So I learned that the LotH is ready to come out with a new and improved ICEL version.
I think that only those who recite the LotH "in community" (such as Secular Franciscans) need to buy the new books. Those like me, who does the Office "a solo" need not, since one wouldn't have to worry about one's book having different wordings than the others.
Still, because I now attend the TLM which has a different calendar than the NO, I thought it best to opt for the new Baronius Breviary, as deliciously reviewed and photographed HERE
and praised in Fr. Z's blog. The price? $350.00! to which my pocketbook cries, "No way, Nooo waay!"
So I shopped Ebay and won this beautiful 3-volume 1962 Latin-English Collegeville Breviary
in two bids. I received the shipment in time for the First Sunday of Advent.
The books are in mint condition, the leather covers supple and but for sticky tapes criscrossing the back cover of the third volume (easily peeled off and cleaned), look and feel new. There's the tiny, tiny pencil-written name of the previous owner on one corner of the inside front cover of Book I. The pages themselves are quite pristine and the edges sharp - no scruffs, no discoloration, no smudges or water damage whatsoever. I feel so blessed owning it and walked on air to Church that night for my scheduled 2-hour midnight Eucharistic adoration, ready to tackle my first Matins. I have the time, the place, and the eagerness to study and pray it. Then what?
I opened the book and was immediately discouraged. The Invitatory was simple enough to follow, but what are these, ah, "Nocturns"? They appear to be groups of three psalms each, each psalm followed by a short responsory in a separate section, followed by a "Lesson" in another section, and a Pater Noster, and - Blessings? A bit too complicated for a previous LotH user already, not to mention sections on the feasts of saints, the commons of Our Lady, the apostles, martyrs, and confessors. There are five ribbons in liturgical colors to mark the sections and if I use extra holy cards to bookmark the rest, the book would look like a porcupine with colored tails.
Still I persevered - reading the rubics many times over, examining the sections and trying to identify the Ordinary, the Propers, and the Psalter - plus the section on short commemoration of saints whose feastdays fall within the Season (my beloved St. Francis Xavier, for instance in Advent, on Dec. 3.) I had problems locating the Collect in Lauds. But Matins alone sent me reeling - the section has as many as nine psalms each day, mercifully numbered one to nine, but does not tell you which days to recite them all and when to do only three or six. There's also a "Te Deum" after each Matins, and I wondered whether it should be recited every day or just on Sundays and Holy days, as in the LotH.
I had planned to do the prayers in English only for now. And after I've become familiar with the book would I venture to explore the Latin text and chant them (privately) if I can, with the help of my trusty Liber Usualis. But after the first week of getting lost and not making much progress, I was ready to give up and go back to the LotH.
But not yet. This old Breviary definitely has great advantages over the LotH. The introductions for each day alone are great pieces of short meditations, plus each psalm is explained, so that you get a deeper meaning of the text and savor the poetry. The "curse" psalms have not been sanitized. it almost shocked me to read the line about God "crushing the heads of His enemy" in Ps. 68, which I don't remember ever reading in the LotH.
So I think I'll stick with the 1963 Breviary. Meanwhile I've ordered another book, "The Divine Office" by Rev. E. J. Quigley, to guide me on how to pray the Office. There may be other publications and websites that can help. It's starting to look like an expensive undertaking - this switching form the LotH to the pre-Vatican II Divine Office. But remember, I got the Divine Office for less than half the price of the brand-new Baronius! Yay!
And there's still the Latin text to study and love. I was surprised to read, in the short responsory after each psalm, words of my most-loved Advent hymn, "Rorate Caeli Desuper." "...et mítte quem missúrus es: emítte Agnum dominatórem térræ, de Pétra desérti ad móntem fíliæ Síon."
I think that alone is worth the price and the effort.