REQUEST: Old Roman Breviary & new Liturgy of the Hours – compare, contrast, discuss

12_04_11_breviaryUnder another post this comment appeared:

I ask Fr. Z if a discussion of the old breviary and the LOTH is a rabbit hole. If so, I ask him to post about a comparison between the old and the LOTH and allow comments.

It isn’t a rabbit hole under it’s own post!

So… there it is, folks.

Roman Breviary and Liturgy of the Hours…

Compare, contrast, discuss.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. samwise says:

    Catholic Radio has a reverent live reading of LoTH which I tune into with my children. It helps them memorize prayers like the Benedictus each morning, excerpts from the Church Fathers, Pope Benedict XVI,, etc.

    While its not in Latin, they do play Latin hymns occasionally (Salve Regina, Ave Maria, etc.). It is a good approach to the Liturgy of the Hours in my opinion.

  2. bourgja says:

    I prefer the Roman Breviary because there is very little text that is not based in Scripture, or an ancient hymn. One of my least favorite parts of the new Liturgy of the Hours are the intercessory prayers, which is also one of my least favorite parts of the Mass in the ordinary form of the Roman rite as well.

  3. Argument Clinician says:

    I am a diocesan seminarian who spent two years praying the Liturgy of the Hours in English, and the last three years praying the Breviarium Romanum (In Latin, of course). Here are my thoughts on the comparison:

    Calendars: One objection or difficulty raised with using the older Breviarium is that, for most people (clerical, religious, and lay), the usual Mass is in the ordinary form, and the older breviary introduces a certain “schizophrenia”, especially regarding the disparity of calendar. I have found the disparity to be a minor annoyance that abates over time. On the other hand, praying the liturgy according to the old calendar provides huge benefits by teaching those elements of our worship that were removed in the new calendar. I know much more about the Church’s mind on Pentecost, Passiontide, Septuagesima, etc. precisely because I have prayed the old Office, even while I still usually attend Mass according to the Novus Ordo.

    Communal Prayer: I am not certain about the specifics for those bound to the Office, but I do not find the switching back and forth troublesome (LotH for communal offices, BR for individual recitation). I do not “double” the recitation of Lauds and Vespers, but I may begin to do that when I am ordained a deacon. If the Office is devotional (as it is for a diocesan seminarian), I don’t find this a major difficulty.

    Time Required: The time requirement for the BR (especially the morning hours) is a big change, but it can be made incrementally (especially by one who is not bound to the recitation of the Office). I began by adding the little hours one by one, and then switching Matins, and finally Lauds and Vespers (when I am not in community, of course). After a period of acclimation, I do not find the time requirement burdensome. Perhaps that perception will change with priestly ministry, but I find the BR, even in its entirety, quite manageable for now.

    Latin Language: As I said above, I prayed the Office in English for two years before starting in Latin. I have found this a good way to become comfortable with the Psalms, so that the switch to Latin does not trouble the mind so much. After a while of praying in Latin, I generally do not have too much trouble with comprehension–the Matins Patristic readings are the hardest part–and my Latin has markedly improved. And my comfort with the expression of our faith in Latin is a HUGE benefit. I have begun to pray individual lines from the Gospels or Psalms in mental prayer, and things like Saint Thomas’ Eucharistic hymns maintain so much more of their beauty and power in the original. But I do think it is a good idea to become familiar with the Psalms in the vernacular.

    Familiarity with the Psalms: To me, this is the most convincing reason to pray the old Office. The four-week psalter just does not yield the familiarity that the traditional one-week psalter affords. (Not to mention the verses and whole psalms that are simply trimmed from the LotH!) I would much rather that priests and seminarians pray the old Office, even in vernacular, for the benefit of this familiarity.

  4. John Gerardi says:

    I’m only a layman, but I see in my priestly friends and acquaintances the way in which their liturgical prayer life forms their personal prayer life. I’ve been to a number of events lately where a priest was called upon to lead the proceedings with a prayer, often one that is extemporaneous. I notice that priests formed with the old ICEL translation and the English Liturgia Horarum pray a certain way; that younger priests formed with the corrected, 2011 ICEL translation pray a different (i.e., much better) way; and that priests steeped in the Breviarium Romanum and the traditional Mass pray another (i.e., even better) way. The language they use, the ways in which they think about and approach and structure the act of praying, tend to mirror their liturgical life.

    That’s why I think the Latin of the Breviarium is so significantly important, and why Vatican II strongly urged clerics to keep praying the office in Latin (Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 101). If you think about it, how many hours total will a priest spend praying the Office in his life? It adds up to a pretty huge number, pretty quickly. If all of that time is spent reading the casual and imprecise English of the New American Bible, the Revised Grail Psalter, and bad ICEL English, it’s going to produce a certain kind of spiritual life, a certain kind of person, a certain kind of priest. If all of that time is spent reading the Vulgate and Ecclesiastical Latin, how could it fail to have a profound impact?

    Some have referred to the Latin language as the Roman Rite’s version of the iconostasis–while our rites are not screened off from physical view, they remain shrouded in mystery through the use of an ancient, set-apart language. A priest praying the Office in Latin must, every day, “pass through the iconostasis” every time he prays–getting out of his comfort zone, into a different, sacred “space” of prayer. I think that’s really powerful.

  5. Richard McNally says:

    I’ve been praying the Brevarium Romanum for the last two years after using LOTH for 38 years. Some thoughts…
    I like praying all 150 psalms in a week. They recur and I am beginning to know when and which psalm is which. Weekly repetition is helpful to praying the psalms and not merely reciting them as is the discipline of praying the psalms in Latin.
    The hymns are difficult to grasp in Latin but I have the Baronius edition, so there is an English text, though I’ve seen other English translations of the hymns which I preferred.
    Praying all the hours, at a time appropriate to the hour can be difficult occasionally but not impossible.
    I’d have to say I miss the patristic readings and the readings from the saints in the Office of Readings.
    I agree with bourgja regarding the intercessory prayers.
    For several reasons about a year ago I thought that it might be good to return to the LOTH. I tried it for a week or two and then took up the BR again. There’s something more substantial about it.
    Two years ago before I switched from the LOTH to the BR I prayed the office on the LiveMass website of the FSSP just to make sure that I could do it and before making the plunge of buying the Baronius BR.
    In my present ministry I can only occasionally celebrate Mass in the UA. Praying the breviary is a great connection to the Church’s tradition in my circumstance.

  6. Gregorius says:

    I think most people should make at least part of the Liturgy of the Hours (LotH) a staple of their prayer life. It is definitely more immediately accessible text-wise than the Roman Breviary. After that, I think parish church choral celebrations and individuals that can should make use of the Roman Breviary.
    Some pros and cons about the Roman Breviary, in no particular order:
    Vernacular (in the LotH)is easier to read than Latin, though laity not bound to the Office can either get a breviary with a translation, or (at least for English speakers) use, say, an Anglo-Catholic translation of the Roman office.
    People who don’t want to flip pages a lot or who are confused by the bajillion options in the LotH (many people have to buy a separate guide-booklet to tell them what pages to use) might be better served by the Roman Breviary.
    On that note, I find the texts of the Roman Breviary correspond to the feast day better than the LotH (which for memorials often is only an antiphon and a collect, while most of the other stuff comes from the daily office). On the other hand, it’s the traditional calendar, which some might not like if they then have to see something different at daily OF Mass.
    The Roman Breviary goes on a one-week cycle, so if one sticks with it, they will become more familiar with the psalms faster. On the other hand, this makes the offices of the Roman breviary slightly longer, though it slightly balances because the current (’61) version is missing some other parts.
    The Office of Readings of the LotH has longer, (mostly) more substantial readings from many more wonderful authors. On the other hand, the Roman Breviary’s cycle of Scripture goes back to at least the 3rd or 4th century, and I think it very arrogant of the Concilium to think they know better than most churchmen throughout history (same thing applies to the traditional vs. modern Mass Lectionary).
    The Office of Readings (Matins) in the Roman Breviary, even in the shortened 20th century version, is still very long with 9 psalms (not counting the invitatory psalm 94). And the ’61 version unfortunately cut some of the lessons short (literally in some places they just cut it off in the middle) leaving some confusing readings during prayer time. You can find the complete lessons in the older offices complied on the Divinum Officium website, and I also hear there also a book somewhere with the lessons…
    You will find differences in translation between the LotH Office and the OF Mass. The Old breviary and the Old Mass have almost identical texts, and the psalms and readings you read in the Old Breviary will help you understand the Propers of the Old Mass, opening up a whole deeper level of active, contemplative participation.
    The best way to learn a language is immersion. The Roman Breviary provides that immersion experience. Besides the rareness of Latin LotH addressed in the last post, the Latin in the LotH is different than the more culturally-ingrained Latin of the older breviaries.
    The exception to this is the Latin hymns, which were apparently mutilated under Pope Clement VIII centuries ago and restored after VII in the LotH. But you’d never know unless you have a Latin Liturgy of the Hours. And good luck getting music for it…
    Which leads to the last point: The Roman Breviary is ultimately better for singing than the LotH, which is ultimately what VII wants restored. Though Sunday vespers is in that red one-volume LotH, it is much easier to find all the music for most offices for the Roman Breviary, and since the texts change less, its easier to pick up.

  7. Clemens Romanus says:

    The best part of the traditional Office is that all the music is available, the Diurnal hours in the Antiphonale Romanum, Matins in the Nocturnale. The chants of the new Office are hard to find in a single resource (not counting the Mundelein Psalter nor the private Les Hebrew Gregorienes). I do like the troparion-style third antiphon/Apocalypse canticle of Vespers of the Liturgia Horarum.

  8. I pray both but in English or rather I fulfill my obligation with the English LotH (British version not American) and supplement that with the psalms from the RB. I have an English, one volume translation of the RB from 1962 which uses an earlier version of the Grail psalms. I also have a three-volume English and Latin version of the 1962 RB.

    Using both means I have come to love and depend upon the psalms. I find the LotH disjointed compared to the 1962 RB. Some psalms are cut or have verses missing. Other psalms are over-used (e.g Pss 117 and 50). There are certain intercessions that do not make sense (e.g. on a Tuesday, Evening Prayer in week 4). The RB gave greater exposure to Scripture but the LotH has better Patristic readings (usually). I like the sense given by the RB that one is praying the psalms in some kind of order.

    All in all it’s a bit of a mess. Perhaps what most annoys me is that there was an English, single volume version available and they went and designed a much larger, three volume version instead. Committees should not do design.

  9. Andrew1054 says:

    I have a deep love for the Office of Readings in the LOTH. Yes, there is room for improvement but the treasury of readings from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and other saints can’t be beat. A lifetime of spiritual reading at your fingertips.

    I also Iike the simplicity of the LOTH. I do wish they would reform it in some respects (like not cutting psalms etc.). But I think it’s generally good and more accessible than the old office.

    I was speaking with an elderly Sister a while ago and she had said that before the Council they only did portions of the Office and most of their prayer was actually the Little Office of the BVM ( a beautiful prayer as well). Some elderly priests I’ve spoken to said the old office became a burden because of its complexity and rankings of feasts etc. That critique reminded me of my Anglican days when I read in the original 1549 Book of Common Prayers preface that the Roman Office had become so complex “…that many times there was more business to find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out.” Maybe the simplicity of the LOTH is a blessing not to be overlooked.

  10. Benedict Joseph says:

    I’ve used the LOTH for almost twenty years and in the past several years have wondered about switching to the Roman Breviary. My greatest reservation with such a practice has been regarding the disjointed calendar.
    When I saw this opportunity for discussion opened up I was excited to see what the commenters would say, and I have profited from them. But admittedly the one that gave me great satisfaction was Br. Tom Forde’s mention of the Tuesday Evening, week IV intersessions.
    This has been a thorn in my posterior for two decades:
    “Do not direct world leaders to give attention only to the needs of their own nations, – but give them, above all, a respect and a deep concern for all peoples.”
    Besides the awkwardness of expression, was this written as a petition to the Omniscient and Almighty God who made all things – seen and unseen?
    Who came up with this theologically, let alone grammatically?
    Who let it through?
    I want names.
    It appears to me to be a quintessential example (yes, they are legion) of all that is wrong with post-conciliar liturgy. Absurdity posing as theology.

  11. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    The Liturgy of the Hours (LOTH) is the center of my daily liturgical life and spiritual life. Before comparing the Breviarium Romanum (BR) to the LOTH, I would like to first ask which of these two best fulfills the theology of a Daily Office (DO), next which best reaches the goal of the DO for most people, and then the advantage of one over the other.

    To start with the theology, which I have found best presented in Reinhard Meßner, Einführung in die Liturgiewissenschaft, 2nd ed, Paderborn: 2009, Schönigh Verlag; chapter 4 Die Tageszeitenliturgie, pp 227-301. Chapter Five in Sacrosanctum Concilium and the The General Instruction of the LOTH are also good for the theology of LOTH.

    The LOTH is the prayer of Christ, not only the prayer used by Our Lord (e.g. Ps 22 on the Cross), but also the prayer which He prays as High Priest continually before the throne of The Father. The Epistle to the Hebrews makes clear that Our Lord The High Priest has two duties in Heaven in the Tabernacle not made by human hands: i) to offer perpetually His sacrificial Blood to His Father (and the Mass joins this sacrifice) and ii) to pray perpetually as intercessor for us before the Throne of The Father (which the LOTH joins). And His prayers, so in the theology cited above, are the Psalms and Canticles.

    In turn, The LOTH is the prayer of Christ’s Bride, The Church, who joins her Spouse’s prayer before The Father. And V2 makes clear: the whole Church joins this prayer – be she clergy, cloistered religious, religious in apostolic life, and the entirety of the laity. Just as when a priest offers Mass, and by so doing joins the sacrifice of Christ, so when anyone prays the DO, he joins the prayer of Christ. When we pray the LOTH, we are not just praying the prayers that Our Lord prayed and prays, and we are not just praying at the same time He prays; but rather when we pray the LOTH, He is praying the LOTH. Rather profound I think.

    The LOTH is also our own prayer, which in the spirit of anamnesis we weave His prayers, the Psalm and Canticles, into our own daily life. We “sanctify the day” – our day, the Church’s day – when we pray the LOTH.

    I will next discuss the goal of the LOTH.

  12. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    Now about the Goal: The goal of the LOTH is to make the daily liturgical prayer commonplace in a Catholic’s life, as common as the Rosary. The goal the Church has set for us is to have as many Catholic people as possible praying a daily liturgical prayer. And the people want something more than just daily Mass. Meßner is particularly good about this history: When the daily office for diocesan clergy and laity disappeared in the Western Church in the 6th Century, a proliferation of private devotions happened, some of them quite good, none of them as good as the Church’s official Daily Prayer. Ever notice how the Eastern Church lacks this proliferation of private devotions? That is because she kept a daily office for her diocesan clergy. No lesser mortal than that old Zwinglian Thomas Cranmer paved the way for a daily Office for everyone, not just monks, in 1549; it was called “The Book of Common Prayer”. We Catholics caught up with him in 1971.

    The goal is to have an office not just for cloistered religious, but for everyone. For people plowing fields, feeding children, working in soup kitchens, writing sermons, performing triple by-pass operations, and painting Sistine Chapels.

    I will next compare the the BR and the LOTH with respect to this theology and this goal.

  13. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    I will now compare the LOTH and the BR.

    1. The BR is a monastic office, an office for cloistered religious, designed for the formation of cloistered religious. It is not an office for diocesan clergy, religious in apostolic works, and laity in their quotidian workaday lives. They too need an Office for their formation. And that office is not the BR but the LOTH, by design. Pope St Pius V made this monastic office, the BR, obligatory for diocesan clergy. Pope St. Pius X was the first to see this Office needed serious reform; Venerable Pope Pius XII also saw this. What these two popes began, V2 completed.

    2. The BR is not the traditional office. All the historians of the Office – Baumstark, Bradshaw, Taft, Campbell, and Meßner. – prove that the early Church, East and West, had an Office for diocesan clergy and laity. (I think Baumstark made a mistake calling it a “Cathedral Office”.) This Office was preserved, in her wisdom, by the Eastern Church; V2 brought it back for the Western. The LOTH is also the prayer of the Apostles; The Acts of the Apostles show them observing of Terce, Sext, an Nones. That means that a lay office has been around for twenty centuries. And if twenty centuries isn’t a tradition, the I don’t know what a tradition is. What is more, the Apostles were in the habit of the Elder Brother’s daily prayer, eventually taking the shape of the Amidah. And that Jewish daily prayer goes back to Erra – twenty five centuries.

    The BR might be traditional for cloistered monks; not for the rest of us. I too like tradition, and when I pray the LOTH, I’m praying an office of over two millennia old

    3. BR is easily becomes spiritual dyspepsia. Taft quotes a scholar about the medieval office. “‘Medieval monastic life suffered from sheer liturgical exhaustion, from overnutrition and consequent spiritual indigestion.’” So also, I respectfully submit, is the BR. Too much in too short a time, with no chance of anamnesic incorporation of the Psalms an Canticles into modern life. The LOTH overcomes this dyspepsia and lack of time.

    Even if the BR were not spiritual dyspepsia, it will never be broadly popular, it will ever be adopted by everyday catholics for their daily prayers. And so the goal — what the Church has set that everyone joins the Bride as she joins Our Lord the High Priest in prayer – will not be reached for most people by the BR.

    To be clear, if someone who prays the BR doesn’t have these problems – has the time to pray intellectum illumina, affectum infamma and to pray digne, attente, ac devote – I can’t complain. Most folk don’t.

    I confess that I plan to devote my remaining years to the making widespread the practice of praying the LOTH. I have set up a FB Group for this purpose. The good Daria Sockey’s book, The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, is the best book for everyday folk to learn this prayer.

    I have offered these reflections in an irenic spirit, according to my best lights. I have written these reflections quickly, with doubtless typos and lumbering prose. My regrets for this.

  14. Romuleus says:

    Every morning, before I start my day, I grab my coffee and I pray the BR in Latin and English. Matins and Lauds take about 45 minutes total on most days; 1st and 2nd Class Feasts take about an hour. I have a demanding stressful job working more than 40 hours a week. I find the time. It’s part of my daily routine.
    I tried the LOTH. Not the same. Much like the Roman Canon vs EP 2. Something seems missing. I like the one week psalter.

  15. ChesterFrank says:

    I pray the LoTH and have for around 20-years. Mine is the 4-volume set published by Catholic Book Publishers. I bought it because the publisher had the name “Catholic”, and with that I knew it was for the right religion. It also was affordable, and at the time I didn’t even know the BR existed. While I like the BR for its historical aspects, and its artwork, and that it can include Latin/English: I wouldn’t switch. The Latin, I could not learn simply by comparing the two texts. That not the proper way to learn a language. Also, its schedule does not fit the Mass that I currently attend. I don’t go to the Mass I wish I could attend: I go to the Mass that I can attend. For me, some one in a pew, the LoTH makes more sense.

  16. Romuleus says:

    John G says: “Some have referred to the Latin language as the Roman Rite’s version of the iconostasis–while our rites are not screened off from physical view, they remain shrouded in mystery through the use of an ancient, set-apart language. A priest praying the Office in Latin must, every day, “pass through the iconostasis” every time he prays–getting out of his comfort zone, into a different, sacred “space” of prayer. I think that’s really powerful.”


  17. Romuleus says:

    I do not particularly like the English translation provided by the Baronius Press BR. Prefer the Douay-Rheims version which is close to a word-by-word translation of the Latin.

  18. Romuleus says:

    Sid: Both the LOTH and the BR are approved prayer of the Roman Rite. The BR is for everyone, not just clergy. Not sure what you were trying to accomplish with your posts.

  19. Andrew1054 says:

    I agree 100% about many of the intercessions. They are often wordy, utterly forgettable and meaningless (like Prayers of the Faithful at Mass). Over the years I’ve done 2 things instead of the intercessions (I’m a layman so I’m not bound to say the Hours exactly according to the rubrics):

    a) say and Our Father and a decade of the Rosary while praying in my heart for the Church, Pope, the world, friends and family etc.


    b) using the Great Litany from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (see below). I find this litany covers everything. Is traditional and beautiful. Repeating it daily really gives you a love for the Church.

    The Litany of Peace or Great Litany
    The people respond with Lord, have mercy, after each petition.

    In peace, let us pray to the Lord.

    For the peace from above and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

    For the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.

    For this holy house and for those who enter it with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.

    For pious and Orthodox Christians, let us pray to the Lord.

    For our Archbishop (Name), for the honorable presbyterate, for the diaconate in Christ, and for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord.

    For our country, for the president, and for all in public service, let us pray to the Lord.

    For this city, and for every city and land, and for the faithful who live in them, let us pray to the Lord.

    For favorable weather, for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord.

    For those who travel by land, sea, and air, for the sick, the suffering, the captives and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

    For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger, and necessity, let us pray to the Lord.

    Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and protect us, O God, by Your grace.

    Deacon: Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

    People: To You, O Lord.

  20. Chon says:

    I use the Mundelein Psalter, but pray the indicated Psalms, etc. (without deleted verses) from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, which I think is a much better translation. It takes two books, but it works. Sometimes I also read the patristic readings from the usual four volume set. I love the Mundelein Psalter because it’s so much easier to figure out, and I could learn the hymns by singing along online.

    For a while I tried using the Monastic Diurnal and/or the Antiphonale Monasticum, but I realized there was no way this was going to happen. Too confusing, and I don’t need any excuses to not pray!

  21. Chon says:

    Andrew1054: What a great idea. Thank you!

  22. Geoffrey says:

    @BenedictJoseph: The original Latin is “Fac ut regéntes non ad solam suam natiónem ánimos inténdant, * sed cunctos revereántur ac de ómnibus sint sollíciti”. An alternate translation is: “Make rulers to direct their minds not only to their own nations, but that they may show respect and concern for all”. Not sure if this helps or not!

    I have prayed the Divine Office in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Liturgy of the Hours) on and off for over 20 years, and daily for at least 10. For a few Lents, I experimented praying Compline in the Extraordinary Form. As soon as the African edition was published, I promptly purchased it. It has the Revised Grail Psalter and the Gospel Canticle antiphons that correspond with the three year cycle of readings, as well as a small bit of Latin. The USA and UK versions are still very outdated.

    If I ever miss a day or even an hour, I feel like I’m missing something. Is the LOTH perfect? No, but that is mostly due to translation issues. I look forward to when ICEL completes its revision and gives us the proper hymns in the vernacular. This is really where the English edition of the LOTH is lacking. I would also like to see the psalms of imprecation restored in some way. Tackle that issue with some sound catechesis. The “General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours” is a beautiful document, particularly when it explains how to pray the psalms.

    I should add that I am a layman, and therefore am not bound to pray the Divine Office. But, as a lover of the Sacred Liturgy, this is a way to be involved in liturgical prayer, either in addition to or in lieu of daily Mass. It is particularly wonderful to celebrate the seasons and feasts of Mother Church. Praying the LOTH daily during Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter really helps me to appreciate and “get a lot out of” these liturgical seasons.

    I own a few breviaries for the Extraordinary Form. I appreciate it, particularly the texts of the offices of Septuagesima, which is sadly missing in the Ordinary Form. I also like the “preces” at Vespers. But the length of each hour and the complexity of the rubrics are something I do not have the time to tackle at present.

    I also regularly Mass in the Ordinary Form and sparingly in the Extraordinary Form. I like the “connection” between the Mass and the Divine Office. I have never been one to attend only the EF Mass on a Sunday, as I feel like I am missing something in the OF Mass. So, I would attend both. I think the same would go for the Divine Office. If I ever “convert” to the EF Divine Office, I fear I would feel that I am “missing” something. If I take up the Baronius Press breviary in my sunset years, as I often consider, I fear I will miss my “old friend” that has become the LOTH.

    I do not have any issues with the 4-week psalter; each time I pray a psalm, there is still familiarity. All 150 psalms in one week at this point in my life would be a bit of an overload.

    Sorry for rambling! Suffice it to say, I love the Divine Office. After learning that the saintly Cardinal Meisner died with his breviary in his hands, I pray that I go the same way. Deo volente!

  23. Sid Cundiff in NC – also in an irenic spirit: might you be confusing the Benedictine Office with the RB? The former was longer and repeated many psalms and of course it was chanted. The RB was the prayer of the Roman clergy attached to either St Peter’s r St John Lateran and it, along with the Roman Missal, was spread through the Church largely by the Franciscans, replacing local variatiants. Still the various tumults of history lead to different local Churches using variant Offices e.g. the Gallican in France. I have read that in the early 20th Cent. the Holy Father reformed the RB so that psalms were not repeated during the week (unless there was a feast) among other changes.
    As for the post-Conciliar ‘reform’ I have never heard that the early Church prayed the psalms over a month long period, excluded parts of those psalms nor treated New Testament prose texts as if they were psalms.
    I don’t think the length of the Office when said in private is onerous (my personal experience having prayed both LotH and the RB while engaged in full-time ministry as a chaplain to a school an later a university). Sung offices are long but they are for religious bound to that. (Capuchins reduced chant to a monotone so as to shorten the Office and leave more time for personal prayer). Lay people praying the Office can include or omit as necessity demands – they are under no obligation. A number of the communities in my province (Ireland) pray the LotH with the people – not always as prayerful as when we say it together as a community alone!

    What might have been done instead:
    Simplify the rubrics around feasts etc. (That has been done but might have gone further).
    A more judicious pruning of the Sanctoral cycle (rather than the hacking it got).
    Promote vernacular translations or bi-lingual editions of the RB for the laity.
    Make parts of the RB optional for diocesan clergy (and for the laity of course) e.g. some of the day hours.

  24. padredana says:

    Sid, the BR is not only for monastics. The Monastic Office is for monastics. The BR is is for clergy. Not sure where you got your information from, but it certainly isn’t rooted in history or the teaching of the Church.

  25. Clemens Romanus says:

    As far as the Intercessions go, Solesmes has a neat little book out, Prières Litaniques, that sets several ancient litanies (the Deprecatio Gelasii, one from the Stowe Missal, etc.) to chant. These are divided and used at Vespers/Lauds. I don’t see why a laymen couldn’t use these.

  26. jesuitschooled says:

    I’ll just add a brief comment since I do have experience with both and I’m a Diocesan Priest. I started with the LOTH, then in Theology switched to the BR for a time. It was definitely fruitful but the disparity of calendar and the requirement to pray one in entirety once ordained pushed me back to the LOTH. Now, with the schedule that I have, it would be nearly impossible for me to pray the BR given the time constraints. I do have a unique schedule as opposed to many. I teach full time and am the parochial vicar at two parishes. I also attend graduate school once a week, coach soccer at the high school, and play in a community orchestra so my time is very limited. I work 7 days a week and do not have a day off. Therefore the BR just isn’t practical. However, when that assignment changes and my schedule opens up more because I have more control over it, I am contemplating a return to the BR for spiritual reasons. My two cents.

  27. Sid Cundiff in NC says:


    padredana the BR is not only for monastics. The Monastic Office is for monastics. The BR is is for clergy. Not sure where you got your information from, but it certainly isn’t rooted in history or the teaching of the Church.
    He who has read Anton Baumstark, Robert Taft, Paull Bradshaw, Stanislaus Campbell, and Reihard Meßner is rooted in history, and knows the BR is monastic. He who has read Sacrosanctum concilium and the GILOTH is rooted in Church teaching. Yet I’ll hear your argument and evidence, padredana; cite your historical sources and your Church documents. I’d like to read them.

    Romuleus : Both the LOTH and the BR are approved prayer of the Roman Rite.
    I’m not questioning this.

    The BR is for everyone, not just clergy.
    Padredana (above) disagrees with you. Pope St. Pius V obligated clergy to pray an monastic office. And “everyone” includes laity who are ploughing fields, feeding children, working in soup kitchens, writing sermons, performing triple by-pass operations, and painting Sistine chapels. Do these folks have the time, or even the interest, to pray an Office written for cloistered religious? Don’t they need an Office for their own formation, situations, and circumstances?

    Br. Tom Forde OFM Cap :
    might you be confusing the Benedictine Office with the RB
    No. See the historians of the office who I have quoted for padredana, above.

    As for the post-Conciliar ‘reform’ I have never heard that the early Church […] treated New Testament prose texts as if they were psalms.
    NT scholarship confirms that the Canticles from Phillipians, Ephesians, and Colosseans are written in verse, and were hymns of the early Church. The Canticles taken from Apocalypse of St. John of Patmos likely are the same. So I like that I am praying what the early Church was praying, and thus tradition.

    Andrew1054 , let’s see if the new translation, due out the start of the next decade, resolves you concerns.

    I am grateful for the irenic spirit of the BR defenders. I am grateful to those comments that support the LOTH; it’s good not to be alone. And I thank Fr. Z for posting this topic about the BR and the LOTH.

  28. Liam says:

    This is not a contrasting between the BR and LOTH. Rather this is just an observation.

    I pray the hours of Lauds, Vespers, and Compline daily. For years I went back and forth between the 1960 BR and the LOTH. I found benefits and challenges in both.

    However, one day just for kicks I set opened the Brevarium link on my iMass app and selected Divino Afflatu just for kicks. Well…I now could never conceive of praying the Office in its newer forms. I tried the pre-Pius X form for a day and could see why he altered the Psalter. I will stick with his Office.

  29. Geoffrey says:

    Here’s a quibble: “The Roman Breviary” is the official liturgical book for the Divine Office, just as “The Roman Missal” is the official liturgical book for the Mass. It makes no difference whether it is according to the Ordinary Form or the Extraordinary Form. Both forms have their own breviary, just as both forms have their own missal (and ritual and pontifical, etc.).

    That said, where did the term “Liturgy of the Hours” come from? Not Vatican II. I checked. Is it supposed to be synonymous with “Divine Office” or “Roman Breviary”?

  30. Gil Garza says:

    I’m a simple layman. I used to pray the Lectionary and the Mass and the LOTH and the OOR every day but I stopped. It was too confusing and too complicated.

    Now, I just pray the 62 MR and the RB. It’s simple. The prayers of Holy Mass, Holy Bible and the Breviary all go together like it was made for each other. I can follow the prayers of the Holy Mass which explain to me the Bible readings of the day. The Homilies and the prayers from the RB help me to deepen my conversation with God because it “goes with” the Missal.

    Let’s see.

    With the new Mass, I’ve got Sundays A, B and C readings to follow, but the Readings rarely go with the Mass propers. Then I have the LOTH which doesn’t match with anything. The OOR is entirely separate as well.

    Weekdays have Year I and II. The readings for weekdays never follow the Sunday progression. This is maddening for someone who goes to Daily Mass. At some point, you just stop paying attention because it’s so confusing if you try to follow it. It’s like not even the prayers go with each other, even though they’re often holy sounding.

    The weekday readings never go with the Mass propers unless it’s a Feast that has its own readings. The LOTH and the OOR, again are on their own track.

    Who can keep track of all that?

  31. RichR says:

    I’ve prayed the LotH in English and Latin, the Roman Breviary, and the Monastic Diurnal. They each have their strengths and weaknesses. For a layman attending the OF, I find the best of both worlds is to pray Compline from the BR and everything else from the Latin Liturgia Horarum.

  32. oklip955 says:

    I am a consecrated virgin living in the world per canon 604. During the Rite of Consecration the breviary is handed by the Bishop to the Virgin. My consecration was during a TLM and the breviary is the Roman Breviary in English by Benz Bros 1950. I have permission ( I was consecrated in 2003) to use the old Breviary in English. I do not have permission to use the old Breviary in Latin due to my lack of knowledge of Latin. I do switch to the LOH when saying it with a group. I much prefer the longer Matins with 3 nocturns and 9 psalms. The expanded reading over the 1962 gives you a much better knowledge of scripture and the saints.

  33. RichR says:

    Something for readers to also keep in mind: praying the Office is something you have more control over as an individual. If you want it more solemn, you don’t need to ask a priest to do it for you. I say this because there are many who are hoping for a more reverent Mass (in either form), but have an uphill battle in front of them. The Office can be a great way to keep your sanity amongst the trials of these days.

  34. RichR says:


    I believe they gave the Office the name “Liturgy of the Hours” to emphasize the proper ordering of prayer at the appropriate hour it was assigned. The title did come out of nowhere, but that doesn’t mean it is a new concept. As I’m sure you’re aware, before the reforms of Paul VI, priests would pray different hours of the Office in amalgamated lumps (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce in one sitting, or even pray all the Hours for two days just before and after midnight, etc…,) because they could get the obligation satisfied. Bishops, being priests themselves, knew this needed to change. It was bizarre to be praying about the “morning dew” when the sun was going down at dusk. Your prayer should accord with Nature, thus bringing even Time itself to bear with Catholic worship.

  35. theloveofwisdome says:

    What bearing does this document have on the translation of the TLM (Extraordinary Form) and its celebration in the vernacular???

  36. JesusFreak84 says:

    One of my reasons for preferring the 1962 BR might be a bit…”unorthodox.” (Which I’m trying to convince myself is a play on words, but alas.) I primarily attend a Ukrainian-Catholic parish, but cobbling together ALL of the books necessary to pray anything than Prime and the Little Hours in that Rite is nearly impossible. Eastern Christian Publications publishes translations of a lot, (according to the Ruthenian calendar, but close enough; my UGCC missal is enough to supplement the differences,) but if you want to pray Matins, Lauds, Vespers, Compline, or the Midnight hour? SOL. Compline is one of the few hours I do consistently, yet it’s poorly documented for the English-only laity how to pray it.

    All that said, the 1962 BR also counts Sundays mostly the same way they do in the East, x Sunday after Pentecost, Ascension THURSDAY, etc., so if I have to say a Roman hour, the old version in the west matches the calendar I follow in the east far more closely. There’s almost zero connection between the OF’s DO and its eastern brethren, however, which is more jarring than it probably sounds like =-\

  37. NoraLee9 says: and other websites like it, guide one seemlessly through the Breviary. The only issue might be if one belongs to a Third Order, in which case, one has to keep an eye out for that order’s special days. These websites, incidentally, do not only grant access to the last Breviary before the disaster, but to a wide variety of Breviaries, printed in days gone by.
    In this day of the Internet, this complaint of “it’s too hard,” has no traction.

  38. majuscule says:

    NoraLee9 may God richly bless you for mentioning

    I have been wanting to start the Little Office of the BVM for some time. I have a book. But, by myself with not much to guide me it was just too hard. I see the website has it. It will get me started!

    I have been thinking of this a lot lately. (I know I’m lazy.) Thank you!

  39. Dr Guinness says:

    If anyone’s interested, I found the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin (Novus Ordo) on eBay. A bit outside my budget at the moment, but might be good for a seminarian or priest you know?

  40. RichR says:

    Also, if someone wants to enjoy Gregorian chant, consider:

    1) Buying the Monastic Diurnal:

    2) Using as a free Ordo and lessons on how to pray the MD

    3) Subscribe to the podcast at Le Barroux Monastery where they chant the Hours in the MD:

  41. RichR says:

    If you want to try the LOTH in Latin, try this:

    1) Download the iBreviary app on iTunes and set the language to Latin:

    Subscribe to the Vatican Radio podcasts of:



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