Continuous Scripture Reading and the Anglican Breviary


For about as long as I have been using the Anglican Breviary, I have also wondered if something could be done to expand the “dosage” of Scripture taken everyday in the Divine Office. The obvious has a tendency to hide right in front of one’s nose – for me at least – and in this case this obvious solution stared at me since I first read Proctor & Frere’s A New History of the Book of Common Prayer:

In 1542 a proposal was laid before the southern Convocation by Cranmer to amend the Service-books and to discontinue the dressing of images and setting up lighted candles before them.13 A new edition of the Sarum Breviary14 was issued at this time bearing the clear marks of the breach with Rome, and. it was further determined that no other Breviary should be used in the province of Canterbury.15 At the meeting of Convocation in 1543, the Archbishop signified that it was the King’s will that there should be a further reformation of the Service-books;16 a committee was appointed for the purpose, and ‘it was ordered also that every Sunday and holy-day throughout the year the curate of every parish church, after the Te Deum and Magnificat, should openly read unto the people one chapter of the New Testament in English without exposition; and when the New Testament was read over, then to begin the Old.’ Thus the first step was taken towards liturgical reformation by introducing the reading of Scripture in English into the public service of the Church: and this was done by the authority of the House of Bishops in Convocation, who had also received the proposal to correct the Service-books. The way was thus prepared for the further substitution of English for Latin in the prayers.

Proctor & Frere, A New History of the Book of Common Prayer, Chapter II, 1910.

Now the Henrician Settlement stage of the liturgical changes which would eventually lead to the 1549 Book of Common Prayer authorizes the addition of Scripture readings following the Te Deum and the Magnificat. This would perhaps be a principle which can be expanded to reading such lessons in those liturgical places on a daily rather than weekly basis. The Te Deum is of course a hymn used on sun-and-festival days but not ferial days. Application of the above Henrician principle could perhaps be to read the lesson at the same spot where it would be read if the Te Deum would have been said. That is to say, immediately following the Response of the last Matins Lesson.

If this seems a plausible and desirable thing to do, what lectionary, if any, ought to be used? There is no other rule given in the Henrician principle than that one Chapter be read after the Te Deum and after the Magnificat and that when the New Testament is read through, the Old Testament is to be so read. But perhaps a one or multiple year (Catholic) Bible-reading plan could be used with benefit here. But any of the lectionaries provided in the various editions of the Book of Common Prayer would also suffice to provide for these readings. In fact the lectionary provided or in the 1962 Canadian BCP seems especially fit since it makes a deliberate attempt to follow the readings of the Church Season (see lectionarycentral.com).

Gregory +

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About Father Gregory

I am an Anglican Catholic Priest, currently residing in Orvelte, the Netherlands.
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2 Responses to Continuous Scripture Reading and the Anglican Breviary

  1. Ryan Ellis says:

    Someone already basically laid this out:

    http://iteadthomam.blogspot.com/2011/12/lectio-divina-year-long-cycle-according.html

    – Advent — Isaias, and St. Paul’s Epistles.

    – Christmas, Epiphany — St. Paul, following this very ancient order: Epp. To Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews.

    – Septuagesima and Lent — Genesis and the other books of the Pentateuch.

    – Passiontide — Jeremias.

    – Easter and Paschal Time — Acts of the App., Apocalypse, Epp. Of St. James, St. Peter, St. John.

    – Time after Pentecost — Books of Kings.- Month of August — Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus.

    – Month of September — Job, Tobias, Judith, Esther.

    – Month of October — Machabees.

    – Month of November — Ezechiel, Daniel, the twelve minor Prophets.

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