Pope Benedict: Everyone should pray the psalms, Liturgy of the Hours

Pope Benedict during his Wednesday Audience said:

“I would like to renew my call to everyone to pray the Psalms, to become accustomed to using the Liturgy of the Hours, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline.”

From VIS:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

VATICAN CITY, 16 NOV 2011 (VIS) – During today’s general audience in St Peter’s Square, attended by over 11,000 pilgrims, the Holy Father imparted the final catechesis of his cycle dedicated to the Psalms. He focused on Psalm 110, which “Jesus Himself cited, and which the authors of the New Testament referred to widely and interpreted in reference to the Messiah. … It is a Psalm beloved by the ancient Church and by believers of all times”, which celebrates “the victorious and glorified Messiah seated at the right hand of God”.

The Psalm begins with a solemn declaration: “The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool”. Benedict XVI explained that “Christ is the Lord enthroned, the Son of man seated at the right hand of God. … He is the true king who by resurrection entered into glory, … higher than the angels, seated in the heavens over all other powers, … and with all His adversaries at His feet until the last enemy, death, is definitively defeated by Him”.

God and the king celebrated in the Psalm are inseparably linked. “The two govern together, to the point that the Psalmist confirms that God Himself grants the regal sceptre, giving the king the task of defeating his adversaries. … The exercise of power is a task the king receives directly from the Lord, a responsibility which involves dependence and obedience, thus becoming a sign to the people of God’s powerful and provident presence. Dominion over enemies, glory and victory are gifts the king has received, that make him a mediator of divine triumph over evil“.

The priestly dimension, linked to that of regality, appears in verse four. “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind ‘You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek'”. This priest, the king of Salem, had blessed Abraham and offered bread and wine following the victorious military campaign conducted by the patriarch to save Lot from the hands of his enemies. The king of the Psalm “will be a priest forever, mediator of the divine presence among His people, a catalyst for the blessing of God”. Jesus Christ “is the true and definitive priest, Who will complete and perfect the features of Melchizedek’s priesthood”. In the bread and wine of the Eucharist, Christ “offers Himself and, defeating death, brings life to all believers”.

The final verses portray “the triumphant sovereign who, with the support of the Lord, having received power and glory from Him, opposes his enemies, defeating adversaries and judging nations”.

The Church traditionally considers this Psalm as one of the most significant messianic texts. “The king as sung by the Psalmist is Christ, the Messiah Who establishes the Kingdom of God and overcomes the powers of the world. He is the Word generated by God before any creature, the Son incarnate, Who died and rose to heaven, the eternal Priest Who, in the mystery of the bread and wine, grants forgiveness for sins and reconciliation with God; the King Who raised his head in triumph over death by His resurrection”.

The Psalm invites us to “look to Christ to understand the meaning of true regality which is to be lived as service and the giving of self, following a path of obedience and love ‘to the end’. Praying this Psalm, we therefore ask the Lord to enable us to proceed along this same journey, following Christ, the Messiah, willing to ascend with Him on the hill of the cross to accompany Him in glory, and to look to Him seated at the right hand of the Father, the victorious king and merciful priest Who gives forgiveness and salvation to all mankind”.

Finally, the Pope explained that, in the course of his catechesis dedicated to the Psalms, he had sought to focus on those “that reflect the different situations in life and the various attitudes we may have towards God. I would like to renew my call to everyone to pray the Psalms, to become accustomed to using the Liturgy of the Hours, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline. Our relationship with God can only be enriched by our journeying towards Him day after day”.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I’ve been feeling a tug in my soul to delve more deeply into the psalms. I am trying to find a small Latin-English psalter, although I am having trouble. If I may ask here, does anyone have any recommendations in this vein?

  2. catholicmidwest says:

    The Liturgy of the Hours also needs a new translation. The prayers are bland like the 1973 liturgy translation.

  3. anilwang says:

    Would this do?

    Click on the “Latin Vulgate Bible ” link at the top to switch to the Latin, and click the “Douay-Rheims Bible ” link at the top to switch back to English.

  4. Johnno says:

    I have been trying to daily pray the Liturgy of the Hours for years now. I highly recommend it! I was introduced to it when I attended a formation group run by the diocease for young men who were discerning joining the priesthood. I went along and was first became engaged in it at St. Augustine’s Seminary where I and some other young men stayed for the weekend. So we attended morning, afternoon, evening and night prayers.

    I bought the 1-volume breviary which compacts the full 4 volume ones that priests use into one book, though it caused confusion at first as you have to jump around a lot from page to page. I had a priest walke me through it and use prayer cards as bookmarks, and also include other prayers and devotions when I say it.

    There are still some aspects that confuse me, like whether to use the common of saints on a Sunday, properly using the common of seasons which I sometimes forget, along with trying to remember which Sunday we are on in Ordinary or extraordinary time amongst other things of what prayers replace what where, and sometimes if I neglect it for awhile I have to try and find out what week we’re in again. I’ve fond no easy online site where it just lists the Week# according to the 1 volume. The 4 volume is easier to keep track of I hear and is what priests use generally, but it was far more costly than the 1 volume and the 1 volume is more portable friendly.

    Anyway it’s really lovely to say. People often say, “Look at how devout the Muslims are, they stop whatever they are doing to pray 3 times a day etc.” Well, Catholics also have the same thing! It’s the Liturgy of the Hours! Priests and religious take a vow to say these, but lay people also can!

    The Liturgy of the hours as I say it, is in the morning prayer, then for afternoon prayers I say it around 3 o’Clock to coincide with the Divine Mercy Prayer, then later I’ll say evening prayer, then night prayer before bed.

    As I best understand and practice it, the Liturgy begins with the prayer, “God come to my assistance… Lord make haste to help me… Glory Be” Usually it’s sung (In the morning it’s “Lord open my lips, so my mouth may declare your praise….” ) Then there is an appropriate hymn you sing. Following that is an anthiphon that preceeds and follows a reading from the psalms. There are three of these. Then a reading from Scripture, a responsary, then the canticle of either Zachariah (morning) or Mary (Evening) with anthiphons. Then intecessions, the Our Father and concluding prayers. It’s also good and recommendable to include your own prayers, devotions etc. afterwards.

    The Liturgy can be prayed alone or with others. It’s nicer with others who also know how to pray it. Normally at the seminary or amongst others the group of people gathered is split into two sides or either aisle of the Church or chapel, and there is a leader, and each side will take a turn to read one section of the given psalm and alternate.

    It’d be nice for those who don’t have the breviary or who are oftentimes confused on what to do on a given day if anyone knows of an online resources that simply and straightforwardly laid out the entire prayer for the hour of the day in a straightforward fashion from beginning to end. Perhaps someone around here knows of one? I know I haven’t been able to find it… which I find surprising…

  5. yatzer says:

    I often use Universalis.com as a resource. I don’t pray the Hours every day, except for Lent, and frequently get confused also. They have it laid out for you. Also, most bookstores that carry Catholic items have a little booklet that tells you what you need to know. I still get mixed up with the Saints, etc., which is when I head for my ‘puter and Universalis.

  6. sallyr says:

    Father – Do you know if the Church is going to come out with a revised text of the Liturgy of the Hours to correspond with the revisions to the texts of the Mass? I’ve been hoping that one would come out before my old copy completely falls apart!

  7. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours for nearly a year using iBreviary on my Droid phone. It has been one of the most rewarding spiritual exercises I have ever done. I commute on the train every morning, so there is time for me to recite Lauds & do the readings from Matins/Office of Readings.

    iBreviary is particularly helpful because it is lightweight and everything in presented in sequence. No flipping back & forth between pages is required. It’s not perfect, but there are many advantages for this layman.

    I am still working up to reciting Vespers in the evening. I consider it akin to an exercise program, where I have take things in stages.

  8. tealady24 says:

    Go to Magnificat.com and take a subscription. It’s the perfect Christmas gift!

  9. anilwang says:

    Myself, I use iBrevary:

    and daily print out the Lauds and readings for my commute.

    I used to use Universalis

    since it is a bit easier to use, even though it is a bit nonstandard. What I found that initially, I skipped over some parts due to time constraints, but I persisted, since as they say “Anything worth doing, is worth doing *BADLY*”. In time as I got into the flow, I was able to pray the LOTH better and didn’t skip parts or need to rush and advanced to iBrevary.

    I’ve found the LOTH centers my day. I used to read the news during my commute…but the news is full of fluff that you read simply because it’s there. With the LOTH I no longer concern myself with such trivialities, and place the focus where it belongs, in God.

    I also use this as a minor form of evangelization, since you don’t often see the sign of the cross in the subways, and I make it often since I do it during the “Glory be” instead of the profound bow (which is awkward in a subway). No-one has yet asked me what I was doing, but I hope that at least that sign gives nominal and timid Catholics the courage to make the sign of the cross before their meals (something I don’t often see) and other appropriate times.

  10. leonugent2005 says:

    Get the 4 volume set of the Roman Breviary and start praying. it’s pretty easy

  11. Tradster says:

    It would have been a nice touch if the Holy Father used the Catholic numbering of the psalms, where this one is 109, not 110 from the KJV.

  12. Tradster says:

    I forgot to add that a wonderful place to begin praying the Divine Office is with the very simple but beautiful Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It can be found for $29.95 at baroniuspress.com.

  13. Patti Day says:

    My DH and I have been praying the LOTH for two and a half years. We use the single volume Christian Prayer, which is the breviary used by priests and deacons, I believe. If I recall the single volume was about $36.00, purchased from from: http://www.catholicbookpublishing.com

    The book comes with a Saint Joseph Guide for the LOTH for the current year. The guide tells you which pages to use for every day of the current year. I get a new Guide each year, so that I don’t get confused about what week it is. The book also comes with five colored ribbons, and that and a few holy cards is all I need to stay on top of it.

    The way I finally learned to pray the hours, after much confusion and frustration trying to do so with only the general instructions in the Christian Prayer book, was through a wonderful site: http://www.divineoffice.org

    They have made LOTH available free of charge, for all hours of each day. The correct pages for both the four-volume and single-volume are given there and you can play or download an MP3 file for almost all of the hours and the invititory from iTunes. They also have apps for iPhone, android, and other platforms.

    I can’t begin to tell you how this site has helped us to be able to pray the hours more faithfully.

  14. APX says:

    Must the LOTH be recited out loud, or may one recites them “mentally”? It’s a practice I’ve been contemplating since the start of September, but I’m not particularly comfortable praying out loud in my place, as it’s not particularly soundproof, and my landlords upstairs are Muslim. Then there’s the at work during lunch problem.

  15. John Nolan says:

    The 20th-century liturgical movement wanted this, and the present Pope supported its aims. When he looked on “the ruins” I am convinced he was sincere. But it was the same before the Council; “Rosary, Sermon and Benediction” was the norm in most parishes, and evening Mass soon put paid to this.

  16. Geoffrey says:

    I’ve been praying the Liturgy of the Hours for years now, and I highly recommend it. I’ve also been able to get my mother and girlfriend “hooked” on it.

  17. Daria says:

    Thank you, Father, for posting this. I am going to re-post it on my own blog, http://dariasockey.blogspot.com/ which is devoted to the Divine Office, although my expertise only extends to the post-Vatican II breviary.
    I’ll add my praise for ibreviary.com, which is very user friendly on an Amazon Kindle! DivineOffice.org has an android and ipod app which includes podcasts of the hours said in common for those who want to get a feel for what this should sound like. Hymn choices for these podcasts are not always the most traditional, but other than that they are very useful, especially for commuters or busy mothers who might want to tune in to vespers while fixing dinner.

    Like another commenter, I am also anxious for information about a revised breviary. I’ve written to Bishop Serratelli (sp?) of Vox Clara asking if and when this will happen. The response was that it would be done eventually, but there is no precise timeline so far. I also asked whether this someday revision would use the Revised Grail Psalter, and was told that this is not yet known either. If you have any more information about a revision from your sources, Father Z, I would love to hear it.

  18. cblanch says:

    I started praying the LOTH two months ago and am just getting started in discovering what an immense treasure it is! I use the divineoffice.org, which has really helped me to figure out how to do it, and so far I just pray the morning and evening prayers. The morning prayers I do with my 4 year old and 2 year old daughters. It’s amazing how much they pick up just by cuddling up on the couch and listening with mommy!!

    I was prompted to start praying the LOTH by the homeschool program my daughter uses, The Classical Liberal Arts Academy.

  19. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Yet another goading toward regularly praying at least some hours of the Office. May the Most High grant me the grace so to do. (Like another commenter, I’ve been more prone to pray hours of the Office solely during Lent, Passiontide and the beginnings of the Easter season.)

    Surprised that no one has mentioned http://DivinumOfficium.com as it gives the Office in Latin and English (and Magyar(!)) with options for the OF or EF calendars.

    I’m looking forward to finding out how well that site works on my new Kindle Fire which is coming today.

  20. RichR says:

    I’ve gone through the whole spectrum of Offices. I started with the LOTH, then I moved to the 1962 Benedictine Monastic Diurnal, then tried some of the Little Offices of the BVM, and then moved to the 1962 Roman Diurnal, then the Liturgia Horarum. Each had their own strengths and weaknesses.

    I’ve settled on the LOTH (ICEL) because 1) it corresponds with my OF Mass parish liturgical calendar 2) I’m not as proficient in Latin as I thought I was 3) the modern LOTH is a smaller time obligation which is important for me as a married man, father, and business owner.

  21. Rich says:

    What’s “VIS”?

  22. Patti Day says:

    APX, I believe the prayers are meant to be said aloud with others, but if one is concerned about calling unwelcome attention or is traveling on a public conveyance, an MP3 player and mental prayer seems a nice option.

  23. liongules says:

    I am a candidate for admission to the Order of Malta and I purchased their Proprium Breviarii (Order of Malta Breviary) which contains the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I’ve been praying the office daily for about two months now.

  24. Centristian says:

    I’m thankful to Father Z for posting this and to our Holy Father for encouraging this. I have, recently, been thinking about obtaining a copy of the hours and to begin praying them on a regular basis. I used to pray, daily in community, some of the hours of the breviary when I was in the seminary and afterwards at various religious houses I was associated with, but that was the pre-Conciliar liturgy (which was magnificent, incidentally) and it was upwards of 15 years ago that I fell out of the practice.

    I have never prayed the post-Conciliar Liturgy of the Hours, so this would be something new for me. I wonder how the old and current compare. I’m thinking I may elect to go with “Christian Prayer” rather than with the full, 4 volume LOTH. Do any readers use “Christian Prayer” and have any helpful thoughts for a beginner? Is it wonderful? Awful? Adequate? Disappointing?Also, what is “Christian Prayer” missing that the LOTH is not? It’s obviously heavily condensed. Speaking of heavily condensed, what of “Shorter Christian Prayer”? Is there even a point to such a thing?


    “Must the LOTH be recited out loud, or may one recites them “mentally”? It’s a practice I’ve been contemplating since the start of September, but I’m not particularly comfortable praying out loud in my place, as it’s not particularly soundproof, and my landlords upstairs are Muslim. Then there’s the at work during lunch problem.”

    I think since it isn’t required of the laity to pray the hours at all, that it couldn’t possibly be necessary for the laity to pray them aloud. I think it may be possibly the case (I’m not sure, however) that the clergy and others bound to the recitation of the hours must pray them “aloud”, but that merely means, according to my understanding, that the words be formed with one’s lips, and not necessarily recited “out loud”. Whispering the prayers, for example, would suffice.

  25. Rich says:

    Thank you, Charles.

  26. HyacinthClare says:

    The FSSP Breviarium Romanum has Psalm 54 (Catholic numbering) for Terce today. Considering what the Occupiers are planning for tomorrow in New York, it’s certainly relevant. Translation from my Kindle very-literal-translation Douay…
    “Cast down, O Lord, and divide their tongues; for I have seen iniquity and contradiction in the city. Day and night shall iniquity surround it upon its walls; and in the midst thereof are labour and injustice. And usury and deceit have not departed from its streets.”

  27. gloriainexcelsis says:

    I’ve been praying the entire Little Office of the BVM for a couple of years, and recently began using the abridged Divine Office. On Sundays after Mass a small group of us chants Ad Sextam in choir with a nun attached to the parish. As the parish grows, we hope to have Vespers and Compline at some point. I started a personal blog a couple of months ago and shared on facebook my blog on the Divine Office and praying the psalms just three days ago. Happy coincidence.

  28. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Centristian, I obtained Shorter Christian Prayer some years ago. It has been in a drawer for most of those years. If you want it, it’s yours for the asking.

  29. Ah, at last! Papal corroboration for what I’ve been telling students and friends for years. The LOTH is for everyone. Laity are not obligated to say all of the hours. Do what you can. If you belong to a secular institute, you may be under specific obligations to say specific hours, or use an ‘in-house’ breviary. But the LOTH is for all. However, when I am Pope, I’m asking all LOTH’s in Latin to switch back to the Clementine Vulgate text for the Psalms. That was the text used in the first edition of the LOTH decades ago. It just flows better. The Nova Vulgata, the text in the current Latin edition of the LOTH, is aenemic and wordy. But, some Latin is better than none. Go for it!! You can pray the hours aloud if you want. But when discretion or situations make silent prayer preferrable, you pray while moving your lips. The idea behind that is: We worship with body and soul. Your voice stands in for the body. When that is not desirable, just move your lips. Recitation of the hours without the participation of the body in some way is not worshipping with body and soul. But, again, like the LOTH itself, no pressure. Do what you can. Just running those Psalms through your mind every day, however much, is salutary. These words were composed by men under the inspiration of God. You are praying His words, in effect. And, the Psalms touch all our circumstances and emotions. That’s no surprise. God knows us better than we ourselves do. Pray the LOTH. Do what you can. Love it.

  30. Supertradmum says:

    For Benedictine Trads: I use the one said at Clear Creek and other places, from St. Michael’s Abbey Press, Farnborough in Hampshire, entitled The Monastic Diurnal. I highly recommend it. Some of the Latin Psalms were used at Buckfast Abbey last Easter Season. One can order it in America from Clear Creek, or directly from Farnborough. I must admit I rarely do more than one hour a day-either Lauds or Vespers, although when I am on retreat, I manage more. This edition has the Latin on one side and the English on the other. Compline is so beautiful in Latin.
    The days are from the Benedictine Calendar, with emendations in the back. The other thing I like about it is that it is all in one volume. As I gave my three volume set of the English version of the Hours to my son, I switched to this and am very happy I did. The Latin is wonderful to have if one is visiting trad monasteries.

  31. Centristian,

    Yes, the old standard used to be “If you don’t say it, you don’t pray it!” But this meant only that the words should be formed with the tongue. It is not necessary that any sound be produced (not even a whisper). It can be entirely internal, not even any motion of the lips visible. But this is quite different from merely praying mentally, eyes only.

    Like RichR, I’ve prayed the divine office every which way. Starting years ago with the Magnificat–a beautiful way to start for one who finds the official versions daunting–which offers one-psalm lauds and vespers, as opposed to 3 psalms in each hour for the LOH, 5 psalms for each hour in the older Roman breviary. And now, all hours of the 4-volume Liturgia Horarum in Latin, augmented by universalis.com on my Kindle for side-by-side English as needed. And everything in between during the intervening years.

    In the post-Vatican II LOH, the Roman Breviary hour of prime is no longer present, and one prays only a single day hour (at either terce, sext, or none). And the Office of Readings is shortened from Matins–no longer three nocturns, just 3 psalms, a scripture reading, and a patristic reading. My personal opinion is that the longer patristic readings in the new LOH are a improvement over those in the older Roman Breviary.

    As for your questions about the ICEL versions . . . the 1-volume “Christian Prayer” omits the Office of Readings from the 4-volume “Liturgy of the Hours”, and has only a 1-week rather than a 4-week cycle of midday prayers. The brief “Shorter Christian Prayer” deletes further the proper of saints, including only the proper of seasons.

    Finally, none of these vernacular versions includes translations of the official Latin hymns of Liturgia Horarum, many of which date back to Ambrose and Augustine, and to my mind provide each hour with much of its flavor or tone (the psalms remaining its heart).

    For instance, next week during the final week of the year, those using the Latin Liturgia Horarum will be thinking of the four last things using each day the great Dies Irae–the first 7 verses as the office of readings hymn, the middle 7 verses as the lauds hymn, and the last 7 verses as the vespers hymn. Whereas those who use CP or LOH in English will hear none of this. Since CP, in particular, substitutes hymns like those heard at OF Mass for the great old Latin hymns.

  32. Mark R says:

    It is a nice suggestion, but clergy don’t often realise that unlike them we laity do not usually work at home and are beholden to many intervening circumstances throughout the day. We are not monks.

  33. dominic1955 says:

    If you really want to pray the Office, use some traditional form of the Breviarium Romanum. As laymen, no one of us is bound to anything so we can pretty much use whatever we want. I use a Benzinger English totum 1964 (which is just the ’62 in English) and the ’62 BR when I want to do it in Latin. On an academic level the ’62 is not ideal, but it corresponds with how the TLM is now said so it works.

    To call the LOTH the Roman Office in anyway other than a legal fiction is to tell a lie. I am being somewhat tongue-in-cheek but really, if you really want to do some Office you really ought to go for some sort of version of the traditional Breviary. The LOTH doesn’t even have all 150 psalms and of the ones it does have, it doesn’t even have them in their totality! They cut out all the PG-13 parts, like the last line of ps. 136 (trad numbering). In one small way, it just goes to show how little those idiots who did the “reforming” knew about the liturgy, the Fathers and Catholic spirituality…

    That said, it is still (and I do not know why…) de jure the Divine Office of the Roman Rite and so when one prays it, they participate in the Divine Office with and for the Church, etc.

  34. Charlotte Allen says:

    Psalm 110 is my favorite Psalm, too. What good taste Pope Benedict has! The Douay-Rheims translation (which follows the Vulgate in numbering it Psalm 109) is pretty good, although it’s not in any book of hours that I know of. And there’s always the King James Bible….

  35. Brad says:

    The power of Christ Emmanuel. O Lord, your shy sheep follow you through this vale of tears. We are hungry and afraid. Please remember us. We love and thank you.

  36. I have found the Divine Office to be a never-ending source of inspiration for me. It allows me to participate in the ecclesiastical year that simply is not possible through any other means. It has also helped me to sanctify my day better and to learn about the lives of the saints. Yet the most important thing that I have taken from its recitation is that this prayer is recited by the entirety of the Church on a daily basis.

    As far as liturgical books go, I have used all kinds including a two volume 1930s Breviarium Monasticum, the Office of Our Lady (a 1962 version of the Little Office that was published with extra readings and prayers so that it would conform to the entire liturgical year), the Dominican Sister’s Office Book (contains the Dominican version of the Little Office), and a two volume 1950s Brevarium juxta Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum (Dominican Rite).

    I think that the current LOTH is useful for people who are beginners or do not know enough Latin, but I do not use because of the dreadful ICEL English translation.

    Currently, I’m using the Dominican rite breviary that I mentioned above. It is considerably shorter than the monastic breviary (9 lessons instead of 12 during Matins), but the prayers and the hymns are written in the most beautiful Latin imaginable.

  37. I have found the Divine Office to be a never-ending source of inspiration for me. It allows me to participate in the ecclesiastical year that simply is not possible through any other means. It has also helped me to sanctify my day better and to learn about the lives of the saints. Yet the most important thing that I have taken from its recitation is that this prayer is recited by the entirety of the Church on a daily basis.

    As far as liturgical books go, I have used all kinds including a two volume 1930s Breviarium Monasticum, the Office of Our Lady (a 1962 version of the Little Office that was published with extra readings and prayers so that it would conform to the entire liturgical year), the Dominican Sister’s Office Book (contains the Dominican version of the Little Office), and a two volume 1950s Brevarium juxta Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum (Dominican Rite).

    I think that the current LOTH is useful for people who are beginners or do not know enough Latin, but I do not use because of the dreadful ICEL English translation.

    Currently, I’m using the Dominican rite breviary that I mentioned above. It is considerably shorter than the monastic breviary (9 lessons instead of 12 during Matins), but the prayers and the hymns are written in the most beautiful Latin imaginable.

  38. mjballou says:

    For readers who are want to get started with this, are drowning in options, and live in St. Augustine, Florida, USA – please join me and other on Wednesday evenings at 6 p.m. at the Shrine of La Leche (part of the Mission of Nombre de Dios). We’re doing Evening Prayer to simple chant once a week. It’s a good beginning. And you’ll be doing what the Holy Father asks!!

  39. JonPatrick says:

    Does anyone know how to get the breviary on a Kindle? i see references to iBreviary but that seems to be for phones. I tried entering the web address of iBreviary but that did not work.

  40. JonPatrick,

    I don’t use iBreviary, but http://www.universalis.com works well on my Kindle.

    And it’s proprietary English translation of the psalms is much better than the (old) Grail psalms in the ICEL volumes. Also, unlike ICEL, Universalis has decent hymns, though not always the official ones.

  41. Cavaliere says:

    I started saying the Little Office of the BVM (pre-VII Dominican Rite version) a number of years ago and have loved it. As the Dominican version contains fewer changes than the Roman Rite it is fairly easy to memorize which makes it convenient for commuting. During the Crusades the Knights of St. John would say the Little Office as they rode off into battle.
    I have also began to say the Divine Office using iBreviary. If you don’t always like saying the Office silently you can listen to Lauds, Vespers and Compline sung in Latin online at Vatican Radio. http://www.oecumene.radiovaticana.org/en1/on_demand.asp?gr=ltg

  42. Daria says:

    @ dominic1955

    “To call the LOTH the Roman Office in anyway other than a legal fiction is to tell a lie. I am being somewhat tongue-in-cheek but really, if you really want to do some Office you really ought to go for some sort of version of the traditional Breviary. The LOTH doesn’t even have all 150 psalms and of the ones it does have, it doesn’t even have them in their totality! They cut out all the PG-13 parts, like the last line of ps. 136 (trad numbering). In one small way, it just goes to show how little those idiots who did the “reforming” knew about the liturgy, the Fathers and Catholic spirituality…”

    Dominic, your language above is extremely arrogant, and is the reason why many of us have ambivalent feelings about the Traditionalist crowd. If you want to win converts to pre-1962 liturgy, learn to express you opinions without calling those you disagree with liars and idiots.
    Although longing for a revised translation of the LOTH, I love our Church for giving us an office that is so well adapted to us laity, who by and large are not Latin scholars. I am thrilled that I can pray all the hours almost every day because they are much shorter than the older version. I’m also quite happy to be able to skip the line about bashing the Babylonian babies’ heads on the sidewalks. Sure, there’s a metaphorical meaning for that, but if the Church realizes that most of us cringe at this line, and in her wisdom takes it out of the breviary, then great!

  43. mjballou says:

    There are many wonderful ways to pray, sing, and recite the Office. And if you’re a lay person, you can take your choice. I’ve given workshops on chant and psalms and have one consistent piece of advice – start small! Most of us concoct ambitious programs of “all the hours,” “morning and evening prayer plus compline,” etc. And for most of us with obligations and time pressure, the programs last about one week if we’re lucky. Start with Compline (Night Prayer). After that’s a habit, add another hour. Or maybe just the psalms from that hour. God is greatly honored and pleased by all efforts and faithfulness in small things is a delight to Him.

  44. Daria says:

    @John Patrick,
    to get Ibreviary on Kindle, to their homepage from your Kindle. Scroll down about halfway and you will see a small white sign that says “Ibreviary–the app for prayer–click here and pray.” this will take you to the mobile format. You will want to make sure you have it in English, not Italian. Then make sure to save it to you kindle bookmarks so it’s easy to get to it each day.

  45. pberginjr says:

    I use Fr. Frey’s “My Daily Psalm Book” (about $7) for praying the psalms. It is arranged according to Pope St. Pius X’s cursus psalmorum (so you pray all of the canticles and psalms each week). It’s pocket size and only contains the English (in a Pian translation), but it’s a great and very affordable beginning resource. Perhaps it goes without saying, but since it is pre-conciliar, I feel that I should note that it is arranged into the traditional eight offices (Matins with 3 nocturnes, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline), not the post-conciliar Morning/Evening Prayer and Office of Readings of the LOTH.

    On a different note, Taylor Marshall has a great (and thorough) beginner’s guide to reciting the office on his blog Canterbury Tales (Which I believe Fr. Z. links to the right). He suggests beginning with the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary in English (Baronius has a great edition!) and then working up to the full Latin Breviary over a period of a few years. Go to his blog and search “Divine Office” to read it.

  46. Supertradmum says:

    As indicated by this very interesting and informative blog, many of us use many different types of breviaries. This is excellent, and as we are lay people, highly commendable. The problem comes when groups want to form and say one of the hours together and several people come with different versions. Also, when one has been using, as I do, a Latin version with an excellent translation, other forms seem less than fulfilling. I have not solved the problem of how to enter into a group saying, for example, Vespers with the newer versions, and fall back on just saying the hours myself. If anyone knows any group which does the Monastic Diurnal, besides the monks listed above, please let me know, as that would be a treat. In my travels, I have not found such a group as of yet. Most of the convents or monasteries of nuns I have visited, use modern versions, such as the Grail and Gelineau Psalms, which I learned as a child. Now, I do not care for those translations, which are very popular with the English Benedictines, as well as the translations from Stanbrook Abbey. There is the new Benedictine Breviary for Oblates, but I have not seen it and will stick to the older version I have. For history of breviary buffs and for those who want to change or start, here is an interesting site: http://www.kellerbook.com/OVERVIEW.HTM

  47. Rich says:

    Tradster, the distinction in numbering isn’t Catholic or KJV, but Greco-Latin or Hebrew, referring to whether one prefers to use the numbering from the Septuagint or the Hebrew Scriptures. It’s true that Protestant Bibles exclusively use the Hebrew numbering. But the numbering with Catholic Bibles varies, though, more TRADitionally, the Greco-Latin numbering is used.

  48. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Most of the Benedictine oblates that I know use CP though some are “4-volumers.” Busy family people tend to use SCP. Converts tend to be “4-volumers” so they can get the patristic readings in the Office of Readings (which I do at noon when I am more alert). I bring my book to work and have it there. It is easy to bring along a book with your lunch bag. Leaflet Missal company has a canvas “missal cover” which just fits the largest of the 4 volumes. And there is a pocket in front for your colored pencil.

    “My” archabbey has also published a LOTH for oblates with a weekly cycle including the psalm tones and introductions, etc. in square notes.

    The drawback of the 4 volumes is the lack of music which CP has, with great examples of how it is used in practice. That way you can get a better idea of what you would be experiencing at an abbey.

  49. Clemens Romanus says:

    I currently use the The Roman Breviary. An approved English translation complete in one volume from the official text of the Breviarium Romanum authorized by the Holy See. 1964, Benziger Bros.

    I started on the LOTH 4 vol. though.

  50. Centristian says:

    Henry Edwards:

    Thanks so much for all the details and helpful info. I think I’ll start with Christian Prayer. Having never prayed the post-Conciliar office before I’d like to experience it . I think I’ll also keep an eye out for an older Latin/English Breviary at old bookstores in the event that the ICEL translation ends up leaving me cold. I heard, I think, during a session of the USCCB (on EWTN) that the LOTH will, like the Missal, undergo a new English-language translation. I would welcome that.

  51. irishgirl says:

    I started to learn the Breviary when I was in the Third Order Franciscans (yeah, I know they’re called now the ‘Secular Order’ instead….too bad, I’ll use the ‘older’ word). I kind of learned it on my own. The fraternity I was in didn’t use it; we said-on our own-a shorter Office of Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory Bes. I had a friend from another fraternity who introduced me to the Divine Office / Liturgy of the Hours.
    Then, when I joined the Third Order Discalced Carmelites, the Office was part of our Rule. The minimum was Morning and Evening Prayer.
    I have two versions of the one volume Breviary, as well as the ‘Shorter Christian Prayer’, which I like to refer as ‘The Skinny Breviary’. I bought it when I used to go to a prayer group which always prayed Evening Prayer (Vespers) from it.
    I also have the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, which I ordered through the Fraternity of St. Peter. I’ve used that from time to time. I like praying it half in English, and half in Latin. I’ve gotten pretty good in saying the ‘Benedictus’ (Canticle of Zachary / Zachariah) in Latin!
    A friend of mine who passed away this past spring was really big on doing the Office. For several months in the spring and summer of 2002, he and I used to pray Vespers aloud in the chapel of the Parish Center. Sometimes a few other parishioners would come to join us, but more often it was only him and me. I miss him still…. :(

  52. Andy Milam says:

    I’ve been praying the LOTH since 1994. I started with the English 4 volume and eventually moved to the Latin 4 volume, due in large part to Mons. Schuler, who gave me a set in Latin.

    Recently, I started praying the Brevarium Romanum, courtesy of the FSSP. It is a wonderful work and I highly recommend it to everyone, especially since this is the official prayer of the Church, together with Holy Mass.

    Interestingly enough, when one finally grasps the Office and the Mass, one will see that they compliment each other perfectly. The call/response or antiphonal nature of the Mass is duplicated in the Office and vice versa. Look at the structure of the Prayers at the Foot, then look at the first psalm of Prime. The setup is exactly the same.

    The TLM and the Divinum Officium, pray them daily. It will constitute about 2 hours out of your day, not too much time, I think.

  53. akp1 says:

    Universalis is excellent – if you have an iphone/ipad you can pay for the app and use it on your computer as well – it has all the hours, you can choose Grail or their own translations of the Psalms, probably other options too but I can’t remember for sure. At £14.99 (when I got it) it was expensive for an app – but the whole of the Divine Office in the palm of your hand set out each day for you – no need for an internet connection – it’s well worth it. I use the book of morning and evening prayer when home, but for the other hours, and for travelling it’s great. I used to use ibreviery until they added ‘psalm prayers’ after each psalm – I’d never seen that before, plus needing to plan ahead to download the days you would need, Universalis was much better for me. I love praying the LOTH, it has been such a blessing for me.

  54. benedetta says:

    This is a beautiful reflection on the Psalms and the Liturgy of the Hours. Often when I learn of a conversion or think of many of the biographies of the saints I think in terms of the Psalms.

  55. Maltese says:

    “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind ‘You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek’”

    This is in the Traditional Latin Mass, why not the new?

    Paul VI said he wanted the new mass more like protestant worship. Bugnini, his minion, agreed.

  56. James Joseph says:

    ‘The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary’ is wonderful.

    Clearly, with Her office, ‘the Lord has done great things for us’.

    It makes me ‘become very joyful’.

  57. MarkJ says:

    I started almost 4 years ago praying the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin using the Baronius Press 1962 edition. In the morning it has required me to arise 30 minutes earlier to do Matins and Lauds, and in the evening to take an extra 15 minutes away from my evening activities (or my sleep), but the four Hours during the day only take a few minutes each, so they fit in with almost any schedule I have to keep. And keeping up this prayer schedule has been a real blessing despite loss of sleep! This edition is truly pocket-sized, so it can be carried almost anywhere.

    In the last year or so I’ve “diversified” and started using, when at my computer, a PDF version of an early 16th century Book of Hours to pray the Little Office – it’s almost the same as the 1962 version, with some regional variations. No English translation, of course, but a digitized copy of the original. I downloaded it free from the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/rr/rarebook/coll/211.html

    I also bought a facsimile edition of an early 16th century Book of Hours from Bruges, Belgium, and this is what I use when I am home. It is something I can hold in my hands and pray with… I find the beautiful illuminations a great visual aid to deepening my spirit of prayer. I got this one at “The Folio Society”, an online book club.

    Having prayed for years the post-Vatican II Liturgy of the Hours, I much prefer the traditional “Book of Hours”, even though my Latin is rudimentary… there’s something really moving about using the same version of these Psalms and prayers that saints have used for centuries. I also have recently begun reading the “Roman Martyrology” (1962 edition) before praying Prime, and am daily inspired by the heroic examples of the Martyrs.

  58. Andy Lucy says:

    I use the 1963 Collegeville Breviary, with the side-by-side Latin and English. I started with the one volume Christian Prayer, then I upped the ante to the 4 vol LOTH. I was interested in praying the 4 vol Liturgia Horarum, but found the cost somewhat prohibitive. Since I feel drawn to the older liturgy, and got the chance to get a copy of the Collegeville edition relatively inexpensively, I decided to try that. I fell in love with the literary style of the older breviary. It has also helped my Latin enormously, as the translation is on the facing page.

    I plan to retire my current Collegeville copy and replace it with a new set from Baronius Press when they finally get their new version out.

  59. n1tr0narc says:

    I consider the LOTH God’s gift to me. I discovered it as if by answered prayer on my birthday 3 years ago. I found the DivineOffice on Google and tried it and eventually got hooked. I bought the 1-volume Christian Prayer (Daughters of St. Paul version) with the 4-week Office of Reading cycle (though it does not include all the readings, just a sampling). It has become my daily companion and I use the yearly Ordo to know which and where to go about the book. I also have cheat sheets for the more common psalms and canticles especially the one used during morning prayer during solemnities and feasts and during the invitatory. I also use iBreviary or DivineOffice on my tablet when i travel or when i get the inspiration to pray the office of readings (usually before going to noon mass… imagine all the eyebrows lifting when i’m in prayer and the commentator asks us to turn off cellphones and I continue on, once even got a lady come up to me with a sign on not using our phones in church… I politely told her its my eMissal and she just left scratching her head saying “do they do that now? Can we have the daily missal on cellphones?)… the result has been a renewal in my faith, I learnt more about faith and the church in the 3 years since than my over my previous 39 years. I also started to attend the EF low-mass every Saturday. And my library is now filled with readings good for the soul… the good a habit did for me :-)

  60. Rellis says:

    Two ways to pray the Office not mentioned so far:

    http://www.divinumofficium.com has the traditional Divine Office, along with several academic versions of it, in both Latin and English. There is also an app online for the EF version.

    I pray the Anglican Breviary, which is basically the Catholic Office as it existed in 1954 (prior to the first of the Bugnini changes to the Roman Rite). I use Latin inserts for the ordinary.

    Since college, here is what I have used:

    1. Christian Prayer
    2. Four volume LOTH/Universalis/iBreviary
    3. 1961 Latin/English three volume set
    4. Anglican Breviary/Divinum Officium

  61. Fr Deacon Daniel says:


    The revision of the Divine Office was one of the great fruits of Vatican II in the Latin Church.

    Here are two shekels from the Byzantine side of the aisle. In my opinion, in addition to saying the black and doing the red, here is the easiest 4-part recipe for parish renewal in the average Latin Catholic parish:

    1. Everybody face the Lord.
    2. Chant the music.
    3. Use the incense.
    4. Pray the Daily Office as a parish.

    ALL very, very doable. If you start with these four, I believe Latin Catholic liturgical life will be renewed.

  62. Sallyr asked:
    “Do you know if the Church is going to come out with a revised text of the Liturgy of the Hours to correspond with the revisions to the texts of the Mass? I’ve been hoping that one would come out before my old copy completely falls apart!”

    I recently asked the folks at the Liturgical Institute in Chicago about this and they currently have no plans to update their excellent “Mundelein Psalter. For those unfamiliar with the MP, it is Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline for every day of the year, pointed for singing, with simplified Gregorian tones for the psalter and canticles and in fact the whole of the office except for the Scripture lesson. Aside from this great feature, it has two others that make it superior to most USA versions of the LotH; the Sunday Gospel Canticle antiphons* are correctly organized and it uses the proper hymns for the office (given both in Latin and an English translation).

    So, even though it is not being updated soon with the new translations, it is still a great replacement. Especially for a layperson who is not bound to say the whole office, it is a great volume.

    Two items that could help it would be to use the Revised Grail Psalter, which has already been approved for use in all English-language liturgies (and which is incorporated into the newly translated Roman Missal) and the newly translated collects (opening prayer of Mass; concluding prayer of the office). One of the priests at the Liturgical Institute kindly sent me a couple of booklets with the Sunday and Solemnity collects, so at least on these days I can use the better translations.

    (For some reason, the Mundlein Psalter page is not working tonight, but the url is: http://www.usml.edu/liturgicalinstitute/projects/psalter/psalter%20home%202007.htm. In addition to info on the psalter, you can download a PDF of the Invitatory (also set to music) and there is a “hymnal” with many of the hymns sung for demonstration purposes.)

    *In the Catholic Book Publishing version, for example, there is an antiphon for the Magnificat for Evening Prayer I on Sunday, a second antiphon for the Benedictus at Morning Prayer, and a third for Evening Prayer II. In fact, the correct way to use these antiphons is to use the first one during all three offices during Lectionary Year A, to use the second in Year B and the third in Year C; all three are drawn from the Gospel of the day in the respective Lectionary year.

  63. Centristian says:

    *Sigh* Either I am the world’s dumbest Catholic or “Christian Prayer” is the most perplexing mess ever devised by the Catholic Church.

    Following upon this exchange, I bought a copy. I cannot, for the life of me, figure it out. Week I? Week II? Week III? &c. Office of Readings? Guide (ha!)? And, is it just my stupidity, or are there no actual hours? No Prime, no Lauds, no Sext, no Vespers, no Compline…just “Morning Prayer” and “Evening Prayer”. Is mine misprinted, or is that all there is? I’m finding nothing but “Morning Prayer” and “Evening Prayer”! What hours are “Morning Prayer” and “Evening Prayer” supposed to be? I’m…baffled. Just baffled. Of what use is this form if you want to pray the Hours, say, midafternoon?

    Will this eventually start to make sense? Will there come an “ah-ha! I get it!” moment, at some point, or, am I expecting something more familiar to transpire that is never going to? And if not, will someone please explain to me the point of making something so simple as just “Morning Prayer” and “Evening Prayer” so insanely complicated? For heaven’s sake!

  64. ljc says:

    Does anyone know if the Little Office of the BVM is approved by the Vatican for use by Priests and religious bound to pray the Breviary? If so can it be prayed in place of one of the hours? Or would it have to be in addition to the normal hours?

    I’ve alway wanted to start saying the Little Office but I really don’t have time on top of the five hours I’m already bound to say. Thanks!

  65. Taylor says:

    I always find it interesting when the Pope says something sometimes, I have already experienced the inspiration of which he speaks. It is as if we are all in the Spirit – listening to the same, One Voice, but not hearing – only knowing and experiencing. It is as if we are at once visited and receptive and then we validate with each other our visitation.

  66. Daria says:

    You are not dumb. The breviary takes a while to figure out. The pre-Vatican II one was actually more complex than what we have now.
    It’s not so bad as it looks. Here’s some answers to some of your questions:
    Morning Prayer = Lauds
    Evening Prayer = Vespers
    Night Prayer = Compline

    The daytime hours (terce, none, sext) have been replaced by “Daytime Prayer”. However, the “Christian Prayer” 1-volume breviary you bought does not contain the full Daytime prayer psalter. You need the 4-volume breviary for that. But since the Pope wants us laity to concentrate on morning, evening, and night prayer,(lauds, vespers, compline) the book you have is fine for that.
    Next- the four week psalter, which is a repeating cycle. This week we are using week I. If ever you are ever not sure which week you should be on, just look in the front section, “Proper of the Seasons” and turn to whatever the Sunday that started this week. It says there which week of the psalter we are on.

    There’s a section in the middle of your book called the “ordinary” which has some instructions, although these are not always as clear as one would wish. If there is anything else you wish to know about how to use Christian Prayer, please look at my blog, Coffee and Canticles go to the “Getting Started” tab and I think most of your questions will be answered there. If not, write me in a comment box on any post. God bless you. http://www.dariasockey.blogspot.com

  67. MissOH says:

    Fear not! The LOTH just “renamed” the hours so Morning Prayer is Lauds, Evening Prayer is Vespers and Night Prayer is Compline. Midmorning prayer is Tierce, Mid-day is None and Mid-afternoon is Sext and as noted in a prior entry, there is no Prime as that was supressed for the Post-Vatican II office.
    You should have received a white Guide to Christian Prayer as part of your purchase as you need that to tell you the week in the psalter as well as being a guide to the Common of Saints. If yours did not come with one, there are several on-line resources and I suggest you get one for 2012. The only cost a couple of dollars. This is the site I would recommend to help you get started since if you click on the links for the various hours, it will tell you the page to go to in Christian Prayer and in the multi-volume LOTH.


    I was glad to hear the Holy Father promote the LOTH/Breviary for everyone. I prayed the LOTH for years, but when I started attending the EF mass I was on the fence. I was/am attracted to the pre-concillar office, but I don’t know enough Latin. Also, I have to attend the OF during the week so I constantly have the EF/OF liturgical calendar dissonance and the Secular Carmelite meetings use the LOTH. I don’t care for the ICEL translation and the psalm prayer…. not a fan but the length of the LOTH does fit better with my schedule. I was able to get a Monastic Diurnal so right now I pray that mostly in English. If I find I am not being consistent, I will likely start praying the LOTH from the Mundalein Psalter so at least I will be able to pray/sing the proper hymns and I have the recent Latin-English chant Compline volume by Ignatius Press.

  68. catholicmidwest says:

    Father Z,
    Thanks for this thread. I need to learn how to do this. And there are a lot of good links in here!

  69. Sword40 says:

    I have been reciting the Little Office of the BVM (latin/english) version 1904 since last July. I find it much more fulfilling than the all english 1983 issue. Plus I’m re-learning my latin.

    God Bless, and have a wonderful thanksgiving.

  70. helgothjb says:

    Fr. Z,
    Since the collect for Mass have been properly translated should they now be used in place of the old collects (opening prayer) for the LOTH? They are supposed to be the same, are they not? I cannot find an answer to this question and I need one before Advent. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  71. ContraMundum says:


    I’m with you! I have not been patient enough to figure out the “guide” to Christian Prayer, either. On the other hand, as many people have mentioned, the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an excellent starter, and it’s much simpler. It repeats about every week, with modifications for certain Holy Days and seasons.

    A little more advanced is Shorter Christian Prayer (as Gregg the Obscure mentioned), which I have succeeded in using. It takes about 4 weeks to repeat, but it’s still fairly easy to follow.

    Finally, the easiest way is to just go to Universalis.com (as again, many people have mentioned); they give you the correct prayers for each day, with no need to decode any guide. (Hmm… If Dan Brown ever repents and wants to do something useful, The Christian Prayer Guide Code might come in handy. :-) )

  72. heway says:

    When my husband and I retired to this little, dusty, cowtown about 6 years ago, we knew that we needed to do things differently. We purchased the Shorter Liturgy- about 10 copies and started a Wednesday night prayer group. This liturgy was the center piece. This prayer group has as its’ intent, to pray for vocations in our diocese and in particular our deanery. We have a pastor who lives 60 miles from here. Two years ago the pastor lived here and covered 4 other churches in an 80 mile radius. It is a lovely prayer and the idea of 2 or more praying together is truly catholic action. Other days of the week, my husband and I say it together at home. If we are lucky enough to have a weekday Mass, there are a few people who join us to say it before Mass.
    Don’t diddle over what to use, just purchase a copy and get started!
    Buy an Ordo at your local Catholic store. It will tell what to say and when to say it.

  73. dominic1955 says:

    “Dominic, your language above is extremely arrogant, and is the reason why many of us have ambivalent feelings about the Traditionalist crowd. If you want to win converts to pre-1962 liturgy, learn to express you opinions without calling those you disagree with liars and idiots.”

    You sound (note I said, ‘sound’ and not are because I do not presume to read intentions) hysterical and should read something closer before going off half-cocked.

    “Although longing for a revised translation of the LOTH, I love our Church for giving us an office that is so well adapted to us laity, who by and large are not Latin scholars. I am thrilled that I can pray all the hours almost every day because they are much shorter than the older version. I’m also quite happy to be able to skip the line about bashing the Babylonian babies’ heads on the sidewalks. Sure, there’s a metaphorical meaning for that, but if the Church realizes that most of us cringe at this line, and in her wisdom takes it out of the breviary, then great!”

    That’s all nice, but actually looking into what happened post-Vatican II and the history of the Office, what happened could hardly said to have been an actually positive development. The LOTH is still “officially” in Latin (like the NO). The Office had been translated pre-Vatican II as well. It being translated into the vernacular was not to make it well adapted to the laity. You can pray “all” the hours because three of them are now wholly or practically suppressed, one is practically mutilated out of existence (Matins to Office of Readings) and so yes, you can pray all the hours much like you get to pray all the psalms in the LOTH.

    As to the last line of ps. 136, its still in the Bible. I suppose we ought to take it out of there too…

    I prayed the LOTH for a few years, simply put, there is much more beyond.

  74. Jack Hughes says:

    PS I’m starting to think that the saying “pray as If everything depends on God but work as if everything depends on you” is really just an admission that pray does sod all

  75. Banjo pickin girl says:

    ljc, in a word, no.

    and Daria “gets it.” Brava, Daria.

  76. Marlon says:

    I also began with the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but eventually switched to the Monastic Diurnal, the day hours of the Benedictines–pre-1962. Because I regularly attend the extraordinary form of the Mass, I wanted to pray the older office because it was tied into the same liturgical year. I have found it to be a wonderful way to pray, and the English translations of the psalms in the edition I have are excellent. I bought it used through Abe Books, but here is a link to the only place I know that publishes it:

  77. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Delighted to report that the Kindle Fire version of http://DivinumOfficium.com is exceptionally easy to use.

  78. josephx23 says:

    I attend Mass in the Ordinary Form daily, and I am fortunate to live in a parish where we chant Lauds and Vespers (Ordinary Form) on weekdays. In the Liturgy of the Hours (as in the entirety of the liturgy and in the liturgical calendar as a whole), it seems to me that the sense of hope offers a tremendous evangelical advantage. The notion of time as sacred and as ordered toward God and eternal beatitude is a welcome respite from the bland, homogeneous time offered to us by secular society.

  79. Sometimes people wrack their brains, trying to come up with one of those oft-alleged “fruits of Vatican II” (Maybe especially ones like me, who attend mainly or exclusively the TLM.) It occurs to me that this thread may illustrate one of them, with a wide range of people, stimulated by a papal audience, talking about how to pray the psalms. From one of the less-quoted sections (# 84-100) of Sacrosanctum Concilium:

    Christ Jesus, High Priest of the New and Eternal Covenant . . . joins the entire community of mankind to Himself, associating it with His own singing of this canticle of Divine Praise. For he continues His priestly work through the agency of His Church, which is ceaselessly engaged in praising the Lord . . . not only by celebrating the Eucharist, but also . . . especially by praying the Divine Office. By tradition going back to early Christian times, the Divine Office is devised so that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praises of God. . . . . It is the very prayer which Christ Himself, together with His Body, addresses to the Father. Hence all who render this service are not only fulfilling a duty of the Church, but also are sharing in the greatest honor of Christ’s Spouse, for by offering these praises to God they are standing before the throne of God in the name of the Church, their Mother. . . . . . The Divine Office, because it is the public prayer of the Church, is a source of piety, and nourishment for personal prayer. . . . . the Divine Office is the voice of the Church, that is of the whole Mystical Body publicly praising God . . . . . the laity, too, are encouraged to recite the Divine Office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually.

    At any rate, there now are innumerable people all over praying the divine office individually or in small groups their parishes, filling every hour of day and night around the world. One of the two parishes I frequent has morning and evening prayer sung in the vernacular on weekdays, and the other has a morning prayer group which I find rewarding even though I separately pray the Liturgia Horarum in Latin individually. None of this would have been commonly seen prior to Vatican II.

    A key to this flowering of divine praise among laity in the Church–probably without precedence in recent history–is the variety of available opportunities. For many, the Magnificat with its one-psalm hours is a spiritual blessing. Others can pray the full monastic or Roman breviary just like monks or clerics. This thread exhibits the range of intermediate choices. Thoroughly familiar with both the new breviary and the old breviary, I can (like a high school debater) argue equally well the merits of either, but find such arguments tedious. For instance, the fact that one psalter has 150 psalms and the other only 147 is hardly relevant to the overwhelming majority of people whose vocations don’t reach either figure. Comparison of matins with the office of readings is irrelevant to the vast majority who pray neither. And so forth.

  80. To be fair, though, there were always a lot of options. The Little Office of the BVM was just one of the many pre-Vatican II non-Office offices, designed for laypeople. :)

    However, accessibility and literacy are Very Good Things. If we could just add “have actually heard of the LOTH and know people who do it”, we would be in great shape! :)

  81. Centristian says:

    To those of you who responded to my initial panic over “Christian Prayer,” thank you. Your comments are most helpful and reassurring. I will make a point to click on the links several of you have provided for further insight.

    Last night after closing the book in utter frustration, I opened it again about an hour later and determined to simply pray one of the hours best I could. In doing so, it all began to make a bit more sense to me, and I found something of the familiar framework (with expected differences) that I was used to with the old breviary all those years ago. It took a while to get all my marker ribbons placed beforehand, though. I had to read the not always completely helpful instructions in red to determine the flow of the office. I more or less got it.

    The biggest relief was that I at last discovered Daytime Prayer and Night Prayer tucked in the center of the book somewhere. Before that discovery I despaired that “Christian Prayer” was just a matter of morning and evening prayer because that’s all that was evident before I happened upon the small section with the rest of the hours. Glad to know that there are daytime hours (even if they are, apparently, all rolled into one), and that there is what amounts to Compline in “Night Prayer”. Compline was always my favorite office. “Night Prayer” seems to omit my favorite part of Compline, though, which was just after the invitatory: “Brethren, be sober and watchful, for your adversary the devil prowls about like a lion seeking those whom he may devour…” Unless that’s yet another thing I somehow overlooked.

    I don’t like that the traditional names of the hours are done away with, to be honest. That will take some getting used to. And I remain baffled by alot of other things…the cycle of weeks, the hymns, the readings. I notice “Morning/Evening Prayer I” vs. “Morning/Evening Prayer II” in some places. Don’t know what that’s all about. I trust it will all make sense one day. But that “Guide”. I need a guide to explain the “Guide” to me. My untrained eyes see only a bunch of meaningless codes.

    At any rate, panic over; on to soberly trying to figure it all out. I wonder if by the time I have made sense of it all, I’ll want to switch to the old breviary. Somebody commented that it was actually more complicated than “Christian Prayer”, but I seem to remember something more straightforward. Perhaps my mind was just more agile in its 20s than it is in its 40s.

  82. Centristian,

    “Night Prayer” seems to omit my favorite part of Compline, though, which was just after the invitatory: “Brethren, be sober and watchful, for your adversary the devil prowls about like a lion seeking those whom he may devour…”

    Actually, this Brief Reading (1 Peter 5:8-9) is retained for compline of Tuesday. The newer office has different brief readings in compline for the seven days of the week.

    I don’t like that the traditional names of the hours are done away with, to be honest.

    They haven’t been. This is just ICEL speak. In the Latin we find Ad Laudes matutinas (lauds or praise in the morning) and Ad Vesperas (vespers in the evening). In papal remarks in English, in some English speaking countries–and even in my two lowly U.S. parishes and in diocesan announcements–they’re still called Lauds and Vespers. As they surely still will be–along with Terce, Sext, None, and Compline–in the forthcoming (when, oh, when?) corrected English translation of the LOH.

    And I remain baffled by alot of other things…the cycle of weeks, the hymns, the readings.

    Of course, the biggest single change was the replacement of a 1-week psalter (or cycle) of psalms with a 4-week cycle, enabling more people to fit a greater selection of psalms into their schedules. And Christian Prayer omits the traditional hymns, largely retained in Latin from the older breviary.

    I notice “Morning/Evening Prayer I” vs. “Morning/Evening Prayer II” in some places. Don’t know what that’s all about.

    This is no change from the older breviary. There has always been First Vespers on the eve of Sundays and solemnities (1st class feasts), and Second Vespers on the evening of the day itself.

  83. nanetteclaret says:

    Having been Episcopalian before coming into the Church in an Anglican Use Catholic Parish six years ago, I have been praying Morning Prayer for many years. Those who are familiar with the 1979 Book of Common Prayer will be familiar with Morning Prayer, Prayers for Noonday, Evening Prayer, and Compline. Even though Cranmer was totally wrong in his theological approach, he did get one thing right and that was to make the seven Monastic Offices available to the laity by combining them into Morning and Evening Prayer. The BCP Offices are based upon that and use a lot of the ancient prayers, many of them from the Sarum Rite.

    The Anglican Use Catholic “Book of Divine Worship” continues the Anglican tradition of the Daily Office and can be found here:


    The Daily Office Lectionary begins on page 23 and the Daily Office itself begins on page 93. The Lectionary is divided into 2 years and gives the readings for Holy Days and Saints Days as well. It is based upon the Liturgical Season of the Church Calendar. The entire Psalter is prayed through about once every eight weeks. The entire Bible will be read through in those two years (leaving out the “begats” and parts that are repetitive). Morning and Evening Prayer follow the Church Calendar with special parts for each Liturgical Season. It’s very easy to use and the directions are all there. I’m wondering if perhaps our Holy Father is thinking that one of the treasures of the Anglican Patrimony that Anglicans will bring to the Church is the laity’s familiarity with and usage of the BCP Daily Office.

    Praying Morning Prayer, reading the corresponding Scriptures, and enjoying a mug of steaming, hot Mystic Monk coffee is the perfect way to begin each day!

  84. helgothjb says:

    Admittedly, the LOTH takes some getting use to. However, it is not as complicated as many make it out to be. The book is divided into 5 sections:
    1) The Proper of Seasons – this is where you will find all the prayers and reading that pertain to the liturgical season you are in as well as well as the prayers for soleminities. A usefull hint from this section: If you know what week you are in of that particular season (Ordinary, Advent, Lent, etc) you can turn to Evening Prayer I for that week’s Sunday and it will tell you what week you are to use in the 4 week cycle of psalms.
    2) The Ordinary – this section comes next and gives all of the prayers that are used everyday. It is also the section with all of the red, that is, it tells you how to do it.
    3) The Four Week Psalter – this section is used for the psalms and canticles that make up the majority of the prayer. There are 2 psalms (or 1 broken into two parts) and one canticle before the reading for morning and evening prayer. Then the Benedictus or the Magnificat is sung after the reading and responsory. and then there are intercesory prayers. The one week cycle for Night prayer is also part of this section at the end.
    4) The Proper of Saints – This is where you find all the prayers the are proper for feast days and memorials, optional memorials and commemorations (in Lent), or in other words, lilturgical days that are proper for a particular date each year (non-moveable). If it does not say, it is a memorial. This section will tell you what parts are to come from the next section, the Commons. If it does not say, the Paslms should be taken from the current day in the 4 Week Psalter . It is appropriate to chose a hymn for the saint you are celebrating. The readings on should be taken from the commons. It is not appropriate, although many do it, to pray everything form the 4 Week Psalter and then use the closing prayer from the Proper of the Saint.
    5) Commons – this section has all the prayers that are common for differnt types of feast, i.e., virgins, martyrs, doctors, etc. You won’t use everything unless it is a feast or solemnity.

    I find that once people usterstand this structure, the prayer of the Office becomes much easier. There are a multitude of other things to learn and many options that are different for different communities. If you have the 4 volume set, there is a great introduction in volume 1.

  85. nanetteclaret says:


    Since on another thread you indicated your fondness for traditional worship as in the Anglican Use, you might take a look at Morning and Evening Prayer in the “Book of Divine Worship,” especially Rite I for both. You will find your favorite part of Compline in the prayers for Compline. It’s also very straightforward and not confusing.

  86. Centristian says:

    @Henry Edwards:

    “This is no change from the older breviary. There has always been First Vespers on the eve of Sundays and solemnities (1st class feasts), and Second Vespers on the evening of the day itself.”

    Ah…first and second Vespers. Of course. Why didn’t I get that? When I saw the “I”& “II” on Sundays I just sort of rolled my eyes, imagining it must indicate two possible options or something (perhaps corresponding to different “weeks”), just to complicate matters further.

    “This is just ICEL speak.”

    I’ve decided I really dislike “ICEL speak”. Alot of my confusion with Christian Prayer seems to be the result of “ICEL speak” vs. the traditional terminology that I’m familiar with. Had, for example, the Sunday evening hours been dubbed “First and Second Vespers” rather than “Evening Prayer I & II”, there would have been no confusion on my part (with respect to that much, at least).

    So, really, I have to learn not only a new format but new terminology in order to make sense of everything. This will be an adventure. But I’m looking forward to broadening my understanding of the Church’s contemporary liturgy. Beyond that, I’m looking forward to it’s complete reform!

  87. UnLawyer says:

    My wife and I pray the morning and evening prayers using Christian Prayer. It fits right into just about anyone’s schedule. No one says we have to pray all the prayers throughout the day It Does seem like a puzzle at times but http://www.divineoffice.org really helps out. I have their app for my iPad, but I prefer the book. I found Divine Office for Dodos Very helpful at first (available through Amazon).

    Try it, give yourself some time, learn to use the little white book and take advantage of online resources.

  88. Also, for someone who wants to pray the traditional pre-Vatican II Divine Office in English–but can’t find a suitable copy of the Roman Breviary–there’s the Anglican Breviary (http://www.anglicanbreviary.net/). Which is a direct translation of the pre-Vatican II Roman Breviary, “put into English in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer.” Thus the most beautiful English translation you’re ever likely to see. The site has a useful FAQ page (which mentions that some TLM priests recommend it). I still use the Anglican Breviary for traditional English translations for the classical English hymns, some dating back to the time of St. Ambrose, which are still in in the Latin LOH but don’t yet appear in English translations.

    Some recommend using the “hinge hours” of Lauds and Vespers if you cannot do more. Presently, the only “good” translation of these hours for the newer office is probably Fr. Stravinskas’ Lauds and Vespers: Latin-English per Annum(http://www.staugustine.net/laudsandvespers.html) Latin on the left-hand pages, English on the right-hand. Uses the RSV for psalms and scripture readings, and nice literal translations of the intercessions, prayers, etc. A unique feature is that this volume does include English translations of the official hymns for Lauds and Vespers.

  89. dominic1955 says:


    There is also a I and II in the ’62 breviary for throughout the year and certain penitential seasons/days according to the rubrics. Learning any one of the breviaries/LOTH is pretty complicated. If at all possible (and I know this is easier said than done) the best way to learn any Office is to observe it being said by a group/community that is good at it. This is the way I learned the LOTH and after struggling with the Latin and English rubrics for the old Breviary, observing the Benedictines at Cleer Creek (granted thats the monastic Office, but it gives you an idea) and the FSSP priests gave me a much better understanding than my trying to piece it together on my own from the rubrics. Even though I got it pretty right on my own, there were a number of little errors I had that were corrected by actually seeing it in action by people who really know how to pull it off. I also got a much better sense of what the Office is and should be by seeing Benedictine’s pray it (Old and New rites) any by seeing Solemn Vespers and other Hours with ceremony.

    One thing that really needs to be brought back with the Office is its return as actual liturgy. One of the criticisms of the Office as practiced (especially in the immediate pre-Conciliar time) is that, at least in practice, it had become the priests private prayer book. This is even more so today, as even though it might be used by more groups and people in general it is often practiced as something more on the level of a devotional rather than liturgy.

    In our FSSP parish, the priests say various Hours publically in common and when possible they do so with ceremony. Some NO parishes do likewise but this is all still far from the norm.

  90. helgothjb says:

    Evidently, were can replace the opening prayer with the new translation.


    Now, if the psalms were the same translation as we use for Mass…

  91. Giambattista says:

    Here are some resources I didn’t see in earlier posts (I have, at one time or another, used all these and would recommend them):

    Lauds, Vespers & Compline according to the 1962 Breviarium Romanum – the .pdf downloads are free and the print versions are very reasonable:
    Vol 1 – http://www.lulu.com/product/hardcover/lauds-vespers-and-compline-of-the-roman-breviary-volume-i/11597066?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/3
    Vol 2 – http://www.lulu.com/product/hardcover/lauds-vespers-and-compline-of-the-roman-breviary-volume-ii/6533945?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/2

    This is a Latin/English Psalter according to the 1962 BR from 1935:

    Lancelot Andrewes Press has the Monastic Diurnal and Monastic Matins. Although they are Anglican (and reprinted by western rite Orthodox), they conform very nicely to the Breviarium Monasticum:

    Henry Edwards mentioned the Anglican Breviary. I particularly like the patristic readings in the AB because they are longer versions before Matins was paired down in 1961.

    The Diurnale Romanum and Breviarium Romanum can be found on Fraternity Publications (FSSP) website.

    I’m thinking of getting a copy of the Stanbrook diurnal from the 1920’s (which I have not used). It can be found here:
    Vol 1: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-day-hours-of-the-church-vol-1/3051012?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/2

    Vol 2: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-day-hours-of-the-church-vol-1/3051012?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/2

  92. NoraLee9 says:

    Has anyone tried Breviary.net? It’s the EF breviary with the English on one side, as well as embedded music (when one clicks). It’s $35 a year and well worth it. I was praying the Breviary using my phone in St. Pat’s. One of the ushers pounced on me for “using a cell phone.”. When I showed him what I was using it for, he ran away.

  93. ArtND76 says:

    As I type this at work on my personal laptop I have the Universalis app running like normal.

    Given my schedule and personal preferences, I bought the 4 volume ICEL LOTH from Catholic Book Publishing. I already had several copies of the 1 volume ICEL LOTH from the same place – and as several previous commenters have noted, it is extremely hard to follow and involves (at least initially) a LOT of page flipping. 2 of those page flips for morning prayer go away with the memorization of the 4 introductory psalms and the canticle of Zechariah. Another page flip goes away during evening prayer with the memorization of the Magnificat. However, even with the reduced page flips, negotiating this without a St. Joseph’s Guide for the current year is tricky at best, making for a huge distraction from the main purpose: prayer!

    On the St. Joseph’s Guides for the Liturgy of the Hours: be aware that there are 2 versions! One for the 1 volume LOTH and a quite different one for the 4 volume set. I only know of these 2, if there is yet a 3rd or 4th version of these guides for other forms of daily prayer books I haven’t seen them.

    I bought the 4 volume LOTH set because I wanted the full Office of Readings (OOR), not just selections. The last straw that pushed me to this a few years ago was hearing Bishop Darcy (of South Bend, IN, in a televised mass homily at ND Sacred Heart) refer to a passage from the OOR that I didn’t have in my 1 volume red book, and the passage was so good I just had to have it!

    So my normal practice is to say the Office of Readings in the morning (which takes only about 15 minutes), because it keeps me grounded both in scripture and in other selected readings from our Tradition (with a capital ‘T’). I intend to commit to memory the ‘complementary’ psalms for Terce, Sext and None (Psalms 120 to 128) so that I can say them at the appropriate times of the day from memory. At least, that is the intention!

    Because of its intellectual content, I find the Office of Readings to be the most satisfying, but that may just be me.

  94. GregB says:

    I’ve been praying Evening Prayer and Night Prayer for years using the Catholic Book Publishing one volume Christian Prayer:LOTH and the St. Joseph Guide. I go to a Bible study at my parish where this week we finished studying the Psalms using the Ascension Press Psalms Study Set.

  95. Cum lazaro says:

    Going back to Taylor’s first comment above on looking for a Latin/English psalter, Lulu.com has a Book of Psalms with the Latin psalms facing the Coverdale English translation. (The Coverdale translation is that used in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer -so presumably can now be regarded as part of the Ordinariate’s Patrimony!)

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