The Anglican Breviary is a beautiful book, as you can see in part one of my review here. This entry will deal soley with the inside - its conent - and with useability. The book as far as I have used it is fine for Catholics and I have yet to come across anything which is an obvious offense to the sensus fidei. However if you harbor general disdain for the Miles Coverdale or his translations you will not find a friend in the Anglican Breviary.
The Anglican Breviary is sectioned off like many Pre-1960 breviaries. The Ordinary and Psalter are at the beginning. I have found this to be my least favorite feature. A lot of people probably like this becuase they might be used to it, but I have a feeling for most people this makes things difficult when flipping between sections. It is also hard on the binding, and the AB is a big book which makes things worse. Everytime I open to the Psalter my book makes a cracking noise. Most modern printed breviaries print the Ordinary and Psalter in the middle, which is far superior.
However getting around the AB is easy once you know where everything is. I would have liked just one more ribbon for the seasonal Matins responsories but that is easily fixed with a prayer card inserted. Flipping back to the Ordinary becomes unecessary after a while because you memorize what comes next after a few weeks when it all becomes second nature.
The AB uses the Coverdale Psalter which is beautiful but loosely translated. Not sure if dynamic equivalence is the right term here...but it is certainly "prayable" language. Sometimes you have to read a passage a couple times or pick up another psalter for comprehension. Scripture passages use the Authorized King James Version. All of the language used in the AB is traditional and beautiful.
Throughout the AB you will come across a myriad of little things that aren't quite the same as its Roman counterpart. In the Legends of the Sanctoral Cycle in particular, the hagiographical entries have been edited to reflect Jesuit scholarship. Sometimes qualifiers such as "some scholars believe this" or "legend has it that" and "it was said, by some, but not others that..." creep into the text which are not in Roman breviaries. It is a little strange to come across this in the Breviary, in traditional thee and thou language, when it is most often encountered in places like the New American Bible footnotes. I can imagine this could offend pious devotees of certain saints. For most of us however it is just a minor irritant.
This example is from Lesson IV of August 5 the Feast of Our Lady of Snows:
Roman BreviaryIn the time of Pope Liberius, there lived at Rome a certain nobleman named John and a noble lady his wife, who had no children to whom to leave their substance. Then they vowed that they would make the most holy Virgin Mother of God their heiress, and earnestly besought her in some way to make known to them upon what godly work she would that the money should be spent. The blessed Virgin Mary graciously listened to their prayers and heart-felt earnestness, and by a miracle assured them of her will.Anglican BreviaryThis feast is in commemoration of the first church to be dedicated in Rome under the invocation of our Lady, and the third of those Christian Patriarchal Basilicas. The origin of this building, according to an old story, popular in ancient times, was as followeth. In the middle of the fourth century, during the pontificate of pope Liberius, there lived at Rome a certain...(the rest is pretty much the same. You get the point.)
These changes, as the introduction to the AB says are made to reflect supposedly modern scholarship, and don't appear malicious. This is Jesuit (Bolland) scholarship and I wanted to point it out because this is an important change in the AB. The lessons are essentially the same but not exactly. Many, however, have been left untouched.
Some of the Commons are also different. The changes in these can range from slight to large. For instance, the AB contains a Common of Matrons which pulls from some other more traditional Commons but also adds material to the Breviary. Other otherwise normal Commons may use different antiphons or a different responsory than the Roman counterpart. So far I haven't noticed any changes or additions that are particularly protestant. They are all very Catholic.
The publishers notes that this is "in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer". This leads to what I think is the most difficult part of using the AB. The AB counts Sundays After Trinity, not Pentecost which comes from various other Western Rites such as the Sarum Use and others. So the weeks to not line up. For instance, lets say you are in the 6th Week After Pentecost in the Roman Calendar. In order to use the AB in accord with the Roman Liturgy, you would take the Matins lessons (1, 2+3) from the 5th Sunday after Trinity but the Gospel/Homily from the 7th Sunday after Trinity. Throughout the week you would follow the 5th week for the lessons but the Collect of the 7th. In other words, there can be a lot of hunting and pecking to find the right readings and collects. At times I have become so frustrated that I just had to make a good guess and move on with my prayer. During Advent/Christmas/Lent/Easter it seems to match up ok from what I understand.
Rubrical Notes & "Matins by Rule 1"
The Anglican Breviary largely follows, as its website says, the Roman Catholic Calendar and rubrics in effect in 1955 by using a modified version of Pius X's reforms. So you will encouter feast denominators like "Greater Double", "Double", "Semi-Double", "Simple", etc. There are copious rubrics to explain how to use the Breviary. Sometimes they are too copious and can be confusing. If you take the time to read the red text, you will be able to use the book.
The AB departs from the Pius X Roman usage in a few ways. For feasts which are Doubles, the AB favors what it calls "Matins by Rule 1". It bases this practice by citing other uses of the Latin Rite from ages past. This was an innovation in 1955 when the AB was introduced. Ironically, in 1962, John XXIII would make this change himself. "Matins by Rule 1" is almost rubrically identical to how you would celebrate matins of III Class feasts in 1962. Let me explain.
Pius X's rubrics for Doubles Matins: (9 Lessons)Opening*, Invitatory, Ps 95(94), I Nocturn (3 psalms, 3 lessons), II Nocturn (3 psalms, 3 lessons, resposories), III Nocturn (3 psalms, 3 lessons, Te deum).AB Matins by Rule 1 (3 Lessons)Opening, Invitatory, Ps 95(94), I Nocturn (9 psalms, Lesson 1, Lessons 2+3, Legend (Hagiography), Te Deum)
Matins by 1962 Rubrics (3 Lessons)Shortened Opening, Invitatory, Ps 95(94), I Nocturn (9 psalms, Lesson 1, Lessons 2+3, Legend (Hagiography), Te Deum)
The AB allows for you to celebrate Doubles as 9 lesson feasts and marks the division with a * in the text if you want to. You can do this by using the appropriate lessons in the different Commons.
Becuase this uses the Pius X Rubrics everywhere else it is much more complicated than the 1962 Breviary. There are additional prayers to be said in order to use the whole book, such as the Final Pater and Marian Anitphons at the end of hours other than Compline. Also, the Preces are said on more days (all ferias) than the 1962. There are various other things too many to detail here.
Despite many minor changes, the AB is very usable for Catholics. The content is pretty much all there, you just have to give extra effort to find it sometimes. You might even consider following the rubrics in the book and ignore the 1962 Ordo or Roman usage altogether, depending on your sensibilities. It would make things easier but it will take longer to pray the Breviary. Its up to you. I enjoy the AB a great deal but have taken not to using it everyday.
There are many helps out there on the web to get you started and rubrically fluent in the Anglican Breviary. I suggest you make good use of them. Particularly, for the beginner, www.anglicanbreviary.net. The best advice I can give with the Anglican Breviary is to take it easy and not get too hung up on making sure you are doing everything perfect. That is a great way to fail.
Being priced around $70 also makes this the most affordable complete Breviary money can buy. Even the modern Liturgy of the Hours cheap edition is $149. The text is easy to read. The Anglican Breviary is the best secular Breviary we have right now.