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Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham Hardcover – 28 Sep 2012
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About the Author
Monsignor Andrew Burnham is a priest in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and Assistant to its Ordinary. He has responsibility for the Ordinariate's liturgical provisions.
Aidan Nichols OP is an Affiliated Lecturer in the University of Cambridge and a Catholic priest.
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According to the rubrics, morning and evening prayer (matins and evensong) together constitute a complete office. With two longish readings they each take about thirty minutes to say. Compline and the day hours are provided if required. Compline is very similar to the 1928 BCP, with the ingenious addition of seasonal antiphons for the nunc dimittis (for which alternative canticles are provided at evening prayer if compline is to be said). Final anthems to Our Lady are also provided (in full rather than the truncated ones in the Roman Liturgy of the Hours).
The rubrics allow four readings from holy scripture as given in the lectionary, or one of the non biblical readings provided may be substituted on Sundays and Holy Days. Alternatively, the readings from the Office of Readings in the LotH may be used at either morning or evening prayer. Curiously, there is no mention of substituting the lections from the mass of the day, which would seem to make sense unless one is attending mass that day. The drawback is that to say the office one needs the customary plus either a bible or breviary (or missal).
Anyone used to praying the traditional Anglican office is unlikely to have difficulty with the Customary. It is slightly more complex than the BCP but easier than any version of the Roman breviary, largely due to the absence of antiphons for the psalms and canticles (though a welcome exception has been made for the great O antiphons). The psalms are read sequentially (except on Sundays when they are proper) and none is omitted, though, for the squeamish, 58 is optional (but, oddly, not 109). The Coverdale translation is used, with the familiar BCP canticles and collects, and we are permitted to say "Holy Ghost" and the traditional Lord's Prayer ("which art" rather than "who art" &c), for which much thanks.
Why do we need yet another daily office? The Customary allows members of the Ordinariates to pray the office from a volume with an imprimatur and therefore to pray with the Church. It uses translations from the Prayer Book with which many Anglicans are familiar and which are miles better than any modern alternatives, in an office that conforms to the modern Roman calendar. Other Catholic layfolk who are not bound to recite the office but who wish to do so in dignified heiratic English may also appreciate this book. Production values seem high - as they should for this price - and the non-leather binding looks durable.
The Customary is beautiful and deepens interior life even though one still fumbles. It is helpful to put a hand-written "flow chart" along with other bookmarks in it; I "cheat" by using little movable colored file tabs on the different pages with numbers written on them to facilitate flipping to the next section.
One criticism is that I need reading-glasses for the print, and the book doesn't quite have enough ribbons; so I put some of my own in. Be inventive; the book is an adventure, so make it your own with whatever helps you navigate in the beginning. It is a glorious book, especially the modern readings, many by Newman. It has considered, kept the best, and improved many of the shortcomings of its American predecessor, the BDW; but suitable for the historical and cultural sensibilites of the UK, which is as it should be.
That's not to say it's perfect -- but it is brilliantly edited and rewards the time spent in getting familiar with it. Hang in there, you will become unexpectedly fond of it sooner than you think. I do recommend making a water-proof cover for it for use outdoors.
The grandeur of Prayer Book English is mostly retained, yet occasionally concessions weaken this. For instance, Holy Ghost is changed to Holy Spirit, which having an extra syllable, does not roll off the tongue with the same dignity. Passages from Scripture are also taken from the RSV and not the King James Bible. If the KJV was unacceptable to Catholics, could the Douay-Rheims not have been used?
The page markers are useful and I like the short lectionary at the back, which is useful if one does not want to disrupt daily prayer by searching in one's Bible for passages.
This is an elegant volume and very well bound. It is sturdy enough to last many years.
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Most recent customer reviews
The book is as beautiful as the prayers it contains.