St Bede\'s Breviary


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As you look through the page you'll realize that there are a lot of options here! (47 different sets of choices at current count...) If you're doing this for the first time, it might help to build off one of the presets. If you have javascript enabled, click on the button to load the preset options of your choice into the form; it should make the process a little easier.

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Core Options

Language Preference

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer offers the Morning and Evening Prayer liturgies in both traditional language and in contemporary language; there are also minor differences in content between the two, usually noted only by liturgy enthusiasts. "Rite I" is traditional language; "Rite II" is contemporary language. While only one Psalter appears in the '79 BCP---the contemporary language translation from the Hebrew text, this breviary also offers a traditional-language option, the (modified) Coverdale translation of the Latin Vulgate Psalter as it appeared in the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer. Three biblical texts are offered---the traditional King James/Authorized Version, the Revised Standard Version a mid-20th century revision of the Authorized Version in a blend of contemporary and traditional language, and the contemporary language New Revised Standard (favored in most Episcopal Churches). I prefer that all of the language in my rites match---either all traditional or all contemporary---but, due to the options, you can have it your way.


The Gloria patri (Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit...) is the traditional way that Christian liturgy adds a trinitarian spin to the Old Testament psalms and canticles. The '79 book has given us a few different ways that it can be said. First, it can appear in two lines or be split into four lines; second, it can use traditional language: "Glory be to the..." and "Holy Ghost" and "world without end" or it can use contemporary language: "Glory to the..." and "Holy Spirit" and "will be forever." Pick your preference.





Scripture Version

Kalendar Preference

The BCP mandates a certain number of Festivals and Holy Days. Looking back to earlier church tradition, however, the BCP allows "Days of Optional Observance." As these are purely optional, I offer a variety of kalendar options here, most have which I have received requests for. Please note that in some of these kalendars (particularly the Roman and those of the monastic orders), certain days receive their own proper lessons; at the current time, these days appear in the respective kalendars, but the readings are those supplied in the official BCP daily office lectionary. Too, a certain amount of freedom is given in how these Optional days are observed. I offer here two options. In the first, sanctoral observances never replace or displace any other elements of the Office; in the second, the Collect of the Observance becomes the Collect of the Day and antiphons and hymns---if any---will be Proper to the occasion.

Celebration of Days of Optional Observance

The Lectionary Cycles

At the heart of the discipline of the Daily Office is the constant repetition of the Psalter. In the monastic Daily Offices, the entire Psalter was (ideally) repeated every week. At the establishment of the first Book of Common Prayer, Archbishop Cranmer included a cycle by which the entire Psalter could be read through each monthly. Later books and office lectionaries departed from this practice. As a result, you may select to either maintain the traditional Anglican practice of praying through the Psalter each month or using the 8 week cycle represented in the current office lectionary.

Historically, four biblical readings have been used in Anglican Daily Offices to more perfectly reflect the classical and Reformation desire to read through all of Scripture every year. The current BCP's lectionary provides only three readings: one from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament Epistles and Acts, and one from the Gospels. A provision allows four readings by reading the OT lesson from the off-year.

For the sake of variation, the prayer book recommends on page 934 that the gospel and epistle readings be reversed in Year 2. That is, in Year 2, the gospel will be read in the morning and the epistle in the evening rather than the other way round. This flip-flop is the default. To retain the other pattern, click the button.

Morning Prayer Options

The '79 BCP allows more latitude than earlier prayer books in terms of what items can be added or removed. This section allows you to customize the options for Morning Prayer using the elements you prefer. Penitential days are Fridays throughout the year (except during Easter and Christmas, also Feasts of Our Lord) and the weekdays of Lent and Holy Week.

The Confession was historically part of Morning Prayer and reflects the Confession/Absolution that used to appear in the pre-Reformation Office of Prime.

After the Scripture readings are canticles, songs usually from Scripture but not from the Psalms. In the pre-Reformation Office the early morning Office of Matins used to end on Sundays and feast days with the Te Deum. Then, the Lauds Office that followed Matins invariable had the Benedictus(Song of Zechariah) as its canticle. Other Old Testament canticles appeared within the psalms appointed for Lauds. With the first Book of Common Prayer, the familiar Te Deum/Benedictus pattern was used after the two morning readings; in penitential seasons and times, the canticle from the Sunday morning Lauds psalms was used, the Benedicite (Song of the Three Young Men). This is still the "Ritual Notes Use" pattern. The '79 BCP introduced a canticle table that usually uses OT canticles after the first reading and NT canticles after the second. The "Mixed Use" splits the difference by using the BCP Canticle table for the first canticle, then using the Benedictus (Song of Zechariah) as the invariable second. The "Simplified Seasonal Cycle," used by the Order of Julian of Norwich and others, is a variation of the old "Ritual Notes Use" that utilizes the Kyrie Pantokrator in addition to the Benedictus Es and the Te Deum as the first canticles, while retaining the Benedictus as the second.

There are two sets of suffrages offered for Morning Prayer. The first is the traditional set that has been in use since the first BCP. Set B is a set of suffrages that was traditionally attached to the end of the Te Deum. As a result, its use is most appropriate on days when the Te Deum is being said/sung. The "Suffrages by Canticle" option uses Suffrages A on most days, but inserts Suffrages B on Te Deum days.

In the prayer books up to the '79 there had been two invariable collects at this point; these are offered here as the "Set Collects." In the '79 BCP there are seven collects instead, designed to be used in rotation, one for each day of the week.

Final Prayers

The BCP requires the use of one of the three "Prayers for Mission" unless a general intercession is used. The "Prayers for All Sorts and Conditions" is a prayer that first appeared in the 1662 English BCP for use as a general intercession on days when the Great Litany was not said. In the 1662 BCP, the Great Litany was appointed for use every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday and may so be used here. The General Thanksgiving and the Prayer of St Chrysostom are not required but are quite traditional elements of the BCP Offices.

The '79 BCP was the first to offer options for the concluding blessing. The "Seasonal Closing" uses the most appropriate of the options given the season and the occasion; the "Fixed Closing" uses the standard closing from the earlier books.

Noon Prayer Options

Noon Prayer is a brief office that, functionally, takes the place of the three Little Hours of Terce, Sext, and None. The '79 BCP offers three psalms for the Office; these options allow you to choose one or to pray all three (they're short...).

In the meditation space is sometimes included a patristic reading---an excerpt from a writing by one of the Fathers of the Early Church. Given the monastic inspiration of this breviary, I give the option of the daily portion from St Benedict's Rule.

Evening Prayer Options

The options for Evening Prayer are quite similar to Morning Prayer---this is not a surprise as they were designed to be parallel Offices. There are just enough differences, though, to make it worth having different options for each. Too, there's an additional problem. Morning Prayer was original composed by pulling elements from the pre-Reformation offices of Matins, Lauds and Prime; none of these are represented in the BCP. Evening Prayer was constructed from parts of Vespers and Compline---but the '79 BCP has re-introduced the Office of Compline. As a result, a certain amount of negotiation is required to figure out whether to leave former Compline elements in Evening Prayer or to put them back where they actually belong.

Just as the Confession in Morning Prayer parallelled the Confession in the Prime Office, the Confession in Evening Prayer parallels the Confession that typically attended Compline.

The Phos Hilaron is a new introduction into the Evening Office. It's designed as a parallel to the Venite in Morning Prayer. However, the former office of Vespers didn't have an invitatory-like piece and the BCP rubrics make it optional.

The standard canticles for Evening Prayer since the first Book of Common Prayer have been static---the first was always the Magnificat (Song of Mary) from the Vespers Office while the second was always the Nunc Dimittis (Song of Simeon) from the secular (non-monastic) Compline. But now with Compline back, doing the Nunc Dimittis here doesn't seem quite right... Of course, with only three readings in the lectionary, a fourth canticle isn't necessarily required, either. I give both the traditional option and a edited form of the suggested canticle table from the BCP that uses the Magnificat as the invariable second canticle if two readings are used. If only one reading is used, then it's just the Magnificat. Thus, this is only really an issue if you're using two readings at Evening Prayer.

The first set is the historic set that is the same as Suffrages A in Morning Prayer. Suffrages B are a new composition for the '79 BCP.

Final Prayers

Compline Options

As with Noon Prayer, a number of psalms are given; I present two options, but both include the brief Ps 134 which, to my mind, is the quintessential Compline Psalm.

Traditional Additions not in the current Book of Common Prayer

These options represent some of the more standard "catholic" additions to the Daily Offices.

The Angelus was a practice begun during the Crusades; the ringing of the church bell at (roughly) 6 AM, Noon, and 6 PM reminded all in earshot to say a brief set of prayers. As a result, in many places, it's customary to start Morning, Noon, and Evening Prayer with the Angelus which consists of three Hail Marys and a collect; during Easter it's replaced by the Regina Caeli.

On ordinary days, the psalm antiphons are drawn from each psalm using selection from St Bede's own abbreviated Psalter. On feast days, the antiphons are proper to the feast from the pre-Reformation Tridentine Offices and cast the psalms slightly differently in light of the feast.

The hymns are drawn mostly from the English Sarum Use and vary by season. Special hymns are appointed for major feasts as well.

As with the psalm antiphons, on ordinary weekdays, the gospel canticle antiphons are drawn from the canticles themselves. For the major feasting and fasting seasons, I have edited some antiphons drawn from the verse-long "chapter" readings from the pre-Reformation offices and from seasonally appropriate canticles. On Sundays, the antiphons are taken from the Gospel of the day and form a link between the Mass and Office liturgies. For feasts, I tend to draw from the classical antiphons from the pre-Reformation Tridentine Offices.

The earlier Books of Common Prayer used a seasonal collect to reinforce the theology of the season during Advent, the Christmas octave, Lent, and Holy Week. This option restores these.

The first English-language version of the Great Litany from 1546 included petitions directed to the Blessed Virgin, the saints, and the patriarchs, prophets, and martyrs. These were removed from later editions by the more Reformed minded. Here you can put them back in.

The Marian antiphons consist of a one-verse hymn followed by a verse & response and a collect in honor of the Blessed Virgin. They were traditionally sung after Prime and Compline. As a result, I offer the options of including them after Morning and Evening Prayer, or after Morning Prayer and Compline.

A brief prayer on behalf of the dead who do not yet enjoy the full presence of God is a traditional part of a catholic ecclesiology.

On Saturdays outside of Advent, Lent, and Easter, when there are no other feasts being celebrated, the antiphons, hymns, and collect of Morning Prayer honor the Blessed Virgin.

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