Friday, July 14, 2006

What Do I Need to Chant the Office?

Here's another post "From the Mailbag."

Q: "What do I need to chant the Divine Office as the Western Rite Orthodox do"?

A: I'm happy you wish to enter into the prayer life of the Church by praying Her hours. Naturally, not everyone is given to or, in some cases, capable of chanting, and recitation is perfectly acceptable, as well.

What books you need depend on which approved form of the Office you're praying. As I've noted, the Antiochian WRV has two approved offices: the Breviarium Monasticum, which is the observance laid down by St. Benedict in his venerable Rule, was first approved when the first WRO parishes were formed in America, before jurisdictionalism. In 1977, the AWRV (and later Alexandria and others) approved the Hours of St. Tikhon, which adaptated Matins/Evensong from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer according to the "1904 Russian Observations Upon the American Prayer Book."

To chant the Benedictine Office, you need a copy of The Monastic Diurnal and The Monastic Diurnal Noted. The companion Matins volumes are forthcoming from Lancelot Andrewes Press. (In addition to being the unbroken observance of the AWRV, Fr. James Deschene of Christminster Monastery in RI prays these hours.)

To chant St. Tikhon's Office, it depends on how much of the office you wish to chant. If you chant everything but the Psalms, you can download PDFs of Tikhonite Matins and Vespers, along with a copy of The Antiphoner, from the St. Gregory the Great (WRV) Orthodox Church in Washington, D.C. [Subdn. Benjamin points out peculiarities of the Antiphoner in our comments section. - BJ.] To chant the Psalms, you will need a good psalter: Saint Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter is the only one used by WRO. (The only trouble: its Ordinary omits one prayer the AWRV includes. If you wish, you can paste it into the book, and you have everything [and more].)

You will note all the books you need to buy have been published, at no small cost, by Lancelot Andrewes Press. For making these vital works readily available -- at reasonable prices, no less! -- we owe them a debt not measured in money. (But it wouldn't hurt if you bought six copies of each.) :)

As for other official or semi-official sources of the hours -- for recitation alone -- you can download the Offices and Prayers of the Oblates of St. Benedict (PDF), a shorter form of the Benedictine Office. St. Michael's in Whittier, CA, published this for use by its Oblates, who wish to pray as much of the Office as could be expected of a layman.

Fr. Jack Witbrock, a canonical WRO priest in the Antiochian Church in New Zealand, has revised the Roman Breviary for Orthodox use. As it stands, its layout is...involved...but it's still worth a look. Apparently, it's used by his church.

Last but certainly not least, Fr. Michael of St. Petroc Monastery in Tasmania keeps threatening to publish the St. Colman Prayer Book, which would be the hours for use with the only Sarum Mass approved by ROCOR. It should include much more, as well, and as he's described its contents to me, it should be a valuable book.

Those are all the resources produced by or in use by canonical Western Orthodox. All other alleged texts are either from non-canonical sources or of dubious scholarship (or both). At any rate, they have not been approved by the Orthodox Church.

Good luck, and may God bless you as you draw closer to Him (and His Bride) through praying the Hours. Indeed, may it lead to an increase in those pursuing Orthodox monasticism.

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Blogger Fr Matthew said...

I'm curious--what is the one omitted prayer in St. Dunstan's Ordinary of the offices?

9:06 AM  
Blogger Benjamin Andersen said...

Thanks for this.

Just a note: The Antiphoner alluded to apparently assumes that one will sing the Antiphons on Benedictus or Magnificat to the Psalm tone of the Canticle - which is the exact reverse of the normal practice, which is to sing an Antiphon to its native tune, the mode of which determines the Psalm tone of the Canticle.

While in many Tikhonian parishes it will be more practical to do what The Antiphoner calls for, in parishes with a cantor of at least intermediate skill, it is also quite possible (and far more desirable) to sing the Antiphons in the normal way, to their original tunes, as found in The Monastic Diurnal Noted, to the appropriate setting of the Canticle in Saint Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter.

I probably could have expressed this with far fewer words, but I'm no Ernest Hemingway. :-)

1:08 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Andersen said...

Father Matthew,

I think the prayer alluded to is a prayer invoking all the Saints (IIRC, the Collect for the Suffrage of the Saints in the Breviary).

At Saint Mark's, we've never used the prayer in question.

I know it's found in the [i]Saint Andrew Service Book[/i]; I don't have a copy of the Vicariate's [i]English Office[/i], so I don't know if the prayer exists there as well (my guess is that it does not, since [i]The English Office[/i] is nothing more than a facsimile of the appropriate Daily Office sections from the 1928 American BCP).

So again, I think we may have another instance of official and semi-official sources differing from one another.

The unfortunate thing is that the SASB omits the "Third Collect" (that is, the second fixed collect) at both Matins and Evensong in order to replace it with the Collect of the Saints. This is unfortunate, because all the fixed collects at Matins and Evensong are BCP translations of very ancient Latin prayers. It's sad to lose two of them.

My guess is that it was added in order to include reference to the intercession of the Saints (as per the Moscow Synodal instructions). However, (1) if recites the Office with Collects, Hymns and Antiphons from the Proper of the Saints, and (2) if one includes the Final Antiphon of Our Lady, you already have a pretty solid expression of the Orthodox invocation of Saints.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Fr. Matthew, Subdn. Benjamin is right. The prayer in its entirety is:

"Defend us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all perils of mind and body; and at the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary, the ever-Virgin Mother of God, of blessed Joseph, of Thy blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, of blessed Andrew, of blessed N., and of all Thy saints, graciously bestow upon us both peace and safety, that all adversity and error being done away with, Thy Church may serve Thee in untroubled freedom. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever, one God, world without end. Amen."

The prayer is to be said after the second fixed Collect, before the (optional) Anthem and (optional) additional prayers, followed by the (mandatory) benediction, etc.

Subdn. Benjamin, I had been under the impression this collect was an official WRV thing. I'd never seen a copy of the Tikhonite hours that did not have it -- but then I'm not as well-traveled as you are. It may well be an unofficial vs. official difference. If so, gladly withdrawn.

And on the substance of the matter, I agree with you ending the Office by chanting the Marian Antiphons reproduced in St. Dunstan's Psalter would be another way to fulfill the Observations's requirements to introduce "some such prayers (or hymns) in one or another form and degree."

And no, the SASB shouldn't have omitted the second fixed Collect, a beautiful pre-Schism prayer in continuous use probably since its writing.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Benjamin Andersen said...

Ben -

You very well could be right that it is an official Vicariate thing, and not just an SASB thing.

I will try to find a copy of the Vicariate's The English Office to confirm this. And I will query the VG as well, next time I chat with him.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Fr Matthew said...

I was wondering if we were talking about this particular Collect of the Saints in the St. Andrew's Service Book. Thanks for the clarification.

As one can probably guess, the custom at St. Columba's has been to use St. Dunstan's for reading the Offices.

8:53 AM  
Blogger yBeayf said...

What of the use of the Anglican Breviary for private recitation?

9:51 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Well, this post covers official or semi-official WRO observances. Any use of the AB would be unofficial. That is, it is not approved for use by the Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Church, nor to my knowledge anywhere in ROCOR.

That said, I know some WRO fix or have fixed up the AB to bring it into conformity with WRO practice, because it is readily available in bound form and a full WRO Breviary is not. Fr. Jack's work may make this unnecessary, though it's not in printed/bound form...which still makes its use difficult.

There again, Lancelot Andrewes Press is publishing the Matins volume to go with the Monastic Diurnal shortly, which should do the trick.

The Tikhonite hours have a Matins/Morning Prayer Office, and St. Colman's Prayer Book will include a Sarum version of Matins...if any of us live to see it. :)) So, it seems the problem is very much in hand.

Thanks -- and good question.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Carson Chittom said...

You say: "The prayer is to be said after the second fixed Collect, before the (optional) Anthem and (optional) additional prayers, followed by the (mandatory) benediction, etc." which reminded me of a puzzler I've got with the St. Dunstan Psalter. In the actual service, it says "In places where it may be convenient, here followeth the Anthem. Which same is understood to refer to the four seasonal Final Anthems of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the Roman Breviary [p. 491]." which in context to me would indicate that the Anthem is sung both at Matins and at Evensong. However, on p. 241, in the section entitled "On the Ritual and Ceremonial of the Daily Office," it only talks about how "the Prayer Book, at this point in Evensong, allows for 'the Anthem' in 'quires and places where they sing.'" In the absence of any other statement, this to me would imply that the Anthm is not sung at Matins, only at Evensong. Which is the case?

7:19 PM  

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