7 January 2009

Routers and Breviaries

What turned out to be a gremlin in the Router has kept me silent for over a week (the posts between Xtmass and Jan2 were already published with a post-dated dates). The blog's technical officer, like any decent civilised Christian man, had gone off to a Foreign Capital for the week, to enjoy the opera ballet museums Art Galleries Restaurants (O utinam); so not till today did we get a Man in to sort matters. (We also asked him to sort the irritating slowness which seems to have developed; but, if anything, it's now slower!). So I'll do the outstanding emails etc over the next few days. And I have not been able to give my views on a liturgical question which is at the moment the great talking point among Anglican Catholic Bishops and priests (notice that, following a peremptory instruction from the Apostolic Administrator, I no longer use the phrase 'Catholic Anglican').

Liturgia Horarum or Breviarium Romanum? To be honest, I hedge. The LH has advantages. It was a brilliant idea to make the Office of Readings something that could be flexibly disposed of at any time of day (the General Instruction actually allows it after Vespers of the day before); and so to make it less of a burden to those who are not required by monastic discipline to rise in the middle of the night. And I always felt that Prime cluttered up the start of the day for a secular priest, suitable though it is for the monastic way of life. And Terce, Sext, and None were always difficult for those with a mobile lifestyle. Breviaries, even if small enough to cram into a pocket, are quite a weight to lug around (I would have liked the Vatican II revisers to provide an even more simplified form of the Middle Hour, so that it could be a wafer-thin booklet that would not weigh down any pocket). The plain fact is that the old office never worked for the secular priest. This is shown by the fact that, de facto, he said it in amalgamated lumps, without any regard to the Authenticity of Time. And if you belonged to the right priestly associations, you even had faculties to say Lauds at midday the day before. The Office was regarded as a Legal Obligation To Be Fulfilled and not at all as the sanctifying of each hour by its proper Liturgy. Vatican II taught us that it should be both.

But LH has its difficulties. The main problem is the usual one: the Bugninides were never content to go for a minimalist organic evolution and improvement of what we inherited. Once they felt the wind in their sails, like all Committee-liturgists (they're just as bad in the C of E, where the chief Fiddler and Tinkerer has been Bubbles Stancliffe, soi disant Bishop of Salisbury) they couldn't stop just cramming in all the 'good ideas' that everybody round the table dreamed up. So the psalms at Lauds and Vespers were reduced from five to two; contrary to the immemorial tradition of the Roman Rite, 'New Testament Canticles' were crammed in; those dreadful 1960s-style intercessions were confected.

I use the LH, but for Vespers on Sundays and Festivals, I say the BR. That is one service which survived almost unchanged the redistribution of the psalter under Pius X. For he it is that presaged the liturgical attitudes of Bugnini and Co; Urban VIII with his classicisation of the texts of the hymns being the first villain. As I have often said in previous posts, the impetus for this approach to liturgy was the invention of printing, which made it possible for any liturgical innovator, whether Cranmer or Pope Urban, to impose radical novelties, his own Good Ideas, overnight. 1962 Sunday Vespers is the only surviving Office in an authorised form of the Roman Rite which S Benedict or Augustine, Anselm, Lanfranc, or Pole or S Edmund Campion, would comfortably recognise.

So, illogical and messy though it is, that's what I do.


lukacs said...

One wonders why Rome didn't keep the old Breviary and simply reduce the obligation for secular priests to Lauds, Vespers, and Compline, and perhaps commend the reading of the Matins lessons and one little hour whenever possible.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

Bang on. One problem, however, is that in the RC mentality what is not compulsory is simply ignored. Take fasting and abstinence on all the weekdays of Lent. Take the appeal by Pius XII, when he was reducing the Euch Fast, that all those were able should observe the old discipline.

The Welsh Jacobite said...

"1962 Sunday Vespers is the only surviving Office in an authorised form of the Roman Rite"

What of the offices of the Breviarum Monasticum??

Bishop of Ebbsfleet said...

Testing prior to publishing a comment.

Bishop of Ebbsfleet said...

It is fascinating to consider what a conservative revision of Breviarum Romanum might have been like - might still be like under Reform of the Reform. In general terms one might still have had the Neo-Vulgate, except perhaps for the Psalter, where the Vulgate gives greatest continuity and stability. One might still have have the renewed hymnody, most of which seems, even to a comparative non-Latinist, richer and smoother. One might still have had the Office of Readings lectionary - both one year and (now) two year - with the proviso that thew readings could be used after the Nocturns of Matins or as longer readings at Lauds and Vespers.

Restoring the integrity of Psalms 148-150 at the end of festal Lauds, allowing the abbreviation of public Lauds and Vespers from five to three pieces of psalmody would all have been simple.

Given that Pius X had restored the comparative primacy of the ferial course of psalmody, it would have been possible to say that one office - terce, sext, or none - would suffice (with some alternation of the different psalmody). Even better, a midday office, with the hymn from terce, the psalmody from all three offices and the lesson and collect from none might have been permitted, as in times past.

Nor would it have been the end of the world to make Sunday Compline an all-but invariable form, with pastoral advice to use the midweek psalmody from time to time.

The biggest task (as Pius X admitted) was the reform of Matins and an immediate suggestion is that the psalmody for Matins be arranged optionally over a two week period, thus reducing the psalmody as envisaged by SC and permitting the longer readings.

Reforms of this kind - including the optional use of the vernacular (especially for the long readings) - might have pointed (to coin a phrase) to a hermeneutic of continuity.

lukacs said...

Another distinct advantage of the Breviarum Romanum is the availability of chant notation and other materials for singing the Office, for instance at parish Sunday Vespers. The antiphoner for the 1911 Breviary came out in 1912. The antiphoner for the Liturgia Horarum . . . is still forthcoming. If one wants to chant an office from the LH in one's parish, one is left to cobble together appropriate notation on one's own, none of which will entirely match up with the text.

Bishop of Ebbsfleet said...

Sorry to return to print: I forgot to comment on Prime. I think Prime is much too useful to be suppressed though, for a secular priest, it is daunting to say Matins, Lauds and Prime (half an hour's work) if Terce is looming up just the other side of a boiled egg. Anticipated Matins (particularly on 30 hour liturgical days) helps, as does the combination, as previously suggested, of Terce, Sext and None into a tripartite office not unlike the Nocturns of Matins. If one were really creative, the Apostles' Creed might be restored to Prime - a symbol which is in danger of severe under use.

rev'd up said...

Bishop, my biretta is off to you! I can't make matins, lauds and prime in less than an hour, and that only when matins is truncated.

Sometimes I use "A Short Breviary," published by the Order of St. Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota during the 1940's. All the offices were shortened, the intended audience was lay folk but they are just right for modern working clergy - with the drawback of their clunky Psalter.

Pastor in Valle said...

Fr H: of course you are right: if one says the BR (as I do invariably), then combining offices is a necessity. I say Matins, Lauds, Prime and Terce before breakfast, (three quarters of an hour when Matins has only one nocturn, 50-55mins when there are three) Sext and None together during the day, then Vespers and Compline together in the evening. In that way, there is some attempt at the sanctification of the day.
The new Nova et Vetera breviary is quite satisfactory (though not without faults), and includes the ancient versions of the hymns as an optional supplement, which is nice.
I have cobbled together, using official Church sources, a sort of Sanctoral to enable me to celebrate the BR according to the modern Calendar—I heartily dislike celebrating the office of one saint and the Mass of another—occasionally providing material from the LO when there is no ancient source available.

Pastor in Valle said...

Sorry—I exaggerated: Matins to Terce this morning took 35 mins (1 nocturn: Sat. of our Lady): 3 nocturns would take 45 or so.

albert cooper said...

Dear Lord protect me against Modernists and Materialists,and allow the return in full of the Holy Tridentine Mass,and forgive those who have damaged your church,has Luther won ?

njj said...

At the last F in F assembly I seem to recall picking up the CTS catalogue which has just announced (I think for the first time ever) a small portable edition of the (modern, unfortunately) Prayer During Any Part of the Day you feel like Not Already Taken Up by Moving Mattins.

Previously, as a small offprint of the Divine Office, there was only the excruciatingly irritating ‘people’s’ contraction of Vespers and Lauds, never used, because never said.