Paul writes – Today a book review:
Mark Van Steenwyk (editor and designer) The Missio Dei Breviary, 2007 159pp (with thanks to Mark and Missio Dei for a review copy)
Coming as I do from a liturgical background, I’ve been significantly enlivened by the contemporary / missional reengagement and creative re:mixing of the Catholic-Anglican practices of praying. Specifically I’m thinking of The Missio Dei Breviary, developed and published by the Missio Dei community (in Minneapolis, Minnesota).
But first, a little background in respect of "breviary's":
In liturgical language the (Roman) Catholic breviary was a book that set out the regulations for the celebration of Mass (‘Breviarium Ecclesiastici Ordinis’).
The name “has been extended to books which contain in one volume, or at least in one work, liturgical books of different kinds, such as the Psalter, the Antiphonary, the Responsoriary, the Lectionary, etc.” In Roman Catholic terms it has come to include the following: the Psalter; the Proper of the Season (e.g. the lessons, psalms, prayers/responses etc for, for example Advent, or Lent etc); Proper of the Saints (e.g. the lessons, psalms, antiphons, and other liturgical formularies for the feasts of the saints); the Common; certain special Offices (e.g. the office for the dead).
In essence, a breviary is a prayer book for daily prayer, historically most commonly associated with clergy (some have called it a “priest’s prayer book”) and monks. You might also hear it referred to as the “daily office”, the “divine office”, or the “liturgy of the hours”.
“The prayer of the Breviary is meant to be used daily; each day has its own Office; in fact it would be correct to say that each hour of the day has its own office, for, liturgically, the day is divided into hours founded on the ancient Roman divisions of the day, of three hours apiece – Prime, Terce, Sext, None, and Vespers, and the night Vigils.” There was also Compline which was prayed as night fell.
“Each of the hours of the Office in the Roman Liturgy is composed of the same elements: psalms (and now and then canticles), antiphons (often a verse taken from a psalm), responsories, hymns, lessons (readings from Scripture, the Church Fathers, and /or commentators on Scripture e.g. excerpts from homilies/sermons), versicles, little chapters, and collects (prayers).”
In Anglican practice, the approach to prayer is often less complex and focuses on morning and evening worship featuring psalms, OT, NT, and Gospel readings. They also have prayer book liturgies for morning, midday, and evening prayer.
Now, back to the Missio Dei Breviary. It’s a whole lot less complex, and therefore more accessible (and considerably less expensive) than the ‘traditional’ four volume “liturgy of the hours”. It is a prayerbook for the ordinary person.