Saturday, July 21, 2012

Breviary History #7- The Monastic Diurnal

7.) The Monastic Diurnal, 1949

It was recognized that the Short Breviary was inadequate in that it did not provide the riches of the Monastic Breviary. Under the encouragement of Alcuin Deutsch, William G. Heidt, O.S.B. (1913-2000) and Pascal Botz O.S.B. (1905-1998) put together the Latin English The Monastic Diurnal or the Day Hours of the Monastic Breviary (1949). It preserved the vulgate psalms and did not adopt the Pian Psalter. It was a supreme achievement in that the Latin and English were side by side and all of the office of the Psalter, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline were included, with the exception of Matins.

In the introduction Abbot Alcuin Deutsch notes that “[t]he work was undertaken at the request of the Sisters of St. Benedict, Convent of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minnesota.” The sisters transitioned from the Little Office of the Virgin Mary to this, while saying the full monastic office at their mother-house. Abbot Deutsch further notes that “the Holy See has dispensed from the recitation of Matins those sisters working outside the mother-house, that they may not be too heavily burdened.” In the acknowledgements it is noted that texts were taken from A Short Breviary, and that Abbot Ignatius Esser of St. Meinrad’s Abbey contributed the hymn for the Feast of St. Gertrude.

The volume has been reprinted (2004) as the sixth edition by St. Michael’s Abbey of Farnborough, England and may be purchased from them. It is essentially the 1963 Fifth Edition with an updated table of movable feasts (through 2066) and corrections made to the txt as noted in the errata sheets of the 1963 edition. For those laity wishing for a more traditional or traditional monastic spirituality, this book is a must. It is small, easy to carry, yet the font is not to hard on the eyes. The Diurnal also has several things that the Short Breviary did not: (1) Office of the Dead, (2) The Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany, (3) Rite of Commending a Departing Soul, (4) The Itinerary (a small office to be said before a trip), (5) A Full Benedictine Sanctoral, and (6) A Supplement with feast kept elsewhere that are not in the universal calendar.