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A Review of the Anglican Office Book


Introduction

The Anglican Office Book is a breviary which is edited by Lance Davis and seeks to be a synthesis of sorts of a long line of breviaries that seek to introduce Anglicanism to its Medieval Patrimony. It acts as a supplement to the traditional prayerbook office with added office hymns and antiphons, also bringing back the "little hours" which are poorly recovered in other prayer books as "mid-day prayer" and "compline."

My Overall Impressions

I love this book. I have previously used the plain prayerbook service, the Anglican Breviary, the Anglican Monastic Diurnal, and even wrote my own breviary, yet what I was seeking all along was the wonderful synthesis which was achieved by the Anglican Office Book. I wanted the full lectionary readings, the Anglican Office Book has it. I still wanted the content of Matins and Evensong, the Anglican Office Book has it. I wanted something "more" than the monthly psalter, the Anglican Office Book has it. I DID NOT want to have to wake up at midnight (although I tried to) or spend an hour each morning reading half the psalter to make up for missing matins, the Anglican Office book offers a solution. Any problem I can think of, the Anglican Office Book has solved and went beyond my wildest expectations. My wife and I have been using it since the day I got it (I want to say its been about a month) and I will never go back.

The "External" Parts

The cover of this book is sturdy, it is not leather (which is a good thing!), but has the same cover of the Monastic Diurnal, i.e. it can take a bullet. Trust me, it may seem that you want a leather cover for a Breviary, but you certainly do not. It has taken the daily wear and tear like a champ. It has an attractive red cover with gold gothic font (for those who care about aesthetics).

The paper is thick with gilded ends and it does not blind the eyes. The text size is easy on the eyes and the font and spacing rebel against the tendency for breviaries to be "smooshed." This may not seem important, but trust me, when you're praying prime at 5 am, or compline at midnight you will notice!

The book has a sufficient number of ribbons. There is also art within the book at certain places in a classic "wood cut" style. The construction of this book is made for prayer.

The Content of the Book

The first part of the book (before we get into the psalter and hours) contains a few litanies, a Penitential Office, a collection of collects, and preparation/thanksgiving for holy communion (among other things). It's everything you need on a day-to-day basis. It's a "one stop shop" of your praying needs. I can confidently leave the house with just my Anglican Office Book and know that everything I need will be within it.

The Hours Themselves

Now that we've gotten through our entree let's get to the main course, the hours themselves. This is where the rubber meets the road and where the Anglican Office Book shines with the brilliance of 1,000 suns. It contains the hours of Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Evensong, and Compline. It was a great choice to leave out Lauds and I will be eternally grateful for not having to do the mammoth Matins-Lauds-Prime every morning (this also allows me to have my wife join me). The little hours seem to be about what is expected from a breviary (although there are some treats sprinkled in). Two things I loved about them are: First, it allows for the option of a weekly rotation with the psalms, and second, there's a doxology at the end of each hour (this may not seem like a big deal, but it finishes each hour with a doxological bang).

The rubrics are simple, my wife caught on in a few days going from zero breviary experience (only knew how to do the daily office in the 2019). Matins and Evensong are great. I cannot emphasize enough. It retains all the elements of the traditional offices and adds hymns, antiphons, and the like which means that you actually celebrate the season rather than having a collect and an occasional change of lesson. The Psalter has two options, the traditional 30-day and a two-week option (I prefer the two week). It is the Coverdale Psalter, i.e. the best translation ever done.

Conclusion

All I can say is buy it. If you haven't already bought it, buy it. If you have, use it and then buy some more for everyone you know. Get a copy in the hands of every seminarian, deacon, priest, and bishop you know. If you don't think you will know how to use it, or are not sold yet, join the Facebook group and have them teach you.


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