Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: Baronius Press Latin-English Breviary (pt 1)

After long wait, Baronius Press has at last released its 3 volume Latin-English 1962 Breviary.  This set, for many Catholics, is the most important release in years.  Those in religious orders now have a new edition to use liturgically with English helps and rubrics which will make switching to the Extraordinary Form office less daunting and more accessible.  The laity have a beautiful new English version that has an imprimatur with which to follow along or use privately.

I have been using this for the past two weeks and have found it a pleasure to use.  They have done a nice job in so many ways.  There are a few things that could have been done better and I'll discuss those as the review moves along.  None of the small issues I have would preclude me from heartily recommending the BP Breviary.  They should be seen as recommendations for future releases.

The slip cases are nice and worth using while you are storing the two unused volumes.

The IHS symbol is nice and shiny.  However I could just as easily do without it.

Here we see a closeup example of a Matins lesson.  Some ghosting is seen here.  But its not too bad.

A non-closeup of the same Matins lesson shows the page layout for this hour.  From a distance the pages look rather busy. But as you use it you will realize it isn't.

The three above photos show the position of the Psalter in the breviary.  I am not a fan (as readers know) of the Psalter being in the front of the book. It is one of the reasons I stopped using the Anglican Breviary.  It can be very tough on the spine over time.  The BP breviary is by far the best example of having the Psalter in the front of the breviary.  It moves far enough into the book to not be a downer or irritating.  However, I still prefer the Psalter in the middle because I find it difficult to remember the placement of the other sections.  Some day I will try to do a post solely on why psalter up front it best.  

The artwork is, of course, done extremely well.

Comparison of size to the modern Liturgy of the Hours.

The above two photos are a comparison on the BP Breviary and the modern Liturgy of the Hours.  They are both nice for different reasons.  I post this only because it is an interesting study in Divine Office typesetting.

I have been reading complaints about the ribbons around the internet.  They aren't great, thats for sure.  I suspect future printings will fix this.  In the meantime...mine will probably be cut out and replaced with a  card down the spine set.  If you do that, make sure you get ones that are long enough.  

The level of flexibility of the leather.  No breviary-yoga with this set!  That's ok of course.  The size of the books requires a slightly more firm cover.  I think you will be happy with the covers.  They are very appropriately done.

Side view, just because.

The Rituale excerpts are in Latin only.

I love the fact that the common parts such as the Venite, Benedictus, and Magnificat are in the back pages.  No reason to use cards!

Well, ok.  It comes with a TON of cards.  BP did a nice job giving you a card for every and any contingency.  You really get a lot for your money!

The books layer flat for me just minutes after opening.

This shows the thickness of the books.  Each volume is roughly the same thickness of the Anglican Breviary.  They are rather large but don't feel too big.  

Don't they look nice?

Three cheers for Baronius Press.  I have been using this set for the past two weeks and am very happy with it.  It is extremely pleasant to use and worth every penny you will spend.   There is more I will say in part 2 of my review.  Stay tuned!


bgeorge77 said...

Very nice. Could we get a side-by-side shot with the Baronius Daily Missal, for size comparison? That's a reference I think many of us own already.

Snapshot said...

Very cool!!
Just for fun, here's a website that details the history of the breviary in the 20th century:

Moonshadow said...

Nice review!

Anonymous said...

Great review! I got on the Baronius Press waiting list early in the year and figured I'd have to wait until the second printing to order my set. But they contacted me in March to say that a few people had backed out and that I could get a set this spring. It caught me off guard a bit financially but I was able to make it work and absolutely love them. I've prayed the Liturgy of the Hours for about ten years and switched to the BP set 6-8 weeks ago. No question I prefer these now (though I do miss the second reading from the LOTH Office of Readings sometimes). Your photos and review do a great job. I do wish the ribbons were better, but other than that these are well worth the investment that will be returned for years to come.

Anthony Langford said...

How nice it would be for travelling lay people like me to have a one volume copy with only the day hours included and possibly smaller for convenience. Maybe Baronius might consider in the near future?

Stravos Tou Christou said...

Indeed, it does appear to be a good work. My concern is the more colloquial English employed, instead of the liturgical English (thee, thou, doth, etc). It seems a little sad that such a beautiful language like Latin is printed next to such poor English.
Still, the opus is mundo profundi!

Stravos Tou Christou said...

I would recommend the Diurnale Monasticvm from St. Michael's Abbey of Farnborough, UK. Matt posted about it whilst discussing the LAP Diurnale (all English, and a tad clumsy for rubrics, if you ask me). I just ordered the St. Michael's Diurnale, which I pray will not be a waste of money. If you like all English, then use the LAP Diurnale, as most of the other English MDs are all in that terrible lazy English.

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