Divine Office guide

I regularly refer to various version of the divine office in my blog posts.  I have also noticed that many people who find this blog via a search engine do so with an office related search query.  In order to provide some clarity and avoid repeating myself, here is a quick guide to the office texts that I regularly refer to along with some comments about each of them.  I have arranged them by tradition, but please refrain from trying to discern an implied ranking system.  There are, of course, other sources out there; I have only listed texts with which I am familiar.  This is a quick guide only, if you would like more information I will do my best to help.


1.  The Brotherhood Prayer Book: This is a very flexible “Evangelical Catholic” Lutheran breviary.  Though best suited for a two-fold office of Lauds and Vespers (plus Compline), it has all that is necessary to add Matins and the minor hours.  The canticles and Psalms are out of the Authorized Version of the Bible and all the liturgies are in Jacobean English as well.  The lectionary is on a one-year calendar and the Psalter can be said according to a 30 day, four week, or one week schedule.  It includes Psalm and canticle antiphons as well as Psalm prayers and the traditional office hymns.  Comes in both text and pointed (for Gregorian chant) editions.

2.  Treasury of Daily Prayer: Whereas I consider The Brotherhood Prayer Book a traditional breviary, the Treasury is better compared to a liturgized daily study resource.  It includes the daily readings of the Missouri Synod, a hymn text, Psalm, and non-canonical reading for every day of the year (on a one-year cycle) plus a suggested reading from the Book of Concord.  It includes the propers for the Office as well along with various Psalm schedules.  The Psalter is the English Standard Version and the propers are in accordance with the Lutheran Service Book.

3.  For All the Saints: This is the Lutheran equivalent to the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours or The Episcopal Church’s Daily Office Book.  The propers and Psalms are those of the Lutheran Book of Worship.  It employs the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, follows the two-year lectionary shared by Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Presbyterians, and includes a non-canonical reading for every day.  This is a four-volume set.  Whereas The Brotherhood Prayer Book comes out of the pre-Vatican II world, For All the Saints is a product of the Liturgical Movement.


1.  The Anglican Breviary: This is the Roman Breviary “put into English in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer.”  It includes the propers for the seven hours plus matins, one year lectionary of Scripture readings from the Authorized Version and non-canonical sources.  The Psalter is the Coverdale Psalter, 1928 BCP edition.  Certain feasts such as the Immaculate Conception are revised according to Anglo-Catholic practice.  Also includes the Office of the Dead and the Saturday Office of Our Lady.  While the calendar is the 1955 Roman edition, it also gives options for local observances in different parts of the Anglican Communion.  Beware, while this is the fullest English edition of the traditional secular breviary, it is also the most complicated divine office book I have encountered.  That being said, there is an extensive introduction and many, many rubrics throughout.

2.  The Monastic Diurnal (Andrewes Press):  This is the Monastic Breviary put into English in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer.  Though very similar to The Anglican Breviary in many ways, this is the traditional Benedictine divine office whereas The Anglican Breviary is traditional secular office.  Also, this is a Diurnal and therefore only includes the day hours (Lauds through Compline).  It also employes the Authorized Version of the Bible and the Coverdale Psalter.

3.  Monastic Breviary: Matins:  This is the companion volume to the above Diurnal and is the night office (Matins).  It likewise employs the Authorized Version and Coverdale Psalter.  This edition also includes an appendix with optional use by Western Rite Orthodox Christians.  Note, in the traditional divine offices (secular and Benedictine), it is in Matins when the lessons for the day are read and as a result, this volume though containing only Matins is larger than the Diurnal.

4.  The Prayer Book Office: This famous text edited and complied by Howard Galley takes the Daily Office of the 1979 edition of The Book of Common Prayer and re-organizes it into a useful office book.  The propers are from the BCP Rite II only.  In addition to the Psalms, lectionary, Collects, and calendar from the 1979 BCP, Galley has added seasonal antiphons and non-canonical readings for Holy Days.  If you can find a copy of this book, don’t pass it up lightly.  You will need a Bible or a set of Daily Office Readings.

5.  St. Dunstan Plainsong Psalter: This book contains all the elements needed for the traditional office of the classic Book of Common Prayer pointed for plainsong chant.  It is a product of Anglican and Western Rite Orthodox scholarship.  Classic BCP based, it employs the Coverdale Psalter and traditional language prayers and canticles.  It includes excellent introductory material and instructions.  This book does not include a lectionary, Collects, or readings, presumably to allow for maximum flexibility and as a result of its multi-traditional origins.  It is an excellent companion to The Book of Common Prayer.

6.  A Manual of Anglo-Catholic Devotion:  This book is an interesting hybrid of the Church of England’s Common Worship and current Roman Catholic texts.  It is not an office book, per se, but does provide ample material for recitation of the office.  It does not have all the Collects of the year nor a daily office lectionary so you will need a source of these in addition to a Bible.  Regrettably, this Manual does not include a full Psalter though it does include one of the most extensive selections of additional prayers for various occasions I have seen.

7.  The Anglican Service Book:  Like the Manual, this is not an office book per se.  The Anglican Service Book is the 1979 Book of Common Prayer put back into traditional language.  In Episcopalian speak, this is an all Rite I edition of the ’79 Prayer Book.  It employs the Coverdale Psalter and adds additional antiphons for the Benedictus and Magnificat along with some traditional prayers in the office and other places .  Strangely, neither the daily office nor Eucharistic lectionaries were included.  Supplemental material includes the 1549 Canon, Sarum Canon, Stations of the Cross, Tenebrae, the Angelus, Marian antiphons and others.


1.  The Liturgy of the Hours:  The LOTH is the official divine office for Roman Catholics.  It comes as the Vatican II revision of the divine office and features a simplified structure, the New American Bible, revised Grail Psalter, and daily non-canonical readings.  Though greatly simplified compared to the pre-Vatican II office, the lessons are still read at one office now called the Office of Readings.  This comes in a four volume set (with all the readings) or a simplified one volume edition that is essentially a modern diurnal (sans the Office of Readings).

2.  The Monastic Diurnal (St. Michael’s Abbey): Though very similar to the Diurnal above, this edition is different.  First, it is not refracted through The Book of Common Prayer as it is intended for Roman Catholic Benedictine monks and oblates.  Another difference is that this Diurnal is a reprint of the 1963 edition of the Benedictine hours whereas the Andrewes Press edition is based on the 1925 Bruges edition.  The most distinct difference, though, is that this edition is an English-Latin diglot.  The Latin Psalms are from the Vulgate and accordingly the Psalter is numbered differently than Protestants and modern Catholics may be used to.

3.  Breviarium Romanum/Roman Breviary (Baronius Press): The 1961 edition of the Roman Breviary printed in Latin and English, but the rubrics are in English only, authorized for use by Catholics by Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum.  It employs the Gallican Psalter and the Confraternity translation of Scripture (revised, where necessary, to more closely follow the Vulgate).  Contains all texts necessary to recite the traditional hours, (Matins and the traditional day Hours), the Saturday Office, and the Office of the Dead.  Like The Monastic Diurnal (St. Michael’s Abbey), the Psalter is from the Vulgate and numbered accordingly.  This is a three-volume set.


1.  Praise God: Common Prayer at Taizé:  This books is the office book as designed by the Taizé community in the 1970s.  It has a two-fold office structure that varies depending on the liturgical season.  It is quite traditional, but because it was translated from French, the English renderings of traditional prayers and canticles is different than one may be familiar with.  It clearly was designed with flexibility in mind and lacks a Psalter, Collects, and lectionary.  This book is fun to have around because so many people wrongly believe that Taizé worship is nothing more than short repetitive hymns when in fact it is quite catholic in form.  I include Praise God in this category because Frère Roger Louis Schütz-Marsauche came out of the Swiss Reformed Church.

2.  Book of Common Worship: Daily Prayer:  This book was published as a joint venture between the Presbyterian Church USA and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and is the only complete Reformed/Presbyterian office book of which I am aware.  It has propers for morning, evening, and night and a special “Vigil of the Resurrection” for Saturday evenings.  It follows the two-year lectionary also shared by Episcopalians and Lutherans.  The Psalter is a revision of the 1979 Prayer Book and it includes Psalm prayers.  This book, though, also has some distinctively Reformed qualities.  For instance, there are no Collects nor any other way to track the church’s liturgical year apart from the lectionary apart from some seasonal variations in the propers.  Likewise, there is no sanctoral cycle (festivals, saints, etc.) apart from the very few that Presbyterian/Reformed Christians observe such as Christmas and Easter.  Other features include (partial) pointing for chant and an extensive selection of prayers for various occasions.

3.  The New Century Psalter:  This Psalter is the daily office of the United Church of Christ.  Unlike BCW: Daily Prayer, the Psalter is much more in line with the Reformed tradition of daily prayers.  It features morning, evening, and night prayers and a Psalter based upon the New Revised Standard Version pointed for singing.  It follows the Psalm schedule of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and also has an appendix of canticles.  What it does not have are lessons or Collects.  Reformed worship has traditionally been much more focused on the free singing Psalms than on ordered praise or reading through the Bible according to a lectionary and as such, this is the UCC’s 21st-century Psalter.