Friday, April 27, 2012

Breviary Poems

One of the nicest features of the (print) breviary is the selection of poems in an appendix at the end of the volume (both one and four volume breviaries). You may read a poem in place of the opening hymn any time you like. Here is one of my favorites--very appropriate for any Friday (remembrance of the passion), for lent, or for the Easter season. 

O God , I Love Thee
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
O God, I love thee, I love thee---
Not out of hope of heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.

Thou, thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails and lance,
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat, and care and cumber,
Yea, and death, and this for me.
And thou couldst see me sinning:

Then I, why should I not love thee,
Jesu, so much in love with me ?
Not for heaven's sake; not to be
Out of hell by loving thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that thou didst me
I do love and will love thee:

What must I love thee, Lord, for then ?
 For being my King and God.  Amen.
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Beautiful, yes?  At the suggestion of very literate blog-follower James McAuley, I think I'll start posting breviary poems more regularly. 


  1. Thank you Daria. I did not know that one may read a poem in place of the opening hymn any time one chooses. I often just read them and meditate.

    Now, I must confess, that after reading this blog, I went out and bought the whole LOTH set and it arrived this past Monday, on the Feast of St. George. Then my new Baronius Roman Breviary set showed up on Wednesday on the Feast of St. Mark. It is wonderful. So now I say, when I can, all of the old hours but Matins. In the place of Matins I use the Office of Readings (Matins is a bear when you have all three nocturns on top of nine psalms). I would never say one form of the Divine Office is better than the other. Both have weaknesses that are complemented by the other's strengths. I am very glad I am blessed to have both to draw on. And, yes, the reading from Ireneaus (sic) today was wonderful.

    1. I should qualify that the suggestion of substituting poems for hymns is not magisterial. The General Instruction says nothing about them, although you can extrapolate that they are okay from what it says about permission to use non-official hymns. I do have two out of print one volume breviaries (Liturgcal Press and Pauline) which both suggest poems as hymn substitutes, at least for Night Prayer. So I don't mean to say that it is officialy approved to use poems rather than hymns. But since hymns have an optional character for those who pray alone, I guess it cant hurt to read a poem instead.
      Enjoy your new breviaries. From what I've seen on the internet, that Baronius Divine Office must be a work of art, and so, a delight to use.