BY A STAFF REPORTER
AN interim version of the new Roman Breviary in English, due to be published in July by Geoffrey Chapman, Ltd., reveals the most radical changes in the Divine Office to be made for many centuries.
Called The Prayer of the Church, it reflects the general plan of the complete, revised Roman Breviary, which will be available in Latin in about a year's time, and in English probably a year later. Meanwhile, the bishops of England and Wales, Ireland and Canada have obtained the Holy See's permission for the use of the interim version.
This edition comprises one volume only. The "Hours" have been cut down and the daily number of psalms reduced so as to introduce a four-week Psalter. Hymns may be chosen with greater freedom than before. Either the Office of the Day or the "Common" may be used for commemorating saints.
NAMES CHANGED There are more Scripture readings, and prayers are more in tune with current concerns and needs, say the publishers.
The names of the Hours have been changed. Lauds and Vespers become the Morning Prayer and the Evening Prayer. Matins becomes the Office of Readings. and can be prayed at any time of the day or its vigil. The Little Hours and Compline become the Midday Prayer and the Night Prayer.
In the Office of Readings, the first lesson is taken from Scripture on the basis of a two-year cycle complementing the readings from the Lectionary used at Mass.
Taking the Mass and Office together, the whole of he New and a great deal of the Old Testament will be read over the two-year period. When the definitive version of the Breviary is completed, there will be a second lesson taken from the Fathers, or from the lives or writings of the appropriate saints.
Many fine new prayers have been composed for the Morning and Evening Prayers, embracing a wide variety of people and situations needing the help of the faithful's prayers. Further prayers of one's own choice may be added.
The new Office has been prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship, with 80 international experts working
for five years in collaboration with the twice-yearly sessions of the Liturgy Consilium.
SOURCE OF STRENGTH
Discussions at the Second Vatican Council stressed that the Office should be, not a burden, but a source of strength. It was hoped that some Hours could be said with a congregation in church. It was, however, felt that the Breviary tradition, with its roots in the monastic choral Office, should be preserved.
The interim version of the new Breviary will be published on July 15. The price is 50s.
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