Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Benedictine Breviary? Monastic Diurnal? Info Needed!

 Reader Norman Hartley writes:

Hi Daria, can you explain what the difference is between traditional Benedictine Office breviary such as the (Farnborough edition) Monastic Diurnal,and the single volume breviary?

I could tell Norman a few random fact about either, but since I own neither,my descriptions would be woefully incomplete. So,  would  any of you who own--or better yet, use--these books, please tell us about  them in the comments?  Using the basic, single-volume Christian Prayer breviary as the starting point, tell us how these other breviaries are different.  
Tell us what are the  pros and  the cons of using them. 


  1. Kate Edwards has a blog that will just about cover everything you'd want to know about the Monastic Diurnal. It's called Saints Will Arise. Go to http://saintsshallarise.blogspot.com/.
    The main thing about the Diurnal is that it goes through the same psalms every week; about 75 of them. It does not have Matins which would be equivalent to the Office of Readings in the four-volume set for the Liturgy of the Hours. Therefore it's quite compact. Be aware that the Diurnal is tied to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (1962). Enjoy!

  2. The monastic diurnal is also considerably more complicated than Christian Prayer. If you are already frustrated by page flipping in Christian Prayer you will be much more frustrated with the Diurnal. I have both but I primarily use Christian Prayer since it is the current approved breviary for non-monastics in the church. I use the Diurnal occasionally but mostly I use it as a study tool. It helps me to have a deeper understanding of, and sense of connection to our deeper tradition.

  3. Ant. So great a harvest, and so few to gather it in; pray to the Lord of the harvest; beg him to send out laborers for his harvest.

    Vespers, Sunday July 03/2016

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  5. I have both. The MD is Latin/English, with the English being Elizabethan (Thou, hast, cometh, etc...). The MD has no artwork, while CP has bad artwork. The MD is consonant with 1500 years of Psalm arrangement and Collects, CP follows the calendar starting in 1970. The MD has 7 out of 8 of the daily offices of the day, CP has 3 full offices and two partial offices of the day. The MD takes longer to pray each day than CP. The MD is according to the 1962 Benedictine calendar (not the Roman calendar), while CP follows the OF calendar. The MD has Prime, CP (and the LOTH) don't have this hour.

    Other minor differences: With the MD Compline is the same every night and does not have the Nunc Dimmitis, but it does have beautiful Marian prayers after the Marian antihons, Tuesday-Saturday day prayers are the same.

    With CP, you are more likely to be able to pray in common with those at your parish. You also tap into the graces of praying the Divine Office without praying in Latin (the MD is only liturgical when prayed in Latin, otherwise it is devotional only). Finally, if you attend Mass in the OF, then CP will be in sync with your prayers at Mass. For those who live a busy life, CP offers a realistic entry into liturgical daily prayer.

    With the MD, you find more meaty prayers, more consonance with liturgical tradition, higher quality binding an printing, and Latin/English. It does, however, mean that you are looking at longer sittings for each prayer time and (if you want to pray the whole MD) more sitting times a day.

  6. I just re-read the OP's question. Is he asking for a comparison between the MD and the single volume 1962 Roman Breviary (Diurnal)?

    Okay, well I have (and have used) both of these, too.

    First, the Monastic Diurnal is Latin/English while the Diurnale Romanum is Latin-only. While it may sound cool to pray a Latin-only book, you find it is pointless to use if you are unable to understand. If this is the case, go with the Monastic Diurnal, hands down. If your Latin is decent, then I suggest using the website www.divinumofficium.com as a guide to both learning the Order of the Roman Diurnal and the Latin. Eventually you can wean yourself off the site.

    The Psalm arrangement of the two Diurnals are different. For example, at Lauds in the MD you always end with Psalms 148-150. The RD doesn't do this. At Compline you have the same three Psalms each evening in the MD, in the RD they are different each evening. The RD has the Nunc Dimmitis, Sacrosancte, and O Clementissime after the Marian Antiphons while the MD does not. Prime, Lauds, Terce, Sext, & None are the same Tuesday-Saturday in the MD, but in the RD they are different each day.

    As far as calendars, they are in sync on Sunday's, but the sanctoral cycles are different in many ways: the MD tends to emphasize Benedictine saints more, yet you don't seem to be stuck in the commons as much throughout the year as with the RD.

    As for the quality of binding, the MD is built to last. It has a Moreocan leather cover, gold gilding, tinted pages, and heavy ink. Lots of work went into it. It has a couple more ribbons. The RD by Preserving Christian Publications is a reprint. It has magnificent artwork, nice font, and has a very official feel to it, but it's exterior is somewhat lacking.

    Really it comes down to your grasp of Latin. If you're going to have to lug around a copy of Wheelock's Latin every time you pray, just get the Monastic Diurnal and start praying.

  7. How can the Monastic Diurnal help with daily prayer life?