The names of the offices

Yes, exactly… that was the joke.


The LOTH “Office of Readings” or “Officium Lectionis” is a newer name that emphasizes the expanded readings compared to the analogous ancient Office of “Matins” which is an English version of the Latin name “Matutinas”, simply translated as “morning”. It was often said by monks in the early A.M. and was the prayer said to open the day. It did have smaller readings, but it was often a massive effort since it also had anywhere from 9-12 psalms said alongside the small readings. Vatican 2 decided to emphasize newer, longer readings and have fewer psalms.

“Lauds” is an English adaptation of the Latin name of the office of “Laudes”, which is translated as “Praises”. It is called this because in the old monastic, Benedictine tradition, this office (said immediately after Matins) always concluded the psalmody with the praying of Psalms 148-150. These Psalms each begin with the Latin word “Laudate”, and thus, they set the tone for this Office and naturally, it’s name. After Vatican II, it was made the morning office to emphasize its uniqueness in the morning (instead of simply an extension of Matins).

“Prime” Anglicizes the Latin name “Prima”, meaning “first”. It refers to the first hour after a 6am sunrise. This hour was originally developed in monastic communities as a bridge between Matins & Lauds (usually said together very early in the AM) and actual sunrise. The Council Fathers at V2 decided Prime served no purpose since Lauds was now placed at daybreak and since Prime was not originally part of the Divine Office. So, this hour was suppressed at Vatican II in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrisanctum Concillium.

The other Daytime prayers are also named according to ancient time keeping traditions which put sunrise at 6am and all subsequent hours of the day were named as the first, second, third, etc… hours after sunrise.

So, “Terce” is the “third” hour after the 6am sunrise (ie. 9:00am)(“Tertiam” in Latin).
“Sext” is the “sixth” hour after sunrise (12:00 noon)(“Sextam” in Latin).
“None” is the “ninth” hour after sunrise (3:00pm)(“Nonam” in Latin).

“Vespers” is an English version of the Latin word “Vesperas” which is translated as “Evening”.

“Compline” is an English version of the Latin word “Completorium”, or “completion”, referring to the completion of the day before one goes to bed at night time.

So these are why the names are what they are.


Preference for Latin and pre-Vatican II terminology here. I use these terms because I like them, they have an elegance to them, and the faithful used them for a long time and no harm ever came of it. Same reason I call it “Extreme Unction” instead of “Anointing of the Sick” and I still speak of High Mass and Low Mass.

And no, there is absolutely no question of “disobedience”. TBH, I prefer the Hebrew names of the Old Testament books. Aggeus and Abdias just sound weird.

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