Liturgy of The Hours question


Was the LoTH different in 1962 than it is now? If so, what are the differences and why was it changed? And if so, which version is better and why?


It used to be prayed in Latin. After Vatican II it was changed to the vernacular, along with the rest of the Liturgy. :slight_smile:


It looks different. Different psalms, etc


No it was not changed to the vernacular. The Liturgy of the Hours, just as the Mass, is still in Latin. It’s just that translations are now authorized for use.

The key differences are:

*]The Psalms are spread over four weeks (as compared to one week in the old Divine Office);
*]As a consequence of this, each Hour now contains three Psalms (or two Psalms and a Canticle, as in the case of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer; the older Office had five for Lauds and Vespers);
*]The hymns are now consistently placed at the beginning of each Hour (as contrasted with the older Office where the hymns for Lauds and Vespers were placed after the short reading);
*]The hymns by Urban VIII have been dropped and the ancient hymns restored (and in certain cases, new hymns have been composed). In the case of the vernacular, existing hymns were permitted for use in place of translations of the Latin;
*]The hour of Prime has been suppressed, and Lauds now given the emphasis as the proper Morning Prayer;
*]The old hour of Matins has now been modified into the Office of Readings which can still be used as a night Office but can be said at any time of the day;
*]The Office of Readings now uses fewer Psalms but longer readings.
*]Three Psalms with violent sentiments were completely dropped, and some verses with similar violent sentiments are omitted from certain Psalms.
*]Evening Prayer now features canticles from the New Testament.


Thank you. Is one considered better than the other?


Well, I am not qualified to throw two cents in on which one is better theologically, but personal preference-wise, that’s different.

I switched from the Breviarium Romanum to the LOTH due only to my lay community and have to say I much prefer and dearly miss praying the BR breviary. The BR’s structure and tempo seems (to me) deeper and seems to have a better grasp of the calendar (feast days, etc.) than the LOTH. Personally, I just cant seem to get into the rhythm with the LOTH - and I do pray Morning and Evening prayer each day.

I will say I have witnessed/prayed both in Latin - and when chanted, both editions are very beautiful. However, the LOTH is the main edition of the Office of the Church, as is the OF the form of the Mass, and I bet there may be other opinions and preferences out there that will say the opposite as I - and that’s fine - the Church allows for preference (as Summorum Pontificum reminds us the BR is still a valid edition of the Office).

But given the choice, which I don’t have, there’s no question…


No, although you will hear often heated arguments arguing for one or the other.

The simple fact is that the two forms are two different expressions of the Divine Office according to the Roman Rite, and while one can be preferred over the other, there is absolutely no conflict. The Liturgy of the Hours is the Ordinary Form of the Divine Office, and as such, is to be esteemed as such. Further, the reforms account for the new realities of current life and that, along with approved vernacular editions, makes it very accessible to the laity, to whom it also belongs. It is for this reason I pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

But the 1961 edition has full approval as per Summorum Pontificum, and has organically grown out of the Roman Office over the centuries and many people find that it suits them spiritually. This having been the Office of the Latin Church for so long, and having nourished countless holy clergy, religious and even laity, cannot be said to have been defective (although many do lament the Urban VIII hymns). But the offices are longer and for several reasons is out of reach of many of the laity.

So in other words, pick one or the other and see which benefits you most. What we should not do it pit one edition of the other. The Church does not do so, and neither should we.


And just to add to the confusion, there are pre and post Vatican II monastic Offices. The pre and post V II version of the traditional monastic Office is the granddaddy of them all: the basic psalm schema goes back 1500 years and was defined by St Benedict himself. The 1960 breviary was defined by Pius X in 1910.

Which is the best breviary? The one that most closely suits your station in life. Right now for me that’s the LOTH, and occasionally the post VII office of the monastery I’m associated with.


Please do not misunderstand me. I am not pitting one against the other. I have not been Catholic all that long. I recently started attending a parish that celebrates the Latin Mass. I then discovered the Brevium. I saw it was different. I had no idea the LoTH was different now than it used to be. So, I was a little confused. So, I came here to ask.


Not saying you are, but it usually doesn’t take too long before someone comes in criticizing one edition of the Breviary in favour of the other, and I was just stating not to fall into that trap.


That’s exactly right. ISTM, it would make more sense to use the Office that corresponds best with the form of the Mass you customarily attend because the of the calendars blending. Since I have no choice in my area but Ordinary Form Mass (and in any case it’s the form used by the monastery I’m an oblate of), it makes more sense to me to use the LOTH or the same monastic Office used by the abbey, which is almost identical to the LOTH except for using a 1-week psalter, and by following the monastic calendar which differs slightly from the general Roman calendar.

I personally prefer the new calendar. The old has one caught up too much in the festive psalter which I find tends to diminish the significance of feasts, and moreover there were too many degrees of feasts to keep track of and it also made for a reality that the 1-week psalter very often took more than a week to go through. I very much like the regular beat of the ferial Office especially in Ordinary Time and Lent. As the prior of our abbey says jokingly, “I have a very great devotion to Saint Feria”! Monks pull out all the stops for the liturgy and for feasts and solemnities, it can be quite tough on them with long ornate antiphons that they only chant once a year.

What I do like about the 1-week monastic is that if a feast does come up mid-week, and I have to miss the regular ferial psalms for that day (I’m very fond of many psalms), they’ll come back up again next week, whereas in the 4-week LOTH, if I miss a favourite psalm due to a feast, I may have to wait a full 4-week cycle before it comes back again.

The bottom line is that there is no perfect breviary. They are all man-made to fit various circumstances; the traditional monastic breviary recites 255 psalms in a week with very long Vigils (Matins) of 12 psalms plus long readings. That’s clearly only fit for monastics. The 4-week LOTH on the other hand was made for very busy diocesan clergy, and as a bonus is easily within reach of the laity. The 1-week monastic I use sometimes is great because there’s no repetition of psalms, but some traditional psalms like 109(110) for Vespers were moved to Matins and other strange choices. The 4-week LOTH actually respects tradition better with respect to placement of the psalms.

So as you can see each breviary is a compromise of sorts. The one thing I keep in mind when reciting a post-Vatican II Office is that tradition does not necessarily mean identical to a past breviary. For example, Gregorian chant can be used with the 4-week LOTH (and I do chant the Office in Gregorian chant). The psalm placement as mentioned, does respect the positioning of some traditional psalms like 109, 110, 112, 113, 62, 148-150, etc. Some options include retaining the Vigils canticles for feasts and Sundays, and psalms 4, 90 and 133 can be repeated at Compline every night. So in many ways the 4-week LOTH does import many traditions from past breviaries, in particular from the Monastic.

I also think the best breviary, for my purposes, is the one which you can comfortably say in its entirety. The LOTH can do that for far more folks than either the Monastic or 1960 Roman. But then, if one has the time and ability, and prefers those, then one should be thankful for the grace from God of the ability and time to recite it. Not everyone is so blessed!


thank you


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