Prayer with the AB for Matins and Vespers.

    Here is the link for Christminster, a Western Rite Russian Orthodox community in Canada:


  7. Jim Hicks says:

    Another thought I would like to throw out for opinions. I like the idea of a two year cycle. Would it make sense to simply read the lessons from Morning Prayer in Year 1 and the lessons from Evening Prayer for Year 2? I see a problem in December and January where the readings from Isaiah are meant to be read through each day.

  8. Charles Smith says:

    I attend All Saints ACC in Bellbrook, OH. We are currently without a priest (Jerry Bova one of our flock was just ordained a Deacon) but Bishop Starks is trying to provide a priest on occasion and sometimes does our services himself. Deacon Bova cares for us on many occasions. I am in FL right now and attended a Saturday afternoon service; they have Father Lock, but not therenown church building (that’s why Saturday afternoon services.

    1 Vespers Septugessima
    Charles Smith

    • fathergregory says:

      That’s quite a trip from Cleveland! I’m sorry to say I have not made it all the way down there yet. Dayton is as far south as I have been in Ohio. What happened to your priest? It seems the Anglican Catholic Church website mentions a priest for your parish? Also does your parish ever use the AB or Monastic Diurnal/Matins?

      Fr. Gregory +

  9. Dale says:

    I have also heard about attempts to use not only a two year but a three lectionary as well. I personally have some problems with this idea. Firstly, I think that by spreading out the readings over a two or three year period may dilute the overall remembrance of the readings; also, I am now juggling two books, the BCP offices, with the old lectionary as well as the “English Office.” Secondly, I find looking up things in Scripture to do the readings rather bothersome and, whilst doing the offices privately, somewhat destructive to the ease and flow of using the BCP office (luckily one does not have this problem with the Breviary).

    I would prefer a combination, in a single volume, of the “BCP” common, a lectionary and the hymns, antiphons et cetera in a single volume. This would preclude, for those of use using the BCP offices from having to carry a small arsenal of books with us wherever we go!

    One issue I had with the Byzantine office (besides not being my tradition) was not only how complicated it was and the large number of volumes needed to simply get through the service. This was especially brought home to me when I was able to attend a small western rite Orthodox parish, that whilst small in numbers, because of the ease and simplicity of the BCP office, and the use of a low Mass, able to offer a full liturgical tradition of Mattins, Mass, and Evensong DAILY. Whilst far, far larger eastern parishes usually only had a truncated Orthros and liturgy on Sunday, with their church buildings locked from Sunday afternoon to the next Sunday, with the local Russians doing a vespers on Saturday…usually attended by no one.

    My own preference is to keep things simple.

    • fathergregory says:


      The simplicity is an excellent and essential point! Thank you for that. As far as the remembrance of Scripture is concerned, I think private reading is the proper context for memorization of Scripture. In this I think I would like to follow the guidance of St. Benedict as far as I am able to understand it:

      In the time remaining after Vigils [Matins], those who need to learn some of the Psalter or readings should study them. The Rule, Ch. 8.

      The purpose – at least for Benedict and his tradition – for the Office is the exposure to Scripture so that the very words of Scripture (particularly the Psalms) may become steps toward unification with God. It is here that the Anglican tradition agrees with the early Christian tradition once again: that Scripture is the means by which we know God. Outside of the words of God we have only general knowledge of Him – but Scripture offers special knowledge of God.

      Yet it is bothersome and disruptive to have to thumb through different books several times each Hour one recites. No doubt! This is one – there are many more – weakness of the Byzantine/Russo tradition(s). These Offices are always cut short one way or another, at least in parochial practice. This is because the Offices are extremely long on account of them being stuffed with many non-Scriptural (but interpretative of Scripture) hymns. In fact in practice the hymnography has crowded out most of the Scriptural reading leaving the Byzantine/Russo tradition in no better state than the Medieval Western Office before the Reformation.

      Perhaps just using two volumes, and preparing readings beforehand would solve some of the trouble we might experience in adapting the Lectionary of the AB?

      Gregory +

  10. Steven Manuel Perez says:

    Dear Fr. Gregory:
    This is a wonderful website to inform and educate all Christians especially Anglicans
    who want to know what Traditional Anglicanism really is. Keep up the great work and
    you are in my daily prayers, please keep me in yours as well.

    Your in Christ Jesus,
    Br. Steven Benedict Theodore, MA/Obl/TCR

    • Father Gregory says:

      Thank you Steve!

      Have you used the Anglican Breviary? Or do you know ppl who would want to learn? You know where i live and I would love to tech a group and start using it regularly.

  11. Wilford says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on order office plants online.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s