About St. John Mason Neale’s Breviary


St. John Mason Neale

Recently I have discovered that all of the volumes of the Breviary as edited (chiefly) by St. John Mason Neale are online (in pdf format). I have been studying and working on them ever since. The end result will be, hopefully, an usable online version of it here on this blog. The first installments will be the Psalms distributed over the week. They could from that moment on be used in  unison with the propers of the Anglican Breviary by readers of this blog. I will continue to work on the other volumes and parts of this Breviary until the whole thing is online and usable here.

The Breviary was designed to be used by a women’s monastic community (St. Margaret’s) and uses the distribution of the Psalms as it was in use in England before the Reformation. Allowance is made at Prime to use the Tridentine system so as to shorten that Office significantly. The Sunday Office contains 18 Psalms, the Weekday Office only 12 (the number we also find in Benedict’s Office), Festal Offices have only 9 Psalms. In this Breviary we find the ancient Roman distribution of the Psalter over the days of the week. At a later stage I will provide some ways to “abbreviate” the Psalter for use as needed (one such way is, of course, the distribution as we find it in the printed version of the Anglican Breviary).

The Breviary of St. John Mason Neale will show some variations from the Anglican Breviary. This has several reasons. Among the most prominent is that Neale’s Breviary looks back to Sarum, but incorporates Gallican* and Monastic features when Neale thought it appropriate. The responses, and antiphon will also differ somewhat frequently. This can be explained by the fact that the Anglican Breviary’s translator afforded himself certain liberties in adapting the text as he translated it. But also to the fact that in the Pian reforms of 1911 new antiphons were created for many of the Psalms and the Anglican Breviary is – in part – based on the Pian Breviary of 1911. Still, the Psalter as it will be provided here can be used together with the Propers & Commons of the Anglican Breviary if so desired.

Gregory +

*GALLICAN – in this case, is not a reference to the Gallican Western Rite (nor its less succesful Orthodox revival attempts), but refers to the 18th century reformed Breviaries of France. These Breviaries were composed under the authority of the local, French, Bishops relatively independent from the influence of the Pope. Gallicanism can be considered the opposing movement to Ultramontanism.

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About Father Gregory

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

3 Responses to About St. John Mason Neale’s Breviary

  1. Br John-Aelred Lane says:

    could you post a link to the PDF’s please?

  2. Byron Woolcock says:

    Many thanks, good Fr. Gregory, a very interesting study and research for me to follow up on. Fr.B.

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