Breviaries and the BCP

Fr. Gregory has a quite thought-provoking post here on the different formation issues between the Anglican Breviary and the BCP. It’s one we’ve discussed at points here and a tension I also feel.

The issue is that the Daily Office Lectionary offers Scripture; the breviary offers concrete guidelines for interpreting the Scriptures—by patristic example. How, then, to do both?

I’m still of a mind that the best way to do it (in addition to a proper round of psalm and gospel antiphons which—classically—were themselves interpretive) is an expanded utilization of the Noon Office.

At Smokey Mary, the slot in the Noon Office is occupied by a reading from the Fathers; in the more expanded versions of the St Bede’s Breviary I’ve put in the daily portion from Benedict’s Rule. In practice this mirrors the post-Vatican II Office of Readings which is the retread of Matins, now removed from the middle of the night and stuck at a time where people who sleep can actually pray it.

I don’t know enough about the Office of Readings to know where to find the lectionary of patristic texts… Do any of you know?

11 thoughts on “Breviaries and the BCP

  1. BillyD

    No, but J Robert Wright’s _Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church_ might seem to make more sense for an Anglican endeavor. It attempts to do for the BCP offices what the Office of Readings does for the LotH.

  2. Christopher


    I applaud the use of readings from the Rule or Patristics. The Noon Day reading of the Rule is a part of my life, but I have taken upon myself by promise more than is the rule of Anglican tradition as embodied in the BCP. I wonder about destabilizing the core of the Anglican rule that 1979 invites and newer proposals all but undo–are we really to think most lay persons with the many ways we pray by work, family life, etc. going to do an entire round of offices calling them other names to try to cover up undoing 500 years of workable rule by calling them mid-morning or mid-afternoon prayer? It all but undoes the possibility of the whole Church as an ascetical community by creating a new set of cognescenti. MP and EP as I remind students are not Matins or Lauds or Vespers in the same sense as used in the monastery.

    It would be better to provide a fuller set of antiphons, especially for the Gospel Canticles, and a Patristic lectionary to accompany the Scripture lectionary for those inclined than to add on offices not likely to be touched.

    We don’t even have a full round of MP and EP in most of our churches. Better to start there than add in more before we’ve gotten our rule in practice.

  3. Donald

    I rather like reading the daily office, and, as I developed a love for things anglican later in life, I like the ease of having the daily office pop up at the push of a few buttons. I had thought about establishing all the daily readings as a rule on my own life. I must say that after reading the comment written by Christopher that perhaps I’m oversimplifying things. I think I’ll give it a try anyway, the words lift my spirit. I’ve enjoyed reading some of what you’ve written today and might follow your writing a bit more closely. I don’t believe I could have enjoyed so much discussion and banter from educated people had I maintained the fundamental ties I once knew within the Baptist church. I conclude this now as a thank you note. Thanks

  4. Derek the Ænglican


    If I’m reading you right you’re referring to the new Daily Prayer plan about which nothing much has been seen, correct?

    I definitely agree with you on antiphons; More on that later.

    Hi Donald—thanks for commenting I do hope you keep reading!

    Yes, BillyD–J Bob’s book is precisely for that purpose. Does anybody have one? What do you think of the selections? How is it weighted?

  5. Pingback: Scripture Interpreting Scripture « haligweorc

  6. Christopher

    I am referring to the plan that you referred to some time back and floated around Convention. Troubling. It’s as if some folks saw monastic offices and went ooo, ahhh look at all those goodies and just as with the sanctoral, are going to clunk it all up again without a sense of a theological underpinning for the changes.

    We need solid patterns (clear about always using the Gospel Canticles, for example) and provisions interpretively (antiphons and the like) for our classic set, MP and EP much more than a million hours. That requires careful selectivity and in some cases new composition. What I wonder, as I note in my comment to your latest is this, what is the theological premise undergirding a particular recommendation? I would say that for Anglicans, like Benedictines, it is Jesus Christ. If the goal is to make selections in text and interpretation, they should lead us to encounter our Living Lord. Again, I want to avoid the ooo, ahhhh factor and be honest selectivity is a vital part of traditioning, and we are selecting because these selections best speak Him to us in our time and place.

    I go back and forth between the BCP and A Monastic Breviary largely because of a consistent pattern and the antiphons for the Gospel Canticles. I could do with fewer options for Canticles if a set of Gospel Canticle antiphons were included instead.

  7. Christopher

    What I want to avoid, and I think if we are concerned about common prayer in the understanding of Maurice or Thornton must avoid, is a host of separate books and resources rather than a rule for common prayer. That may require a judicious revision of the BCP, but it’s in a different direction from the clunk it up with goodies without theological premise trajectory.

    This insistence on common prayer is one reason why I have found myself feeling somewhat guilty even using A Monastic Breviary, which is meant for monastic use. Ideally, we don’t need such as replacement, because we have common prayer that has retained pattern (not just goodies) as well as textual-interpretive vigor. This common prayer ideal is central to what makes us Anglican on so many levels, including clergy-lay relations, christological foci that emphasize not only Christ’s kenosis but also his pleroma (gathers all to and desires to gather all into Himself), etc.

    And yes, I think the minor propers as an option, judiciously selected, is a fine idea.

  8. brian m

    Derek, you write: “At Smokey Mary, the slot in the Noon Office is occupied by a reading from the Fathers; in the more expanded versions of the St Bede’s Breviary I’ve put in the daily portion from Benedict’s Rule.”

    May I ask if, at SMV, the reading from the Fathers” follows the reading of the “short chapter,” in the same way that you post the lesson from the Rule after the short chapter on S. Bede’s Breviary?

    I ask because I wonder if it might be congenial to “Anglican Use” RC’s to read the second lesson from the Office of Readings after the short chapter in the Book of Divine Worship. As for an online lectionary for these lessons, sorry I can’t help you there.

  9. brian m

    Thanks, Derek. I should add that one might have to read at least part of the scriptural lesson from the OoR when the patristic lesson is a commentary on it; perhaps one could employ the old Matins technique of reading a sentence of the scriptural lesson followed by “and so on.”

  10. brian m

    P.S. If you’d like to take a gander at Dr. Wright’s fine volume it is on limited preview at Google Books:

    I seem to recall reading in the intro to this volume that about 60% of his selections come from the second lesson of the OoR.

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