Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Anglican Breviary Review: Part 1

Last week I received my copy of the Anglican Breviary. Book reviews have become the most popular feature of this blog and so I wanted to spend some time with it in order to provide a fair review.

This first part deals only with the physical aspects of the Anglican Breviary. I am still pondering the contents. But if you only ever see this part before you make a purchasing decision rest assured that it is Catholic. If fears of fidelity are what is holding you up from adopting the Anglican Breviary then you can put them at ease. I will have more on this in my next part of the review.

Let's begin.

First, the outside of the book. Size and portability are important considerations when choosing a breviary or prayerbook. Afterall, you don't want to be toting around a prayerbook the size of your family bible to Mass or even to work or on vacation.

On the left is the Anglican Breviary, on the right is Baronius Press '62 Missal

You can see the AB is larger than your average hand missal. It is essentially the size of your standard Bible. The AB website says it is 7.75 x 5.75. It is slightly larger than Volume II of the Liturgy of the Hours from CPBC. The following photo will give everyone a better idea.

Now that we have dealt with the size of the book, lets turn to the gilt edging. It is better than most modern edging. I have an old breviary from 1958 and the edging is still in tact. No so with my well loved Monastic Diurnal or much abused and equally loved Baronius hand missal. The edging on the Anglican Breviary is not the same. It seems to be of stronger stuff. Definitely more reflective. That said, it did come with two small nicks and already is showing slight wear after just a week. Still, I think it will hold up. Talk to me in a year for the final verdict.

The top book is the *Baronius hand missal, bottom is the Anglican Breviary.

Top edging and ribbons of the Anglican Breviary


There is one potential flaw that came with the book, and I suspect it is just my copy. On the bottom binding of the book the glue is protruding and is visible.

[Update 6/15/09: At the spot where the glue is coming out, the binding has now separated somewhat from the pages. I'm going to try and take some glue to it today and see if I can stop the bleeding before it gets bad. The book isn't falling apart but its definitely getting worse. I might contact the publisher for a repair or exchange...]

I read a review online saying the book was too stiff to lay open by itself. Perhaps that was an issue with an older printing or something, but that does not seem to be the case.

A word on the cover. It is slightly stiff. The texture feels sort of like a shell or a plastic bottle in your hands which isn't bad but I've never had a book with anything quite like it. It is strangely comfortable. I can't describe it any other way. For sure the cover is decent and even looks like leather but certainly doesn't feel like it.

Let's have a look now at the inside. The Breviary makes use of different font sizes to fit the whole Office into one totum. (A single volume copy of the entire office.) The rubrics in this totum are copious and in clear red text. All of the text is exceptionally clear. I have shown it to a few people, including a priest, and that was among the first comments. The clarity and quality of the printed word in the book was my first impression as well upon cracking it open. Here is an example of text from the psalter. I hope this does it justice.

An example of the copious rubrics. They are very useful. However they also tend to get in the way once you know what you are doing. Then again, the Ordinary of any of the hours easily memorized so flipping to this section becomes less necessary with time.

Thanksgiving after Mass. There are actually 2 sets of Thanksgivings. Graces before and after meals, additional prayers, preparations before Mass, the Itinerary, etc etc...

For the most part, the text size is identical to that of the Monastic Diurnal.

The common prayers, ordinary, and psalter of the Anglican Breviary are printed at the beginning of the book. Which, due to its thickness makes flipping back and forth a little akward between parts of the Office. Most modern breviaries print their ordinary in the middle to facilitate ease of use and tender care for the spine of the book. But some prefer the arragement presented so that is mere preference.

Even with a few slight issues, the Anglican Breviary is really a gem. I find myself unable to put it down in my spare time. I hope the pictures I have provided are helpful to anyone considering this great resource.

The next part of the review, forthcoming, will deal with the contents. I need more time to consider some of the things going on with the rubrics, calendar, and translation."

Related reviews:

*My Baronius Press 1962 Missal is the first edition, not the Motu Proprio edition. The scuffs you see on the edging are from over two and a half years of use and abuse. That is something to consider.


Breviarylover said...

Thank you, Matt for this great review! I love all of the different angles of the Breviary. Is there any way that you can give that many angles for the Monastic Diurnal from Farnbourough?

Here is a great Breviary discussion group that you should join!

Matt said...

Thanks for the comment Breviarylover. Um Ure I can post some images of the diurnal. The reason I took so many of the AB is that there were almost NONE on the web before I purchased mine. I hope these are an aid to peoples' decision making.

Would you mind in your travels pointing people here for that purpose? Thanks!

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton