Appropriate times for lauds and vespers?

What time range is it ok to recite lauds and vespers? For a long time I’ve been influenced by the comments made by a certain Brother Ignatius in a particular forum. In his posts he basically states that lauds, for example, should be recited anytime between 5 and 8 am at the latest (for vespers, between 5 and 7, no later than 8 pm). As a result, I’ve been following this advice… That is, I usually pray lauds at 7 am and vespers at 5 pm. If 1 or 2 hours pass without having prayed the hour, then I just let it go.

So…guess what?
I just spent a whole week in Rome and during my visit I noticed that many churches, including St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Mary Major actually have lauds at 9 am!.. At St. Peter’s they even started at 9:45 am! I thought “wow, how ‘late’”. I even spoke to a few random priests about this, and they all told me that anytime from “7-10 am” for lauds is ok… and one told me that sometimes in his community they begin vespers as late as 8 pm :slight_smile:

So I began wondering if Br. Ignatius perhaps was exaggerating in being too strict in his posts about the proper times to hold these prayers? (this is the post that I am referring to:

So I would like to take a survey of those who pray the LOTH, what time do you normally pray lauds/vespers?

For me

Lauds- After rising in the morning
Vespers-From 5 to as late as 8:30 usually at six


Lauds- anytime from 7-8 a.m. I’m in Rosary mode from 6:30 a.m. to 6:50 a.m.

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From the 2nd Vatican Council:

That the day may be truly sanctified, and that the hours themselves may be recited with spiritual advantage, it is best that each of them be prayed at a time which most closely corresponds with its true canonical time. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 94)

So it was a good guidance.


Lauds is Morning Prayer and Vespers are Evening Prayer.

Lauds, in my opinion, should be said within an hour of waking up, which for the majority of people is between 5:30 am - 8:00 am.

Vespers, in my opinion, should be said around dinner time, which for the majority of people is between 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm.

If you follow the strict canonical hours, there is an hour every three hours from sunrise to sunset - sunrise being figured at 6:00 am and sunset at 6:00 pm. So the hours become:

6:00 am – Lauds (Morning Prayer – First hour)
9:00 am – Terce (Third hour)
12:00 pm – Sext (Sixth hour)
3:00 pm – None (Ninth hour)
6:00 pm – Vespers (Evening Prayer)

The day hours are the Latin words for third, sixth, and ninth – which correspond to the ancient way of telling time, hence in the Passion accounts you have Jesus being nailed to the Cross at the 6th hour (12 noon).

Compline (Night Prayer) is to be said immediately before going to bed, which in the monastic tradition is between 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm. The Office of Readings can be said anytime and is frequently coupled with Lauds, but in the most ancient monastic traditions, it is said in the middle of the night – between 12 midnight and 3 am.


The prayer channel prays lauds @ 9:00am & vespers @ 6:00pm.

Many parishes pray lauds before or after 9:00 am Mass. and/or @9:00am for the triduum during Holy Week. I’m not sure, but I think vespers is prayed a little later than 6, if it is a parish service.

One of Pope Benedict’s services when he visited, was vespers @ 6:00pm.

I believe that if the office is required, it may be prayed anytime during the day, if the preferred times are not available.


I took a look at the Pope’s schedule during his Paris visit. It turns out he celebrated solemn vespers at 7:15 pm at the Notre Dame Cathedral.

So I guess overall the starting times are pretty flexible as long as you don’t pray them too late in their corresponding times.

Well, Brother Ignatius is not an authority so his advice can be taken with a grain of salt. Praying at 9 or 10 am is certainly permissible if it wasn’t possible to pray it earlier. After all, one of the reforms of the council was that busy diocesan priests (and I guess this applies to busy laymen as well) be obligated to say only one daytime hour. So saying Morning Prayer at 10 am is certainly ok, and then Sext or None can be the daytime hour, since there’s really no obligation to pray Terce anyway.

Of course, monastic discipline is different, and their day is much more regulated.

One reason the Church never gave a time window was to prevent those bound to it from falling into sin, and to discourage haphazard reading. She says, “as closely as possible to the proper canonical hour” which is fair.

I have been frustrated myself by the lack of specific guidance on when to pray the Divine Hours. The Small a Hours seem well-defined (9, 12, 3) and the guidance for Matins and also Compline, while less specific, seems pretty clear: Matins after midnight but before dawn (if not exercising the option to say it the day before after 2PM), and Compline as last thing before bed. That leaves Prime, Lauds, and Vespers.

I try to pray Lauds just before dawn and Vespers at around sundown, so the exact hour depends on the time of year. I have also been taught that Prime is supposed to be prayed “before the start of the day’s activities,” so I think getting to work 10 min early, or praying Prime on a commuter train going into work, is a good habit.

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