London: Burns Oates, 1952. Early edition. Small octavo, original green cloth, dark top edge, original dust jacket. Bookseller's ticket. Very faint pencil marks to the margins of the preface, toning to folds and spine of the dust jacket. A near-fine copy. Item #654
"HEARKEN MY SON TO THE PRECEPTS OF THE MASTER AND INCLINE THE EAR OF THY HEART" Burns Oates edition of the Rule of St. Benedict—the first of the publisher's Orchard Books series—with dual Latin-English text and a frontispiece illustration ("Oxoniensis"). Any description of the Western Monastic tradition must begin with the Rule of St. Benedict, "a document almost unique in Christian literature, at once impersonal and full of character, which has influenced each succeeding generation of monks in much the same way that the Gospels have influenced religious souls in every age" (Dom David Knowles, The Benedictines). The Rule consists of the Prologue (of Our Most Holy Father Saint Benedict) and seventy-three chapters, adapting and establishing the virtues and practices of work and prayer to guide Western monasticism, a corrective antidote to the disrepair of religious life which had accompanied the disintegration of the Roman Empire. "Benedict considered the communal life essential for all who undertake the way of perfection" (Frank Magill, Masterpieces of Christian Literature).
First published in 1937, translated and edited by Abbot Justin McCann, Monk of Appleforth. This second edition of the McCann translation contains both footnotes and end Notes, along with his valuable Preface in seven parts: 1. Date of Composition of the Rule, 2. The Latinity of the Rule, 3. The Authentic Text, 4. The Revised Text, 5. The Vulgate Text, 6. Modern Editions of the Rule, 7. The Rule of the Master, 8. The Present Edition, The English Translation. McCann concludes his remarks by quoting Plato: "It is no chance topic that engages us, for our subject is: How shall a man order his life?" The contents page bears a Note on the Frontispiece, describing this Bodleian copy as "the earliest MS. written in England in the Library and the oldest surviving copy of the Rule." The Orchard Books were a revival of the firm's old Orchard Series of contemplative classics from the 1920s. Approbations.