Category Archives: Breviary

LFF 2018 in the Breviary

At long last…

I have finally gotten around to some long-lingering kalendar updates to the breviary. They’re not done yet, but there is some new stuff in there.

I’d had the codes for the items in Great Cloud of Witnesses in the saints table for some time now, but had never gotten around to actually hooking that in to the options; it’s in now.

The bigger news, though, is that the new commemorations and collects for the trial use Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018 are in and can be selected as an option. As with all Episcopal kalendars in recent years, there are things to like and not like about LFF 2018. On the whole, it’s much better than its two predecessors—and I say that as the chief architect of Great Cloud of Witnesses

In putting together GCW, we (I) tried to thread the needle too finely. I wanted to try and please as many folks as we could, both those who wanted a broad expanse of folks—including many with whom they were unfamiliar—and those who wanted to only celebrate as saints those they believed were genuinely saints. In essence, I went too “meta” with the notion that these were all options and that local communities should canonize and celebrate those they regarded as saints. This nuance appears to have been largely missed by the voters at General Convention and the broader church.

Oh well.

What LFF 2018 accomplished was to salvage and continue the work on the collects that we had begun with GCW. It also tried to balance the representation on the kalendar. I’m sure some see this as liberal pandering; I don’t. Instead, the saints do need to portray the full span of humanity as faithful witness of Christ’s resurrection power, not just a list of well-connected French & Italian bishops (looking at you, RC calendar of the 1890’s) or a list of white missionary Anglican bishops in the Americas (looking at you, early versions of LFF).

What I have not done yet is to thoroughly incorporate the collect changes of LFF 2018 throughout the kalendars as a whole. That is, I now offer 5 Episcopal kalendar options in the breviary:

  • The original 1979 kalendar
  • The official Lesser Feasts & Fasts (2006)
  • The now superseded Holy Women, Holy Men (because there are some who still like and use it)
  • The “made available” Great Cloud of Witnesses
  • The “authorized for trial use” Lesser Feasts & Fasts (2018)

Right now, the first four are all using the Holy Women, Holy Men collects (except for the new additions to GCW); the fifth contains the new ones.

In the next week or two, I am going to replace the HWHM collects with the LFF 2018 collects (for the commemorations for which they are available). There are two reasons for this:

  1. I think the LFF 2018 collects are objectively better than the (current) HWHM collects
  2. The trial use collects need to be used so that the Church gets an experience of them

So—if you’re one who pays close attention to the collects, you’ll be seeing that change soon.

New Breviary Feature

I just added a new piece of functionality to the breviary that I think it’s been needing for a long time—but it didn’t click until last night…

Some Twitter friends were talking about bring prayer books on vacation—or using the St Bede’s Breviary instead—and that reminded me of the issues I’ve had when my family and I have tried to use it together. Making sure everyone is literally on the same page can be an issue. You either have to get your preferences all set the same (a real pain, especially if you already like yours) or figure out a good way to share the link.

It hit me as I was climbing into bed that a QR code is the perfect way to solve this. So, this morning on getting up, I did some poking around to see if there was an easy way to do this. Sure enough—there is! There’s a friendly little jQuery library that does this very easily.

Thus, you should see a new link up at the very top of the page. Click it to reveal the QRcode for whatever url you have in your browser, and then have other folks with you take a picture of it (iOS) or use their app (Android), and you’re good to go!

Anglican Breviary Use Case Poll

I have some questions for those interested in the Anglican Breviary.

(For those not familiar, the Anglican Breviary was a revision of the Roman Catholic Breviary subsequent to its 1910 revision; it contains the standard 8 prayer offices with all their attendant liturgical materials, but renders them in accordance with the psalms and prayers of the prayer book tradition. That is, the psalter is the Coverdale and BCP collects are used in some places rather than the Roman Catholic collects. Too, some of the readings at Matins are modified to reflect Anglican theological commitments in the few cases where there are significant points of divergence.)

Those (particularly though not necessarily exclusively Anglicans) who are interested in and choose to use the Anglican Breviary have some decisions with regard to its use. Please indicate where you’d fall. I’m going to leave this poll up for one week to get a sense of where folks are on things currently.

[poll id=”6″]

Office of the Holy Spirit

A Little Background

One of the reasons I have been so quiet recently is because I have been teaching a Masters level course at The Ecumenical Institute (EI) of St. Mary’s Seminary and University here in Baltimore. It was the first course in the history sequence which started from the time of the New Testament and went up to the Reformation—a span of some 1500 years and 12 million square miles in just a couple of months… While it’s wrapping up now, it was a fun class with a wonderful set of engaged students from a variety of backgrounds split between Roman Catholics, a few mainliners, and several nondenominational folks. In addition to teaching the main historical content of the course, I also offered a 1-credit spirituality component (as EI courses sometimes do).

Rather than trying to follow course content too closely, I decided to have this small group of students take some time with three spiritual practices fundamental to the age that we were studying. First, we spent several weeks doing Evagrian/Desert Father-style breath prayers taken from the Scriptures, especially the psalms. Then we spent several weeks exploring lectio divina. Naturally, I encouraged them to start with the psalms rather than have them tackle a larger book–and because of the prominence of the Psalms in-period. For our third section, I knew I wanted to do something relating to the Books of Hours.

There are all sorts of compelling reasons to focus on the Books of Hours. We had been working with psalms in the earlier parts of the semester—why not experience the psalms in their liturgical context? While not the only devotion used in the period, the Books of Hours were the central devotional locus for the literate laity. Also, Baltimore is the site of the splendid Walters Art Museum, home to one of the greatest collections of Books of Hours in the entire world. Furthermore, I could select something from the scope of the tradition that non-Roman Catholic students could embrace without theological reservations—and this was a live issue as none of the students in the spirituality portion were Roman Catholic. I finally settled on a relatively obscure choice, the Office of the Holy Spirit.

Hours and Offices: A Distinction

As you may know, late medieval books of hours have a fairly standard set of main contents. I’ve talked about these before. There are two chief sets Offices, the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Office of the Dead, that generally follow the outlines of full-on monastic Offices but are shorter and much less variable. These Offices include psalms.

Then, there are several briefer Hours that may or may not appear: Hours of the Passion, Hours of the Holy Trinity, Hours of the Holy Spirit, and a variety of hours for specific saints (John the Baptist, Catherine, etc.). Largely speaking, these tend to consist of a Gospel canticle antiphon, a hymn or hymn portion, a versicle & response, and a collect. Note: no psalms. That’s because these were usually prayed as tack-ons to the end of the main offices. Since you’d already prayed some psalms, more were not necessary.

Thus, if a set of thematic prayers contains one or more psalms we refer to it as an “Office;” if it didn’t, we refer to it as an “Hour.” (And let me note that—like many conventions—this is a modern scholarly convention that you may or may not find in manuscripts of the period.)

The Office of the Holy Spirit

While Hours of the Holy Spirit are not terribly uncommon in the surviving corpus of Books of Hours, the Office of the Holy Spirit is not common at all. Indeed, as far as I know (so take that with a big grain of salt!), the Office of the Holy Spirit did not make the jump into the age of printing. So, I had kind of an issue. The Office of the BVM was out on content-grounds; didn’t want to make my Protestants do Marian devotions without their consent. The Office of the Dead could be interpreted as being on the line too given Reformation concerns, but it also isn’t a full office—it only contains Matins, Lauds, and Vespers. The Hours and attendant Office of the Passion tend to be quite anti-Semitic, and I didn’t have time or opportunity to edit those to make them suitable for modern prayer. However—everybody can get behind the Holy Spirit!

Fortunately, there is a well-written copy of the Office of the Holy Spirit in one of the manuscripts here in the Walters. Walters Ms. W.86 was written in Arras, France, sometime between 1275 and 1300. It’s not a terribly pretty book especially as far as these books go, but it is legible. Much of the material is either biblical or is drawn from standard liturgical materials for Pentecost, so I adapted standard English materials as needed and translated what I didn’t find. I put it all into contemporary English so, at the current time, these Offices are only present in a “Rite II” format.

I wanted my students to have the full experience of a Book of Hours, though, so I brought in some pretty pictures from another Walters manuscript: Walters Ms. W.196.  This is a book with some fantastic images painted in Bruges, Belgium around 1470. Unfortunately, some of the images were cut out of the manuscript, including those for Lauds and Prime of the Holy Spirit and also the Matins of the Blessed Virgin (which would have depicted the Holy Spirit descending on Mary at the Annunciation). As a result, I borrowed a picture from before the Penitential Psalms of David praying for Lauds, and recycled the image from Nones for Prime.

The Site

The site offers the traditional eight-hour sequence of the Office of the Holy Spirit. It is an alternative cycle to the usual Daily Office. Or, of course, the internal hours can be used to supplement a prayer book office if that is your desire. The site structure is very basic: there is a home page which links to the hours and an About page; each of the hours is on its own page and has a link at the bottom back to the home.

I’ll be interested to hear about your experience of this site. I’m trying out some new graphical elements (as you’ll see). The primary purpose was to, again, give the students a feel of what the Books of Hours were like and the kinds of visual cues they used. Books of Hours generally tended to be small-format books so I intentionally designed it to give that kind of feel for tablet/phablet/phone sized screens. A secondary ulterior motive was to explore some new ways of doing image layout and font.

Ok—that’s enough talking; here is the site itself:

The Office of the Holy Spirit home page

Anglican Breviary Online Update!

I realized that I haven’t given much of an update on the Anglican Breviary online recently.

The wiki can be found at

Last night I caught up on some work I had backing up including quite a bit of material from the post-Christmas period and Epiphany (with much thanks to Richard and Scott!). I also modified the side-bar to make it more user-friendly, and to give better access to the seasonal material that has been entered.

Here’s our status:

  • Most of Advent is in.
  • The text of Christmas is all in; there are a few bits that need the formatting markup. The majority of that is in, though.
  • Epiphany and its Octave are mostly in. A couple of days are lacking, as is some more formatting.

I’d love to start a push towards Lent before we actually get there so we can get the material in both here and also into the St. Bede’s Breviary.

The issue—as always—is one of time and resources. (My ISP is reminding me it’s time to re-register the URL as well…) I’ll be contacting those who have helped who are currently without assignments for entering more text; if you’d to help out, leave a comment or drop me an email. And, as always, donations are appreciated and help move things along. (I just learned that my button on the wiki wasn’t working through the “front door” url, so I’m co-opting the St. Bede’s Breviary link—just earmark it for the Anglican Breviary and list the form you want your name to appear on the Benefactors page!)

Breviary Updates

Holiday-based stress is in high gear; lots of extra rehearsals for the older daughter for Nutcracker which will simultaneously occur and finish over the weekend.

I need to start writing here more and will try and be more intentional about that… I think my chief problem is tat I keep trying to do huge topics which then never get finished to the degree I’d like. Perhaps shooting for bite-sized might work better…

The breviary was down a little bit at the beginning of the week. I had to do some surgery on some critical files and make sure the lectionary was functioning properly. That’s all in good working order now. I also solved the persistent problem around preferences and iDevices that had popped up since I added the RSV.

Additionally, I also put into place the first-fruits of collaboration with the Anglican Breviary project: the antiphons on the psalms are now “of the season.” Look for more fruits of collaboration as time becomes more available…

There were also a few cosmetic changes with the .css files. I continue to not be satisfied with the aesthetics of the breviary. I have a vision, but haven’t achieved it yet.

Breviary Preference Glitch

Surfacing briefly to comment on a problem…

I’ve been totally intending to post here a while. In fact, I’m planning a fairly lengthy answer on the good question posed (a bit ago now) on the relationship between “Anglo-Catholic” and “Rite I.” But it hasn’t gotten done.

I’m still spending a great amount of time and energy trying to finish off the “Great Cloud of Witnesses” for the SCLM’s submission to the Blue Book and I find myself unable to do much writing here until that gets done. (It’s an energy-sink kind of thing.)

In any case, I have put the RSV into the St. Bede’s Breviary. However, in modifying the Preferences to include that option, I have dislodged something somewhere that is causing issues for people who are trying to adjust said Preferences. I’m not sure what’s going on. I haven’t had much time to run it down,  nor am I replicating it, so I suspect it might be an iDevice issue. If people are experiencing this issue, please email me a sample of the broken url so I can see what is wrong with the preference code that it is trying to pass.

Anglican Breviary: Call for Volunteers

The Anglican Breviary Online project is now up and ready for material!

Right now, my focus is on getting in materials contained in lettered section C which contains the texts for the Temporal Cycle. As I get volunteers, I shall assign them a section of pages, roughly a week’s worth, to complete. Once that material is in and they request more, more will be given.

I have a page up that serves as a template: The Feast of the Holy Trinity and the Week After. It currently just contains the material for the Feast of the Holy Trinity—I’m still working on the “and the Week After”… However, there’s enough there to give you a sense of what we’re trying to accomplish and how we’re going to get there.

First, we are going for a “diplomatic transcription.” The term “diplomatic” means that we will be copying the style along with the text. Thus, we will be keeping stylistic features like rubrication, drop capitals, the use of small fonts, and the typographical marks like crosses and accented letters.

Second, we will also be retaining a textual link with the physical text by retaining the page number and column letter by section. Thus, you’ll notice at the very head of the page this: [page C442a]. This identifies that the text under it comes from the left-hand column (“a”, the right-hand column is “b”) of page 442 in section C. In other words, we’re including the page number from the top outside corner and including a column letter. Thus, you’ll find the column break a bit down the page after the Matins invitatory antiphon: [page C442b].

Third, the transcription will capture the exact text of the Anglican Breviary. I haven’t run across any mistakes or typos, but even if mistakes are found they will be preserved as is to ensure complete conformity. (We may put in footnotes if we do find any errors that need to be corrected.)

I had set it up so that users could create logins. However, when I sat down to finish things in my example section last night and put this post up, I discovered that I must have done something wrong in the settings as the site had been greatly over-run by bots and a host of bogus pages had been created by users who shouldn’t have had creation and edit privileges. Thus, I spent the time I’d planned to use finishing up the section, locking down and cleaning up instead. Naturally, I’m a bit wary of opening things up too much at the moment until I have a better handle on the MediaWiki admin functions…

So—if you have a copy of the Anglican Breviary and you would like to help, here’s how we’ll proceed for now:

1. Let me know that you’d like to help by sending me an email at the address over on the side-bar.

2. I’ll send you a note back with a week/set of pages to work on and log that on the Plan of Work page. Let me know how you want to be identified in this time before we get proper user names up and running. If you want to be anonymous, that’s fine—I’ll keep a private list too so I know who’s got what.

3. Transcribe the pages any way you’d like—typing it, scanning it and using OCR, reading it with a voice transcription system, whatever—into a basic text format. Please keep an eye out for the special characters:  † ℟ ℣ â ê î ô û. You can copy and paste them from here into the head of a working document or on a dedicated cut-n-paste sheet for easy insertion. For the star, we’re just using an asterisk (*).

4. Skip any psalms!! My editorial assistants have been entering the psalms over the summer. MediaWiki allows us to drop in sections of text from a template so we’re templating all of the psalms so that they will be completely uniform. Thus, if you come to a psalm in your transcribing—say, Psalm 72, simply type in {{Psalm 72}} and let it go at that. If there’s a column or page break in the psalm, just insert it after your psalm marking.

5. Send me the text once you’ve got the page range done, and my editorial assistants and I will take the basic text, apply the formatting, and put it online.

Once I’m confident that the user permissions are set up properly, I’ll open it up so that text can be put directly into pages by authorized users. Also at that point, I’ll ask for help from users with code experience who would like to help apply stylistic features.

This is a big effort, but I truly believe that it’s worth doing! If you can donate your time, I would greatly appreciate the help. If you can help provide financial support, that is gratefully accepted too—use the PayPal link here and designate it for the Anglican Breviary and you’ll be added to the Benefactors page.

Shifting Directions

Things Being Wrapped Up

After a very busy season, it’s time for an update…

The revision of my dissertation is done and has been sent off to Liturgical Press. The title I believe we’re going with is Reading Matthew with Monks: Liturgical Interpretation in Anglo-Saxon England. The first part focuses on early medieval monastic biblical interpretation centering on the role of the liturgy. In particular, I’m focusing on the Old English sermons and interpretive materials of Ælfric of Eynsham and his situation in the 10th century English Benedictine Revival. In the second part, I take four passages from Matthew, look at how four modern commentators have treated them, then look at Ælfric’s reading as illuminated by his liturgical context. Often, there is some really interesting interplay between the issues raised by the modern readers and the insights coming from Ælfric’s material. I don’t know exactly when it will be coming out, but I believe they’re looking at a late Spring 2015 release date.

I also just concluded a wonderful parish retreat at St. Andrew’s in Ft. Thomas, Kentucky, at the invitation of Fr. Jeff Queen that focused on the background, spirituality, and use of the St. Augustine’s Prayer Book. We had participants from around the Cincinnati metro area (including some readers of the blog!); I had a great time, received a lot of thoughtful questions and feedback, and I think we achieved what we wanted to do. That was capped off by a gracious invitation to preach at Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati, and got to meet and spend some time with Fr. Manoj Zacharia and Mthr. Sherilyn Pearce.

My work on this presentation is going to largely feed into my part of the address that David Cobb and I will be presenting at the North American Society of Catholic Priests Conference in Toronto in the next couple of weeks.

Of course, I couldn’t be in the area with touching base at Forward Movement, and successfully met the height requirement to enter Scott Gunn’s office, Home of the Golden Halo(TM). Work is ramping up on the manuscript I finished earlier in the year on the spirituality of the Book of Common Prayer; I’ve been assigned editors and we’re currently talking about a possible April 2015 publication date, assuming no substantial delays. I’m very excited to work with both Richelle Thompson and Mthr. Melody Shobe on this project!

Of my major writing obligations for this season, that’s all but one… We’re still hard at work on A Great Cloud of Witnesses and have to get all of the revisions to collects and tags completed by the end of October when the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will meet to finalize our Blue Book submission. As a subcommittee, we’ve revised 75 collects and I’m still going through more. Once that work is off my plate I’ll be able to breath a big sigh of relief!!

Now—M has informed me that writing a book is like doing a full Ironman triathlon, but not necessarily for the reason you might think. You might think that she’s referring to the fact that’s a long difficult haul that involves a lot of focus and sustained effort in multiple disciplines like research and writing. While that’s true, that’s not what she has in mind. No, she’s thinking of something else… What you may not realize if you don’t participate in these sports is the huge volume of training time necessary just to complete an Ironman, which is compounded if you actually want to be competitive in one. For instance, it’s entirely normal to do a 50-mile bike ride immediately followed by a 10-mile run on a weekend. (And that’s a fairly moderate workout.) Activities like this take a while…  Due to the time and energy demands that this kind of training takes, most Ironman families & spouses insist that their favorite athlete can only compete every two or three years—because family life can’t sustain them more often than that! Thus, I’ve been banned from writing books for the next year or two in the interest of family harmony.

 Things Ramping Up

Instead of writing books, I plan to head back over to the digital side for a while. Over there, we’ve got a couple of big things on the horizon.

  • More Attention to the St. Bede’s Breviary! The SBB has languished a bit while I’ve been doing all of this writing. I’ve been trying to fix the occasional errors as they pop up, but haven’t done a lot of work with it otherwise. I am now in the final stages of a custom edition for the Companions of St. Luke, an Episcopal Benedictine group. Up next is fulfillment of a request from a good friend of the breviary to include the Revised Standard Version of the Scriptures. I also have some ideas around some new visual elements and an overhaul under the hood. (For my fellow coders out there, I’m moving to a fully object-oriented design.)
  • More Energy to the Anglican Breviary! Although I’ve not said much about it, the Anglican Breviary Online site is up and material is slowly being added. I drafted both Lil’ G and H as editorial assistants and put them to work entering psalms. Since our family vacations hit in August and with the commencement of school, this work has been on hold. I’m ready to pick that up again. I’ll be issuing a call for volunteers shortly once I’ve worked out MediaWiki’s edit permissions. Donations towards this work are gratefully accepted, and names will be listed on the Benefactors page. Gifts can be made in honor and memory of loved ones as well.
  • More Items To Be Added to the Anglican Gradual & Sacramentary! David White, the editor and architect of the Anglican Gradual & Sacramentary has completed his corrections to the files. I’ll be uploading these to the yet-rather-rudimentary page soon. I do intend to put them all into a PDF format, but I don’t see that happening until the beginning of 2015.

So—that’s where we stand on things. Lots to do; only 24 hours in a day to get them done! With help and lots of prayer, I’m confident we’ll get there…