Sunday, 24 May 2015

Common Worship: Daily Prayer

The genius of Cranmer was to put together all of the church's services into one prayer book that potentially every lay person could own. The Church of England gave up on this idea at the start of the 21st century and introduced the library of Common Worship books. It's unlikely that many Anglicans own more than one of these books. Of course, for us Catholics, we have always had a library of liturgy books and very few Catholics are likely to own even one of the three gigantic volumes of the Divine Office (or even know what the Divine Office is).

Daily Prayer is the breviary component of Common Worship, providing an office of morning, daytime, evening and night prayer. As one who loves the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, I expected to hate this, but I actually found quite an attractive and user-friendly office book. I don't like the modern English used, but as I go to Novus Ordo mass, I can't complain.

An office is provided for each day of the week, as well as seasonal offices. Reversing the decision of Cranmer, the Nunc Diminitas is moved out of evening prayer and back into night prayer. Regrettably, though the text of the Apostles' Creed is included at the back, it is not made a fixed part of morning or evening prayer, but is simply an option that can be included.

I love the range of feast days included. Collects for Catholic saints like St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Maximillan Kolbe are featured alongside Protestant figures such as Richard Hooker and Richard Baxter. Very thankfully, King Charles the Martyr, to whom I am very devoted, has a collect.

A Psalter (in some beastly modern translation) is included. I don't care much for the table of Psalms provided. It is a bit limited. I don't know why they didn't follow the BCP in giving day numbers to each set of Psalms. The prayers at the end of the psalms are a nice idea for devotion, but they don't really fit liturgically.

Daily Prayer contains a huge collection of canticles, taken from the Old Testament, the New Testament and Christian tradition. This is the defining feature of this prayer book; there is so much material in it. This is the problem. It's full of rich theological material (though you don't need me to tell you it's a bit lacking in prayers to Our Lady), but probably a bit too much. There are two many options and variations and additional material in here. What is missing is the beautiful simplicity and straightforwardness of the BCP.

I genuinely like this. It's so much easier to use than the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours (in most of its published variations), but it is by no means a worthy successor to the Book of Common Prayer.


  1. The English Office Book is a very interesting devotional.

    1. Oh yes! I like the English Office Book. A review of that will be up in a week or so.