In the summer, I had written a short piece about a new daily Office (Liturgy of the Hours) book I had bought, called Divine Worship Daily Office (Commonwealth Edition), very beautifully published in a single volume by CTS (Catholic Truth Society).
This book is the version of the Liturgy of the Hours prepared for the members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and fully approved by the Catholic Church. The Ordinariate members are those former Anglicans who have embraced Catholicism, whilst still retaining some of the particular and distinctive elements from their Anglican patrimony. All of this was made possible by Pope Benedict in 2011. While it is a fairly small group, it offers some hope of the possibility of a future re-union of the Church of England with the Catholic Church. Along with Our Lady of Walsingham, the other patron of the Ordinariate is Saint John Henry Newman, who himself converted to Catholicism from the Anglican Church.
I had heard about the Divine Worship Daily Office book prior to it’s publication and, having prayed the regular Catholic version of the Hours for many years, I was curious to purchase a copy and try praying with this alternative version. The Ordinariate had, very helpfully, produced some videos (available on YouTube) to explain exactly how to use the book. I watched all of them and found them very useful – I imagine they would be particularly beneficial for anyone not already used to praying the Hours in either format.
While the Book is intended primarily for the use of members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, it is above all a Catholic prayer book – it is not an Anglican prayer book; the relevant approbations from the Holy See are included at the start of the book. And as a Catholic prayer book, any Catholic may use it in their prayers and devotions – there is nothing to prevent this. But note that if one is bound by vow to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, this Book does not fulfil that obligation – the normal Hours must be used. For ordinary Catholics subject to no such vow, this is not an issue.
As I noted in my original piece, the actual book itself is beautiful; it is very well bound, the pages are of good quality and are very readable, with clear fonts and type. And the rubrics are printed in red, which is always beneficial. Those rubrics provided particular direction and explanation when I was becoming acquainted with the book and I still refer to them often when I move outwith the regular days and offices, such as on specific feasts, season or particular offices. My one quibble with the book is the same as with the regular version of the Divine Office – there are not enough ribbons. Six ribbons are sewn into the book, but I quickly found I really needed seven, for the sections of the book I access most regularly. And so I sewed a replacement tape with seven ribbons and glued this into the spine of the book – I also used slightly wider and thicker ribbons, and chose the particular ribbon colours I wanted to include.
When it comes to the actual content of the book – by far the most important part – I was thrilled.
The essential layout of the Hours is much the same as in the usual Catholic version many of us are used to. As there, “the two main hinges” of the Hours are Morning Prayer (here, called Matins) and Evening Prayer (called Evensong). There is a slight difference in Evening Prayer, which in this version contains elements of Night Prayer, such as the inclusion of the ‘Nunc Dimitis’ – there is still, of course, a full version of Night Prater (Compline) in these Hours. Another difference is that the Psalms of Morning Prayer are not antiphonal, as they are in the usual version – preceded and succeeded by a specific antiphons for each one.
The Te Deum is included for Morning Prayer, prayed on feasts, though I have found it so beautiful that I prefer to pray it every morning. Also on the Psalms, the primary difference for this book is that unlike the normal version of the Hours, the Psalms are laid out in a monthly cycle, beginning at the first Psalm, ending with the last, and none are missed; so, all of them are prayed every month. My only complaint is that the particular translation of the Psalms is especially antiquated both in the words used and in the way they are used. Because of this, since I am not used to that much older translation, I sometimes find myself focussed more on reading correctly than simply praying them.
With regard to the readings (here, called Lessons), these are much longer than in the other version of the Hours. I very much like this. This translation is a much more modern one, compared to that of the Psalms, and is very readable and very understandable.
My favourite aspect of this book is, I think, the use of the Collects. These short prayers – a different one each Sunday, used through the week except on other feasts – are very beautiful and deeply prayerful, in my opinion. Some of them are so lovely that I want to keep going back to them so that I can dive just a little deeper into them.
The primary hours end with specific Collects which are prayed every day, after the particular collect of the week or of the day – for grace, for peace, and the prayer of St John Chrysostom. I find that I especially love these prayers, not least of all because they seem to perfectly fit and address the needs of the person, the Church and indeed the world in this present day. These specific Collects, coming at the end of the Hours, take the place of the Intercessions we are used to in the regular Catholic Hours.
I have now used Divine Worship Daily Office (Commonwealth Edition) consistently for the last few months. My overall impression is first of all, that it is very similar indeed to the usual Catholic version of the Liturgy of the Hours which many of us are used to using – if you use the latter, you will very quickly become familiar with the former, where the differences are not so great at all. Secondly, it’s wonderful to (finally) have an up-to-date Calendar of saints’ feast days, something which is greatly overdue in the Catholic version.
But most importantly of all, I find Divine Worship Daily Office (Commonwealth Edition) to be an exceptionally prayerful book – and this is, ultimately, the whole point of the book. It is a book of prayer. It is intended that we use it several times every day – even if only for the greater Hours of Morning and Evening Prayer – and the sheer prayerfulness of the book makes it far more likely that we will continue in using it for prayer. It expresses that prayer beautifully, in my opinion.
Within a very short space of time, I found I had fallen in love with this wonderful book – it is so prayerful and the quality of the prayers contained within is just superb. So much so, that I would go so far as to say this has become one of my most favourite prayer books of all time.
I will most certainly continue to use this exceptional book of prayer in my daily devotions; and I am deeply grateful that I have discovered it.