On the blog Psallite Sapienter out of Australia, Joshua has written a series of posts that examine the new Customary.
In the post "The Number and Hardness of Rules Called Pie", Joshua goes through all the steps to set up his book for Evening Prayer on Sunday. Before beginning he reviews his set up:
Now, almost time to begin, but first to double-check: holy card for the Sentence, then red ribbon (moving it along as I go), then Psalms (as marked), then First Lesson (from Bible, as marked), then red ribbon for Mag., then Second Lesson (from Bible, as marked), then red ribbon for Nunc and so forth, then Collect of the Day (as marked), then back to the Second and Third Collects (red ribbon), then blue ribbon for post-Biblical reading (in place of sermon), then red ribbon again for Further Prayers down to "The grace"; and finally another holy card marks the Salve Regina.
Two items I noticed immediately when reviewing my copy of The Customary was that there are too few ribbons (only three when at least 6 are needed) and that the layout requires considerable back and forth, likely too many for most laypeople to warm to the use of this book (which I say having used many different office books over the years, including a 7-volume translation of the Liturgy of the Hours in Spanish).
In two posts "Customary Questions I" and "Customary Questions - II" Joshua asks several good questions. In his first post he asks:
1. Why on Sundays the Psalms are proper, rather than taken from the appropriate day of the month (the period over which their recitation is spread), since such an arrangement seems to unduly restrict the number and variety of Psalms heard by a Sunday congregation, in contradistinction to Anglican practice?
2. Why one of the two Scriptural Readings provided for both Mattins and Evensong is so short, when surely having two fairly long Lessons is a very hallmark of the Daily Office in the Anglican Patrimony?
3. Why the Prayer for All Conditions of Men, and other optional Prayers and Thanksgivings, is not included, when the reading at choice of various intercessions "After the Third Collect" is another venerable Anglican tradition?
4. Why the prefatory use of a Penitential Rite is allowed before Evensong only, rather than also before Mattins, and, similarly, why the opening versicles at both are not exactly the same, as has been traditional Anglican practice?
In the second "Questions" post, he notes:
Rather annoyingly, the new Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham restricts the use of the Te Deum to festal days only, so that on most weekdays one must plod through either the Benedicite or its little brother the Benedictus es (both from Daniel chapter 3.)...
I myself wonder if straining so to conform the Anglican Use to the Roman Rite is necessary or desirable; while the length of lessons of Scripture has declined over the past century and more (until 1871, a full chapter was almost invariably the norm, but first in the new lectionary of that year, and then in successive revisions, the length was generally lessened more and more), it was always the Anglican boast that they did read over a great deal of the Bible each year; it would be unhappy if that laudable aim were not still maintained. In particular, it seems that the Anglican pattern is to have two fairly substantial readings, one from each Testament, at both Mattins and Evensong, and to read through the Scriptures in course, maintaining the ancient principle of lectio continua – I wonder if this is adhered to so strictly in the new Customary.
Finally (although not the last post in chronological order), Joshua has compiled a helpful Index of the non-Biblical writings in his post "Customary Readings".
In addition to Joshua's questions on Psallite Sapienter, I also had two questions about the Proper of Saints in the book. There is a partial Proper of Saints for saints in the General Roman Calendar, and a second Proper of Saints for the Calendar of the Ordinariate. Why not merge these two sections? With the two sections, one must check both in setting up the book for the day's prayers. Second, why include some, but not all of the saints from the General Roman Calendar? For the month of January, for example, The Customary's General Sanctorale includes collects and other propers for 8 saints, with an additional 4 in the Proper Sanctorale for the Ordinariate. Among the feasts left out are those of Holy Name of Jesus (January 3), St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (January 5), and St. John Bosco (January 31). The first two absences are particularly surprising, as devotion to the Holy Name has a strong English history, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is certainly a significant figure for the Ordinariates as the first Anglican convert since the age of the British Martyrs under the Tudors and Stuarts to be canonized.
Following up on what Joshua writes about the Invitatory for Morning Prayer, I noticed that those psalms are not formatted in strophes, and it is unclear whether they should be read as responsorial psalms (as in the BDW and LotH) or with antiphons before and after only (as in the 1928 Proposed BCP in England). If the former, formatting in strophes would make this much easier for readers to use. It is also too bad that while adopting elements found in the BDW such as the Phos hilaron (admittedly also found in the CofE's Common Worship and Celebrating Common Prayer) at Evening Prayer that the alternative Venite that substitutes verses 9 & 13 of Psalm 96 for verses 8-11 of Psalm 95 (the final verses of which are optional in The Customary).
This absence is an example of what I see as a missed opportunity with the current version of The Customary. There are glances toward the US Ordinariate, noting differences in the rank of certain feasts in the calendar, for example, and drawing on some of the material in the Daily Offices of the BDW such as noting acceptable changes in the Preces in areas with "a Republican Administration"; but other elements that would have made this book more suitable for use in the US as well as England (such as drawing on Canon Douglas' chant work in the Saint Dunstan Plainsong Psalter for the music and the prayers for mission at the end of the office in the BDW) are missing, regrettably.
There are additional instances that made me think that The Customary was rushed out the door a bit too soon. On page 47 and 112 there is a prayer for the Pope, and while I certainly wish the Holy Father many more years, the prayer shouldn't have had the reigning Pope's name printed in the same typeface as the rest of the prayer. Normally a reader would expect to see the placeholder "N." as in the Common collects, such as the one for a Pope on page 662, or at least that the name would be in italics as is the Queen's on page 113 in the prayer for the Monarch. At the end of the Ordinary for Evening Prayer on page 115 we find the usual prayer for the dead, but it reads, "May all the faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace." Should this not read "May all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God..."?
There are certainly things to love in The Customary, but given that it requires so many supplemental books to be used (at the least, a Bible, an Ordo, a copy of the Liturgy of the Hours) as a regular daily prayer book, I fear it may be only a resource to supplement the Daily Offices of The Book of Divine Worship or the Liturgy of the Hours. But it is an expensive supplement; hopefully, there will be a second edition, produced in consultation with the US, Canadian and Australian ordinariate communities, that will help complete it as a fully usable resource for the Daily Office for both clergy and laity.