Liturgy of the Hours: Questions From a Beginner


#1

Anybody here pray the Liturgy of the Hours?

I've just recently started praying it from this site:

divineoffice.org/

...and so I have a few questions.

  • I've begun praying the major hours (Office of Readings, Morning Prayers, and Evening Prayers). What time does one usually say the Office of Readings? And as for the Evening Prayers (Vespers), can it be said before 6:00 PM?

  • These prayers usually have a hymn. When you are praying by yourself, do you recite the hymn?

  • Antiphon are usually repeated twice when I listen to their podcast. When you pray them by yourself, do you just recite them once or twice?

Thanks, and I appreciate the help! :)


#2

I've been praying the LOH for about 2 years.
Thankfully, when I received my LOH as a Christmas gift, I had a holy hour. I was trying to pray using this and awfully confounded... looked up at the exposed host and said out loud ... "it would be great to have someone to help get me started..." 5 minutes later Fr. walked in, saw me struggling, blessed my book, setup my ribbons, and helped me pray that first evening prayer. Ever since then, one of the Deacons has adoration just after me and we compare where am at and where I should be... I highly advise getting someone to help in the beginning.

As for your questions:

Depending on your your book, I know in mine there is, there should be an abbreviated section of the General instructions.

Taken from the front of my "Christian Prayer..." (this is just a subset of the entire LOH):

When by yourself:
(I paraphrase here a tad:)
The hymn can be read/recited to oneself.
-Often I don't know the music setting for these hymns; thus, I tend to read them to myself as one would read a poem. The other problem is that the hymn that is used at divineoffice.org/ doesn't match the one in my "Christian Prayer..." as it's just a subset of the entire LOH.

These are taken direct:

The antiphon for each psalm is said before the psalm and it is customary to do so after the psalm.

The responsories with their individual parts should be said during private recitation with the repeated parts omitted unless sung or the meaning requires it.

As for the exact times for saying the offices... that someone else will have to help you with these as I have a family and work there have been times where I end up reading the entire day's worth at the end of the day.

However, I'm usually up by 4am local and I believe the intent is to recite morning prayer at dawn, the office of the hours can be said at any time (if you have the shorter book like mine then you may not have these included), the day time prayers I do just before lunch, the evening prayer just after I get the kids to bed, and evening prayer just before I go to bed.

IMHO: Unless you are of a religious order or ordained wherein you have an obligation to recite at the specific hours, I wouldn't be overly concerned with the specific times.


#3

Excellent website for LOH.

Office can be prayed anytime of day...up to midnight.
If I am up before Sunrise...I do the Invitatory...Office of Readings...Morning Prayer. If I am up after Sunrise...its Invitatory...Morning Prayer...and I pray Office of Readings as one of the Mid-morning...Mid-day...Mid-afternoon Hours... wherever it fits best for time required to pray it properly. On a few occasions...I have prayed Office Readings just before Night Prayer Hours.

Evening Prayer is at Sunset...my standard is the time Vigil Mass has been authorized by our Bishop (Sundays and Solemnities/Holy Days of Obligation)...so that's a window of 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM...I believe this a common window. FYI...I do everything possible to have Morning Prayer NLT 7:00 AM.

Hymns are optional and can be substituted for as desired. Here is what the General Instruction says about the Hymn:

  1. Then an appropriate hymn is sung immediately. The purpose of the hymn is to set the tone for the hour or the feast and, especially in celebrations with a congregation, to form a simple and pleasant introduction to prayer.

I try as best I can to Chant the listed Hymn or another of my choice...but I always do the Hymn...even if its only part of the Hymn...I find that it does help me a lot. I also read silently the Psalm's preamble (focus) and scripture quotation listed just before each Psalm...this too helps me recollect/focus...expand beyond my puny little world of "self".

I also always begin with a prayer to seek the Holy Spirit's guidance and graces to unite me in spirit and truth to the entire Divine Liturgy of Hours throughout the Universal Church...esp the Pope and my Bishop...along with a moment to acknowledge I am formally in God's presence...thanking Him for creating me in his Love and recreating me every moment of my sinful life in His Divine Love and Mercy..through The Paschal Mystery of Our Lord Jesus...in the power of the Holy Spirit...and lastly, thanking him for listening to my prayer offering with the Universal Church. Those few very brief words/thoughts/reflections help me recollect myself...and really pray the Hours...and to listen and hear God's voice speaking to me as I pray the LOH.

The Antiphons are prayed twice...before and after Psalm (note: the "Glory Be" Doxology is always...always prayed after the psalms and canticles...then the antiphon prayed the for second time). If there is a prayer at the end of the Psalm...it is prayed after the Doxology and second time of praying the antiphon (the website you use...if you pray with the recording they beautifully pray/chant...they do the Doxology...prayer...then antiphon...but I was taught its Doxology...antiphon...then prayer). There is no LOH Police so do as you desire.

Lastly...I have used the word "pray...prayed"...to mean "recited"...meaning the LOH is not a mental prayer...lips and voice are necessary parts of the LOH. Note word used throughout the General Instruction:

  1. Even when the liturgy of the hours is recited, not sung, each psalm retains its own antiphon, which is also to be said in private recitation. The antiphons help to bring out the literary genre of the psalm; ...

FYI...the entire GI for LOH is in Vol I of four volume LOH...and is also on the website you use...on upper right hand side of Home page.

Pax Christi


#4

Unless you are a cleric or religious bound to pray the Hours, you can pray out of devotion whenever you want.

That having been said, the most fitting times to pray are:

OOR: Any time of day, and can even pray like the monks do by praying it the night before (after vespers but before compline). If this option is taken, then the Invitatory is not said before OOR since it is to be said at the first hour of the day.

Morning prayer (Lauds):
Upon rising

Daytime prayer:
Midmorning prayer **(Terce*, or "the Third Hour" meaning the third hour of daylight): 9:00AM
**Midday prayer *
(Sext, or "the Sixth Hour" meaning the sixth hour of daylight): 12:00PM
Midafternoon prayer **(None**, or "the Ninth Hour" meaning the ninth hour of daylight): 3:00PM

Evening prayer (Vespers): 6:00PM

Night prayer (Compline): just before retiring for bed


#5

Historically and monastically, office of readings is during the night. In a normal situation, do what works for you.

I have prayed evening prayer as early as 3:30 or 4:00. Just do what works for you.

You can substitute another hymn in, or omit it.

You don’t even need to say the antiphon twice. When I do it with a group, the cantor chants/recites the antiphon before the psalm alone, and everyone does after the psalm. There’s different ways and legitimate variation.

When on your own, I’d just say it once at the beginning and end.


#6

Thanks everyone.

This is my first time praying the LOH. I started only about 3 days ago.

I've been doing more or less what Lancer has done. Before sunrise I've been praying the Invitatory Psalm, immediately followed by the Office of Readings (you omit the "God come to my assistance" part when you start with the Invitatory, correct?). Later on I pray the Morning Prayer. Then at 6:00 PM I pray the Evening Prayer.

Now I understand all this is not obligatory for us laymen, but I would like to pray it at the traditional times, when my schedule allows. :)

In regard to the hymn at the beginning, I think I'll stick with reciting it. But was anybody else a bit taken aback a day or two ago (I think it was on the Feast of the Holy Innocence, yesterday) when the hymn was Amazing Grace for Vespers? I know it's approved, but I found it a bit off putting. I guess it's a matter of personal taste, but anybody else feel the same way?

Lastly, what is the difference between the short book Christian Prayer and the four volume one (beside it being longer, lol)? And does the website that I linked to correspond with the Christian Prayer, or the four volume LOH? Once I get the hang of praying the prayers from that website, I'll try to upgrade to the four volume one, and follow z_0101's advice by getting my priest to help me.

Again, thanks everyone.


#7

It is great to hear that you are praying the Liturgy of the Hours. I personally pray using the one volume Christian Prayer and I would recommend that you purchase this volume if you can.

There are three different versions of the LOH.

There is the one volume, Shorter Christian Prayer that has an abbreviated Morning and Evening Prayers and the Night Prayers. I used this volume for a few months before buying Christian Prayer.
Then there is the one volume Christian Prayer. This has Morning, Evening, and Night Prayers with an abbreviated Office of Readings and Daytime Prayer. It also has a fairly extensive section on the Propers of Seasons and Saints to guide your prayers during the feast days for saints throughout the year. It also has the music for the hymns right there in front of you so that you can at least try and know what is going on with the music scores for the day. I believe that the Four Volume set does not have the music scores for hymns but I may not be correct.
And finally the grand LOH, the Four Volume Set. I personally think that the four volume set should be for someone who has a whole day to dedicate to the Liturgy of the Hours. I personally will probably wait to get the Four Volume set until I'm retired and can spend my whole day praying.

I really think that since you are starting out praying the Liturgy of the Hours, that you should get the one volume Christian Prayer and try and get the feel for it. You will want to make sure that you have the Saint Joseph Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours so that you won't get lost that easily. One thing that I will strongly suggest that you do is to seek help from a priest or someone you know who prays the liturgy of the hours. I wish I did that myself when I started praying the Liturgy. I just had to seek help from the people here on Catholic Answers Forums.

God bless and I will pray for your endeavors of the Liturgy of the Hours!

And, by the way, if you need any help or need to ask any questions just PM or e-mail me and I will be glad to help.


#8

[quote="Windmill, post:4, topic:309708"]
Unless you are a cleric or religious bound to pray the Hours, you can pray out of devotion whenever you want.

[/quote]

We can pray it as devotion, or we can pray it as liturgy and thereby choose to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in communion with the entire Church. In the latter case one is required to observe the verity of each hour but some flexibility is allowed.

To answer the OP's questions:

The OOR was meant to be prayed at any time; however it's historical root is in the office of Vigils (or Matins) of the pre-Vatican II tradition. Vigils is still part of the monastic tradition and many communities that use the LOTH instead of a monastic breviary will say it as Vigils, which is my own practice. There are even optional OT canticles in the back of the LOTH for use on Sundays, feasts and solemnities which in monastic and pre-Vatican II tradition had a "third nocturne".

Traditionally in monastic usage, Vigils was prayed during the night, and was ended by Lauds. Originally, Lauds was simply the last three "Laudate" psalms of Vigils (ps. 148, 149 and 150), which also happen to be the last psalms of the psalter. Eventually this morphed into two distinct Offices. Keep in mind that monastic time, before the invention of the clock, was very elastic, and the Office was different in summer and winter to account for the shorter nights of summer.

In modern usage, governed by a clock, the following approximate time ranges can be used:

OOR: any convenient time (one can join it to Lauds and form a more traditional office of "Matins" where the OOR is the "vigils" part and Morning Prayer is the "Lauds" part). If using it as a traditional night Office, it can be said the preceding evening either combined with or separately from Compline, during the middle of the night, or early in the morning. Let's assume it's said very early in the morning. A person's schedule could look like this:

Office of Readings: between 5 and 6 am
Lauds: between 6 and 8:30 am
Prime (first hour): abolished (but when in force, between 6 and 7 am)
Terce (third hour): between 8 and 10 am
Sext (sixth hour): between 11:30 am and 1 pm
None (ninth hour): between 2 and 4 pm
Vespers (at the lighting of the lamps), between 4 and 7 pm (it is interesting to note that the Rule of St. Benedict called for the entire office of Vespers to be said in daylight, so it would be earlier in winter, later in summer).
Compline: before retiring for the night (in monastic usage, can be as early as 6:30 pm or 9 pm depending on when the community rises for Vigils).

Mid-day prayer can be said at any one of the three canonical daytime hours of Terce, Sext or None. Moreover, if one wants to observe all of the canonical daytime hours, one can use the complementary psalmody in each volume of the LOTH (the Gradual psalms). In that case one says the mid-day hour at one of the three, and the appropriate complementary psalms at the other two.

For the structure of the Office, the hymns are to be sung, if possible, or read/recited, if not. The antiphons are said at the beginning of each psalm, and optionally, at the end as well. Moreover, if a psalm is divided into segments, and an antiphon is suggested for each segment, it is permissible to recite the first antiphon only and pray the psalm through entirely under one antiphon and glory be.

To combine the OOR to Lauds to make a more traditional office of "Matins" (Vigils+Lauds), one would proceed as follows:

Hymn (either from the OOR or Morning Prayer)
Psalmody of the OOR
Bible reading and Responsory of the OOR
Patristic or hagiographic reading and responsory from the OOR
Optionally OT canticles for Sundays, feasts and solemnities only
Te Deum (if Sunday-except Lent, feast or solemnity)
1st psalm of Lauds (Morning Prayer) then the rest of Morning Prayer.

Hope this helps. The LOTH is a beautiful and very ancient tradition that goes back to the Desert Fathers, and which even had its roots in Jewish liturgy where psalms were prayed at morning and evening. I'm always thrilled when others decide to take up this tradition in their own prayer life, and am very grateful for the current LOTH which had, as one of its intended benefits,the bringing this rich tradition into the lives of the laity, instead of being limited to the clergy and religious as prior to Vatican II.


#9

[quote="mikee, post:6, topic:309708"]
In regard to the hymn at the beginning, I think I'll stick with reciting it. But was anybody else a bit taken aback a day or two ago (I think it was on the Feast of the Holy Innocence, yesterday) when the hymn was Amazing Grace for Vespers? I know it's approved, but I found it a bit off putting. I guess it's a matter of personal taste, but anybody else feel the same way?

[/quote]

It's unfortunate that the ancient breviary hymns were discarded with this edition of LOTH. It has been decided that they will return in the new translation of the LOTH, praise God.


#10

[quote="superamazingman, post:9, topic:309708"]
It's unfortunate that the ancient breviary hymns were discarded with this edition of LOTH. It has been decided that they will return in the new translation of the LOTH, praise God.

[/quote]

They are still available and entirely licit to use; they weren't really discarded, just not translated into the English version. The Latin Editio Typica of the LOTH still has them and in fact many of them have returned to their more ancient texts. Some post-Vatican II monastic breviaries also still have them. In Latin, Solesmes publishes the Liber Hymnarius, which I use (in Latin) or a Latin-French equivalent.

The Mudelein psalter also has them in Latin, with a side-by-side English translation. It's a wonderful psalter for those wanting to chant the Office in English (alas I use Latin or French, my mother tongue).


#11

[quote="OraLabora, post:10, topic:309708"]
They are still available and entirely licit to use; they weren't really discarded, just not translated into the English version. The Latin Editio Typica of the LOTH still has them and in fact many of them have returned to their more ancient texts. Some post-Vatican II monastic breviaries also still have them. In Latin, Solesmes publishes the Liber Hymnarius, which I use (in Latin) or a Latin-French equivalent.

The Mudelein psalter also has them in Latin, with a side-by-side English translation. It's a wonderful psalter for those wanting to chant the Office in English (alas I use Latin or French, my mother tongue).

[/quote]

In theory, they weren't, but for all intents and purposes, they were. They're now much more difficult to use, since they're not in the books, and not in the apps, which means they are not easily available, especially if you get together with others who own breviaries to pray together.

I'm eagerly awaiting the day when they're back in the breviary and easy to use.


#12

Try the Liber Hymnarius if you want to sing the tune for the official hymn of the particular hour. There's even a website with mp3s for listening and learning.


#13

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