Friday, November 9, 2018

Getting ready for Advent - Office basics 1: Finding your way around (Benedictine) Office books

We are rapidly coming up to the end of the liturgical year, and the start of the new, in the form of the season of Advent.

Accordingly, I thought this might be a good time to provide a quick refresher on some Office basics.

As I've had a few requests, I thought I would also provide some comments on using older Office books, such as older breviaries or editions of the Diurnal, in conjunction with the 1962 rubrics.

Time to brush up your rubrics

Advent is easily the most complex time of the liturgical year, and to say the Office in this period correctly requires a firm grasp of what parts of the Office change, and which don't, and where to find the various texts.

Today, a quick refresher on finding pages in the Diurnal (or other Office book).

The first challenge during Advent (and indeed throughout the year) is that you need to juggle page numbers in several different places in your book, and it is easy to get confused as to which section of the book you are looking for (or are in).

Page numbering in Office books

The Ordo published on this website includes pages references to the Latin-English Monastic Diurnal published by Farnborough Abbey, editions from 2005 onwards (as far as I know the latest edition hasn't changed anything, but please do let me know if I'm wrong about this!). 

It is important to note, however, that page number in the Diurnal, as for many breviaries, is not sequential throughout the book.  

Instead each key section of the book has its own numbering system, as follows:

Key content
Page numbering system

Front material
Reference material such as Table of movable feasts, General Calendar and conclusions to the collects. 

Roman numerals: i to xxx.
Proper of the Season
Texts that vary according to the liturgical and calendar seasons of the year.

Numbers with an asterix: 1* to 487*.
The Psalter

The psalms and standard ‘default’ texts for each hour and day.  This is the core of the book and is (broadly) organised around the order of the psalms rather than the order in which the various 'hours' of the Office are said. 

Numbers: 1 to 269.

Proper of the Saints

Texts used on the feasts of saints, arranged by date. 

Numbers in square brackets: [1] to [385].

The Common of Saints
Used for more important feasts that don't have their own special texts.  They are grouped by types of saints (apostles, confessors, etc).   The Office of the Dead, various other special prayers, as well as indexes, are included in this section.

Numbers in parentheses: (1) to (243).

Texts for feasts that are celebrated in certain places only. 
Numbers with two asterixes: 1** to 59**.

Using older Office books

If you are using an older edition of the Diurnal, or an older breviary, the page numbers will not be the same as those cited in the Ordo I provide here.

Instead of looking for page numbers, then, you need to focus on finding the texts for the relevant day, feast or type of text cited in the Ordo entry (Monday in the first week of Advent etc).  

If you are using a 1962 Collegeville Monastic Diurnal, this should be very straightforward.  

For earlier editions, though, there are few tricks to this (for example days in former octaves) which I'll come back to in due course, but the texts are generally all there (save for a few newer feasts).

Depending on how familiar you are with the books you are using (and whether you are juggling a chant book and a book with readings for Matins for example), you might want to create a little conversion table/index for yourself to remind you what the order of the sections is, and where to find the key texts you are looking for.

I've provided a listing for the key sections for a few books in my possession below by way of a starting point.

Section of the Office book
Monastic Diurnal
Monastic Breviary 1962 vol 1 (Advent to Pentecost)

Antiphonale Monasticum 1934
Monastic Breviary 1892 (English Congregation), Pars Hiemalis

Proper of the Season
Numbers with an asterix: 1* to 487*.
Numbers: 1 to 738.

Second section in the book – numbers: 181 – 618.

Second section in the book – numbers: 151 – 390.

The Psalter

Numbers: 1 to 269.

Numbers in parentheses: (1) to (254).

First section in book – numbers: 1 – 180.
First section in the  book – numbers, 1 - 150

Proper of the Saints

Numbers in square brackets: [1] to [385].

Numbers in square brackets: [1] to [213].

Third section in the book – numbers: 619 – 752.
Third section in the book – numbers: 301 – 604.

The Common of Saints
Numbers in parentheses: (1) to (243).

Numbers with an asterix: 1* to 389*.
Fourth section of the book – numbers: 753 – 1182.
Fourth section of the book – numbers in parentheses: (1) to (196).

Please contribute

Please do let me know if you find any errors in the page references, or other typos, or need anything clarified in this post.

And if you are using an older/other Office book for the traditional Benedictine Office not covered by the table above, please do consider sharing the order and page numbers for it via the comments box - others are probably also using it, and I'd be curious to know just when the ordering changed and how consistent or otherwise the number systems are!  If I get enough responses I will put them together in a supplementary table.

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