Liturgy of the Hours and Divine Office: what is the difference?

I’m not sure I understand the difference so I’d welcome an explanation.

Many thanks!

There is no difference.

Both refer to the same thing, the public prayer of the Church done at the canonical hours of the day (Vigils, Lauds, Tierce, Sexte, None, Vespers and Compline).

There are of course many forms of the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours: the Roman rite, and the various Monastic schemas.

However you can use both terms interchangeably.

In general – and please take this as exactly that, a generalization – many people use Liturgy of the Hours to refer to the newer, post-Vatican-II version; and Divine Office to refer to the older, longer version.
But as OraLabora said, you can use them interchangeably. No big deal.

I have always wondered this as well. Very interesting. I notice that some people seem to use the term Divine Office more so than LOTH.

I have an old 3 volume Divine Office book and the wording is very different from the Divine Office that my formation group prays with now. I’m a bit confused about that. It is not the typical LOTH 4 volume set that you see, it is an old 3 volume set that was given to me by a traditional Catholic woman.


The Divine Office is the general term for the public prayer of the Church which consists primarily of psalms and also some readings. Priests and religious are bound to pray the Office every day under pain of mortal sin (though some hours may be dispensed for religious who are more active). Some lay people, whether third-order/secular or not, also pray the Divine Office (or at least the major hours).

There are various versions. The Liturgy of the Hours is a new, post-Vatican II, book. There is also the Roman Breviary, which was the standard one for Roman Rite priests pre-Vatican II. The Benedictine Breviary is the one used by Benedictine religious (it is the one I use). Byzantine Catholics (and Eastern Orthodox) also have their own Divine Office books.

There are some differences that reflect the patrimony of our different Rites but the basics are all the same (with the exception of the new “Liturgy of the Hours” book) – all 150 Psalms are repeated every week and there are Scripture readings and readings from the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. There are also some little books, like the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which are similar and aimed at lay people.

[quote=Ps 118:164]Seven times a day I have given praise to thee, for the judgments of thy justice.

It is probably the Roman Breviary (Breviarium Romanum) so it would be very different from the modern Liturgy of the Hours.

The handy thing about the Benedictine Breviary (which I irregularly utilize) is that it comprises a single volume, which makes it smaller and cheaper.

The Divine Office prays all 150 psalms in each week, the Liturgy of Hours divides the psalms into a four week cycle.

The obligatory Hours for the divine office are: Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline; those for the Liturgy of ours are Lauds, Daytime hour, Hour of Reading, Vespers, Compline

Divine office has at least 3 distinct structures for the daily hours, in the Liturgy of Hours each hour has the same structure.

The daily recitation time (with 90 word per /minute speed) for the Divine office is an average 60 minutes, for the Liturgy of Hours 30 minutes.

The common is that both are the official prayer pf the Church, and both are based on the psalms, scriptural passages, and writings of saints; also both can be chanted.

I was confused, my formation class uses “Christian Prayer” which I realize is the Liturgy of the Hours.

I looked at my older 3 volume Divine Office and it has The Divine Office I, II, and III but in the inside it says, “The Divine Office The Liturgy of the Hours According to the Roman Rite as renewed by decree of the second vatican council and promulagted by the authority of pope paul VI”

It’s from 1974. I find it so interesting because the words are so different from the Christian prayer that we pray in my classes. I will have to compare the two.

So, basically can you use the terms LOTH, Divine Office, and Breviary interchangeably?


Thank you all for the clarification. I suspected that Vatican 2 had something to do with it, as usual. :smiley:

I guess that it would make sense to pray according to the old style (Roman Breviary) if one attends TLM, and the other way around. Am I right to assume this? Any experience from those of you who are regular TLM goers?

Also, where could I get the Roman Breviary? Are they still in print?

Both Pre and Post VII versions of the office are valid. I’m torn myself, I prefer the structure
of the post VII LOTH and translations of the Pre VII office. I’m hopeful there will be a new translation of the LOTH now that that the New Roman Missal is complete.

Here’s a link to the Divine Office from Baronius Press

Many thanks for the link. I will have a look.

I’m not questioning validity btw. (I’m always afraid of this coming up so it’s better to make it clear).

Actually Vatican II had nothing to do with it except for calling for a reform of the rite. The Liturgy of the Hours and the Divine Office are the same thing.

It is the Prayer of the Church. Make sure that if you wish to pray the Prayer of the Church that you use the approved books. That would be for the current office you would need to use either the one volume Christian Prayer or the four volume Liturgy of the Hours, if you want to use the older version then you must find the 1962 Office and pray it in Latin.

There are other versions out there that are not the approved texts, you are free to use them as you are not bound by any constitutions, rule, or canon law to pray the hours but if you do use them, or say the old Latin office but pray it in English you could not truly say that you are praying the Prayer of the Church or say that you are truly praying the Divine Office (or Liturgy of the Hours).

The term Breviary since the 13th century refers to the concise book, from which the Divine Office is prayed privately. From this the meaning is extended to the privately recited office too, sometimes even to the community prayer

In larger sense the Divine Office is the official prayer of the church, thus either the Ordinary form (Liturgy of Hours) and the Extraordinary form.

In proper sense the previous forms are the Divine Office, the new form the Liturgy of Hours.

Sort of, but not quite. Personally I use “Divine Office” (or for short, “Office”) to refer to the canonical hours in general - whether Roman Rite or Byzantine or other rite, modern form or old form. I use “Liturgy of the Hours” to refer to the current Roman Rite version of the office. I use “breviary” to refer to the actual book, the volume I hold in my hands to pray the Hours, in any version. I would use “Roman Breviary” to refer to the old, 1962 or earlier version of the Office of the Roman Rite. I would use “Hours” or “Hour” to refer to specific individual parts of the daily Office (i.e. “Which Hours do you pray?” “I pray Lauds, Vespers, and Compline.”).

Maybe this is too complex, but this is kind of what I’ve picked up from others who have been praying the Divine Office longer than I have.

Thank you for clarifying this. I would love to find the 1962 Office in Latin. English is not my mother toungue anyway so prayers always feel a bit foreign. Just going for Latin instead would make sense in that respect too.

I don’t know how you feel about apps, but I had a similar question and was given some good suggestions on the Divine Office for Traditionalists thread.

As a result, I downloaded an iPhone app called BrevMeum and it has the 1962 Office. You can adjust the settings so that you have the English and Latin side by side if you want.

I also have the Post Vatican II Liturgy of the Hours app which I pray more often because it has audio and is shorter.

Now if the could only have an audio version of BrevMeum, I’d be ecastatic!

Thanks True Light,

it sounds like a good option too.

Here are two different currently available editions of the Roman Breviary (1962) in Latin only:

I want to add that contrary to what has been asserted, laymen are perfectly free to pray the traditional office in English (or any other vernacular) if they so choose. However, acquiring a Latin+English copy of the breviary is not (yet) very easy. There were some published in the 1960s but they are hard to find. However, Baronius press will soon be publishing a Latin+English edition of the breviary. The link was already given, but here it is again:

It isn’t the public prayer of the Church if an unapproved translation or version of the Divine Office is used. It may be a worthy personal devotion, but the Liturgy of the Hours is about more than personal devotion, it is the public prayer of the Church and is intended to be an act of unity.

If one truly wants to follow a “traditional” office that is allowed in the vernacular, I suggest the traditional Benedictine Office as reformed after the Vatican II. Same psalm order as determined by St. Benedict, same prayers as the current Roman Office, and (at least in French) I know of a psalter for it that uses an approved translation of the psalms. Unlike the 1962 breviary its basic layout is unchanged since about 1500 years, compared to the 1962 breviary that was essentially the office of Pius X and thus only dates back to 1910 at which time the Divine Office underwent extensive changes.

I’m interested in the Benedictine office. Someone provided info in another thread but I can’t find it.

Do you have any links and is there an audio version?

Do you have a

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