Tech Talk: Changes Ahead for Divine Office App and Website

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Editor’s note: we’ve covered the Divine Office app as a Liturgy of the Hours resource several times. I use it daily, as it takes all the guesswork out of praying the Hours. Daria Sockey, author of The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, notes some changes coming soon to the Divine Office app and website. –Barb

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Each  of the  3 major apps for Liturgy of the Hours have had some significant things happening lately–some good and some not.

First and foremost, our friends at DivineOffice.org are having some issues with the permissions for the many texts they quote in the app. This recent post by DivineOffice.org’s founder and CEO Dane Falkner pretty much explains it. In short, Dane thought he already had all the permissions he needed, but apparently not. So in three days’ time he will suspend sale of the divineoffice.org mobile app until the permission process is completed, and there is no telling how long that might be.

The texts in the Liturgy of the Hours have material that is copyrighted by the U.S. Bishops’ conference, by ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy) and, for all I know, maybe by the Vatican as well. And, although the Prayer of the Church and the Word of God belong to all of us–guess what? The particular translations of these texts are copyrighted! And furthermore, getting permission to reproduce them is not easy. And furthermore, if you are going to make any money at all from reproducing them (and even in some cases, if you are not), the holders of the copyright are usually going to expect some compensation.

I learned this the hard way when I wanted to quote a handful of antiphons and a few other items from the breviary in The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours. I had to pay for that privilege. The psalms I quoted were from the Revised Grail Psalter rather than the current Grail version in our breviary, and although I had to obtain permission, the publisher of the RGP was gracious enough to not charge me anything for the psalms that I quoted. And I also had to contact someone in Rome just to quote a few paragraphs from the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours. (again, no payment required–just the bother of writing and waiting for the Okay.)  

I can readily sympathize with Dane in this situation–there could be layers upon layers of permissions needed for the various parts of these texts. It’s difficult to be aware of all the t’s that need crossing and i’s that need dotting when it comes to getting permissions. Besides, a zealous Christian tends to feel that we are all in the same boat of wanting to make liturgical prayer more widely available and loved–we don’t expect these kinds of roadblocks. Someone else I know recently rushed to put a papal encyclical text up on his website–simply in his zeal to make the pope’s message accessible to more people– and got slapped down by someone in the Vatican and threatened with legal action until he took it down.

Anyway, this is important: if you have been  thinking about buying the divineoffice.org app but were putting it off, DO IT NOW. Otherwise you may have to wait for a long  time. I know this app isn’t free, but it’s a good one and really worth it if you need the audio versions when travelling. 

Update: For these last few days it’s available, the price of the app will only be $3.99  Definitely worth it. 

Update: This will also impact the free DivineOffice.org website. Here’s what Dane told me:
The second bit of breaking news is that we have been asked to close off the site to new members. This was very gracious of them to let us support our existing community and not shut us down completely. To this end, in the coming days, we will funnel everyone who comes to our site through a login process to login or create new logins. In a week or two we will close off access to new users.

On the more pleasant side of breviary apps news:

I mentioned several weeks ago that the newest version of iBreviary had significant bugs and pretty useless audio files (in “robo” language) added.  The good news there is that the app (at least my android version) doesn’t seem to be crashing very often anymore.

Next, the Universalis app (not the website version, only the mobile app) has a new option in the Office of Readings. As you may know, there is an optional two year cycle of scripture readings (a year I and year II cycle). You can already access the book/chapter/verse citations for these in an appendix of the one-volume Christian Prayer breviary, and then look them up in your bible. But now, with the touch of an app buttton, these alternate readings pop up for you, no fuss, no muss.

Please add a prayer that the difficulties that DivineOffice.org has encountered will be resolved quickly, so that this excellent ministry may continue to fulfill the hope of the Second Vatican Council, and more recently, Pope Benedict, that the Liturgy of the Hours be familiar to all the laity.

Update: as of Friday, April 22, Divine Office is gone from the App Stores. Read more about it here.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2016 Daria Sockey
This article was originally posted at Coffee and Canticles and is reprinted here with the kind permission of Daria Sockey.

About the author: Daria Sockey is the author of The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours. A contributing writer to Catholic Digest magazine, she blogs at Coffee and Canticles.

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