Camaldolese Office Book: Lauds and Vespers

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In 2005 I was privileged to make a retreat at New Camaldoli, Big Sur, California and also visit other Camaldolese monastery, including Camaldoli, Italy (photos). I had the wonderful opportunity of sharing in the treasure of their common worship with its richly evocative chanting that I had until then only experienced via CD.

The American Hermitage was founded in 1958 - so 2008 is the 50th Anniversary. As part of this celebration the community has published "Lauds and Vespers - Including Compline and Additional Acclamations." It has been printed by Liturgical Press, is a handsome, strongly bound hard cover volume. The covers are a rich burgandy color, with the Big Sur community logo inset on the cover (top left in this review). The book features three colored ribbons. It includes a helpful Introduction by Camaldolese Thomas Matus and Cyprian Consiglio. The text verses and music are easily legible, and the book is a comfortable size, 6 x 9 inches (15cm x 22.5cm).

The Camaldolese are offering this office book at the non-profit price of $US20, plus $5 mailing. If you are interested, just email bede[AT] with your full address, and a Visa or Master Card number plus expiration date (as "04/09"). Or mail a check for $25 made out to "New Camaldoli Hermitage", and include your full address. Write "Office Book" on the envelope, and address it to:

New Camaldoli Hermitage
62475 Coast Highway One
Big Sur, CA 93920

The monks write: "Further details about the book: We hope it can enrich your prayer life and bind you the closer to us at New Camaldoli and Incarnation Monastery--and also the Episcopal Mt. Calvary Retreat House, which has ordered 100 copies! It includes a hymn to Fr. James Otis Sargent Huntington, O.H.C.! If you can make it to the Hermitage here, or Incarnation Monastery in Berkeley, or Mt. Calvary in Santa Barbara, of course you will be able to buy the volume for just $20, saving the cost of mailing.

A special thanks to our Thomas and Cyprian and Bede and our former Peter Damian for their very hard work making this volume possible, and to Oblate volunteers, especially of our San Luis Obispo community, for helping with the Saturday mailings."

The Psalm translation used is the 1993 Grail revision. The concept and music is based on the Camaldoli Salterio. This includes easy to follow chant lines ABC, ABAC, etc. At New Camaldoli some psalms (depending on their genre) are recited in the Office by a single monk. That special tradition appears absent here. This volume has an introduction, seasonal material, ordinaty time, a sprinkling rite, Marian antiphons, the Office for the Dead, the Festal Office, and Compline. For those familiar with regularly praying the office there will be little difficulty adapting to this wonderful resource. Those with some experience may struggle to work out which week one is in, and which particular material is to be used. For these a regular weekly liturgy sheet produced by the community may be helpful. For those new to the Office, I suggest it possibly better to begin with a simpler format before moving up to a resource like this.

An early way of using the psalms in Christian worship was by concluding the praying of the psalm with a period of silence and a “psalm prayer”. Such a prayer might highlight an aspect of the preceding psalm and its Christian significance. Another “Christianisation” of the psalms has been through concluding the psalm with a doxology: “Glory to the Father….”. One of the treasures offered in the Camaldolese Office Book is that every psalm has been provided with a conclusion which is both doxology and psalm prayer.


Ps 92 (93)
Praise our God, enthroned in the heavens,
through his Son Jesus Christ, the Lord,
with the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Ps 99 (100)
Praise the Father for his merciful love;
taste and see that the Lord is good;
give him praise in the Holy Spirit.

Ps 110 (111)
We give thanks to you, O Christ,
to the Father and the Holy Spirit;
you have made us remember your wonders,
the bread and wine of the new covenant.

The rule for Camaldolese Oblates (link off this site)

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