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Daily Prayer

Pray Together

I pray Daily Prayer. It is also called the Divine Office, the Breviary, the Liturgy of the Hours, Morning and Evening Prayer, Matins and Evensong, and Compline, Lauds, Vespers, and so on and so on… This discipline of praying psalms, reading a passage(s) from the scriptures, and interceding and giving thanks… this discipline that is followed many times a day, around the globe, day in, day out, week in, week out, season upon season, year after year, back millennia, with and through the synagogue into the mists of time…

Do you want to join in? One of the cool things about it is that if you miss one of your prayer times, you know others are still carrying on this earth-circling wave of prayer. And whenever you do join in – that’s exactly what we are doing: joining the endless round of prayer and praise. In fact being inserted into Christ’s prayer, into God’s inner life…

So, you pick up a prayer book – what do you do? Well, you can ask someone who is already following this discipline (I, as have many, many others, have prayed like this for decades. Roman Catholic clergy and sisters and brothers in religious orders as well as many others do this daily. Anglican and other denominations also have this discipline…) You can follow the instructions within the book. And a bit of trial and error. It’s great if you can pray this way with someone else.

There’s lots of different websites and apps that help. Put a search in this website’s search box (top right) and you’ll find lots on this site. There’s the Chapel here.

I have, for many years, used the Benedictine Daily Prayer (BDP) (it even has a facebook group). I now use the second edition. And the Daily Office on facebook. You can pray the Daily Office using your phone.

Roger Sessions provides an introduction to how to use this BDP here. [First edition, here]

I use my own variation – I swap between one of the nocturns of Vigils and Lauds, and so have my own 8 week cycle. And in Lauds, I rotate through Psalms 148, 149, 150.

The Responsories can be a trick for new players. You encounter something like:

Resp. From the rising of the sun to its setting, * the name of the Lord is to be praised. From the. V Above the heavens is his glory. * The name of the Lord is to be praised. Glory to. From the rising. (page 846)

With two (or more people) A can lead, B can be the other (or all):

A: From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised.
B: From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised.
A: Above the heavens is his glory.
B: The name of the Lord is to be praised.
A: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
B: From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised.

[Some people in the Office use a variant of the doxology – but that is another story]

Recently, there was a new review of the BDP mentioned on this site. Fr. Mark Michael was highly encouraging of the use of the BDP, but he became seriously confused about its psalter:

The Grail Psalter is the cross that must be borne by users of the book, perhaps out of the deep local loyalty that also makes Minnesota winters endearing to the good monks in Collegeville. The current Grail translation is the work of a native hero, Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey, Missouri, who is both a graduate of the seminary based at the abbey and the abbot primate of the Benedictine Order. …

But worshipers whose prayers have been shaped by the evocative cadences of the Coverdale Psalter or its careful modernization in the Book of Common Prayer will surely find themselves wincing at the translation’s seeming knack for being both banal and convoluted. Yoda may not have been a Benedictine, but one must wonder if he didn’t serve on the Grail Psalter’s advisory committee, when stumbling to pray Psalm 120 (121):

May he never allow you to stumble!
Let him sleep not, your guard.
No, he sleeps not nor slumbers,
Israel’s guard.

The translation, in fact, repeats the word guard six times in this short psalm. The recitation of this text five days a week at Terce surely did not leave me guarded from impatient and uncharitable thoughts.

The translation used in the BDP is, of course, not the Revised one by an individual, Abbot Gregory Polan, that Fr Mark thinks is being used. As the BDP has on its copyright page, it uses the 1986 revision of the 1963 Grail Psalter. This is the version with roots going back into the 1950s and is the version used across all the major Roman Catholic liturgical works for the past few decades.

It is Fr Mark’s personal right to like his TEC BCP’s “watch over” better than “guard” – but by saying Yoda produced the six-fold repetition of “guard” in this short psalm, he declares a new Tetragrammaton for the author of this psalm – for, yes, the original does, indeed, use שָׁמַר six times in the original Hebrew text – something obscured in his much-loved BCP version.

Do add your own experiences, resources, ideas, and questions in the comments section. And let us remember each other, and all who gather around this site, as we pray.

If you appreciated this post, do remember to like the liturgy facebook page, use the RSS feed, and sign up for a not-very-often email, …

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5 thoughts on “Daily Prayer”

  1. Here, in Saint-Servais, we sing the Evensong every evening, but in Belgian languages (fr, nl, wa), using the BCP 1662, enriched by antiphons and hymns, and by Lancelot Andrewes litanies (besides the BCP litany, of course).

    I have been working, for a couple of years (and my work shall soon reach its end), on a French-language breviary, which follows this pattern of BCP evensong and mattins, and with the antiphons, hymns, and litanies, all noted in music, with full rubrics, and a Belgian kalendar. The readings (as in our chapel) are those of the English BCP, of the 1871 revision, but which I have re-revised a bit, in order to include proper lessons for feasts and festivals that have no provisions in the BCP, such as: Transfiguration, Holy Cross, Corpus Christi, Lady’s days, Elijah, Moses, Baptist’s beheading etc.

    I assume that all the eventual users of this breviary do have a bible for the readings, but I know that the cheapest are the Evangelicallish bibles (2 €/piece), which do not have the “apocrypha”. Therefore, I decided also to include in full most of the readings that are from the “apocrypha”. I also give in full the readings from Isaiah, when the Vulgate or the LXX do make a point.

    As for the psalter, I use Pierre Giguet’s translation, which is based on the LXX and on the Gallican psalter. All the psalms are pointed so that they may be sung according each of the 8 modes.

    I also provide alternative invitatories instead of Venite, for the Sundays and feasts. For each feast, I provide such antiphons as best fit with the ordering of the psalms in the BCP. The choice of the antiphons for “ordinary” time (in the corpus of the psalter) is strongly Christological. When there is a stodgy historical psalm ascribed for the office, I put a prayerful antiphon, so that the worshipper would benefit something, in spite of the boredom of the psalm.

    Each antiphon is followed by the full tune of the mode, so that the worshipper may hook immediately the psalm unto it. The first verses of the Magnificat and Benedictus are also given with the tune in full. For the Te Deum, I have four different tunes, to avoid boredom. For most of the hymns, I give the tune (or two or three tunes) with the first stanza, and the rest of the stanzas without the tune; but where the tune is difficult, I give the tune for each stanza.

    I also added a proper for the fasting days that fall outside seasons, as the ember days, when they fall after the octave of the Holy Cross, and a proper for the Septuagesima-tide. Candlemas and Annunciation have distinct propers, others than the common of our Lady’s festivals. I have also provided full rubrics for the 35 specific scenarios of the occurencies and concurrencies of the Annuntiation (e.g., how to sing mattins if Good Friday falls the 25th March).

    Easter antiphons are provided for ordinary Sundays, because each Sunday is a festival of the Resurrection.

    Each unfrequent collect is given on two columns, with the Latin text on left, and the French on the right; frequent collects are given only in French for the weekdays, but with the Latin title, so that the worshipper may hirself translate it, if s·he finds that my translation is not the best.

    The Advent is restored to 6 weeks (having the 23rd and 24th weeks after the Pentecost prefixed to the usual 4 weeks), and an “O antiphon” provided to each evening from the 1st to the 24th of December. This match well the BCP lectionary, which begins Isaiah on 18th November!

    The sanctoral starts the year with March, while the temporal starts with Easter mattins.

    My greatest support was my husband, who, being a scientist and not a liturgist, could complain about all the things that were not plain enough, or boring etc.

    This breviary will have some 1100 pages in all.

    Here you may look at some samples:

    1. This sounds amazing, thanks, George! Your link seems to go to a blank page. I hope the publication goes fine. And when will the English version come out? [And/or the Flemish?] Blessings.

  2. I have very much enjoyed for the past couple of years following the Church of England’s daily prayers on the app.

    Currently I attend an evangelical church unassociated with a denomination, but have come to love the way the psalms Old Testament and New Testament are woven together and the collects and prayers are beautiful.

    I enjoy reading your posts as well.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Nathan. In my experience, it is often people in churches like yours who discover the value of the discipline of Daily Prayer and do so with fresh eyes. Blessings.

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