Divine office - usage of original hymns compared to 17th c revision

I am interested in reciting the divine office according to the 1962 secular form. However one particular issue I am afraid I will encounter is that there were revisions made to the hymns in the 17th c by Pope Urban VIII.

Would you be able to tell me if I am permitted to substitute the original hymn translations instead of using the revisions of 1962?

I have been putting together a bi-lingual hymnal for several monthes. All my latin texts are the original hymn texts.

Would I be forced to use the benedictine office…in order to use the original hymns?

It seems to me that there is no sane reason to use revised hymn texts.
Obedience for the sake of obedience sake does not a catholic make?

I’m not sure about this. I now in the present Liturgy of the Hours that you may subsitute the prescribed hymn for another. For instance, on a Franciscan retreat I attended they sang that “Here I Am Lord” song instead of the hymn.

As for the old one, I think Summorum Pontificum specifically applies to, and granted usage of, just the books and sacraments as they were in 1962.

But I leave a definitive answer up to the truly knowledgeable, as I am uncertain. Sorry, hopefully someone else responds.

If you are not cleric or religious, and you have no obligation to recite the office, you can use any approved variation of either the psalms or other scriptures and also of the hymns.

As for the obedience, Christ

Phil 2:8 He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.

If your texts are copyright free, and you do not mind to share it, I would be happy to set the up on my breviary site for the 1570 version. That site is free for everyone.

Actually laity can have an obligation that is from being in a secular (third) order.

Having said that, if no obligation exists then one may even used unapproved variations but if one is not using the approved texts then one can not really say that they are praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

If you are preparing the liturgy for mass, you should be using the revsions of the 1962 missal, same way after the first sunday of advent this year we are to use the 3rd edition of the missal.

Yes we are to be obedient!

Can anyone here point to an authoritiative opinion?

My unauthoritative one: A lay person can sing what hymns they want, in a private recitation of the Office, if they are sanctified by traditional use.

Clergy and religious seem to sing what they want at public Masses, in some places, these days.

'Course, if you asked “May I sing ‘We Are Yours’ as part of my daily recitations of the Office”, I’m sure you could find plenty of posters who would loudly defend your right to do so, in the teeth of traditionalist objections, in this Traditional forum :wink:

My question is in regard for someone who is is obliged to pray the office on a regular basis in a Church where the general public participates.

What will happen to a cleric who is sings the pre-17th c latin hymn texts in public during vespers of a double class feast day?

Will there be complaints? Will people care that the text has minor to major differences?

Would there be discipline from a bishop?

I am likely to turn against the usage of the post-tridentine office if this is a strict requirement. And that would make me sad. I think it is insane.

One can not compare the death of Christ on the cross to singing inferior hymn texts.

The principle of lex credendi, lex orandi goes against this.

It is not orthodox to allow a single Pope to destroy the entire repertoire of office hymns.

The Authority of Holy Tradition is ALWAYS over that of a Pope. The Pope is ment to guard and preserve, not destroy.

I came up with something that might be a solution.

What if I quickly read the “revised” hymn out loud and than afterward sing the original hymn with its melody?

I could put up with this, it is a bit ridiculous, but if it solves the problem of obedience I would gladly do it.

This is similar to the solution I have for the sequences/proses for the massr that were suppressed form the graduals, which I include in my hymnal.

Though they are not officially required in the positon of the sequence they can be sung on an optional basis in either the original position or different position in place of where a different hymn might be sung (recessional for instance) and no one is upset.

Same for Benedictine Oblates although we are technically not a third order as we are attached to a specific abbey, not the order. We are obligated to pray at least part of the Divine Office as our life circumstances permit. Theoretically as an Oblate I can use any one of the monastic schemas, or the current LOTH (which is allowed to professed Benedictines when they travel or when assigned work outside the monastery, or by a monastery heavily engaged in apostolic work). I use the same schema as my abbey.

Agree entirely. the LOTH is the public prayer of the Church and full participation requires that one of the approved forms be used with the approved rubrics, following an appropriate and approved calendar.

Care to provide an actual source for this or is this just your opinion?

The Liturgy of the Hours is a public prayer even when it is said alone. Therefore, it must said as prescribed by the Church, because it is the official prayer of the Church, not of the individual who is saying it.

As far as the hymns are concerned, the rubrics in each edition of the different breviaries tell you what to do. You must follow the rubrics for that breviary.

I know that in the Franciscan breviary the rubrics say that at the discretion of the presider, the suggested hymn may be replaced by another hymn that the presider considers to be appropriate. But that only applies to those using that breviary.

Would I be forced to use the Benedictine office…in order to use the original hymns?

You would have to follow the rubrics established by the Benedictines to be found in their breviary, usually near the front. If they say that you can substitute the hymn, why not. If they do not say so, then you must use what they provide.

Obedience for the sake of obedience sake does not a catholic make?

I believe that at least one of the greatest spiritual masters of the Latin Church will disagree with you on this one, maybe more.

**Of Perfect and Imperfect Obedience.

The Lord says in the Gospel: he “that doth not renounce all that he possesseth cannot be” a "disciple " and “he that will save his life, shall lose it.” That man leaves all he possesses and loses his body and his soul who abandons himself wholly to obedience in the hands of his superior, and whatever he does and says—provided he himself knows that what he does is good and not contrary to his [the superior’s] will—is true obedience. And if at times a subject sees things which would be better or more useful to his soul than those which the superior commands him, let him sacrifice his will to God, let him strive to fulfill what the superior enjoined. This is true and charitable obedience which is pleasing to God and to one’s neighbor.

If, however, a superior command anything to a subject that is against his soul it is permissible for him to disobey, but he must not leave him [the superior], and if in consequence he suffer persecution from some, he should love them the more for God’s sake. For he who would rather suffer persecution than wish to be separated from his brethren, truly abides in perfect obedience because he lays down his life for his brothers. For there are many who, under pretext of seeing better things than those which their superiors command, look back and return to the vomit of their own will. These are homicides and by their bad example cause the loss of many souls. (Rule of St. Francis; admonition on absolute obedience).**

Your statement gives me three options, which would you recommend:

a) Leave the Franciscan order immediately

b) Change the Rule of St. Francis

c) Remain in the order, but choose when you should obey the rule that you solemnly vowed to obey without questions

First of all, clerics are not the only ones bound to pray the LOTH.

Second, diocesan or secular clerics are not bound to pray all the hours.

Third, violating the rubrics of the LOTH comes under the jurisdiction of the proper ecclesial authority. For secular clerics, that would be the diocesan bishop. For religious, that would be the local superior.

It is not orthodox to allow a single Pope to destroy the entire repertoire of office hymns.

The Authority of Holy Tradition is ALWAYS over that of a Pope. The Pope is meant to guard and preserve, not destroy.

The problem in your logic is that the pope is the supreme liturgist. He can change anything in the liturgy of any of the churches and any of the rites as long as he preserve what is essential to the liturgy. This comes under his authority to bind and unbind. None of the liturgical forms, current or ancient were handed down by Christ and the Apostles as dogma. They are traditions that evolved through the centuries and all of them always had the permission of the Pontiff, either implicit or explicit. Sometimes he actually said something or put it on paper and sometimes he simply allowed it. In either case, he’s consenting.

Liturgical disciplines, in the East and West, must always be in communion with the Pontiff.

Rewriting hymns and reorganizing others is not a violation of the essence of the Liturgy of the Hours. Therefore, it is within the Pontiffs authority to do so, especially because you’re dealing in the public prayer of the Church. That comes under his direct jurisdiction. It is his right to find ways to ensure that the Church prays as one voice, even in diversity. It’s like a garden with many flowers, but it remains the one garden.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Papal Coronation Oath of the 7th c.

The Liber Diurnus Romanorum Pontificum, one of the oldest collections of papal texts, privileges, and decrees, written down by Pope St. Agatho with texts that contain centuries of tradition, includes the following Papal Coronation Oath, probably already a couple of centuries old, by which every pope since then has sworn as a requirement of acceding to the papal office until John Paul II failed to do so.

"**I vow to change nothing of the received Tradition, and nothing thereof I have found before me guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors, to encroach upon, to alter, or to permit any innovation therein;
To the contrary:  with glowing affection as her truly faithful student and successor, to safeguard reverently the passed-on good, with my whole strength and utmost effort;**

To cleanse all that is in contradiction to the canonical order, should such appear;
To guard the Holy Canons and Decrees of our Popes as if they were the Divine ordinances of Heaven, because I am conscious of Thee, whose place I take through the Grace of God, whose Vicarship I possess with Thy support, being subject to the severest accounting before Thy Divine Tribunal over all that I shall confess;

I swear to God Almighty and the Saviour Jesus Christ that I will keep whatever has been revealed through Christ and His Successors and whatever the first councils and my predecessors have defined and declared.
I will keep without sacrifice to itself the discipline and the rite of the Church.  I will put outside the Church whoever dares to go against this oath, may it be somebody else or I.
If I should undertake to act in anything of contrary sense, or should permit that it will be executed, Thou willst not be merciful to me on the dreadful Day of Divine Justice.

Accordingly, without exclusion, We subject to severest excommunication anyone - be it ourselves or be it another - who would dare to undertake anything new in contradiction to this constituted evangelic Tradition and the purity of the Orthodox Faith and the Christian Religion, or would seek to change anything by his opposing efforts, or would agree with those who undertake such a blasphemous venture."

First of all, we no longer crown popes and that’s why this oath is no longer taken. It was not John Paul II who stopped the practice. It was John Paul I.

Second, the pope still upholds Sacred Tradition.

Third, obedience to the Pontiff is still part of tradition.

Fourth, the spiritual masters would tell you that you’re deliberately looking for something on which to disagree that has no importance for your salvation or that of the Church. They would also tell you that you’re placing your judgment above that of one who is your superior and who has not commanded anyone to sin. Therefore, you’re being disobedient and you’re just looking to justify yourself.

Go read what Francis wrote, again. Try to understand the true meaning of obedience. If not Francis, try Catherine

**Everything else should be abandoned for the sake of obedience. If you were lifted up in such contemplation and union of mind with Me, that your body was raised from the earth, and an obedience were imposed on you (speaking generally, and not in a particular case, which cannot give a law), you ought, if possible, to force yourself to arise, to fulfill the obedience imposed on you, **

In other words, even if you’re in a state of ecstacy, if obedience commands, get up and do what you’re told.

I don’t see the difficulty that you’re seeing over these hymns.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

The Office is the official prayer of the Church.

What makes it worthy?

  • the words, the syntax, may be rhymes and rhythm;

  • or the fact that it is the prayer of the Church, "in union with that Divine Intention wherewith thou didst thyself praise God, "

If the second set is the important, then the Church the Pope makes the decision, if not the you can listen to your instinct, intellect whatever. Also if you deny the primacy of teh pope established by Jesus Christ, than you are free to make decisions, and this freedom (with some risk) is given to you by God.

This question is a little bit more complicated, because the Church herself in the Liturgy of Hours reverted to the pre-Clemntine forms of the hymns.

If you are Catholic, you have the following choices for public prayer

  • to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as the Church defined it

  • to pray the Extraordinary form as the Church defined it

  • petition your bishop or the Apostolic See for permission to pray the 1568 form of the Divinum Officium, as it was defined (this permission probably easy to get if you present your source; a group of Hungarians pray the so called Officium Strigoniensum from the 15th Century, with approval of the archbishop)

  • make a mixed version of your choice as complete text for the submit it to approval of your bishop. As the case of the Baronius Breviary shows, such approval, even if the changes are superficial, takes years.

To pray unapproved text or combinations makes the prayer private prayer, it is no more the official prayer of the Church.

The Church is hierarchy, not a group based on rational or not so rational decisions of individuals.

What if I quickly read the “revised” hymn out loud and than afterward sing the original hymn with its melody?

I have yet to see any of you respond to this question I asked earlier which seemed to me to be a possible solution.

I am the sort of person who is always going to be adding things to the divine office that I find in old antiphonaries and manuscripts of the past. I believe in a certain organic development.

My issue here is not in desiring to remove anything that the Church wants me to pray. I like what is required. If anything I find it is NOT ENOUGH. It is in adding additional chants or for instance an original hymn in ADDITION to the revised form.

For instance we have such things as the commemoration at the end of vespers, if I were in the church of St Thomas of Canterbury I might routinely add his antiphon and versicle as a commemoration at the end of vespers. There is a certain amount of local variation that has always existed.

I would argue that if we are accurately translating the psalms, canticles, hymns, responds and prayers that are part of are received tradition into any language on earth than it is fulfilling our duty in the eyes of God.

Irregardless. I do not want to change anything ultimately.

I only want to add the unrevised hymn to be sung and recite the revised hymn without music immediately before. I am not aware that we are in any obligation to sing the hymns to their melodies. Half the old breviary books separate the melodies from the words so obviously not everyone had the time or effort to put them both together…(which is why I created a hymnal).

In the words of Psalm 138:

Psalm 138. Domine, probasti

God, all-knowing, all-present

This exceptionally beautiful Psalm in praise of the divine omniscience and omnipresence raises the practical consideration: you must live conscious of always being watched by the all-seeing eye of God; you can hide nothing from him. You must avoid sin, you must hate sin “with a deadly hatred”―that is the message of this Psalm.
O Lord, thou hast searched me out, and known me : * thou hast known my down-sitting, and mine uprising.
2 Thou hast understood my thoughts afar off : * thou hast searched out my path and my line.
3 And thou hast foreseen all my ways : * for there is not a word in my tongue.
4 Behold, O Lord, thou hast known all things, the last and those of old : * thou hast formed me, and hast laid thine hand upon me.
5 Thy knowledge is become wonderful for me; * it hath waxed strong, and I cannot attain unto it.
6 Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit? * or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
7 If I climb up into heaven, thou art there; * if I go down to hell, thou art there also.
8 If I take the wings of the morning, * and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
9 Even there also shall thy hand lead me, * and thy right hand shall hold me."

“Dómine, probásti me, et cognovísti me: * tu cognovísti sessiónem meam, et resurrectiónem meam.
2 Intellexísti cogitatiónes meas de longe: * sémitam meam, et funículum meum investigásti.
3 Et omnes vias meas prævidísti: * quia non est sermo in lingua mea.
4 Ecce, Dómine, tu cognovísti ómnia novíssima, et antíqua: * tu formásti me, et posuísti super me manum tuam.
5 Mirábilis facta est sciéntia tua ex me: * confortáta est, et non pótero ad eam.
6 Quo ibo a spíritu tuo? * et quo a fácie tua fúgiam?
7 Si ascéndero in cælum, tu illic es: * si descéndero in inférnum, ades.
8 Si súmpsero pennas meas dilúculo, * et habitávero in extrémis maris.
9 Etenim illuc manus tua dedúcet me: * et tenébit me déxtera tua.
10 Et dixi: Fórsitan ténebræ conculcábunt me: * et nox illuminátio mea in delíciis meis.”

I must also state that for God there is no time.
There is only eternity.

The Office is the official prayer of the Church.

What makes it worthy?

  • the words, the syntax, may be rhymes and rhythm;
  • or the fact that it is the prayer of the Church, "in union with that Divine Intention wherewith thou didst thyself praise God, "

For this very reason.

If I pray the office as the communion of saints of the Church have for generations before

Saints who lived for hundreds of years before revisions of hymns.

God must surely be pleased with me.

I think that the definition you have of unity of the Church is overly simple and legalistic.

Besides as I state, I am making an addition, for the limitation of peoples idea of obedience, I will not remove the original hymns, but even if I did I think it would be acceptable.

I insist I do make my own form of prayer up.

I collect ancient office books, I am historically bonafide 100%.

Dr. William Renwick, administrator and edititor of Sarum office online is my friend.


The Liturgy of the Hours is still liturgy. We can no more insert or delete from it what is not intended by the Church. There is a large degree of obedience that applies here.

It does not belong to the individual. It belongs to the Church and it is moderated by Church authority. Only the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship can add or delete something in the liturgy. We are not allowed to do this.

If you insert a hymn or prayer where it is not allowed, you are taking ownership of the Liturgy. It is no longer the Officio Divino, the Divine Work of the Church. It becomes your private work.

That’s why the Church even has strong rules about using the Liturgy of the Hours for your intentions. You can’t do it. You may insert your personal prayer requests at the intercessory prayers when this is allowed. Not all breviaries have it. It depends on the particular tradition. But just as no one can say that they are going to pray the LOTH for X intention, no one can make the Liturgy of the Hours is own.

As much as we yell and holler about those who do this with the mass, the same applies to the LOTH. They are not separated from each other with different rules. The latter is the crown around the former. The mass is the apex of the Church’s prayer and the LOTH is its crown. That’s why the breviaries are written to coincide with the missals.

Missal w/ Breviary
Benedictine w/ Benedictine
Franciscan w/ Franciscan
Dominican w/ Dominican
Roman w/ Roman

And so forth. It’s not about preserving ancient hymns nor rejecting them. It’s about doing what the Church wants us to do and how the Church wants us to do it. That’s why I said, if you find a breviary that allows the use of those hymns, then use it. That’s better than inserting a hymn where it does not belong, simply because you or I think that there was some grave mistake made in history that you or I have the authority and mandate to correct. Such is never the case with liturgy. Individuals never have the mandate to correct liturgy. Only bishops do, as long as they do so in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Aside from bishops, the only other persons who have the authority to edit and rewrite liturgical books are male superiors of major religious orders, because they have Ordinary authority over their respective religious families. They too must submit their work to the Holy See for approval. We end up at the same place. No one can altar liturgy without the blessing of the Pontiff.

Yes, it is very much about both, obedience and worship. We’re not Protestants. We’re Catholics. Whether we’re Oriental or Latin, we are all in communion with and in submission to the Pontiff or those to whom he delegates the authority to act in his name. These are always going to be the Prefects inside the Curia, the diocesan bishops and the major superiors of major religious orders of men.

Find a breviary that allows you to switch out one hymn for another and use that one. Don’t add or delete to any breviary that which is not allowed. Another thing that you can do is sing the hymns that you like, before you begin the LOTH. People often pray the Rosary before mass. This way they are prayed, but they retain their autonomy. No one says that you can’t have a whole hour of singing before you begin the opening prayer of the LOTH . . . OK, unless you’re a friar or a monk. Then you can’t do that either. If you’re a diocesan deacon, priest, bishop or a layperson, you can sing whatever you want before beginning the liturgy. Once you begin, you must do it as it is directed in the rules.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

After Pius X, some of the Solesmes editions for the Divine Office did contain the older versions of the hymns as well. So it definitely would be permissible to sing most of them, although I’m not sure about when the Office is not sung.

Yes. You are exactly right. And that is your prayer.

Exactly this is, what some people and priests are doing with the new form of the mass, they make it their own prayer, by their own will, according their own ideas.

Unlike many here, I do not say, that this is inherently wrong. God gave us intellect and will to use it.

The Liturgy was frozen from the time of Trident until St Pius X, except adding saints to the calendar. This was imperfect, St Pius X understood that change is to be made, and change is possible only if individuals like you, and those who celebrate the Mass in their own way make experiments.

God will use this experiments for His plan.

However we shall understand that we are not only individuals, but also community, and we belong to teh One Saint (set aside to God) Catholic (for everyone) and Apostolic (hierarchical) Church; and must understand that above our ways there is the way of this Church, and through her the ways of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I insist I do make my own form of prayer up.

I ment to say "I do NOT make my own form of prayer up.

My heart really is with the Sarum/Salisbury Divine Office of 1534 and Pre-Tridentine Office in general.

The distinctions between them and the post tridentine are not immediately obvious, but if one takes a strict attitude, I suppose that I am at heart one who desires the Sarum form.

At least among the traditionalists I can see that there is a certain agreement with the responses that I have had here. When I asked the same questions in this post to a professor at Our Lady of Guadelupe Seminary he appeared to agree with the other posters that I am disobient.

What is strange to me is that it appears in my mind that there is a double standard.
It is possible to freely add antiphons and motets at mass.

And in anglican churches all sorts of additions are made in their “Evensong”…

Yet apparently in the divine office…there is an entirely different viewpoint.

I have yet to understand it, but as someone new to it, used to the musical freedom of a mass…it is perplexing. I will keep studying.

I presently see no solution to my predicament, which is immensely frustrating. Yet I am confident that God will guide me out of this desert and legalistic snare.

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