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.


15 thoughts on “About St. John Mason Neale’s Breviary

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

  2. I live in East Grinstead where Rev John Mason Neale was Warden of Sackville College (an almshouse founded in 1609) from 1846-66. I am a guide at Sackville College and interested in the photo you have of Neale. Could you advise the source as I have not seen it elsewhere?
    I don’t believe he was ever denoted as a “Saint”. Either Rev Neale, or Dr Neale or simply Neale.

    1. Hi Robin,

      Thank you for your comment.

      What an interesting place to live!

      In the Anglican Catholic Church (not a member of the Anglican Communion) John Mason Neale is celebrated as a Saint on August 8th as “Bl. John Mason Neale.”

      The picture is a window I found doing a google image search on John Mason Neale. I think it is a window in an Episcopal Church somewhere if memory serves …

      Fr. Gregory Wassen

      1. Father Gregory,
        I am looking for JMN images and have several but can’t find the on you have on your website any where else except on your website. One of our local historians thinks it may not be JMN, hence my interest!

  3. Father Gregory,
    I have just found the image on line in the National Portrait Gallery so it really must be genuine! You might be interested to know that Guides and Friends of Sackville College meet every Christmas time to sing carols in the Chapel at the College and afterwards we walk to JMN’s memorial grave in the neighbouring St Swithun’s churchyard where we sing Good King Wenceslas at the graveside and lay a wreath on his tomb!

    Kind regards

  4. Perhaps you may be able to help? Recently online I found an icon of JMN; it can be seen if you google Images of John Mason Neale. It seems so appropriate given JMN’s affiliation with the Orthodox; but there is absolutely no information about who made it, when or where! Thank you!

    1. I think I may have an idea where to look for the person who painted that. Not sure though. I will have a look.

      1. I suspect the Icon is lifted from the “dancing saints” icon at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church. They would probably know who painted it for them. So perhaps send them a message?

  5. You were right; I looked at the website for that church, and found not only the picture but also the name of the artist. Thank you again.

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s