Explain Liturgy of the Hours

I am a new convert, can someone explain the Liturgy of the Hours, and the process ?

They are required prayer for Catholic Priests and Deacons and for lay people it is optional. Prayed several times a day every day for life. Without a legitimate excuse if Catholic Clergy don’t say them it is a mortal sin. Seminarians also pray the Liturgy of the Hours/Divine Office. The Clergy (most often) use a 4 volume set. Some today use electronic versions. These prayers unite the entire Church in praying all over the world praying the same prayers. The “Hours” are praising God all day long. I am thinking I remember hearing they were mostly the Psalms. Others here can give more specifics. I’ll post some info graphics. I use the Laudate app on my Kindle. My Priest told me if I can only do some of the Hours the most important are the morning and evening ones so that’s the ones I pray. Somebody else can explain the 4 volume set ( how to do it) and the shorter book "Christian Prayer. I find the kindle version perfect for me. There is a verbal one that you can listen to online as well. I’ll try to find the link. For the Church to pray without ceasing. My niece in a cloistered Monastery does their first hour at 2 AM.

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The Liturgy of the Hours are a daily cycle of hours of prayer in the Church. Here is an example of the daily cycle that we have in the East:


It’s similar to the West.


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You are brand new. I would say to take your time absorbing and practicing the essentials of the faith. Personal and private devotions can come later, as the Spirit leads you. One need not dive into the deep end of the pool - not just yet.

If anything, I would dive into Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Time in Christ’s presence is the best time on earth. Even 5 minutes! An hour will bring immense spiritual benefit.


Further down in the answer to the question it. talks about LOTH

Yes the best time you will ever spend in your life besides being at Mass and actually receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion , Holy Hour of Adoration

Even at mass, if you focus like a laser on the Tabernacle, it also becomes a holy hour.





Could probably give more of a personal insight as Priests and Deacons who pray it every day for the rest of their lives.

The Liturgy of the Hours is a series of prayers you can pray to sanctify the day. As a layperson you can choose to pray whatever hours fit your schedule and desire.

For myself, I like to pray morning prayer as a way to start the day and make it holy. Evening prayer comes at the end of the day when the busy-ness of the day turns into the quiet of the evening. And night prayer comes just before bedtime. I find it’s a way to keep pulling myself back to God, and back to my spiritual side.

Some people pray many more hours than I do and many others pray less. It’s a question of what fits your life.

I think the best way to learn how it all works is to pray with someone who is already familiar with how things are structured. I learned from others and have enjoyed teaching other people how to do it.

For myself, this is a form of prayer that just draws me in. I love the idea that I’m praying the Psalms as have so many generations before me. I’m part of a line of people ranging from Jesus himself to my favorite saints to people living today who are offering the same prayers all around the world. They’re ever ancient and ever new.


I just purchased the Shorter Christian Prayer (Catholic Book Publishing) and can’t make a lick of sense out of it. I do have the AP on my tablet, but I like books better. I’m going to have to sit down with someone and have them show me. I even purchased the St. Joseph Guide for Christian Prayer - might as well be a foreign language!

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Unless things have changed since the last time I looked at one, that guide will not help you with Shorter Christian Prayer since it is tuned for the single volume Christian Prayer.

Without a more specific question, at this time the best help I can give you is that today, 2019-11-08T05:00:00Z, is Friday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time, so you should be praying Morning and Evening Prayer from Friday Psalter Week III.

Scary Details

The Psalter week can usually found by dividing the week of the season (in this case, 31) by 4 and the remainder (in this case, 31 / 4 = 7, remainder 3) is the Psalter week. (A remainder of 0 is Psalter Week IV).

There are a couple of exceptions: You have to consider Ash Wednesday ff as the “0th” week of Lent, leading to Psalter IV; there is apparently some legitimate uncertainty/variation in the weeks of the Christmas Season.

That sounds like a good idea.


I found a guide here:


and the Divine Office link shared earlier.

I’m not sure, but I think here’s the process.

Morning Prayer:

P. 13 gives the structure of the prayer, which consists of the ff.

A. Introduction:

  1. Invitatory (p. 18) - “Lord, open my lips…”

  2. Invitatory Psalm (p. 22, or any of the three alternative Psalms), with the antiphon after each stanza (choose from pp. 18-22, depending on the day)

  3. Glory to the Father…

Following the season, go to one of the following as seen in the Table of Contents, pp. 5-6, for the Morning Prayer:

a. Ordinary Time:

Sunday Evening Prayer, Monday to Friday, Saturday Morning Prayer: the Four-Week Psalter Section (p. 15 and 35 gives instructions for getting the correct week), or

Sunday Morning Prayer or Christ the King: p. 503 onward (see TOC, p. 6)

b. Seasons (Advent, Christmas, etc.) pp. 356 onward (see TOC, p. 5)

c. Proper of Saints, pp. 543 onward (see TOC, p. 6)

d. Office for the Dead

e. Memorial for the BVM (for Saturdays).

For example, for Week I, Monday, go to p. 54. Notice that on that page, the Invitatory and Antiphon repeat what was given on p. 18.

B: Morning Prayer

  1. Select the hymn mentioned (the page numbers are given).

  2. Psalmody

  3. Ant. 1, or the alternative if it’s Easter season

  4. Psalm (with Ant. 1 read between stanzas)

  5. Psalm-prayer

  6. Ant. 2 (or alternative)

  7. Canticle 1

  8. Ant. 3 (or alternative)

  9. Psalm (with Ant. 3 read between stanzas)

  10. Psalm-prayer

  11. Reading

  12. Responsory

  13. Canticle (front cover, inner page or p. 27)

  14. Ant.

  15. Intercessions

  16. Our Father

  17. Concluding Prayer (p. 29, as indicated)

In short, it’s the same pattern given on p. 13.

Evening Prayer:

It’s the same process. The structure is given on p. 13, the intro on p. 30, etc.

Night Prayer (before one goes to bed):

Go to the section given in the TOC, p. 5.

In general, as shown on p. 13, the prayers consists of an Introduction (an invitatory, an invitatory psalm with antiphon, and the Glory, on pp. 18-34) and the prayer itself (psalms, canticle, antiphons, reading, responsory, Gospel canticle, intercessions, the Lord’s Prayer, and concluding prayer, from the appropriate section following instructions on p. 15 and 35 for Ordinary Time or the current date or season).

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Yes, I figured out that guide wasn’t what I needed. I think it will be a matter of getting familiar with everything and actually having someone show me where parts are in the book. Thanks for your help.

Thank you - this does help. I appreciate the time you put into explaining the process.

Don’t worry if you struggle at first…it can get verrrrrrry complicated.

When I learned it, I had the advantage of being in a seminary where we prayed it in common. Frequently I missed the first half of the psalms because I was lost and had to look at the guy next to me to see what page we were on…:rofl:


My story is similar. My wife had given me the one volume Prayer Book as a Christmas present but I had no clue how to use it. I tried for a while on Friday nights when I would go to Adoration. It wasn’t until I was in Diaconate formation that I learned. I do remember the wise words of our wonderful Sister who was part of the formation team, when asked about which pages to pray on a Saint day she said you can’t do it wrong, either way you are praying. Just pray.


About 1000 years before Jesus was born, people began singing psalms in Jerusalem. King David was credited with writing some of these songs, so it is likely that the identity of Israel as a kingdom was formed by the act of gathering together to sing to God.

These songs were gathered together into the collection of songs that became the core of the bible. The Torah may be more important, but the psalms are the context for hearing the Torah. They formed the gatherings of people to praise God that continue in the Church today. The Liturgy of the Hours is truly the prayer of the Church.

It is daunting to learn because it is so widely used and adapted. In the Middle Ages, learning to pray meant memorizing the psalms, in Latin which may not have been your first language. No one had 1 or 4 volume sets to carry around. Anything they could carry they likely had copied themselves. Learning your way around is hard, but try memorizing all 150 psalms plus a couple of dozen canticles.

Start by learning two songs. The song of Zechariah, Luke 1:68-79, which welcomes his son into the world with joy and hope, is used at Morning prayer every day to welcome the day that God has given us. And the Song of Mary, the Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55, is Mary’s response to her cousin Elizabeth, expressing her gratitude and hope for her pregnancy. It is one of the greatest Christian prayers, expressing faith in the Lord who has done great things for us, lifted up the lowly and brought justice to Israel and the whole world. Every evening people throughout the world recite this song, or sing it, grateful for the great things done for us and for the Lord who brings them to us.

If you learn these songs and love them, you will be prepared to learn more, even how to find your way through the mazes of the books.

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