Are there any rules we are supposed to follow when praying the Liturgy of the Hours as a group or as an individual? At Mass we bow at the “et incarnatus est…”, bow our heads at the name of the Trinity, Jesus, and Mary, make a sign of the Cross on our foreheads/lips/heart, etc. Are there similar things for the LOTH? If there are, does it make a difference if you are praying the LOTH alone or in a group?

Thanks! :slight_smile:

Yes, there are gestures in the Liturgy of the Hours.

A “small” sign of the Cross made with the thumb on the lips at the Invitatory opening versicle, “Lord, open my lips.”

A “large” sign of the Cross made from forehead to breast, then left shoulder to right at:
*]The opening versicle, “God, come to my assistance” at all other hours
*]The opening lines of the Benedictus, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis
*]The closing blessing in individual recitation or in the absence of an ordained minister, “May the Lord bless us, protect us from evil…”

A “large” bow is traditionally made at the “Glory to the Father…”

A “small” bow of the head is traditionally made at the mention of the holy Name of Jesus.

In celebrations in common, these gestures are pretty much mandatory. In individual recitation, it appears that the expectation is much more relaxed, but it is still praiseworthy to do them anyway.

Thanks! Do you have a source? :slight_smile:

Try “The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours” by Daria Sockey.

A good start is the General Instructions themselves:

  1. All taking part stand during:

a. the introduction to the office and the introductory verses of each hour;

b. the hymn;

c. the gospel canticle;

d. the intercessions, the Lord’s Prayer, and the concluding prayer.

  1. All sit to listen to the readings, except the gospel.
  1. The assembly either sits or stands, depending on custom, while the psalms and other canticles (with their antiphons) are being said.
  1. All make the sign of the cross, from forehead to breast and from left shoulder to right, at:

a. the beginning of the hours, when God, come to my assistance is being said;

b. the beginning of the gospel, the Canticles of Zechariah, of Mary, and of Simeon.

The sign of the cross is made on the mouth at the beginning of the invitatory, at Lord, open my lips.

Note that there may be some local variations based on specific traditions. For instance instead of crossing themselves at the Gospel canticles, Cistercians do like for the Gospel reading at Mass (crossing with thumb on forehead, mouth and chest). The gestures described by Porthos pretty is pretty much how it’s done at the local Benedictine abbey.

What if you’re doing it solo? From my reading of What the Church has said, most of this assumes a communal celebration w/clergy. Any Church documents address individual recitation?

Can be done individually thanks to universalis.com :slight_smile:

The same site also says whatever posture seems appropriate will work. Just am curious if the Church herself has said anything, or if it is left open ended.

When it comes to praying individually or in a small group, it is up to you. If you may prefer to do the stand-sit-stand posture by yourself, it is also up to you. Any posture, which seems good on how you respect and adore the Lord is good for individual recitation

Could someone help me with the page settings for January 2, my St Joesph guide has not arrived from Aquinas and more yet :frowning:


To be honest, almost anything goes in a private recitation - even when praying in union with the Universal Church. If you were a priest and obliged to pray the LOTH, and in private omitted the signs of the Cross, you would still fulfill your obligation. The prayer itself is what we are taking part in, not necessarily the gestures. With that said, we can strongly say that such gestures are ancient, traditional, and highly recommended. We should be in communion with our fathers in faith, our contemporaries, and with those who are yet to come.

I myself often wonder if praying the Office as purely silent mental prayer still fulfills your LOTH obligation as a Priest or Religious brother/sister. The old pre-1971 Office required actual singing or audible recitation in order for it to be valid. I’m not sure if the new office requires anything in that way.

Are you using the 4-volume US Liturgy of the Hours? Tomorrow is the Memorial of Ss. Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen.

At the Office of Readings:

The Invitatory is “Christ is born for us, come let us adore Him.”
The Psalms are p. 765 (Friday Week I)
The Verse & First Reading is p. 533 (Isaiah 42:1-8)
second reading is p. 1285 (sermon of S. Gregory Nazianzen)

At Morning Prayer:

Psalms are 769
Reading is** 535**
Benedictus Antiphon is 1287

The rest you can figure out. Just remember that everything is from the Friday between January 2 and Epiphany, and from the feast of Ss. Basil & Gregory.

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