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Lesson One: The Organization and Layout of the Anglican Breviary

The Anglican Breviary's strength is in its simple and logical organization.  Just as the Divine Office is a progression of prayer throughout the day, and the Office is said on each day progressing through the Church Year, the Breviary's organization is, at base, chronological, like a Prayer Book lectionary.

The Anglican Breviary contains five major Sections, conveniently noted by a letter in the upper right corner of each page: A, B, C, E and F (the "D Section," dealing with movable feasts, can be omitted for now).

The "A Section":  This section contains the Ordinary of the Office.  Just as the Mass has a fixed form upon which is superimposed the lessons and prayers of the day, the Divine Office consists of an "ordinary" form into which are placed the variable psalms, lessons and prayers which make each day's celebration unique.  The A Section contains the "skeleton" upon which each of the offices are built.

The "B Section":  This section contains the weekly Psalter.  If one were to recite each office each day, one would recite all 150 Psalms in the course of one week.  This section is very straightforwardly organized by day and office (i.e., the Psalms for all eight offices of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.).

The "C Section":  This section contains the Proper of the Season, that is, those lessons, antiphons and prayers which are "proper" to the days which are not saints' days.  This section contains the materials for non-saints' days in Advent, Christmastide, Epiphanytide, Septuagesima, Lent, Eastertide, Ascensiontide, Pentecost, and Trinitytide.  On Sundays or feriae (i.e. days upon which no saint is commemorated) -- "ordinary days" -- this Section will be used.

The "E Section":  This section contains the Proper of the Saints, which as its name implies, gives the variable material used on each saint's day.  Since most of the days of the year are now saints' days, the E Section is used frequently to supply readings and prayers.

The "F Section":  This section is known as the Common of Saints.  It sets forth readings, psalms and prayers not according to named saints, but according to categories, such as "Apostles," "Martyrs," "Doctors," "Abbots," etc. The material here is used on the feast days of saints who are not important enough to have every element of the office "proper" to them (which would then be in the E Section, the Proper of Saints).  Very few feasts are important enough to have a whole office "proper" to them (Corpus Christi, for example, is one); most set forth some proper readings in Section E but then direct the reader to use antiphons, brief lessons, etc. from the appropriate Common in Section F.

It should be apparent that if the entire Divine Office is said, Section A is gone through in one day, Section B in one week, Sections C and E over one year, and Section F is referred to intermittently to supply elements as needed.

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