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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Monday, July 10, 2006

Vatican II Pays Off

Roger Cardinal Mahoney has turned the RCC's priestless future into a virtue -- with surprising candor:
What some refer to as a "vocations crisis" is, rather, one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, a sign of God’s deep love for the Church, and an invitation to a more creative and effective ordering of gifts and energy in the Body of Christ.

Well, the question does present itself: why would anyone want to serve the various "orders of worship" invented after V2 (including the Novus Ordo)?