During my Clinical Pastoral Education stint at the University of Kentucky, I had the pleasure of working with three Catholic seminarians. They were great guys and as different as you can possibly imagine. Yet, one thing they held in common was a large black book called a Breviary. As you may know, the Breviary is a book used to pray the Divine Hours. It contains the Psalter, prayers, scripture, excerpts from the lives of Saints, and so on. Well, as a good United Methodist I had what I like to call “Breviary Envy.” We don’t really have something like that, with the exception of the materials from the Order of Saint Luke, and we are certainly under no orders to pray the Divine Hours.
Even though I had this envy, I never purchased any of the Catholic Breviaries. Maybe I felt like it would be too “Catholic,” or some Protestant sentiment like that. However, a few months ago I heard about The Anglican Breviary, and thought that would be something a good Wesley-honoring United Methodist can get a little more excited about! Perhaps having Anglican on the cover would give me a good Protestant excuse to pray the Ave, Maria! So I went to Daniel Lula’s website and began to check it out.
From 1916 to 1955, scholars laboriously translated the Anglican Breviary, but according to Lula, it fell out of favor as early as the 60s due to modernizing trends. As he puts it:
By the early to mid 1990s, the Anglican Breviary was all but extinct. Apart from the quiet recitation of Tridentine Catholic priests and religious, a few devoted Anglo-Catholics, and those students of Gregorian Chant, the historic Daily Office had virtually perished in the Western Church.
Once again citing from Lula’s website, he decided to keep the Breviary in print through organizing a reprint,
In early 1998, I first considered the possibility of organizing a private reprint of the Anglican Breviary. Believing that only such a move could save this great liturgical work for future generations, I commissioned the reprint, taking the example of the Breviary’s original creators in trusting God to bless the enterprise. The response has been overwhelming, and by early 2001 a second reprint was necessary. I am committed to keeping the Breviary in print in perpetuity, and to assisting all those who wish to learn to recite the historic Divine Office to do so.
As formidiable as the Anglican Breviary is, I look forward to using it as a tool to deepen and enrich my prayer life. I don’t plan on using it exclusively at this point, but I do plan on becoming familiar with it and learning from the depth of Christian Tradition that is contained therein.