Divine office in groups and alone

I want to start praying the Divine Office. If I do this alone should I only recite or can I chant the psalms?
My understanding is that when people are alone they only recite the Psalms and only chant when being in a group. Is there are specific reason why we should only chant when praying with others?
And is it important to recite many Psalm or just a few but doing it a bit slower? Some people only recite in order to go through so many Psalms as possible in the time they have.

I’ve always read the instructions as either is acceptable, but chanting is not necessary if you are alone.


A celebration with singing throughout is commendable, provided it has artistic and spiritual excellence; but it may be useful on occasion to apply the principle of “progressive solemnity.” There are practical reasons for this, as well as the fact that in this way the various elements of liturgical celebration are not treated indiscriminately, but each can again be given its connatural meaning and genuine function. The liturgy of the hours is then not seen as a beautiful memorial of the past demanding intact preservation as an object of admiration; rather it is seen as open to constantly new forms of life and growth and to being the unmistakable sign of a community’s vibrant vitality.

The principle of “progressive solemnity” therefore is one that recognizes several intermediate stages between singing the office in full and just reciting all the parts. Its application offers the possibility of a rich and pleasing variety. The criteria are the particular day or hour being celebrated, the character of the individual elements comprising the office, the size and composition of the community, as well as the number of singers available in the circumstances.

You can chant alone. The “rules” you are referring to are for monks and nuns. They have to chant when praying in community, but don’t have to when alone.

You can chant all you want when alone.

Typically there three Psalms are for each office of the day (except Compline which has 1 or 2). You read all of them when praying the office

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You ate refering the fact that in the OF there is this thinking: either everything is sung or nothing is sung.
I really like that the OF can have just some parts sung. We can actually mix chanting/singing and reciting.
I think the EF misses something very important here. Solemnity as I understand it is more in the what prayers are beiing sung or recited eg whether the Gloria or Credo is used at Mass.
And not all the monks who chant the full Divine Office celebrates a solemnity. In the EF you can even celebrate a solemmity without using any chanting/singing.
Why would chanting make something a solemnity?

It’s referring to the fact that chanting is more solemn than just reciting it. So the Hours during a Sunday or a Holiday are more solemn than a normal weekday, so it’s more appropriate to chant those. It also says that morning and night prayer are more solemn than the other hours, so it’s more appropriate to chant those.

But yes, as @phil19034 says, chant all you want!

It is particularly appropriate that there be singing at least on Sundays and holydays, so that the different degrees of solemnity will thus come to be recognized.

It is the same with the hours: all are not of equal importance; thus it is desirable that those that are the true hinges of the office, that is, morning prayer and evening prayer, should receive greater prominence through the use of singing.

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I think you meant two psalms and a canticle.

That is not my understanding. The General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours seems to expect that some individuals will sing the psalms:

Chapter III-III. Ways of Singing the Psalms

  1. Different psalms may be sung in different ways for a fuller grasp of their spiritual meaning and beauty. The choice of ways is dictated by the literary genre or length of each psalm, by the language used, whether Latin or the vernacular, and especially by the kind of celebration, whether individual, with a group, or with a congregation. The reason for using psalms is not the establishment of a fixed amount of prayer but their own variety and the character proper to each. (source)

Where do people learn how to recite and chant the Psalms?

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For the past couple years, I have been chanting the Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours using the chants of the The Mundelein Psalter. Audio guides to The Mundelein Psalter are available online.

If you just want to recite those hours (Morning, Evening, Night), I suggest something like Christian Prayer and its version-appropriate annual Saint Joseph Guide to Christian Prayer (The Liturgy of the Hours) (2020).

The LOTH’s were designed to be said in a group, so singing the hymns and chanting are appropriate.

However, not all groups chant the psalms. My OCDS group recited the prayers.

Alone, we were instructed that singing the hymn or chanting, is not necessary.

For myself, the LOTH’s is part of quite prayer.

Assuming you mean “quiet”, do you mean you say it silently in your head?

I haven’t counted all the possible configurations, so I’m not sure, but I believe 3 Psalms is the norm

Regardless: you have either 3 Psalms OR 2 Psalms & 1 Canticle.

There are books & websites were you can get the sheet music.

For Example: Catholic Book Publishing opted to include the sheet music towards the back of their Christian Prayer breviary in order to teach people how to sing/chant in English instead of having the complete Daytime Prayers.

(They offer the Daytime Prayers as a separate, smaller, supplemental volume)

Mental Prayer, Interior Contemplative Prayer.

But I don’t want to chant in English.
I want Latin and my mother tongue.

OK. Then get a Latin Chant book. Get the Divine Office in Latin and/or your own language.

The sheet music exist.

Here is a website I found within 1 minute by Googling “learn how to chant in latin”

Lots of other links exist there in Google

I’m sure music exists in your native language too.

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