I recently managed to get hold of a copy of Divine Worship – Daily Office (North American Edition). This is version of the Office used by the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter. I recently visited their beautiful cathedral in Houston, Texas, and the wonderful new high school established by Bishop Lopes on the cathedral campus (more on that in later posts). While there, I was delighted to be handed a copy of this book. It can be ordered online from the website of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.
The Psalter is from the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer and therefore is a beautiful poetic translation, set out in the familiar 30-day cycle of the Coverdale Psalter.
Therefore by singing Morning and Evening Prayer (Mattins and Evensong) it is possible to sing all 150 psalms (including the cursing psalms omitted from the Paul VI Psalter). This then becomes a very manageable form of the Office for lay people.
There are antiphons for the Gospel Canticles Benedictus and Magnificat; there are minor offices for daytime prayer: Terce, Sext, and None (no Prime sadly). Priests are required to pray one of these. They are so brief that they can be memorized. There is a separate office of Compline with Anthems for the Blessed Virgin Mary. And there is an order for the Office of the Dead. The book contains a lectionary of readings with a two- year cycle for Sundays and an annual cycle for weekdays. There is a Proper of the season, a proper of saints’ days, and a Common. There is a large section of office hymns. There are litanies and an extensive book of prayers.
It contains a number of beautiful plates created by Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui.
There are no musical settings and so as someone who likes to sing the Office at home. When I sing the office I now use it conjunction with either the SingtheOffice.com, produced by an Anglican, or the St Dunstan Psalter published by a Western Rite Orthodox group, which have musical settings. I insert the propers from Divine Worship – Daily Office so that I am to an even greater extent praying with the Church.
Morning and Evening Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer offers Christians of different denominations to worship together authentically without compromising their beliefs or practices, and which makes it particularly good, it seems to me, for building up Christian communities in America. The BCP is a connection to English culture and prayer that pre-dates the Reformation and as such transmits the Judeo-Christian values in such a way that it reinforces the Anglo-American cultural tradition from which the Republic emerged.
Our nation needs Christians to work and worship together to provide a united front against the threats to it from atheist-materialist ideologies, which are bent on the destruction of the family and all the familiar institutions of American society.
It is also a great tool for evangelism and draws people to Christianity. The Divine Office is a prayeful preparation for the highest form of worship, and as such it stimulates in us a natural desire for the authentic Sunday worship and Christ present in the Eucharist. The traditional Anglican forms work powerfully in the context of Anglosphere, and in the UK and America particularly.
Through the Domestic Church, home based communities in prayer can grow. If that prayer is combined with chant and sacred art, can engage the person deeply in this dynamic that draws us to the common good.