Liturgy of the Hours/The Divine Office:: Are the changes "new", "old", or simply "maturation"?

A spinoff of another thread where LOTH/The Office was being discussed. Some interesting pieces of information were exchanged, so perhaps we could continue the dialogue here.

I don’t have much to add, except that I’m enjoying learning a lot through other people’s posts.

A liturgy from 1599 is at

There are a bunch of links to pre and post Vatican II breviaries and little offices at

Patrick Hanynes has some essays here.


My view? “Rapid maturation” :wink:

For the secular LOTH it really picked up speed in 1910 with the Pius X reforms which at the time were nearly as radical as the 1970 reform. The 1910 reforms suppressed the breviary of Pius V. Musically the 1910 reforms had quite an impact on the antiphonary.

For the Monastic breviary, especially the original Benedictine schema, it’s not so much a “maturation” as an adaptation to the times (current calendar, liturgical year, collects, intercessions, OT canticles at Lauds, etc.). The basic layout is the same. The other schemas in the Thesaurus are more “radical” though but keep in mind that individual Benedictine communities have always had much latitude to design their own breviaries.

Thanks for those links :slight_smile:

I’ll have a look at them when I have the time lol

Could you explain what this entails in the other thread which was made regarding LOTH?

As I said earlier and as OraLabora mentioned (at least some of them), the most radical changes are:

1)The suppression of Prime (Yes permitted for the Franciscans, but they are one of several religious orders and the latter did not suppress prime nor for that matter did the secular clergy)
2)The clumping together of Terce, sext and none as Midday prayer, with an obligation only to say one of them, excluding dispensations and particular law. This is most definitely new, whilst previously clerics may have clumped together 2 offices the limit was 2 not three and they were obligated to say all of them.
3)Psalms spread over four weeks instead of one
4)Matins being replaced by ‘an office of readings’
5)Carte Blanche permission to recite the Offices in the vernacular

It is utterly irrelevant whether or not the ‘traditional’ options or permitted or not, just as the fact that the priest is allowed to use some ‘traditional’ options in the NO does make the NO less ‘new’.

These are, so far as I can see, the changes amongst several that traditional catholics or rather those who prefer the breviary of John XXIII object to. It is worth pointing out that their objections are at least allowed by Rome who has not censured the opinion and who allows recourse to the breviary of John XXIII. It is also worth pointing out that many people including those of the traditional societies such as the FSSP, ICKSP and SSPX as well as many of the traditional religious congregations or branches of orders agree with this. (Read pre-Vatican 2 for traditional as regards religious congregations)

You can read about the 20+ religious communities that have pre-Vatican 2 usage here or google it for more.

I am merely intending to point out the changes that some object to, not whether they are justified or not, that is beyond the ambit of my knowledge and I believe this discussion.

While those are important changes, Melchior’s question is whether the LOTH is “new” or the product of maturation. My position is that it is maturation, albeit rapid maturation, and that the precedent for radical change was established in 1910 and not 1970. In fact Pius X completely abolished the psalter of Pius V and made failure to use the new psalter grave matter.

The impact on the music for the Divine Office in 1910 was serious with the loss and rewording of many antiphons and the creation of new ones from obscure and unidentified sources. Matins was considerably shortened, and Lauds lost the 1500+ year tradition of always finishing the psalmody with the three Laudate psalms.

It’s been said that the LOTH was not designed to be chanted yet now books exist to chant the entire day office.

In achieving the goal of making the secular office more realistic for a busy and shrinking diocesan clergy, the LOTH succeeded. It achieved the same result for making it within reach of the laity, with a small but increasing number praying at least part of it.

This goal was the same one desired by Pius X with his 1910 reforms, and again by his successor Pius XII when he appointed Annibale Bugnini to study reform of the liturgy in the mid-40s.

Among other things evolution of the Divine Office allowed reciting Matins in anticipation the previous evening… a very clear precedent for the Office of Readings. For the latter the General Instructions are clear that it retains its nocturnal quality. This is supported by the rubrics that allow the use of the invitatory only at the Office of Readings or Lauds.

The lumping of all three mid-day Offices into one is perhaps one of the things I like the least about the LOTH (along with the NT canticle at Vespers). It’s almost a major hour like Vespers; in fact today the psalmody of this hour is as long as Vespers.

The issue of language bothers me least. The modern reality is that participation of the laity suggests the need for the vernacular. And the post-war expansion of Catholicism in non-European parts of the world suggests the same. Think for instance Korea, where Christianity is growing (Korea is proportionally the second Christian nation in Asia after the Phillipines), and yet where Latin is a major obstacle as Koreans have a different alphabet, different sounds, no clear roots in Latin and where Latin has zero cultural relevance. It’s the same issue as for the Mass, and it’s part and parcel of being a “universal” Church in a modern world.

Regarding rubrics which allow the invitatory only for OOR or Lauds, for clarification, are you talking about the 1910 revision or the current LoTH?

I don’t mean to go too far off topic, but is this the case today, invitatory only at OOR or Lauds?


That’s for the current LOTH. But also traditionally, if Vigils were anticipated the evening before, the Invitatory is said at Lauds instead.

I was only responding as Melchior had asked me to point out what changes people object to, apologies if this wasn’t clear or seemed off topic. :blush:

As for language, there is a difference between dispensations for particular countries or areas and carte blanche for the whole world. There are precedents such as missions to native americans (being from the UK I forget if that word is PC or non pc but ah well) which have always been in the vernacular. That said dispensations should be rare, as they are a ‘wound’ on the universal law as one book of manual theology describes it. And the benefits for learning Latin no matter how hard are great, lets not forget the difficulties the Cure De’Ars had!


Could you please post an example (entire text) of a Benedictine schema (in English :wink: ) for a specific office (say Lauds). (I want to compare it to the “regular” LotH). :slight_smile:

If you are able, then I have a follow up question :o

There are some schemas at but some of the links are broken.

The Monastery of the Holy Spirit (Cistercian/Trappist) hae theirs posted at


And yet, Holy Mass was said in Korea, by Korean priests, in Latin, for over 100 years. And the Korean Catholic laity was very devout and well educated in the faith.

Now? Well the number of Catholics has been increasing there, but the general knowledge and practice of the faith is pretty poor, in my experience.

Thanks so very much!

How fascinating

Fascinating but never the less, the same with Japanese, it gives cursory hint how to pronounce the Latin words, but not exactly Latin either.
Especially Japanese, since they have no standing alone consonant safe for one letter. It is very messy.
I once singing with a choir during a Mass at the Cathedral in Hiroshima. Most singer in the choir were from the Cathedral-attached academy of music. None of them were even Catholic, but the rest, believe me, can only pronounce them in difficulty even when the texts were rewritten in katakana.
Well, they have lots of difficulty with foreign language anyway, even English.

You can understand this better if reading the history of the Kakure-Kirishitan people. In the absence of priests (because of Japanese anti foreign of the time), those Catholics keep their faith secretly. Prayers in Latin and Portugese were passed down from one generation to generation of “lay minister/catechist” in the community. In the course of time, those prayers are preserved, some still recognizable as Latin/Portugese but not without difficulty because the say it differently, the right way of saying it lost in the course of time. It become “oral tradition” passed down to head of community and become incantation instead of prayer. Simply because most of them do not understand the meaning or most of them are lost in the course of history.

They have truly fascinating history.

Yes, I’ve heard of them. Amazing!

But this most certainly wasn’t by choice but the requirement of a church that was at the time highly Eurocentric. My experiences with English in Korea suggests to me that listening to a Korean Mass in Latin would quite painful. In the Korea up to about 20 years after the Korean war I suspect most of the laity had no experience with European languages other than a handful of mission-educated folks. I’m certain that the liturgy in the vernacular reaches more people there. And I say this as someone who chants Lauds and Vespers in Latin daily, and the propers and ordinary of the Mass every Sunday. But then French is my mother tongue.

I can’t speak about the practice of the faith there as I have little first-hand experience; on my frequent travels to Korea I attended an international parish in Seoul made up mostly of foreigners and expats.

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