Sing the Latin liturgy of hours in a parish or community

I might be behind the curve on this, but I was recently directed to this:

A notable event for parishes and communities who want to celebrate the modern Liturgy of the Hours in Latin : the complete edition of all the Gregorian melodies for the texts of the day hours of the Liturgia Horarum.

An immense and complex undertaking, with a practical design

Until now, there has been nothing like this anywhere : it is officially a veritable Latin-French [What a boon it would be to have this in Latin-English] antiphonary, containing everything you need for the Office of the day in three volumes (two temporal, one sanctoral). It will offer a convenient way to sing the Office in the Ordinary Form in Latin.

Les Heures Grégoriennes are a collaborate effort between the Community of Saint Martin, (conception, research, editing), the paleography workshop of the abbey of St. Pierre de Solesmes (the critical edition of the Antiphonale Romanum), and the abbey of St. Joseph de Clairval–Flavigny (the long hours of tedious layout design).

1. Latin Psalter of the Liturgia Horarum (2000 edition)
2. Gregorian notations edited by Saint Pierre de Solesmes Abbey
3. Liturgia Horarum compliant antiphons
4. Polychromatic liturgical edition
5. French translation for liturgical use

A very attractive pricing

The four volumes of the roman Liturgia Horarum currently cost 61€ each (US$98) in the economy (vinyl) edition. In addition, one must purchase various chant books for the melodies.
The total price for a set of these three volumes will be 195€ (US$310). There is a reduced rate of 165€ (US$262) if you subscribe before 31 May 2008.

Rediscovering the musical heritage of the Roman Rite…

This book is simply the implementation of the requests of the Holy Father and the directives of Vatican II. The Council, in the liturgy constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, ‘canonized’ a musical repertoire as the proper chant of the Roman Rite for the first time in its history. The Council went on to order the books of Gregorian Chant be revised and new editions prepared. This is exactly what the Community of Saint Martin has done in the midst of our Holy Father Benedict XVI’s encouragement of the blossoming of a ‘new liturgical movement.’ We should mention that those responsible for this project have requested approval (editio “iuxta typicam”) from the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, and the Prefect of the Congregation, Francis Cardinal Arinze, has given his very enthusiastic endorsement with a wish that everyone will make good use of this work.

About the Community of Saint Martin…

Launching a new edition of the Gregorian melodies for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is a bet for the Community of Saint Martin. By way of background, this community of priests, founded by Monseigneur Guérin in 1976, has had a profound intuition : to live in community as diocesan priests and deacons at the guidance of bishops, while serving in pastoral ministry. And in this community life, most often in a parish, the liturgy has a central place whether in Latin or in French, but always in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Purchases – Patrons

The three volumes of Les Heures Grégoriennes will be published in November 2008 and will be shipped upon publication. There are three ways to acquire your copy.

- Regular purchase : After 31 May 2008, the normal price for the three volumes will be a very competitive 195 € (US$310).

- Patron purchase : For those who are able to make an additional gift of support for the Community of Saint Martin in this endeavour, we would appreciate patron purchase of 220 € (US$350) for the three volumes.

Postage will be 20 € (US$30) outside of France.

On this link, you can now subscribe and pay online, using PayPal.

If anyone wants to make a donation…

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. William says:

    “Catholic Exchange” provides daily readings for the Liturgical Hours. I use them because they are simple to follow, but would rather find a similar place on the net where the Office is in Latin (Traditional) with a corresponding English translation (like the old hand missals). Catholic Exchange is easy to follow but it is post-1962 and the English translation of Biblical passages seem flat, and the intercession prayers verge on the politically correct. Any suggestions?

  2. William: a similar place on the net where the Office is in Latin (Traditional) with a corresponding English translation (like the old hand missals).

  3. Not Getting Creaky Just Yet says:

    (vent) Um, chant is great. And I support using it more often. But…it would slip into popular consciousness faster, IMHO, if the people publishing it would consent to use the standard modern musical notation. (You know, the thing you learned in band/piano lessons/high school music classes. F-A C E, Every Good Boy Does Fine, etc. etc. And a clue about rhythm would also be nice.) Certainly, after investing 9 years of my youth in piano lessons, I find it frustrating that the only notation that seems readily available and “talked up” is something that is in another alphabet. For all the sense I can make of it, chant notation might as well be Egyptian hieroglyphics.

    Teaching first graders to chant Mass responses goes better if their teacher has a clue what she’s supposed to sound like and all that. (/venting)

    Sorry for slipping a leetle-bit OT, Father.

  4. Ohio Annie says:

    Google “an idiot’s guide to square notes.” it has all you will need. it is really very easy. The temptation with modern notation is to put the chant into modern musical rhythm. Chant is prayer. It has the ebb and flow and rhythm of speaking, not singing, which can’t adquately be put in standard musical notation.

  5. Gavin Duncan says:

    Our parish is trying something a bit ambitious this year and so far it’s shaping up to be pretty good: we’re going to have Solemn Vespers with Benediction for nine straight nights during the last nine nights before Christmas.

    Most of the singers that volunteered do not have any sort of musical training, and those that do had never seen Vatican notation until we started rehearsing a month ago. I’d like to make the case for Vatican notation.

    First of all, chant is meant to have a free, speech-like rhythm. Using modern musical notation destroys this because any trained musician will sing it with the notated rhythms. This is even worse when the chants are notated with “stemless” round note-heads, because then people tend to sing every note as a quarter note, making the chants sound more like incessant slow hammering than sweet praises to God.

    Second, chant is not tonal music, like hymns are. Chants are not in a specific key. There is a clef, but it is more of a loose indication of the location of half-steps than a commitment to a pitch level. Using modern notation removes the freedom of choosing to sing the chant at any pitch level that is comfortable for the group of singers.

    Third, square notation has a history and a tradition, and is descended in an unbroken line from musical notation of the middle ages. While the notation we use now was mostly created in the 19th century by the monks of Solesmes, they created it with reference to all the books of chant that had come before (to my knowledge, no official Church chant books have ever used “standard” musical notation). They were careful to preserve the delicate indications of shortening and lengthening that are the closest thing chant has to rhythmic indications. To notate chant in modern notation is to break with history in a rather severe way.

    Besides all this, it is not that hard to learn to read chant notation. Even singers who don’t read standard musical notation can learn to read chant notation fluently in just a few hours. Trained musicians can do it too.

  6. DG says:

    Hope those USD prices include shipping to the US or else be sure to pay in euros, a much better deal at today’s exchange rate.

  7. William says:

    Henry Edwards, thank you for the direction. The site you recommend would be useful to a cleric but is incomprehensible to a layman. Why can it not be easily laid out: December 10, 2008, First Hour, Second Hour, etc.? We live in the computer age; someone should be able to do this for us. Lay people would gladly read daily Office to compensate for clerics who, for whatever reason, do not do so. The excercise, however, must be simple and direct; and above all, Latin and English alongside each other (after a while, we’ll learn to fly entirely in English!). Is there not an Apostolate here, Father Z?

  8. William says:

    We’ll learn to fly entirely in “Latin” that is!

  9. Professor Kwasniewski says:

    Not too long ago I received my copy of this magnificent 3-volume work, and I must say, it is truly worth every penny. The printing, layout, musical notation, everything is beautifully done. I got it not because I’m especially interested in the French but because I could see that the Latin page was going to be so helpful in preparing a Latin Vespers booklet for the College students. And I was not disappointed in this expectation.

  10. William: Is there not an Apostolate here, Father Z?

    In what sense?

  11. William says:

    Father, Some priestly group or other undertaking the task of creating and on-line brevriary (updated daily) so that lay people could say daily Office for clerics who, for whatever reason, do not do so. Or simply making the Office easily and readily available to lay people. With computers, internet, etc., this should be possible like never before.

  12. William,

    Don’t give up too quickly. If you just click “Rubrics 1960” to specify which version you want, you get the page

    See the date selector box at the top with the current date 12-11-2008 pre-entered for you. Now simply click one of the eight links across the bottom to select the hour you want — Matins (aka Office of Readings, Prime (1st hour), Terce (3rd, Mid Morning), Sext (6th, Mid Day), None (9th, Mid Afternoon), Vespers (Evening Prayer), Compline (Night Prayer), … and there it is!

    Could it get any easier? Well, maybe. If you go to and select “Monthly Ordo” and then “December 2008” then you get an actual calendar page to select the day and week you want.

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