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Breviary

The liturgical book of the Roman Catholic Church which contains the material used in the Daily Office. Prior to the late eleventh century, this material was not collected together, but divided into separate books according to its constituent parts—e.g., Antiphonary, etc. In the Breviary the material is arranged under the “common of time” (called the Psalter, since the recitation of the psalter forms the basis of all the daily offices); the “proper of time” (i.e., seasonal variations); the “common of saints”; and the “proper of saints.” This cycle of prayer had developed under monastic influence from its primitive Christian original into a system of seven daytime hours (Lauds to Compline) and a night office (Matins). In the Middle Ages, commemoration of the saints obscured the early scheme of Bible reading and weekly coverage of the Psalter. An attempt was made by Cardinal Quignon to reform the Breviary in 1535, and his work was known to Cranmer.* In medieval England the Breviary was often called the “portiforium” or “portuise.”

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