Saturday, 23 April 2016

Daily Office of Our Lady: Syon Breviary

Sister Anne Smyth O.S.s.S., Daily Office of Our Lady: The Syon Breviary, 2015 The Bridgettine Sisters, Plymouth

There are some Evangelicals who are junkies for Bible translations. As soon as a new Bible version hits the shelf, they have to buy. Deep down, they have this notion that if they just get the right Bible translation, it will radically transform their devotional life and they will really, really get into deep Bible study. I have become the same about prayer books. I seem to be on this quest to find the perfect prayer manual and the perfect breviary. I seem to think that somehow if I find the right prayer book, it will revolutionize my prayer life. So when I saw this recently published daily office on Amazon, I had to buy it.

The Syon Abbey in Twickenham was a community of the Bridgenttine order, dedicated to Saint Bridget of Sweden. This community survived the suppression of religious orders during the English Reformation by re-locating to Portugal. Their daily office has traditionally been said in Latin. This volume not only provides a translation of the Bridgenttine office, but revises it in line with the provisions of the Second Vatican Council. I believe some traditionalist bores, with time for such things, have moaned about these revisions. One could argue the revisions were unnecessary, as this breviary is not authorized for public worship in churches or religious orders and may be used only in private.

This breviary contains the hours of lauds, terce, sext, none, vespers and compline and the office of readings for each day of the week. The hour of Lauds uses the same Psalms as Sunday each day. This office feels quite different to the Liturgy of the Hours. Despite the modern language and the emphasis on the Blessed Virgin, the structure reminds me a little of the Book of Common Prayer, with it's multiple collects and prayers. Anglicans will certainly recognize one of the opening prayers for Vespers, which is one of the concluding collects for evensong in the Book of Common Prayer. I suspect this was originally one of the Leonine prayers.

This is a beautifully bound volume. It contains a lot of musical notation, which is rather wasted on a non-musical reader like me. However, I love the emphasis on devotion to the blessed Mother of God.


  1. Actually the Jesus Prayer is quite enough, but it is great fun to collect prayer books.
    My best find this year is The Old Orthodox Prayer Book.

    1. Thanks for the comment.

      You can get by with just the Jesus Prayer? Do you not want prayers to the Holy Mother of God as well?

      I have three Orthodox prayer books. I say the Orthodox prayers of preparation before going to mass, but otherwise I find Orthodox prayers a bit too lengthy to be used daily.