QUAERITUR: Traditional Mass but newer office

From a reader:

Father, I seem to be in a quandry about the liturgy. I attend a Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Parish in Tulsa and I am an Oblate of Clear Creek monastery, which also uses the 1962 liturgies. My question is this: Is there anything really wrong with using the Liturgy of the Hours as my daily Office? I’ve heard all the standard arguments from my ‘super-traddy’ friends, but they don’t seem to wash. I have an FSSP priest-friend that uses the LOH and is quite pleased with it. What’s all the fuss.

First, it is good that you are interested in the Church’s other liturgical prayer, the office, either with the Breviarium Romanum or some smaller office, or the Liturgy of the Hours.

Since you are a layman without the obligation to recite any office, you are free to do as it pleases you to do.  Use this book or that.  Say it all, or a little, or none at all.

That said, it makes sense to use the older books together and the newer books together.  This way what you do at Mass and with the office has more coordination, especially between the calendars.

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  1. Fr. A.M. says:

    Yes reader, as Fr. Z says, your not obliged to recite the office, so you may choose. It is praiseworthy to pray the divine office and a great aid for the spirirtual lfie. But I would say one thing. You mentioned that you have an FSSP priest-friend that uses the LOH. Is he not actually obliged by the statutes/constitutions of his society to recite the Breviarium Romanum ?

  2. dominic1955 says:

    If you look around, you can still find the one volume Benzinger published Roman Breviary all in English and the three volume Collegeville Divine Office in English and Latin (Pius XII psalter though). I use the one volume for most days just because my Latin isn’t quite as good as it should be (especially for Matins).

    Also, since the FSSP is supposed to be using the ’62 books, that priest should be saying the ’62 Breviarium. Maybe he has a dispensation, but it would seem odd for a priest that says the ’62 Mass to say the LOTH.

    Lastly, I would have to admit that while I think the ’62 breviary is much better than the LOTH, all of them after 1911 have “deviated” (so to say) from the old Roman Office and have taken on Neo-Gallican influences so neither one is really properly “traditional” though the ’62 savors of the old Office much more than the LOTH does.

  3. RichR says:

    It make sense to stay consistent with OF/EF missals and offices.

    That having been said, I attend the OF Mass because that’s all that is available in my neck of the woods, but I find the ICEL version of the LH to be a horribly mundane translation….and I get very little out of it. So I have switched to the Monastic Diurnal (which the monks at the Clear Creek Monastery use, if I’m not mistaken), and have found the hieratic English and meaty Collects to meet my liturgical and spiritual needs. Yes, there’s a disconnect with following two separate calendars, but it actually helps me keep my sanity amongst the bongoes and tambourines.

  4. GodsGadfly says:

    I don’t know the Rules for Benedictine Oblates, but I’ve noticed before upon inquiries like this about the Office, you presume “no obligation,” which seems to be a misunderstanding of Third Orders. As a Secular Discalced Carmelite, I am under obligation to say the Office. I don’t know about the Rules of other Secular Orders, but my understanding is that the obligation to say the office is one of the things that distinguishes being in a Secular Order from being in a “mere” lay association or confraternity (take, for example, the popular misconception that conflates the Brown Scapular Confraternity with the Third Order of Carmel).

    To wit, I would refer the questioner to the Rules of his own Order. My understanding of both the FSSP constitutions and ex corde ecclesiae is that FSSP priests are expected to do all their liturgies, sacraments and blessings 1962 style. I would propose that the reader check with the authorities at Clear Creek Monastery itself, and if it makes no specifications, then he is free to say any valid form of the Office he chooses.

    For example, as a Carmelite, I have to say Lauds and Vespers, and ideally Compline. The Rule interestingly does not mention Matins. There are many Carmelites, both secular and religious, who are Byzantine, especially since Carmel was originally a Byzantine Order (there is a convent of OCD nuns near Allentown, PA who have completely Byzantine liturgy). Nothing forbids me from using the 1962 Breviary or the Byzantine form of Morning and Evening prayer, so long as I am saying those minimal offices.

    So, again, I would suggest he check with his superiors as a Benedictine Oblate.

  5. danphunter1 says:

    I have read that the “New” Latin (“Pius XII”) Psalter was introduced in 1945.
    Dominic, do you know what was the Psalter like from 1911 until 1945?

    As with Rich, I find the Monastic Diurnale with its lovely hieratic English much meatier and satisfiying than the “ewes” and “yours” of the contemporary LOTH.

  6. Daniel Latinus says:

    The “New” Psalter was permitted, but not imposed in 1945. The Benedictines rejected it, because it could not be used with Gregorian Chant. As far as I know, Latin Breviaries published after 1945 continued to use the traditional Psalter. An edition of the Vulgate published in Rome during the 1950s had both Psalters, printed on parallel pages.

    As far as I know, the 1970 LOH was only published with the “New” Psalter.

  7. Geoffrey says:

    I am a layman and I pray the Ordinary Form of the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) daily. I try to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form as often as I can, usually every-other-Sunday. For a time I was blessed to be able to attend daily Mass in the EF as well.

    When I attend the EF Mass on Sundays, I usually pray the Office of Readings before Mass begins and None (Midafternoon Prayer) immediately after it ends. I find nothing confusing in doing this. In fact, as a Catholic of the Roman Rite, I am able to keep one foot in each of its forms, and I think that is a wonderful thing.

    So, reader, keep doing what you’re doing. You’re not the only one! :-)

  8. dominic1955 says:

    The new psalter was rewritten/retranslated to be in a more “classical” Latin style. The old psalter was basically just the psalter from the Clementine Vulgate. I think the new psalter was a mistake along the lines of the retranslated hymns put out by Pope Urban VIII-what’s the point? Why should we make Church Latin try to sound like Ciceronian Latin? It screws with the chants too, another huge reason why it never should have even been promulgated.

    The Office from 1911-1962 was usually split up into four volumes named after the seasons (spring, summer, winter, autumn, in Latin), Matins usually had three nocturns while the ’62 only has one nocturn for most days (including Sunday) and three nocturns for feasts of the Second Class and higher. There were extra prayers mandated to be said before and after in the pre-62 Office among other things.

    There is actually a nice series over at NLM that talks about the Office. http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2010/10/compendium-of-reforms-of-roman-breviary.html

    I believe the Latin LOTH has some neo-Vulgate psalter that doesn’t match any of the older ones. Thus, of course, you can’t use the old Liber chants for the LOTH but no surprise there.

  9. archambt says:

    What about the English version of the LOTH? Is that much better?

  10. Geoffrey says:

    “What about the English version of the LOTH? Is that much better?”

    I use the new English edition that was prepared for the Church in Africa. It uses the newly-revised Grail psalms (a big improvement), the African Bible (a polished British-English version of the New American Bible), and the old ICEL texts.

  11. Henry Edwards says:

    Although I prefer the traditional Latin Mass as well as the older Divine office for public liturgy, I prefer the new Divine Office for private use. Though only in Latin, of course. The usual remarks about the current lame duck English translation for the Missal apply also to the Liturgy of the Hours (and may for some time to come, after the new translation of the Missal has been introduced), so in the past when saying the office in English I have used the older form.

    Although few traditionally inclined Catholics are likely to agree, I find the (Latin) Liturgia Horarum to an improvement over the (Latin) Breviarium Romanum. Partly because the monthly cycle of the new Psalter works better for me than the old weekly cycle, and partly because the readings in the LH for the Office of Readings (aka Vigils re Matins) are better (both longer and more varied). Also, I now prefer the new Vulgate for its increased scriptural accuracy over the old Vulgate (though of course it sufficed for all the saints and others for over a millenium and a half). And I believe the hymnody to be improved in the Latin Liturgia Horarum (though it’s simply non-existent in the English Liturgy of the Hours, the great treasure of Latin office hymns not having been translated for it).

    Finally, the use of two calendars is an occasional irritation, but not a barrier to devotion. Obviously, the two calendars should somehow be reconciled, though I confidently hope this will not be done in my lifetime (preferring not to seeing it done at all to seeing it botched).

  12. mdillon says:

    I have started using the Anglican Breviary ( http://www.anglicanbreviary.net/). I am not sure if I like it yet.

  13. dominic1955 says:

    The U.S. vernacular version of the LOTH is pretty unsatisfactory. It doesn’t even bother to use the actual hymns of even the Latin LOTH but just reprints much of the same garbage or mediocre hymnody often found in parishes today. The LOTH in general cuts chunks out of psalms (like the old numbered 136) and uses a completely invented four week cycle for the psalter.

  14. Geoffrey says:

    “The LOTH in general cuts chunks out of psalms (like the old numbered 136) and uses a completely invented four week cycle for the psalter.”

    The reasons for both are explained in the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours.

  15. dominic1955 says:

    Its irrelevant what that says, psalms are not cut because “modern man” is uncomfortable with them and these things simply were never done before thus both things are innovations.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    I have the one used at Clear Creek, with the Latin on one side and the English on the other. Having said that, I sometimes use the older, 1970s version of the Great Britain Divine Office, as the language is so superior. But, as a layperson, I do not have to abide by any set form.

  17. jeffmcl says:

    I try to say the LOTH sometimes as a layman, using the one-volume “Christian Prayer.” Aside from the incredibly bad, retro artwork in this edition, I was shocked to find several hymns by Martin Luther. You’d think they could have found some hymns by a Catholic author instead of Luther, of all people. That combined with the hideous lame-duck ICEL translations has turned me off to this form of prayer, for now…

  18. Daniel Latinus says:

    The new psalter was rewritten/retranslated to be in a more “classical” Latin style. The old psalter was basically just the psalter from the Clementine Vulgate. I think the new psalter was a mistake along the lines of the retranslated hymns put out by Pope Urban VIII-what’s the point? Why should we make Church Latin try to sound like Ciceronian Latin? It screws with the chants too, another huge reason why it never should have even been promulgated.

    I believe the New Psalter was also translated from the Hebrew, and it compares well with English translations from the Hebrew. And I have to say, it’s much more readable than the Vulgate, which is so obscure in parts, it is opaque. (Correctly translated Latin still leaves the reader wondering what the text can possibly mean.) I actually prefer it.

    I don’t think the New Psalter was quite the mistake that the revision of the hymns by Urban VIII, but he was tinkering with the Latin of Latin texts.

  19. dominic1955 says:

    That is a good point, it is easier to read and understand if you have a more basic grasp of Latin.

    What I should have pointed out is that the Vulgate psalter is the musical psalter that the chant was written for and the basic psalter of the Mass. Thus, to change it almost admits that the Office is just a private prayer book which was hammered home even more so by the LOTH.

  20. Fr. A.M. says:

    Dominic1955 / ‘Lastly, I would have to admit that while I think the ’62 breviary is much better than the LOTH, all of them after 1911 have “deviated” (so to say) from the old Roman Office and have taken on Neo-Gallican influences so neither one is really properly “traditional” though the ’62 savors of the old Office much more than the LOTH does’

    mmm… I think it is a ‘moot’ point to say that the Breviarium Romanum 1962 isn’t traditional – i.e. an organic development – and in continuity with – of that went before. We should not exaggerate the neo-Gallican influences. In general, despite some regrets – the reform of Pope St. Pius X was much needed and in continuity with liturgical tradition.

  21. Archambt:

    the UK version of the LotH, called the Divine Office, is much better than the US version. It uses the same psalm translation (the Grail) as in the U.S., but it is marked for chanting, which the US version is not. The final prayers (collects) are a different, superior translation and are not the ICEL we have in the U.S. The scripture lessons are also from a different translation from the oft-scorned New American Bible (revised) that the US books contain. Finally, vastly superior hymnody.

  22. dominic1955 says:

    Fr. A. M.,

    That is why I put the words “deviated” and “traditional” in quotes. Of course, there is more than one way to skin a cat, but it seems that the reform of 1911 and 1960/2 did indeed deviate quite a bit from the Roman breviary of Pius V (which basically only tweaked the older forms that had been in use for centuries before it). In my mind, the simple thing to have done if we wanted to make sure and recite the whole psalter and not just the ones in the sanctoral cycle would be to bust most of the saints feast days down to commemorations (with optional upgrades in solemnity, i.e., its your titular feast as had always been provided, etc.). Back then, I suppose there probably wouldn’t have been much grassroots support for such a move but seeing the way they are often celebrated in the LOTH or NO (or, not celebrated…) anyway would not seem to provide much of an obstacle today.

    Either way, it is proper to admit that a pretty major reform of the breviary happened long before the Council. It was not near as radical as the change from the BR/TLM to the LOTH/NO but it was significant nonetheless.

  23. Sid says:

    Similar to the writebacker at 18 October 2010 at 4:37 pm, I prefer the MEF yet I use the LOTH.

    To anyone who has the time to pray all the offices of the old Breviary, I say God Bless. Most of us don’t have the time. The LOTH is an improvement for many reasons, time being one of them. And The Office is intended for everyone. And for all offices.

    And similar to the writebacker at 18 October 2010 at 4:35 pm, I use the African edition with the new Psalter translation.

    Those who object to the LOTH need to tell us if it is the translation to which they object, or the entire LOTH.

    By they way, the New Lectionary for the Office of Readings, the Two Year Cycle, is now out.

  24. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    I attend the TLM and say the LOTH, but I find the translation appalling. Sit down and compare the Grail translations and the NAB translations with the NSRV Catholic edition as you read the office. In the words of Johnny Rotten, “…ever feel like you’ve been cheated?” It’s like robbery. As I’ve written in these pages before, Rev. Peter Stravinskas publishes a nice, one volume edition of the NO LOTH offices of Lauds and Vespers using the NSRV translations recto and the Latin original versus. Because the NSRV (which the Holy Father uses in translations of his own writings into English) is not approved by the USCCB, the English pages are not approved for liturgical use. But if you’re not under any obligation anyway, it doesn’t matter.

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the never-arriving Baronius edition. As far as I can tell, this will be the Monastic Psalter. Does anyone know of a bilingual Brevarium Romanum 1962 book that may be published?

  25. Henry Edwards says:

    Neither the ICEL “Liturgy of the Hours” nor the British “Divine Office” gets much praise from me for English translation. But the greatest defect of each may be its hymnody (or lack thereof).

    Most English readers are probably unaware that the official Latin Liturgia Horarum prescribes a specific Latin hymn for each Hour of each day of the Church calendar. None of these are included in the above English translations. And being up front in the LH, they are indispensable for setting the theme of an Hour.

    Many or most of the great old Latin hymns in the older Roman Breviary, many dating back to the times St. Ambrose and St. Gregory, are preserved in the LH. For instance, the ferial hymns of the RB appear as the hymns for the corresponding days of Weeks 1 and 3 of the LH (with different ones prescribed for Weeks 2 and 4).

    The following are available (and highly recommended) for those who need parallel Latin-English to begin to discover the richness of the LH in Latin:

    Lauds and Vespers: Latin-English Enlarged Edition
    Lauds and Vespers only, but with English translations of all their hymns; RSV English for the psalms; accurate and excellent English translations of the antiphons and responses, intercessions and prayers. (For instance, the intercessions seem eloquent and polished in Latin, ICEL wooden in English.)

    Office of Compline
    “This volume contains the Office of Compline for every day of the year, in Latin and English, according to the novus ordo of the Roman Catholic Church, with Gregorian Chant settings. On the facing pages for the Latin, the official English text is also arranged for chanting, using simple English tones. New translations have been made for the official hymns of the Office, and all the hymns are given with the Gregorian melodies proper for each season and feast of the liturgical year.”

  26. Henry Edwards says:

    The Lauds and Vespers mentioned in the preceding two posts uses the RSV (Revised Standard Version, Catholic Editon) for its English psalms, not the NRSV (New RSV)
    Also, it does not include the proper of saints.

  27. dominic1955 says:

    I object to the LOTH itself, as well as the translation. You do not even get to pray all the psalms in the LOTH and even those left you do not get in their entirety. Furthermore, you do not get to pray all of the traditional canonical hours anyway since Prime is gone and Matins has been substantially truncated and turned into some weird floating hour.

    The LOTH makes for an OK layman’s prayer book, but even then you’d be better off with the old Little Office or an English translation of the BR.

  28. CCOblate says:

    The FSSP clergy have been granted an Indult to use the Liturgy of the Hours and not violate the constitutions. (According to a priest-friend). As far as consulting the Oblate statutes of Clear Creek, there really aren’t any. If one follows the Holy Rule of St. Benedict accurately, Oblate or Monk, the order for the Office is given. However, as everyone seems so quick to point out, there is no obligation to pray the office for a mere layman.

  29. Daniel Latinus says:

    There is an interesting post on the Cardinal Bea Psalter at New Liturgical Movement.


    The post relates that the Bea Pslater was never much accepted. It also states that the 1970 LOTH uses a revised version of the Vulgate Psalter. I have to admit I learned something new reading it.

    My reading of the history of the Divine Office indicates that the Office has been a perennial problem. Basically, a cycle of services that was made for a monastic setting was imposed on clergy in active life, to which it was not easily adapted. So the Divine Office was subject to almost constant tinkering for most of its history.

    Personally, I think the 1970 LOTH is better suited to people in active life, who typically recite the Office as individuals, and have many other responsibilities. (As opposed to monastics, whose life is structured around the Opus Dei.) I do have reservations about some details (the omission of the imprecatory psalms, three-psalm offices for Morning and Evening Prayer, the lack of a prayer for the beginning of the day’s prayer (Prime), the omission of the Athanasian Creed, to name a few). I do agree the English version used in the US cries out for better editing, particularly with regard to the omission of the hymns of the Breviary and the inclusion of modern hymns and weird poetry (e.g. “Northumberland Sequence”). All the material in the Roman Breviary should be included in the translation, and the modern hymns should be included as options. (And those modern hymns should be more carefully selected.)

  30. Henry Edwards says:

    All the material in the Roman Breviary should be included in the translation, and the modern hymns should be included as options.

    The modern hymns substituted for the original prescribed hymns in the authorized English “versions”–I’d hardly call them translations–of the Liturgia Horarum are there only in the 1970s “spirit of Vatican”. I cannot imagine that any sappy modern options will be included in the new Liturgiam authenticam translation of the LH (whenever we see it). The classical hymns of the Roman Breviary are a great glory of the LH. In any event, I assume they must be translated–and fine translations of most of them already exist–if Liturgiam authenticam is to be followed.

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