Monday, November 21, 2011

Monastic Diurnal: Lancelot Andrewes -vs- St. Michaels Press

A reader writes:

I have a question about the Monastic Diurnal: Contents aside, which of the two editions out there is better quality as far as durability is concerned? (One thing that concerns me, for example, about the LA Press edition is its location of the Psalter - similar to the Anglican Breviary). I have read mixed reviews of both books on that subject and was wondering what your experience with each of them has been in that area. Thanks!

It is tough to discuss the two editions without touching on some of the content. There are folks out there that will purchase based on quality alone but be disappointed later on. I want them to have a better idea of what they might be purchasing but I'll try to keep it short.

Here are the two diurnals again, with a pen in front (my Red Pen of Doom, used to grade papers, mwuhaha) to give you some perspective on the size. The Lancelot Andrewes Press edition is noticeably thinner and slightly taller. However the thinness of the Andrewes edition means that it can easily fit in your back pocket. I have done this several times. Just try not to sit down on it because the cover takes a bit to get its shape back... The cover is the same material as the Anglican Breviary. It feels like a hard but flexible shell, not imitation leather.

I got my copy on eBay, so I don't know how long it has been in use. Nevertheless you can see here that because the Andrewes edition uses a stiff-shell material its end papers want to pull away from the cover . When this happens it reveals that the stiffness is not a result of undercover boards but the material itself. This is easy enough to glue for a quick fix. Yes it is a lesser quality than leather, but it adds to the durability because it isn't so delicate. This is a tough material.

Here we see the print in the Andrewes edition. The text is good size and bold. Keep in mind that both of these editions are reprints of revisions of books going back to the first half of the 20th Century. So the text formats in both represent that time period. Take a look at the collects here and you will three present for St. Luke. There is a fourth on the next page. This is pretty common and is done to accommodate Anglicans and Catholics of different stripes. The introduction to the book gives a good indication of how to tell the difference.

The Andrewes editions gives you the prayers before and after the Divine Office, as well as the Ave. Pater. Credo. previously said before each hour.

Here is the St. Michael's Abbey Press Monastic Diurnal. I bought mine some time ago. In fact is it one of the first books I ever mentioned on this blog. The cover is a flexible Moroccan Leather previously used by Baronius Press back in the day to clothe their Missals and Bibles. It is really nice and getting better with age. Hands down, this cover is more elegant than the Andrewes edition.   I tried to take a photo that would show you the quality, which I hope you can see. I hope they are still printing this book with the same material.

Here is the psalter. I like having the Latin and English. This is the Vulgate translation of the Psalms and a proprietary English. A benefit of this edition is that if you visit a traditional Benedictine monastery or convent then you can use this to participate. You can't do that with the Andrewes press, at least as a Catholic.  [I stand happily corrected!  Comment from Brian M:  Dear Matt, you may wish to note that the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, a former Anglican sisterhood in Catonsville, MD, which recently converted en masse to the Church and was established as a priory of Diocesan right, uses the Andrewes Press edition of the Diurnal for their daily office.] 

Here is the psalter, in the middle, where all breviary psalters should be placed.

Here is the Andrewes Press psalter placement. Up front. I find it a bit more confusing than the the St. Michael's edition. This photo also shows the shorter ribbons and the thinness of the cover material. I think the gilt edges are better on the Andrewes edition though.

The St. Michael's edition comes with cheater cards to help you find your way around the Office.

The Catholic St. Michael's edition has an updated table of moveable feasts until 2066.

I hope this helps. Quality wise I think this is a toss up. The Lancelot Andrewes edition is more of a workhorse. It is slightly more portable. Both versions have beautiful English. The Anglican one has the Coverdale Psalter. If it helps you to know which one I prefer, it is the Catholic St. Michael's Abbey edition because I appreciate having the Vulgate and English side by side.


Anonymous said...

Dear Matt, you may wish to note that the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, a former Anglican sisterhood in Catonsville, MD, which recently converted en masse to the Church and was established as a priory of Diocesan right, uses the Andrewes Press edition of the Diurnal for their daily office.

Matt said...

Great! Thank you for that!

Juventutem London said...

I bought MD on the back of your review and a friend's review - it is, as I often warn people when I let them look at it, the nicest thing I own. I find the English a little lame, but that is because I tend to use such things as a crib for the Latin - I imagine it's fine to pray (especially if Matt is saying so). It is about the most traditional breviary available (ie similar to the pre-Pius X Breviarium Romanum) on the market at the most affordable price. I love it and recommend it to everyone.

Drew said...

I went ahead and got the LPA Matins & MD. Had to re-glue the end pages of the latter. Did you find this to be a permanent fix, or did you have to re-do it a number of times before they stopped pulling away from the cover?

Matt said...

Mine is still pulled away. I think because of the stiffness of the cover, it doesnt play nice with others so to speak. I would try a super-glue. Just dont mess up because once its done, its done.

Drew said...

With the MD, I had to carefully superglue the covers to the end pages here and there, and it seems to be holding up ok. I asked LAP about it and got back a less than satisfactory response, I'm afraid. Not sure if they're just as frustrated with it as their customers, or if they just don't see it as a big deal. I ended up picking the LAP version over the Farnborough for specific reasons, and I would not want to switch to the Farnborough now (if only for the cost considerations) or at some point in the future just because the quality of the product was better. I do *not* like the 1962 changes to the rubrics and the paring down of the Office that occurred then, which is why I opted for the LAP version.

The Matins volume (aside from the lack of ribbons, which was fairly easily fixed), on the other hand, is of superb quality and I am *very* happy with it. The Benedictine Office is hauntingly beautiful. I also got a copy of the Roman Martyrology to use at Prime, and that added a great deal to the depth of the day's Office. The stories of the martyrs certainly give you plenty to think about during the day.

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