I have not wanted to post anything on the long-awaited publication of the Daily Office of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter (is it called Divine Worship: Daily Office, North American Edition?) until I learned it is really and truly available. In a sense, it is. But the first run has already sold out! We are told by Peter Smith, however, that “a second print run is already in the works to meet the high pre-order demand before the Office is publicly listed for sale by Newman House Press.” This further delay is a disappointment, needless to say. But this news comes in the season of Advent, which is a time for cultivating a sense of already-and-not-yet.
In the meantime, the occasion of the Daily Office’s publication is an opportunity to note again how central praying the Daily Office is in Anglican spirituality. One of the chief aims of the English Reformers—and here we find ourselves ecumenically united, now that the Catholic Church has, since Vatican II, actively encouraged the same ideal—was that the Office should be prayed daily by the laity as well as by the clergy. I gloss over the fact that the English Reformers did away with the role of religious in praying the Office as well. (Not that all Anglicans were on board with this “blot on the Reformation.”) But whether consciously or not, the English Reformers were trying to make monastic spirituality part of lay spirituality. The “compilers of the Prayer Book no doubt sincerely believed … they were returning to the spirit and forms of prayer current in the congregations of the early Church, [but they were] in a large measure restoring the spirituality of the fourth-century desert … which was essentially … concerned primarily with personal ascetical growth, rather than with praying as the Church for the sake of the world.” (The meaty readings in the Anglican Daily Office make an implicit expectation of lectio divina among the faithful.)
And this aim of the Prayer Book compilers was largely successful! The laity’s participation in daily celebration of Matins and Evensong is documented from the late seventeenth century onwards. So varied are the gradations of Churchmanship and the episodes and movements and chapters in Anglicanism’s history that any number of devotions and expressions of worship can be claimed, in theory at least, as part of the Anglican patrimony. But the Daily Office has been a constant in the lives of nearly all Anglicans across the centuries. If any form of worship is unassailably Anglican, it is the Daily Office. (Not that we won’t rejoice and be glad if–lo and behold!–Daily Office books were to appear alongside missalettes and music issues in Catholic pews.)
 Herbert Thorndike, Works, vol. 5 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1842), 571
 Paul F. Bradshaw, Two Ways of Praying (Nashville: Abingdon, 1995), 73-74.
 George Guiver, Company of Voices: Daily Prayer and the People of God (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1988), 116.