November 14, 2012

New Breviary Hopes

I heard yesterday with great delight that our bishops in the United States had voted in favor of a project to develop a new translation of the Liturgy of the Hours. This is, of course, a necessary thing given the new translation of the Roman Missal. At the very least, we need to be relieved of the funny situation of using the new Sunday and sanctoral collects for Mass while still having the old ones printed in our breviaries.

So, given that I am full of opinions about breviaries--and for this I make no apology, since, as one notes, breviaries are the only things (apart from our clothes) that the Rule permits us to have--I offer my hopes for the glorious day when I unbox a new English Liturgy of the Hours. Please, my brothers...

  • Let us have the three Magnficat and Benedictus antiphons for each of the three Sunday hinge hours, instead of this stingy business we have now where Evening Prayer I gets year A, Morning Prayer gets year B, and Evening Prayer II gets year C, such that the antiphon only corresponds to the Sunday gospel once during the Sunday hours. Every other edition I have ever seen gives all three for each.
  • Point the psalmody for singing.
  • It's a little thing, but put the daggers for when the antiphon doubles the first line of a psalm so that it might be skipped, as is right and just. I don't know why we don't have these.
  • Include the Latin hymns, or at least translations of them. Both would be best.
  • Make the cards for the gospel canticles, festal psalmody, Te Deum, etc., tough.
  • Dump the psalm prayers.
  • Six ribbons are better than five. That way there's one each for Proper of Seasons, Ordinary, Psalter, Night Prayer, Proper of Saints, and Commons.
  • Give us books just as tough as the Catholic Book Publishing Company's 4-volume set we have now. Say what you want about them, but those books are strong.

Thanks in advance for all of your work!

It was no longer possible to consider myself, abstractly, as being in a certain "state of life" which had certain technical relations to other "states of life." All that occupied me now was the immediate practical problem of getting up my hill with this terrific burden I had on my shoulders, step by step, begging God to drag me along and get me away from my enemies and from those who were trying to destroy me. 
I did not even reflect how the Breviary, the Canonical Office, was the most powerful and effective prayer I could possibly have chosen, since it is the prayer of the whole Church, and concentrates in itself all the power of the Church's impetration, centered around the infinitely mighty Sacrifice of the Mass--the jewel of which the rest of the Liturgy is the setting: the soul which is the life of the whole Liturgy and of all the Sacramentals. All this was beyond me, although I grasped it at least obscurely. All I knew was that I needed to say the Breviary, and say it every day. 
Buying those books at Benziger's that day was one of the best things I ever did in my life. The inspiration to do it was a very great grace. There are few things I remember that give me more joy. (Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain, 329-330)


Cole Matson said...

Amen to the Merton quote. It was one of the best decisions I ever made (and I use "I" loosely, as there was a coin toss involved) to buy the full set of Breviaries at Blackwell's in Oxford, and start praying the full Office every day (although I soon cut out Terce and None). Now I can't imagine staying sane without those prayers. (And my back thanks my Universalis app for not having to tote the full book around all the time.)

I imagine the new translation will be just for the U.S., as opposed to a collaboration between English-speaking bishops' conferences and the Vatican to provide a single translation (as with the Missal)? Do you think it would be better to have a single translation, or different ones for each conference?

I second your first bullet point. The England & Wales breviary also has only a single antiphon at each hinge hour.

The England & Wales breviary has points 2-5 (at least Latin hymns to Our Lady - I don't think it has Latin for others, eg, Te Deum, which it would be good to have).

I'd never heard of the psalm prayers. Just found an article on them. I agree, no need.

I think my England & Wales breviary is one ribbon short as well. Second this.

My Ordinary Time volume has just lost its spine, after 3 years. The covers are cardboard. Tougher is better.

Brother Charles said...

A breviary that's falling apart is a sign of a soul that isn't.

Louis M said...

"Dump the psalm prayers".

Amen, amen, and amen again.


Brian Garcia-Luense said...

The expanded antiphons for Morning and Evening Prayer on Sundays were added in the editio typica altera in 1985. The reason the current U.S. version does not contain them is not that the U.S. Bishops chose to eschew them, rather simply that they have never been updated since this new typical edition was promulgated.

Brother Charles said...

Aha! I repent of my short-sighted accusation! Thanks!

Cole Matson said...

Thanks for that, Padre!:-) God willing!

Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

I'm with you! Especially about the psalm-prayers (ick.)
As to the ribbons (and shortage thereof), they're the reason I usually use a breviary app instead of my book.
How long do you think it will take for the new version to be published? I'm thinking I might need to save up for the large-print edition by then.

Brother Charles said...

I presume it would be a number of years.

Br. Jack said...

As an old guy (51 years and counting), I love the psalm prayers. While there is no need to pray them when one is praying alone, I think they help the community focus on the psalm just prayed and invite us to go past the words to the heart of the psalm. As a young friar who prayed the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin, I found the psalm prayer very helpful when we were first allowed to pray in English

From George said...

And please, no readings from Vatican II in the Office of Readings...great documents, wrong place.

Cole Matson said...

I love the occasional excerpts from Vatican II, in the OoR, and find them edifying. What makes them a poor fit?

Brother Charles said...

As I mention in one way or other every year, the combination of Maccabees and Gaudium et spes in the OoR is really something, whatever you want to make of it.