Monday, November 5, 2012

Customary Queries – II

Rather annoyingly, the new Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham restricts the use of the Te Deum to festal days only, so that on most weekdays one must plod through either the Benedicite or its little brother the Benedictus es (both from Daniel chapter 3).  I must confess to somewhat of an aversion to long lists of things animal, vegetable and mineral, all sequentially commanded to "bless the Lord"; similarly, I tend to find reading through Psalm 118(119) trying, as it is a trifle repetitive: how many ways can one say, "Lord, thy law I love"? The fact that both the Benedicite (which Anglicans pronounce "Benny die settee") and the Beati immaculati in via are both inspired compositions of the Holy Ghost makes me feel rather bad about admitting this!

So far as I can make out, the Office Lectionary for the Customary is derived from three sources, with supplementation from a fourth:
  1. the one-year lectionary for the Office of Readings in the modern Roman Liturgy of the Hours;
  2. the two-year lectionary for the Office of Readings, not printed in the Liturgy of the Hours (the projected fifth volume of the Latin edition, which was to contain this in extenso, was never published – another failed promise of the post-conciliar era – but an outline of the two-year cycle is given in the General Instruction at the beginning of the Office, volume 1, and I seem to recall that the U.S. edition of the Divine Office contains a full listing; other sources, one of which I have in pamphlet form, supply the same, and it is doubtless online somewhere);
  3. the array of short readings for use at Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline in the modern Liturgy of the Hours (which explains the unusual shortness of many lessons suggested in the Customary);
  4. the Lectionary for Mass (use of which is suggested in certain footnotes to the Office Lectionary).
I myself wonder if straining so to conform the Anglican Use to the Roman Rite is necessary or desirable; while the length of lessons of Scripture has declined over the past century and more (until 1871, a full chapter was almost invariably the norm, but first in the new lectionary of that year, and then in successive revisions, the length was generally lessened more and more), it was always the Anglican boast that they did read over a great deal of the Bible each year; it would be unhappy if that laudable aim were not still maintained. In particular, it seems that the Anglican pattern is to have two fairly substantial readings, one from each Testament, at both Mattins and Evensong, and to read through the Scriptures in course, maintaining the ancient principle of lectio continua – I wonder if this is adhered to so strictly in the new Customary.

The Customary offers several alternative invitatory Psalms for use at the outset of Mattins: Ps 95, which is the traditional one, but also Pss 24, 67 and 100 – in their Latin Vulgate numbering, these are the four Psalms 94, 23, 66 and 99, which are the four possible invitatory Psalms for use in the modern Liturgy of the Hours; in traditional Anglican worship, Ps 100 could be used instead of the Benedictus, and Ps 67 could be used instead of the Nunc dimittis; Ps 24 was not used as a replacement for a canticle at either Mattins or Evensong, but rather Ps 98(97) was, but that has not been included in the Customary as such an alternative invitatory.

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