Thursday, March 15, 2012

Benedictine Daily Prayer (and a new toy...)

In anticipation of the new Baronius Breviary, I've bought a new toy.  Here we see my first "test" of my just opened miniature photo studio.  I decided to show off a breviary that is very prevalent on the market: The Benedictine Daily Prayer.  A full post will hopefully be showing up here, but I will say a few things about it.

First lets take a look at the photo.  I did a little, very little, editing to take out the edges of the photo studio sides.  It was quick, but with more time it would be better.  The light is good.

The cover of the book is one of the best treatments for bonded leather I have every seen.  The burgundy color works well and makes for an attractive prayerbook.

The side lights on the studio provide the perfect amount of illumination, especially for my purposes.  Here we see the text of the breviary.  It is single column throughout with a standard serif font.  The text is moderately sized and well spaced.  Notice the hymn on the is a translation of the Latin hymn for Epiphany.  The proper hymns are used throughout, not the like the ones in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The collects (example on the left page here) range from well done to ridiculous.  They are not the same old ICEL collects found in the Liturgy of the Hours.

Here is the texture of the cover.  You can also see the un-ironed floor of the photo studio, which were left on purpose for you to see.  I have some techniques to perfect.   

Here you see a comparison with Volume II of the Liturgy of the Hours.  It is shorter but about the same thickness.  

A couple more points about the BDP Breviary...

  • The psalms are inclusive language version of the Grail psalms used in the LOTH.  Unless you know those well these don't really seem that bad.  I tend to dislike inclusive language used for its own sake.
  • The antiphons are not new compositions from the 1970s, like the LOTH, but are translations of the traditional antiphons for the hours which go back in some cases to the first millennium of the Church.
  • There are some readings at Vigils (Matins, Office of Readings) that come from magazine/journal articles and other sources.  No, I am not kidding, but it looks like they are alternate readings.  If you know how to avoid silliness you can.
  • There are some feasts included that are "special" to non-Catholics.  This is meant to be ecumenical.
  • This breviary is not approved for actual liturgy.
In short, there are many really really good things about the BDP.  With the exception of the non-Catholic and silly language problems, this is a better version of the hours than the LOTH.  The antiphons, hymns, and (some) of the collects are worlds better than the official version.  But because of the howlers and weirdness I cannot recommend it for everyone.  Catholics use with caution, if at all!


Jon in the Nati said...


Thanks for taking a look at BDP. It is the breviary I have been using for about a year now, and I really enjoy it. I think you were very fair to it, especially given your status as a large-T Traditional Catholic (I am a small-t traditional Catholic, generally attached to the Ordinary Form).

In spite of some of modernist touches (the inclusive Psalms, a somewhat ecumenical flavor, and a couple really, really bad collects) there is a lot to like about this book. I love that it retains the standard 7-office structure of the hours, and that (as you mention) there is much more retained from the traditional breviary than in the current LOTH. I also like that it provides a much more substantial office than the LOTH (i.e., 3 full psalms at OOR rather than one psalm sliced and diced).

I did not think I would like the Inclusive Grail, but it really is not *that* bad (note also that it is not inclusive with regard to God, i.e., it is horizontally and not vertically inclusive) The litanies, apparently composed by the monks of St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, are a little twee and 'on point' for my tastes, but it really is not too much worse than what we hear in the prayers of the people most Sundays. The worst offender among the collects is for the Transfiguration, which morphs into a lament of the Hiroshima bomb and barely mentions the miracle on Tabor. And as you mention, for most feasts there are multiple options for a patristic reading; usually one is the 'traditional' option (probably taken from the old office) and one is a more 'modern' option, perhaps from a recent Pope or even from modern scholars no one has ever heard of. As you say, though, some of the modernist and ecumenical touches can be avoided if you are conscious of Catholic teaching and tradition.

And of course, it is NOT an official office, so will not be used anywhere for public prayer, nor will it fulfill anyone's obligation to pray the office.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

The editor of BDP also saw fit to censor some of the imprecatory elements of the psalms found therein (note the ellipses in certain psalms), and I do wish the antiphons for all three years of the Sunday lectionary were included.

I also do not like how the supplementary psalms are all in one section of the book, rather than printed in daily order just after the corresponding psalms at Vigils and Lauds.

Then there is the matter of the treatment of saints--note the "Saint X was good. Help us to be good like him" formula, rather than praying for the saint's intercession. (There is similar squirreliness about prayers for the dead in BDP.) Almost everyone gets relegated to the "holy men and women" category, rather than the traditional commons of confessor, doctor, bishop, etc.

Finally, woe to the user who wants to be consistent about keeping memorials, given the odd selection of materials that are included--and excluded.

Honestly, in trying to say a Benedictine office according to the modern kalendar, I have found it easier to just use the 1963 MD with modern supplements from the Solesmes Antiphonale Monasticum, like for the antiphons on Sundays and in Advent and Lent. But, you say, those books are expensive and in Latin? Not when they're free and in English: (scroll down for antiphoner links).

Chez84 said...

I bought this breviary and was not too impressed with it to be honest. The language and the antiphons were the biggest deal breakers for me personally. I have since not used it and am now looking to purchase the Monastic Diurnal. What is your thoughts on that as a prayer book? I'm currently using a traditional Compline prayer book at night and wanting to learn to pray the Office in Latin. Any recommendations on sources to get started in this please? Thanks for sharing, God bless!! (P.S. I'm also a convert, became Catholic at 2015 Easter Vigil)

Matt said...

Yes, I would get (and somewhat regularly still use) the Monastic Diurnal from St. Michael's Abbey. It was printed again, and I think the edition I reviewed is somewhat better than the current one. However I would still buy it. If you want to pray a monastic office, you don't do better than the diurnal.

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