Review - Divine Worship: Daily Office (North American Edition) - Part III: The Major Hours


With a Bible and this prayer book, you’ve got yourself an Ordinariate Evensong.

Praying the daily offices from Divine Worship: Daily Office (North American Edition) (DW:DO:NAE) has not at all been an unpleasant experience, aside from the overly stiff binding, missing collects and frequent typos. That being said, there have been quite a few somewhat jarring moments thanks to what seems like a very scattered selection of source material—in one place something’s been taken from the American 1928 Book of Common Prayer (BCP), in another place it’s lifted directly from the 1979 BCP, and in yet another spot the stillborn 1928 English prayer book revision is blatantly (and, I believe, unnecessarily) pirated. It rather feels as though every well-known Anglican source was included in an attempt to please as many people as possible.

However, after comparing DW:DO:NAE’s offices with a number of common BCP offices to figure out from whence came some of its oddities, I was surprised to discover that the North American Ordinariate’s offices are generally drawn verbatim from Newman House Press (NHP)’s 2003 Book of Divine Worship (BDW), which itself was cribbed almost entirely from the 1979 BCP. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that this would be the case—I wonder if NHP was chosen to publish DW:DO:NAE for preexisting copyright reasons, though admittedly the BDW offices have exceedingly little original material (if any). Where DW:DO:NAE diverges from the BDW, it tends to either introduce new material (possibly original, though likely from sources I am unfamiliar with) or restore traditional 1662 features long omitted from the American BCP tradition. Furthermore, in a vanishingly small number of places, phrases from the 1928 English and 1962 Canadian BCPs were inexplicably adopted. (Perhaps this is a remnant of the glorious days of long, long ago, ca. A.D. MMXVI, back when all three Ordinariates were still to share a single Office.) Overall, it seems as though the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter (OCSP) has with this book firmly positioned itself as a “Catholic 1979 BCP Rite I” church. (Traditional prayer-book Anglicans need not apply.)

To really see what sort of office book DW:DO:NAE is, some liturgical contact-tracing is in order. In the following file, I’ve gone through Mattins, Evensong, the Litany and the Athanasian Creed from DW:DO:NAE and highlighted each line of text in various colors to identify its most probable source. Since the 2003 BDW is clearly the progenitor of today’s DW:DO:NAE, I started by comparing DW:DO:NAE to the BDW and then worked backwards chronologically, contrasting DW:DO:NAE’s offices to their counterparts in the 1979, 1962, 1928 American, 1928 English, and 1662 BCPs, respectively. I offer the results here for your enlightenment and edification.

Probable Sources for the Primary Offices (PDF)

To aid those unfamiliar with the structure of Anglican prayer-book offices, arranged below are outlines of Mattins, Evensong, the Litany, and the Athanasian Creed from DW:DO:NAE. Mandatory parts are indicated in bold red text. Optional parts are indicated by italics.

Fore-Office

Optional; the two major hours may begin with a single opening sentence, or the penitential rite, or both—or neither.
  • Opening sentence
  • Penitential rite
    • Exhortation (both long and short forms are provided)
    • General Confession
    • Absolution (to be said by priests or deacons only)

Morning Prayer

  • Opening versicles and responses
  • Invitatory
    • Two options, and some proper anthems for certain feasts
    • Seasonal antiphons
  • Appointed psalm(s)
    • Each psalm is to be followed by the Glory Be according to the rubrical directory, but this instruction is omitted (accidentally?) from the offices
  • First lesson
    • May be omitted for pastoral reasons (see Rubrical Directory 18 below)
  • First canticle
    • Nine alternative canticles provided
    • May be omitted for pastoral reasons (see Rubrical Directory 19 below)
  • Second lesson
  • Hymn
  • Second canticle (Benedictus)
    • Proper antiphons
  • Creed
    • The Athanasian Creed is permitted on Trinity Sunday and on other occasions as deemed appropriate
    • Optional at one office on weekdays
  • The Prayers
    • Both clerical and lay forms are provided
  • Kyrie
  • Lord’s Prayer
  • Suffrages
    • One of three sets of suffrages is to be used
  • Proper collect(s) of the Day
  • Second and third collects (for Peace and Grace)
  • Hymn or anthem
  • Sermon or reflection
  • Other collects, prayers and/or thanksgivings
  • General Thanksgiving
  • Prayer of St Chrysostom
  • Conclusion
  • Grace

Evening Prayer

  • Opening versicles and responses
  • Phos hilaron
    • Two versions provided
  • Appointed psalm(s)
    • Each psalm is to be followed by the Glory Be according to the rubrical directory, but this instruction is omitted (accidentally?) from the offices
  • First lesson
    • May be omitted for pastoral reasons (see Rubrical Directory 18 below)
  • Hymn
  • First canticle (Magnificat)
    • Proper antiphons
  • Second lesson
  • Second canticle (Nunc dimittis, unless Compline is said)
    • May be omitted for pastoral reasons (see Rubrical Directory 19 below)
    • Six alternative canticles provided for use when the Nunc dimittis is omitted
    • Proper antiphons
  • Creed
    • The Athanasian Creed is permitted on Trinity Sunday and on other occasions as deemed appropriate
    • Optional at one office on weekdays
  • The Prayers
    • Both clerical and lay forms are provided
  • Kyrie
  • Lord’s Prayer
  • Suffrages
    • One of three sets of suffrages is to be used
  • Proper collect(s) of the Day
  • Second and third collects (for Peace and Aid Against All Perils)
  • Hymn or anthem
  • Sermon or reflection
  • Other collects, prayers and/or thanksgivings
  • General Thanksgiving
  • Prayer of St Chrysostom
  • Conclusion
  • Grace
  • Proper Marian anthem
    • Required after the final office of the day (omitted here if Evensong is followed by Compline)
    • Versicle, response and collect

Litany

Optional; may be said after the Creed at Mattins or Evensong, where it replaces the Prayers, General Thanksgiving, and Conclusion. (The traditional location is after the third collect at Mattins.)

  • Deprecations, Obsecrations, and Petitions
    • Petition for Ember Days and before ordinations
    • Petitions for Commonwealth countries and for the United States
  • Agnus Dei
  • Kyrie
  • Lord’s Prayer
  • Supplication
  • Versicle, response and prayer to be said in Advent
  • Versicle, response and prayer to be said in Lent
  • Conclusion
    • Two options provided (1662 and 1979/BDW)
  • Grace

Athanasian Creed

Optional; may be said in place of the Apostles’ Creed at Mattins or Evensong on Trinity Sunday, and on other occasions when deemed appropriate.

Summary

DW:DO:NAE’s primary offices (Mattins and Evensong, with the closely associated Litany and Athanasian Creed) are primarily taken from NHP’s 2003 BDW, itself a variant of the Episcopal Church’s 1979 BCP. A few modifications were made in keeping with more traditional Anglican prayer books (most often the 1662 BCP, thankfully), and a significant number of new opening sentences, antiphons and canticles were added. Those preferring a more conservative Anglican textual basis may be better served by the Catholic Truth Society’s upcoming Divine Worship: Daily Office (Commonwealth Edition), which is purportedly based on the 1662 and 1928 English prayer books.

Perhaps the most defining feature of DW:DO:NAE is how conveniently optional nearly everything seems to be, a trait it shares with the BDW and 1979 BCP. Few longstanding Anglican prayer-book traditions were spared in updating rubrics to state that this or that “may” be said, often benevolently indicating that the officiant “may” skip forward to the next bit in order to save time. The book’s rubrical directory goes even further than the rubrics printed within the offices, allowing entire lessons and canticles to be omitted for pastoral reasons—this, from an office that already boasts an abbreviated lectionary wholly opposed to Cranmer’s intent! Should you feel your particular pastoral situation warrants saying only the things that are required to be said, Mattins and Evensong can easily be prayed in ten minutes apiece.

Postscript: From the Rubrical Directory’s Particular Indications for Morning and Evening Prayer

Many people will doubtless be surprised to learn that a scriptural lesson and canticle may legally be omitted from Mattins and Evensong. However, DW:DO:NAE’s rubrical directory is crystal clear on this matter:

18. If the pastoral situation warrants, one of the Scriptural Lessons may be omitted at each office, in which case the Lesson from the New Testament should be retained.

19. The first Canticle at Morning Prayer and the second Canticle at Evening Prayer may follow the weekly and seasonal pattern outlined below. If for pastoral reasons the Offices are shortened by the omission of one of the two Lessons, one of the Canticles is also omitted. The Benedictus must always be said at Morning Prayer, and the Magnificat must always be said at Evening Prayer.

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