LOTH vs Shorter Christian Prayer Ease of Use

Is the 4-volume set of the Liturgy of the Hours easier to use than Shorter Christian Prayer? I have SCP but I can’t seem to figure it out. I feel completely lost. I have Universalis, but I am interested in the deaconate (years down the road) and Universalis doesn’t use approved translations for the US. It’s unfortunate because it’s so easy to use. I figure it’s best to start learning how to do it on my own, but I can’t make heads or tails of SCP. If the 4-volume set is much easier to follow, I’ll just use Universalis until I can afford to pay the $200 for the set. Any advice is appreciated.

This is a bad time of year.

If you have just acquired Shorter Christian Prayer (or any Divine Office text), you might wait until Monday, 13 January to start figuring it out. That will be Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time (Opt Memorial St Hilary, Bishop and Doctor) and the book will be much easier to figure out then.


The four volume set can be a little confusing to use and requires more flipping to the various sections than the SCP

I would suggest learning to use the SCP for morning and evening prayer well enough before investing in the 4-volume set.

Also keep in mind, the LOTH translation is going to be updated and released in the near season. So, if you haven’t invested in the 4-volume set as of yet, I’d advise you to wait until the release of the new translation

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Is the NAB the only approved translation for the hours? I can purchase the RSV-CE for Universalis. I still would plan to buy the 4-volume set down the road, but I definitely will wait if there’s an update coming.

That’s what I also did. I did Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer with Christian Prayer for about a year before I decided I wanted to do the Office of the Readings and got a 4 Volume Set.

Really, the question is, do you want to do the Office of the Readings? If you do then, then the four volume. If not, then Christian Prayer is fine. If you can find Christian Prayer (The St Paul Edition) you would have every office but the Office of the Readings with the least amount of flipping around possible. That’s the edition I first used.

Basically I want to prepare now for what daily life would look like for me as a deacon. This will not only improve my relationship with Christ, but help me discern the deaconate. So if the office of readings would be required as part of the LOTH for a deacon, I would want to do that so I am prepared. Even if not, I would not be opposed to the readings either. I imagine they would further enrich the time in prayer.


My wife and myself are both Discalced Carmelites, Secular OCDS, and we pray morning and evening prayer.

We used the SCP for about five years before getting the 4-volume set, which two sets would’ve set us back about $280. However, a friend had an extra 4-volume set which he gave to my wife, so I purchased one set for myself.

When the new English translation comes out, I don’t know what we’ll do ?

That’s what I love about Universalis. No flipping. I can get immersed in the prayer without being distracted by trying to figure out the format. I’d buy a 12-volume LOTH set (slowly, lol) if it would completely eliminate flipping to different sections. But I don’t want to use a version of the LOTH that doesn’t use an approved translation. It’s fine for me now as laity, but if I were to become a deacon I would really need to use an approved translation. Better to bite the bullet and learn the complicated format now rather than later when I’m also dealing with all of the education to become a deacon.

A quick google search seemed to imply that deacons do need to recite the Office of the Readings. However, you should ask your formation program to be certain because things can vary based on diocese.

However, I use my St. Paul’s Edition Christian Prayer when I’m at work and use my 4 Volume at home, so there’s uses to having the training wheels of Christian Prayer if you do need/want the 4 Volume in the future. The real flipping of the St Paul’s Edition really only comes into effect when its not Ordinary Time you’re bouncing between the Propers and the Psalter. During Ordinary Time the only flipping is when you do the Invitatory. The rest of the offices are straight through, just turning pages in order…

This is by far the best resource I have seen for learning to use SCP: https://www.laydominicans.org/modules/novitiate/LOTH.pdf


There’s another app called iBreviary that is easy to use and has the US translation of the LoTH.


I have both (Christian Prayer and the 4 volume) and use either or. I haven’t gotten the little yearly guide for the 4 version yet so I’m just doing the one volume. You can do the office of the readings in either book.
I really don’t see a difference besides more readings in the 4 volume.
I think starting with whatever one you can afford and get the guide for it and follow along.

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This was extremely helpful! I think I have it figured out now (for ordinary time, at least). Thank you very much for this

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You are very welcome. I’m glad it was helpful.

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Well, for starters, I think “Christian Prayer” is much better than “Shorter Christian Prayer.” The “Shorter Christian Prayer” book lacks most memorials and optional memorials.

I would argue that there is little reason for a lay person to buy the full 4 volumes unless they really start praying the Office of Readings daily.

The NAB is the only approved translation most of the English speaking world. However, there is another version published by the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales which uses a mixture from

  • Jerusalem Bible
  • Knox Bible
  • New English Bible
  • Revised Standard Version
  • Good News

The RSV-CE is not approved for the hours (officially speaking), outside of the times it is used by the English LOTH for the select verses they use it for.

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I will second iBreviary as a digital option, and for clergy and other select groups, DivineOffice.org (copyright issue prohibit them from making it open to the public at large as it once was).

I use Christian Prayer myself, primarily; it’s sufficient for the diaconate, and easy to use with a little practice.


In the US permanent deacons are normally only obliged to pray morning and evening prayer. While it is possible that some bishops oblige permanent deacons to pray the Office of Readings, I don’t know of one that does. How Canon 276 is written it implies that it is the bishops conference versus individual diocese that set the requirement, but we never covered it in depth during Canon Law,

The complimentary norm for CIC 276 from the USCCB is here:



Let me second the recommendation of the iBreviary app. It’ll give you a feel for how each prayer is structured and it makes it easy to correct yourself once you start using the physical breviary. :wink:

This is correct. And it makes sense–a great many permanent deacons are both married and employed in such a way that would make praying the office on a daily basis unadvisable, if not unhealthy or even dangerous over the long term. I do know a few who have retired and added the office to their praying of the LOTH, but the requirement (in the U.S.) is only morning and evening prayer.

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I’m cheap. It’s not that I can’t afford the 4 volume set, I just don’t want to spend that much money at one time.

I bought Christian Prayer, but still wanted the 4 volume set. I planned on buying the volume for the season of advent, just before advent. Then the volume for the first period of ordinary time. & so on & so forth. I know this way is more expensive, but I’m not spending money for something I’m not using for months ahead of time.

But then I got the full four volume set for Christmas.

I’ve been using the 4 volume set since Christmas & it somehow helped me understand the division of the sections which actually makes it easier to navigate Christian Prayer.

I’ve also memorized Psalm 95 & the Gospel Canticles… really helps reduce a lot of the flipping around.

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