New Online Breviary: Beta Test Version

Christopher has said on occasion that it’s one thing to advocate for liturgical renewal; it’s another entirely to actually do something about it.

In the spirit of actually doing something, I’m introducing for trial use a new online resource for praying the Daily Office. Named St Bede’s Breviary, it is firmly rooted in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, especially as read through catholic tradition. I’ll say more about this in the coming days but here are a few notes:

  • It differs from other online prayer options specifically in terms of options. You may select from Rite I or II, use one of (currently) three liturgical kalendars, and vary the amount of material and additions as your time and inclinations allow.
  • The other difference from other sites is that it is an integrated full-text office meaning that everything is on one page. No clicking between various windows.
  • M has confirmed that it is crackberry accessible. (No word on other telephony devices…)
  • It is still in the beta testing phase which means that there are glitches. Some I’m aware of and am working as time allows; others will only appear in the course of regular use. So—it’s not perfect.
  • It’s also not static. Meaning, not only can bugs be fixed (unlike in paper breviaries) I’m also open to introducing new options and such as long as they remain in line with the fundamental mandate of the project—a breviary rooted in the ’79 BCP read in continuity with catholic tradition.

Here’s a key point: While I’ve used the word “I” a couple of times, I’m going to carefully qualify it. While I’ve done the PHP coding and worked up the current state of the MySQL tables, this has, from its inception a while back, been a community effort.  In particular bls and Fr. Chris did a tremendous amount of work in terms of both content and technical conceptualization. bls in particular was the mastermind behind the drupal-based version that ran for a while on a host provided by Fr. Chris. Unfortunately my host doesn’t offer drupal support on Windows servers concerning which I’m greatly annoyed… In short, this wouldn’t be possible without them. (And bls, I want to revisit some of your original design ideas too—I’ll shoot you a note…)

Christopher, Brian M, Scott, Mother M, Paul Goings, and others offered support and suggestions, sometimes only in the form of answering seemingly random questions about office minutae.

I’d like to keep it that way too. If you use this, please let me know what can or should be done to make it better or more user friendly.

So, without further ado: St Bede’s Breviary.

59 thoughts on “New Online Breviary: Beta Test Version

  1. Gerry Hough

    Thank you indeed!

    I’m going to use this for Advent and will let you know if I find any problems as I go along.

    So farso good!

  2. Scott

    Bravo, Derek! I prayed MP Rite I with the site today on my Windows Mobile 6.1 device (Palm Treo 800w/Sprint) with great success. I reduced the text display size a couple of notches to reduce line breaks, but leaving it the default size was fine, too, and very legible. Saw one misspelling (missing letter) in the Suffrages B for Rite I: hve for have. Looking forward to trying the enriched versions. Which Bible translation is used for Rite II?

    Thank you very much for this very useful resource.

  3. Derek the Ænglican

    Thanks, all.

    Got ’em, Scott—thanks!

    The Rite II Bible is, currently, the WEB Bible, a non-copyrighted version that is a modernized version of the KJV. I’d like to put in a more “standard” translation but haven’t put my hands on one yet in a readily database-able format.

  4. Robert

    Fantastic! Thank you for providing this amazing resource.

    One suggestion to fine-tune it: it would be surely possible to mix and match a little between Rites — and thus to choose particular translations of canticles. I’m generally a Rite II person, but cannot stand the cringe-worthy translation of the Te Deum (“You’re God!! We praise you!!11!”), so always flip back to Rite I for that — and for the Magnificat and the Nunc dimittis, both of which are more familiar to me in the Elizabethan language. But I have no objection at all to the Rite II collects, suffrages etc. — in fact, I prefer them that way.

  5. Derek the Ænglican

    Hmmm. Interesting question! Generally I’ve been focused on getting the rite language consistent—hence loading in the ’28 Coverdale for use with Rite I—and hadn’t consider that it might be a feature rather than a bug…

    Thinking out loud a moment, I wonder if a small “other rite” link next to the canticle title could be rigged via JavaScript to dynamically load the other flavor. Of course, I neither know nor use JavaScript… bls? Anybody else?

  6. matthew

    This is really great! I love the prayer book, but am always trying to find good Marian prayers to supplement the hours with. Thank you so much for this. I plan to use this frequently.

  7. matthew

    I chose evening prayer for monday with house style and house sanctorale and it gave me a fatal error:

    “Fatal error: Call to a member function free() on a non-object in D:Hosting5261249htmlbreviaryEP_79_BCP.php on line 273”

  8. matthew

    Sorry, I have another suggestion. I think in order to improve the aesthetic of the breviary, I would suggest to make the background fixed. so that when one scrolls only the text moves. I think that might be a bit easier on the eye.

  9. Michelle

    It looks ok on the iPhone with a little resizing. It would be nice if it fit well on iPhones and blackberries etc. That would make it the portable office you have been looking for.

  10. Derek the Ænglican

    That may well come with the improved design; there’s a special type of style sheet to be used by mobile browsers that’ll allow us to have one look for the big screen and a different one for the little.

    Since I have no mobile browsing device, getting that piece in place is down the list—although it is an important one. Perhaps a bare-bones mobile css may be in order shortly to meet that need…

    What resizing precisely did you have to do?

  11. Michelle

    Most websites come up with type so small you can barely see that its there. Once its resized to something that is readable it worked pretty well. I think its coming up this small because its a web site rather than an ap. More later… let me play with it a bit.

    Then again your blog comes up in really pretty small type on Firefox.

  12. Paul Goings

    It’s easy to use, and generally looks good on my BlackBerry without any font adjustments. At least for me, the background tiling makes the text harder to read, and I’d probably work on disabling it locally if I were going to use this application on a regular basis.

  13. Paul Goings

    On my BlackBerry, there’s a “n” character (CR/LF) at the front of each option in the date drop-down.

  14. matthew

    I was curious as to why only the “old school prayer book” style evening prayer had the confession of sin.

    Also, could there be a style for basic prayer book + elements of our lady (w/o the amplified stuff)?

  15. Jason Lewis

    Derek, great work. One suggestion for the Rite II lessons: has the NRSV (regular and Anglicized), the Authorized Version, plus the Common Worship, ASB, and Coverdale Psalters online and searchable, with formatting options, and would be an easy way of either a) getting the readings to be cut-and-pasted into a database for the Breviary, or *possibly* to have the breviary query and fetch the readings from Oremus as needed, then format and display them inline for each office.

    I’d have to look more at how the oremus site is set up, but it should theoretically be trivial to just use the existing database on that site to retrieve lectionary readings for the office. My PHP’s a little rusty, but I wouldn’t minds brushing up if you need an extra pair of hands for this project…

    I’ve also done my fair share of web design in the past, so if you need any assistance there, as well, I’d be glad to help.

    Thanks for providing this resource–it’s wonderful, and I can’t wait til Compline is functional!

  16. Derek the Ænglican

    Compline—I thought I had a copy of the previous iteration’s version but it seems to be missing. It should be too awfully long, but I doubt it’ll be tonight.

    Confession—As I recall, the others are set to include the Confession on penitential days which today, as the Feast of St Andrew, isn’t.

    More Confession/Different Marian Options/Canticle Rite Choices—There *is* one other option aside from the JavaScript solution for the use of traditional canticles with Rite II and that’s bringing back the old “preferences” page which lets you select all of your options. Thus also allowing the choice of Confession/Marian materials/etc. The pre-sets work well for those who want to click and go but I’ll put the full gamut back in as an option off the front page for others. Again, it may be a few days.

    Oremus—I remember considering tapping into Oremus for the biblical materials and I remember deciding against it. I believe I decided that doing a direct query wouldn’t work as well as having my own. I’m continuing to look into options for expanding the biblical options.

  17. Michelle

    On the sanctorale, have you considered eventually adding the calendar of Exciting Holiness, a combined calendar for England,Wales, Scotland and Ireland?

  18. BillyD


    If I might suggest, “Old School” really should include the prayer for the government and the prayer for clergy and people before the one for all sorts and conditions of men.

  19. Ann Gerns

    This is really great! I love the options. My only comment would be that I’m kind of surprised by where you do, and don’t, include antiphons. (I’m a Benedictine Oblate, and regularly use an Episcopal Breviary) I can imagine it has something to do with what you’ve found in your academic research. Bottom line: I am going to recommend this to all my Office-saying friends ! Thank you for all the hard work.

  20. Marshall Scott

    Derek, I pray Compline daily. Is there a reason that you set free intercessions after the Antiphon and Nunc Dimittis, when in BCP the rubric sets them before?

  21. BillyD

    Another suggestion: if you’re going to “transcribe” the Gloria Patri into “Rite I” language for the Old School option, it should begin “Glory be to the Father, etc.” The current version omits the “be.” It would also be nice to be consistent – the Gloria Patri following the Benedictus was the ordinary Rite II version.

    And instead of the floating title at the head of the office, how about providing something more conducive to contemplation? Maybe an icon, or a bit of nature photography, or a cross, floating on the right hand of the screen?

    Thank you for providing a version that runs through the monthly reading of the Psalter, by the way. This is quite the best version of the Office online, IMHO.

  22. Derek the Ænglican

    Good catch, BillyD. There are two forms of the Gloria Patri allowed in the ’79 and I conflated them… The GP on the canticles are as printed in the BCP but are also changeable based on the rubric on 132. Part of me says, change it to be consistent; another says, leave it as it’s printed and usually prayed. How do others feel on this?

    The collects for government and clergy&people in the “Old School” version will be coming back in…

    I hadn’t thought about Exciting Holiness, Michelle, but I will take a look at it.

    Brian M, your earlier kalendar request is coming as well.

  23. Michael+

    Tiniest of tiny nitpicks: I use page up and page down buttons, or click the scroll bar on the right of my browser (typically Firefox, Mac and PC). What happens, though, is a couple of lines get hidden under the “St Bede’s” logo, and I have to scroll down. I’m old school enough that I read one page at a time, rather than constant scroll.

    Tiny, tiny. But you’re pretty details-oriented, so I mention it.

    I LOVE this. Thank you again!

  24. brian m

    Seriously, thanks very much for your and your friends’ hard work on this, and I look forward to the kalendar addition. One question: is the fourth reading the OT reading from the other year?

  25. The young fogey

    I’ve been busy this week so I read this only yesterday. No portable devices here to test it with but I test-drove your house Anglo-Catholic Morning Prayer today. Nice work; I expected that.

    Nitpicks (I am a copy editor after all):

    And she conceived by (of) the Holy Ghost.

    Be it unto me according to thy word.

    You said it’s idiosyncratic so you’re covered.

    Still adjusting to Alma Redemptoris Mater after so many months of Salve Regina.

  26. Derek the Ænglican

    Brian M,
    Yes, the first reading of Evening Prayer in the fuller versions uses the OT reading of the off year as specified on p. 934.

    I have not, however, implemented the Gospel flipping recommended on that same page.

    The wider “feel” revision will deal with this issue.

    Thanks! I’ll check those.

  27. Derek the Ænglican

    Ok…here’s some new stuff for y’all to play with.

    I’ve added “More X Prayer Options” as links to the side of the other items. This will give you full control over the options I’ve got coded in.

    This is where you can choose to do Confession or not or to add Marian items to a stripped-down version.

    I’ve included a “Traditional Canticle” option over there that’ll let you use the Rite I canticles with a Rite II Office.

    And for those who haven’t seen, Compline is enabled.

  28. Pingback: New cyber-breviary « A Thinking Reed

  29. Bosco Peters

    I have been commending this on twitter (@liturgy) and now blogged about it & will on my next update link from my online chapel.
    I think this is a wonderful resource. Thank you SO much!
    I am wondering if it may be possible to get this as an iPhone/iPod Touch app?
    Blessings on your Advent and on this project

  30. Michelle

    I second the iPhone ap. I was reading today that the upcoming iTablet will be using the operating system of the iPhone. Imagine an iPhone with a 10 inch screen, plus a CD drive. They are working out deals with publishers to make it the ideal reading device for books and magazines. Blogs are speculating that it will put the Kindle and its imitators out of business quick. It is rumored to be out in January so it might be worth confirming the OS before you do too much.

  31. Derek the Ænglican

    Thanks for putting out the word! I’ve never done anything with iPhone apps but will look into it.

    If you click on the “More Compline Options” one of them will let you add the Marian Antiphons to Compline.

  32. David Whip

    Thanks so much for the site! Three questions: Would it be possible to include the Howard Galley antiphons from “The Prayer Book Office”? An option to include the EP psalms in the MP (and vice versa)? A way to save selections for later use?

  33. Derek the Ænglican

    Hi David,

    I actually don’t have a copy of Galley and so I don’t know what he uses. Too, I’m a little unclear on the copyright status of antiphons (weird, isn’t it?). While they’re usually biblical or traditional material their selection and arrangement constitutes editorial intellectual property as far as I can tell. Thus, I’ve stayed away from published sources still within copyright—which is where Galley would fall.

    (And for those wondering, the source for the non-temporal antiphons are the classic translation of the Tridentine Breviary by the Marquis of Bute, while the temporal antiphons for Saturday’s I Vespers and Sunday are from a resource put together by Fr. Tom Kostrzewa, OblSB CAM and used with his gracious permission.)

    I’m working on a Sources page to make all of this transparent…

    I’m unclear on the second one… What I think you’re getting at is putting all the psalms for the day in a single Office. Is that correct? Actually, that might make sense in and of itself—an Aggregate Office that would give all the psalms and all 3 readings in one big block. Hmm…

    As for saving selections, the html file can itself be saved. PDF output from php is not said to be a difficult operation, and is a feature I’d like to implement at some point, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to get to it.

  34. oursbrun

    Sorry, I wasn’t clear on the third question. What I was thinking about saving was options that are selected before the output is generated. So the next time you go to the site the defaults are changed to your last options Maybe it could be implemented with a cookie.

  35. oursbrun

    On the second question you are correct. I sometimes know that I won’t be able to do both morning and evening prayer so a combined Office would be very useful.

  36. Bob

    Derek, very nice. I’ll be using it. Bug: Check the noon prayer (Rite I) for overprinting. Thanks!

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