The sixteen pieces of OFFICIUM DIVINUM are made up of four choral pieces with organ, two cappella pieces and ten choral pieces with organ and instrumental accompaniment. They follow the journey of Daily Prayer from awakening at the break of the day to the eyelids closing at the end of the day. Margaret says: ‘Chants are so easy to perform and also lovely to sing and to work at. Through the repetitions, a chant starts in the head with all its thinking and begins the long journey into the heart. There one begins to be open to the beauty of prayer, and drawn into deeper levels of reflection and stillness. Singing chants is a wonderful way to share, as we come to pray together.’
View Sample Booklet
Sunday by Sunday review
Sometimes a subtitle is more revealing than the official title: here it is 'A musical journey through the Morning, Midday, Evening and Night Prayers from the Daily Office'. Do not expect a setting of the Office starting with '0 Lord, open our lips' and ending with the conclusion of Night Prayer; the key word here is 'journey', not just a musical journey but a spiritual one too.
On this journey, one travels and pauses at different points. This is a book to be dipped into and used at different times and different circumstances. There are two unaccompanied choral pieces, four accompanied by organ and ten with organ and instruments (sometimes optional and sometimes not). The Magnificat and Nunc dimittis are given with Mary Holtby's English text; a Gloria in excelsis setting is from Rizza's Mass ofSt Benedict; there are three poems from David Adams's The Edge of Glory, one poem each by Herbert and Blake, as well as settings of texts taken from the Church of England's Common Worship: Daily Prayer. The section headed Midday Prayer provides opportunity for adoration, with Rizza's own text Blessed bread and David Adams's The Real Presence.
These are not anthems or ' performance pieces': they are prayers, and if the music is often very simple, gentle and unhurried, that is simply to allow the prayers to speak and the Spirit to act. Taize-like, perhaps- but the harmonies and melodic sequences are the composer's own, and there are not the awkward moments that one sometimes finds trying to fit Taize chants to the verses. It all feels natural.