Tridentine Breviary

Who uses it?

If so, why do you prefer it to the restored Liturgy of the Hours?

I use both, but I’m extremely fond of the Traditional hours. The Schola at Gonzaga University prays Vespers before Sunday Mass in Advent and Lent, and does so according to the Traditional form. Initially we started chanting the Office in English, but in recent years the Schola has been chanting it exclusively in Latin. This doesn’t present a barrier to the faithful because we provide translations. After two weeks they don’t even really need them, except for perhaps for the Lesson.

The so-called “Restored” Liturgy of the Hours was designed primarily for private use. It is much easier for me to pray that office on other days of the week because I rarely have the time or inclination to chant the Gregorian melodies by myself. But when I do pray the new office, I use a copy of the approved British version (In fact, it is approved for 99 percent of the English-speaking world. Americans and Canadians are stuck with the ICEL version) that was given to me by a friend. The psalms and orations weren’t emasculated, for one thing, and the provided meditations and translations of the readings are better. You can find a copy of it on :smiley:

Whenever I’m in community, though, I prefer the Traditional office. It’s a joy to sing, deeply moving, and deeply personal for me to chant it before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

I use it, though only for Matins, Lauds, and Vespers.

—Matins has a threefold structure. There is a brief introduction (invitatory and hymn) and closing, but the heart of it is 3 nightwatches/nocturns/vigils, each of which has 3 psalms, 3 lessons, and 3 responsories.

In the first nocturn, the lessons are always from Scripture. In the second, they are usually a meditation on the day’s liturgy/saint. In the third, they are almost always a patristic homily on the gospel of the day’s Mass.

Alas, the so-called Office of Readings seems impoverished in comparison. So, for instance, Christmas:

Tridentine = lessons from Isaiah, said without title (because on this night prophecy ends and fulfillment begins), lessons from Leo on Christmas, homilies of Augustine, Ambrose, and Gregory on the 3 gospels of Christmas. = all 4 Latin Fathers. Also 8 responsories, famous indeed (frequently set to music in the Renaissance especially).

Novus Ordo = Isaiah, though shorter, Leo, though shorter, nothing else. 2 responsories (25% of the original).

Or, this weekend. The Tridentine has lessons from Ezechiel, then from Gregory’s commentary on Ezechiel, and finally from Hilary on the day’s gospel.

So, on the major days of the year, you have a richer Matins in the Tridentine. Those days include all Sundays, all I and II Class feasts, and several III Class feasts of traditionally solemn observance.

The Christmas Season in particular is especially rich in the “old” Breviary.

And, for those who want relics of even older observances, the Roman Breviary exists side by side with the Monastic Breviary, which preserves even longer lessons on many feasts, more psalms, and much more.

The Traditional Matins are divided into 3 nocturns. Each nocturn consists of 3 psalms. The exception is the Easter and Pentecost octave when only one nocturn (3 psalms) is said.

On ferias there 3 readings. These are from a passage of Scripture divided up into 3 and one is said at each nocturn with its responsory .Lenten ferias have a Gospel homily divided up in this way.

In an Office of 9 lessons, this Scripture passage are read as the 3 lessons of the first nocturn. If you examine an old Breviarium Romanum you will notice that there are only 3 readings- but they are divided up into 3 each to make a total of 9.

It also depends which Traditional Office you recite. Most traditionalists don’t consider the Divine Office reforms after 1963 so we’ll leave those out. That gives us the 1953 breviary, the changes of 1956 and the 1961 breviary.

With regard to the 1961 breviary, I think that in the matter of lessons the NO is better gasp as regards most days. The changes of 1960 meant that all third class feasts has only 3 lessons. For doubles, for example, this meant the joining of the Scripture lessons to form lessons I and II and the third lesson being taken from the contracted lesson for the saint. For most days the LOTH has a comparable if not longer Scripture reading (taking into account the whole Scripture from the BR divided between 2 or 3 nocturns) and the Patristic text is longer that the contracted ‘legend’ and is a spiritual writing or treatise as compared to a historical. I personally can get many insights. Compare:

St. John Eudes:

(From translation) John was born in 1601 of good, devout parents at the village of Ri in the diocese of Seez. While yet a boy, when he was refreshed with the Bread of Angels, he vowed perpetual virginity. In the schools, where he pursued his studies in a praiseworthy way, he shone for his wonderful piety. He loved the Blessed Virgin above all, and burned with great charity for his neighbour. Having joined the Berullian Congregation of the Orátory, he was ordained priest at Paris. He was made rector of the house of the Orátory at Caen, but left it, though sadly, to educate suitable young men for the ministry of the Church. To this end, with five companions, he founded the congregation of priests to which he gave the most holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and opened the first seminary at Caen, which was followed later by many others. In order to call sinful women back to a Christian life, he founded the Order of Our Lady of Charity. Of this noble tree, the Congregation of the Good Shepherd of Angers is a branch. He also founded the Society of the Admirable Heart of the Mother of God and other charitable institutions. Burning with a singular love for the most sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, he was the first to think, not without some inspiration from God, of offering them a liturgical cult. As an Apostolic Missionary, he preached the Gospel to many villages and towns. Worn out with his great labours, he died peacefully on the 19th of August, 1680. Famous for many miracles, he was numbered among the Blessed by Pope Pius X, and among the Saints by Pope Pius XI on the day of Pentecost in the holy year, and his Office and Mass were extended to the universal Church.

From the LOTH:

From a treatise on the admirable Heart of Jesus by St. John Eudes, priest.

(Lib 1, 5: Opera omnia 6, 107, 113-115)

The source of salvation and true life

I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head and that you are a member of his body. He belongs to you as the head belongs to the body. All that is his is yours; breath, heart, body, soul and all his qualities. All of these you must use as if they belonged to you, so that in serving him you may give him praise, love and glory. You belong to him as a member belongs to the head. This is why he earnestly desires you serve an d glorify the Father by using all our faculties as if they were His.
He belongs to you, but more than that, he longs to be in you, living and ruling in you, as the head lives and rules in the body. He desires that whatever is in him may live and rule in you: his breath in your breath, his heart in your heart , all the faculties of his soul I the faculties of your soul, so tha these words may be fulfilled in you: Glorify God and bear Hi in your body, so that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in you.
You belong to the Son of God but more than that you ought to be in Him as members are in the heas. All that is in you must be incorporated into him. You must receive life from him and be ruled by him. There will be no true lie for you except in him, for he is the one source of true life. Apart from him you will find only death and destruction. Let him be the only source of your movements, of the actions and the strength of your life.


He must be both the source and the purpose of your life, so that you may fulfil these words: None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live, we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die we die as His servants. Both in life and death we are the Lord’s. That is why Christ died and came to life again, so that He may be Lord of both he dead and the living.
Finally you are one with Jesus as the body is one with the head. You must then have one breath with Him, one soul, one life, one will, one mind, one heart, And He must be your breath, heart, love, life, your all. These great gifts in the follower of Christ originate from baptism. They are increased and strengthened through confirmation and making good use of other graces that are given by God. Through the Holy Eucharist they are brought to perfection.

When comparing ferias, depending on the season, the BR provides either Scripture lesson or a Gospel homily- not both. The LOTH provides a Scripture lesson and a Patristic text.

The reduction to a 3 lessons has meant that the LOTH has only got rid of 1 responsory.

Thus for the 1961 breviary, as said according to its rubrics, it is only I and II Class feasts on which the lessons of Matins at the BR are longer and more varied and where they have a mjor advantage over the LOTH in terms of structure and lessons.

In terms of structure, I like the Traditional breviaries. Small things like the absolution and benedictions or saying ‘Tu autem’ after a lesson give a lot of character to the Office. I don’t see why they should be omitted (ok, for the absolution you have to sometimes flip a bit, so it can be difficult for the newcomer, but Tu autem?). Structure in the LOTH is inferior when compared.
When comparing Matins with the 1953 breviary (you can see an almost complete one online at it’s slightly different. To begin with, feasts outrank ferias of Lent and Advent, as well as many ember days. But in any case:

For ferias the same thing as 1961 applies- in terms of lessons, the LOTH has an advantage.

Each nocturn for an Office of 9 lessons has 9 responsories. The 3rd, 6th and 9th responsires also have an additional versicle Gloria Patri” to which the response is reapted. The 9th response is replaced by the Te Deum according to the rubrics on certain days. That means that the LOTH preserves only 2/3 out of 9 responsories. So definitely there is a loss with regard to the responses.

For Doubles and below, the III Nocturn lessons is most often taken from the Gospel homily of the Common. So on one hand you do get a spiritual reading (as opposed to the historical reading of the II Nocturn about the life of the saint) but on the other hand within a particular season it is the same for all saints of that class so it is repeated many times. By contrast the LOTH very rarely has the history of the saint, but rather a spiritual reading either by, or on, the saint. For this reason for feasts where the III Nocturn lessons are not proper, I feel that in the matter of lessons the LOTH has an advantage.

In Lent additionally, in the LOTH saints are commemorated by having their lesson added to the 2 readings, hence there too the LOTH has an advantage for lessons over the same feasts with Offices with 9 lessons in Lent.

The I Nocturn lessons are as for 1961- the LOTH provides a comparable or longer Scripture Reading on many days.

Regarding Scripture lessons, I have drawn up this table comparing the distribution of Scripture in Advent. The division into 3 is indicated by the ‘/’ This schema does not into take into account the various rubrics regarding resumption, omission and transference of lessons. It also does not take into account the interruption of the Proper lessons of the Immaculate Conception (15 verses), or those from the Common for St. Thomas(15 verses). If you wish to consider that the Ember days may fall during the Octave of the Immaculate Conception, add around 26 verses though since these are from Proverbs they are extremely short. Taken into account, these roughly reduce the difference in verses from 102 to around 75. In any case, as can be seen the Scripture Readings of the LOTH are longer for many days. I had started a comparison of the Patristic texts but was a bit unsure how to proceed- I have to figure that out so ignore the names written at the side. However, most of Advent in the Traditional calendar is occupied by saints days except for 17-24 Dec, during which only St. Thomas occurs, so there will be II and III noctiurn lessons for most of Advent . Remember though, that when commemorations are made of St. Peter Canisius and St. John Cantius in ther LOTH there are 3 lessons.

It comes down again to the premise that it is on Greater Doubles and above, and those proper Offices that the BR has the advantage over the LOTH in the matter of lessons. In the 1953 breviary the same is true for Sundays- all Sundays (save Easter and Pentecost) have an extra reading and so have an advantage over Sundays in the LOTH. This is all the more true given that the readings are Patristic and not historical (i.e. not the life of St. X)

The Octaves of Easter and Pentecost are another area. Only 3 psalms and 3 lessons (1 Gospel homily divided into 3). This is also another area where the LOTH has an advantage over the BR in its choice of lessons since it (as always) provides Scripture and a Patristic Reading.

So basically for lessons in any area where 3 lessons are read in the BR, LOTH has the advantage.
Where 9 lessons are read, but the 7-9lesosn is from the Common, LOTH has an advantage.
When 9 lessons are read and the 7-9 lessons are Proper, BR has an advantage.

One should also probably note that a constant criticism that was leveled against the Roman breviary was that for certain saints, notably the ancient martyrs, the historical lessons were spurious. This was a feature that many Popes, notably Benedict XIV and St. Pius X attempted to reform but it was never really implemented.

And was pointed out by another poster, the BR does constantly remind that the Office is public and not private.

The only other difference in the structure is the omission of the secret “Our Father’ between the psalms and the lessons after the Versicle and response.

I will try and tackle Lauds and Vespers later. I hope I’ve nto muddled things up too much.

So I found a 1964 “Roman Breviary in English” from Ebay.

For those of you who use the pre-Vatican II Breviary, why do you prefer it to the Liturgy of the Hours?

I’ve been looking at it and to be honest it strikes me as having nothing on the LOTH.

No offense Catholic36, (really) but perhaps you would consider reviving one of the older threads you started on the subject to lessen repitition of those comments?

The book Catholic36 mentions is actually quite amusing for a gaffe it contains…it cites a directive (never rescinded!) that says English breviaries must also contain the Latin text.

Alas, it itself does not contain a word of Latin.

Since some of these issues pertain to both the Office and the liturgical calendar, I will list them here.

  1. The new Office abridges the Psalter and divides it over four weeks (arbitrary); the old has all 150 psalms arranged in a one week pattern (Benedict).

  2. The tradition of Ember Days to sanctify the 4 seasons of nature is completely missing from the new.

  3. Matins of 9 lessons is richer than the Office of Readings.

  4. The Christmas season makes sense in the old system; in the new it has numerous quirks, especially in the USA.

  5. Septuagesima and Passiontide are gone in the new.

  6. Certain Marian feasts (e.g. Immaculate Heart, 7 Sorrows, Rosary, Maternity) have been downgraded in the new.

  7. American saints have complete proper Offices; some American saints in the new LOTH have never received complete offices.

  8. The system of extended Vigils in the new is a somewhat bizarre partial adaptation from the old Monastic Breviary; it consists not of gospel homilies or patristic sermons but the repetitive reading of Resurrection gospels, even during seasons like Advent and Christmas.

  9. Various rubrical peculiarities, like the Requiem aeternam instead of the Gloria Patri on All Souls, have been cut for no good reason in the new. On Christmas, the old specifies that the prophecies of Isaiah are read without title, for example…because on this day prophecy ends and fulfillment begins.

  10. Finally, the lives of the saints, edifying legends or not in some cases, have been almost entirely lost from the new.

I recall reading someplace where the Desert Fathers complained bitterly when thier practice of reciting all 150 Psalms each day was replaced by the one week pattern. :wink:

Comparing the 1911 BR and the 1960s LotH, I consider that the presentation of the faith is much more wholesome and full in the earlier. On ferial days you get a lot of very good and wholesome prayers that keep you on track. For any saint, you get very fine prayers that orient you toward what that saint can teach you. The hymns are very beautiful and wholesome. How many times can I use the word ‘wholesome’ in one post? Hm.

Some do a numbers comparison to argue that the old isn’t much greater than the new, and then go on to say that the new is in some important ways better than the old. But I find that the BR presents things in a much more fulfilling way. Even the size of readings is more appropriate. Perhaps the separate readings are really one when joined together, but in the BR you get a chance to absorb. The long scripture and patristic readings are a lot to absorb in the LotH, becoming almost a book rather than a prayer. Also the LotH has an assembled feel to it, while the BR is much more organic. And the BR reflects the liturgical flow of the year in much more precise detail. The LotH omits psalms, and psalm verses, which fact reflects a poor understanding of what the psalter is all about. The BR is unabashedly Catholic in all its respects.

Of course, the 1911 Breviary was the beginning of the Novus Ordo church.

Among other novelties, it radically redistributed the Psalter from what had been the immemorial Roman use.

It was the beginning of the end, people.

I have an 1800 Pars Aestiva lying around here. While I’m not sure I understand the layout of this breviary, I wonder whether it is so radically different from the 1911.

Just one quick glance: for Vespers at Feria Sexta, the 1800 has Psalms 137, 138, 139, 140, and 141, using the old numbering of course. The Hymn is Hominis superne Conditor. The 1911 has 138-141 and the same Hymn.

In both, Sunday Vespers is 109-113. They each have the same hymn, Lucis Creator, optime.

I think I have the 1800. The Tabella temporaria begins with 1801. The Anno listed on the title page is M.DCCC.

Are you right! :slight_smile: One thing people should credit the 1911 revision for is clarity of layout.

I wonder whether it is so radically different from the 1911.

Look at the other hours for another day of the week.

If I could pray the traditional with others who could help me with the chant I would love it, although I think the new LOTH is great, but I could never warm up to the psalm translations (thank a merciful heaven we are not forced to use the NAB psalms) and find the psalm prayers jarring.

I use it when visiting my brother, who prays it daily with permission of his bishop, but confess I struggle with the Latin on my own, and find it more conducive to my prayer to use English. I have chant CDs for traditional offices of some feasts and seasons and do use those, but for actual prayer and the discipline of sanctifying the hours, LOTH works for me. I too prefer the British version rather than the ICEL, but use the latter of course when in groups or with the parish. we do evening prayer with the youth whenever there is an opportunity and they like it and ask for it.

Latin grows on ya, especially when you study it. :slight_smile:

Many people may not realize that the “psalm prayers” are not present in the Liturgia Horarum, the Latin version of the LotH.

I didn’t mean to imply that the layout of the 1800 is unclear, rather only that I haven’t really looked at it, and it seems a little different. I have little doubt that the priests and religious of that day easily found what they needed.

Look at the other hours for another day of the week.

Yes, I see for example that feria secunda Matins is different.

I think on the whole, the comparison 1800 - 1911 - 1970 would show orders of magnitude more change in the later period. We can say what we like about the changes St Pius X made to the breviary, and yet it still remains that all the bits and pieces that make a breviary feel like a prayer book, rather than a lot of reading or confected and assembled material, are present in both 1800 and 1911. With the LotH, I get the feeling of finding what someone thought I ought to find. In the Breviary, I get the feeling of finding what has lifted hearts for centuries. To say nothing of hymnody, and the weekly psalter. With the LotH, “boop” and you’re done. Those whose responsibility it is to pray persistently and in detail for the Church need more.

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