Monday, February 3, 2020
Review of the Baronius Press 3 Volume Breviary Set
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In November 2018 I ordered the rather expensive but only real option for a complete Latin and English Breviary set after Baronius Press restocked their inventory. After using this Breviary on a daily basis for over a year, I feel comfortable writing a review of it.

As I mentioned before in my posts How to Live A Liturgical Life and On The Inseparability of the Mass and the Divine Office, it is necessary for lay Catholics to rediscover the Divine Office. And it's equally, if not even more important, for priests to begin laying aside the modern Liturgy of the Hours (LOTH) and replace it with a Breviary that conforms to Catholic Tradition. Though of course the same can be said for them ceasing attending/celebrating the Novus Ordo and returning to the Tridentine Mass.

The Hymn Translations 

I previously used a 1962 Breviary for Lauds, Vespers, and Compline only in English from Collegeville that I picked up second-hand at Loomes Books in Minnesota. It was a nice book but it did not have the other hours and it had no Latin in it. The hymn translation in English in that one volume was, however, much better than the one in Baronius. Those hymns sounded like hymns. The Baronius Breviary offers more of a literal translation of the hymn so it does not sound like a hymn. Sometimes I still pick up the Collegeville English Breviary off the bookshelf to read the hymn translations in there instead.

The translations in the Baronius Breviary are taken from Fr. Joseph Connelly's "Hymns of the Roman Liturgy". They are literal and not intended for recitation. The online site Divinum Officium by contrast borrows from the Marques of Bute's English translation of the Breviary, which incorporated a lot of earlier translations made in the 19th century by some John Mason Neale and Father Edward Caswall.

The Rubrics of 1962 vs. Divino Afflatu

I prefer the 1954 Office with its multiple commemorations, additional readings, and preservation of Octaves. Sadly, Baronius does not make Latin/English breviaries using the Divino Afflatu rubrics. So sometimes I still use Divinum Officium's website when I want to see the full readings for Matins under DA. The 1962 Breviary chopped a lot of those down. And some of the previous feasts ranked as "simple" feasts were downgraded to only commemorations in 1962 so there is no reading at all at Matins. One such instance is St. Blase. We honor him by the Blessing of Throats which is an important custom but there is no reading for him in this Breviary. Or take for instance the obliteration to nearly all of the Octave that used to be in place. These are not found in the rubrics in the Baronius Press Breviary. And as occurred with the calendar, the breviary lost the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, the Vigil of All Saint (Halloween), and the Vigils of the Apostles which are sorely needed today to help us re-ignite our connection to the Liturgical Year.

Book Binding / Quality

Overall, the quality of the book and binding is great. The Latin and English is side and side making it easy to read in either language. I have found very few typos or issues. There is nothing distracting in the text. While some do not like the short sentences on the theme of each Psalm, I like them as they aid in my prayers. The paper feels good - not too thin or too thick. The ribbons work nicely too.

Conclusion / Recommendation


While not the pre-1955 calendar that I prefer to keep, it is still a good Breviary with excellent production. I don't mind carrying a bigger book rather than having to carry a smaller book during the day for the Little Hours and a separate one for other hours at home at night. I prefer one volume with everything so the only other book I need is the Martyrology, which I read during Prime. As someone without appropriate Latin training, I need the English for the psalms

Is this Breviary perfect? No.  Is the 1962 Calendar perfect? No. But is it a great Breviary that is well worth the $400 investment? Absolutely.

3 comment(s):

del_button September 16, 2020 at 4:40 AM
Unknown said...

Hello, Matthew. I enjoyed your short review of the Baronius Press Breviary, which I've been using for a little under a year in privately praying the Office. (Actually, I usually just pray Lauds.)

I want to thank you in advance for your time. There is a question I have, that I can't seem to find the answer to with online searches.

I'm still getting used to the rhythm of the Office and when to use prayers from the psalter, the propers, and the commons. I often check in with divinumofficium.com to verify I'm on the right track.

However, I noticed some differences that don't seem to be represented in the Baronius Press set. For example, tomorrow, Thursday September 17, 2020 divinumofficium.com indicates the Benedictus antiphon as being from the proper of the seasons. I cannot find this anywhere in the Baronius Press set.

Is this a shortcoming of the volumes, or was the removal of some propers, reverting to the psalter, a feature of the 1961 reforms?

Thank you,
-Dan Engel

del_button September 17, 2020 at 5:42 AM
Matthew said...

Hi Dan, I believe the difference is due to the Stigmata of St. Francis being a mere commemoration in the 1961 Breviary. All simple feasts in 1954 were reduced to commemorations when the change was made to only use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th class feasts.

But for these questions, I always recommend reaching out and posting in https://www.facebook.com/groups/breviarydiscussion/. It's a great group with experts who can always answer such questions on the Breviary.

Thanks for praying these prayers and keeping the Church's official prayers in your own life. God bless!

del_button September 23, 2020 at 4:54 AM
Unknown said...

Thank you for your response, Matthew! I will definitely check out that Facebook group.

My question wasn't really about why that feast is different--I understand the application of a commemoration vs. a 3rd or 2nd class feast. It was about what appears to be a complete lack of season propers for Lauds, for the time between Pentecost and Advent. That feast just happened to be the occasion (because it *is* just a commemoration) for me to notice the discrepancy.

God bless!

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