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What is the Anglican Breviary?

The Anglican Breviary is one of the great liturgical works that has come out of the Catholic movement in Anglicanism. 30 years in the making, it was produced in the year 1955 by the Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation. Like all breviaries, it contains the traditional hours of prayers of the Western Church: the long early morning Matins office with its readings from the Church Fathers interspersed with psalms; the main offices for the hinges of the day, Lauds and Vespers; the daytime offices of Prime, Terce, Sext, None; the bedtime office of Compline; and the brief Capitular office that includes the martyrology recounting the saints to be remembered. Built on the structure of the Roman Catholic Divine Office according to the usage established by Pius X, it utilizes the Scriptures of the King James Bible and the Coverdale Psalms of the Book of Common Prayer to place these prayer hours within an Anglican idiom.

This breviary restores to the Anglican liturgical experience the antiphons, responsaries, hymns, and readings from the Church Fathers that Cranmer removed from the first prayer books. Furthermore, this breviary stands as a sign of the Anglican relationship with the Roman Catholic Church: on one hand, it signals a confluence of practice; on the other, the difference in readings (and therefore theology) for some of the recent feasts illustrates where the Anglican churches have retained a more ancient tradition. Of course, in the aftermath of the liturgical upheavals of the mid-20th century and the reforms that took place at Vatican II, the breviary itself stands as a witness to the Anglican retention of Western church traditions even where the Roman Catholic Church has moved in new directions.

The breviary has seen new life in recent years. It is back in circulation again, available in a handsome printed edition, and is being used by Episcopalians, Anglicans, Roman Catholics of the Anglican Ordinariates, Western Orthodox, and more. There is a vibrant online community dedicated to its use, including an active Facebook page and several blogs. This renewed interest indicates that, rather than simply being a relic of a by-gone age, the breviary has a place in the spiritual lives of modern people worth preserving and nurturing.

What is the Anglican Breviary Online?

The Anglican Breviary Online is an initiative to digitize the entire contents of the Anglican Breviary. The material will appear here on this wiki, broken out by Temporal and Sanctoral Cycles. Once the material has been entered, it will be configured as a web application, allowing the breviary to be prayed easily according to the user's preferences.