Your Preferred LOTH Schedule


Hi all!
I FINALLY got the next two volumes in my LOTH set! (one left to go!)

I know that ultimately, I will have to order the hours around my own school and work schedule to accommodate everything, but I’d just like to get idea what kind of schedule other lay people follow when praying the LOTH. Do you being with the Office of Readings or with Morning Prayer? Do you pray all the hours? Or just a select few? Do you have set times for your different hours, or is your prayer schedule more flexible?

Thanks and God Bless :slight_smile:


Hello Hey_Jude_1994. I pray the invitatory, morning and evening prayer. As much as I wish to pray all the hours, my schedule won’t permit me to say all of it. From what i read(sorry, i can’t provide a link), the morning and evening hour is the main hinges of the LOTH. I pray the rosary as soon as I wake up in the morning, pray the invitatory and morning prayer after the rosary, and pray the evening prayer at about 8 to 9 in the evening.


I pray them all. I’ve modified my schedule a bit lately, to something like this (weekdays, weekends are a bit different):

Office of Readings after rising (6 am if I work in the city, 7 am if I work from home)
Morning Prayer before leaving for/Starting work (7 am if working in the city, 8:00 if working from home)
Terce at 9 am if working in the city (after arrival) or 9:45 if working from home
Sext at 11:30 am
None at 3 pm
Evening Prayer at 6 pm (sometimes 6:30 if traffic is bad on the way home)
Night prayer (Compline) at about 8:15 pm.

I typically retire at around 9:30 pm, reading the daily chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict and whatever book I happen to be reading (third volume of “The Last Lion” at the moment, a biography of Winston Churchill).

On Saturday and Sunday I typically combine the OOR and MP into “Matins” (as allowed by the rubrics), and only do mid-day prayer instead of all three minor hours. Also when work deadlines or emergencies pop up I’ll often only do one of minor hours (usually 11:30).


My schedule with LOTH:

Readings/Morning: On the bus to work (8:30am)
Daytime: On my lunch break (12:30pm)
Vespers: On the bus home (5pm)
Night: Before bed (usually about 11pm)

By the way, anybody who tells you that ordinary folk couldn’t possibly pray the '61 Breviary are wrong. When I choose to pray the Hours in that form, it’s:

Matins/Lauds: Waking up (7:15am)
Prime: On the bus to work (8:30am)
Terce/None/Sext: Successively at the start of my lunch break (12:30pm)
Vespers: On the bus home from work (5pm)
Compline: Before bed (usually about 11pm)

Granted, I have a 45 minute commute to and from work, when not everybody has that luxury or free time. Still though, except for Matins/Lauds, none of the Hours should take you more than 20 minutes with the right pace.


For the 1961 breviary it depends… I guess the practice of running offices together like Terce, Sext and None was more tolerated then (in fact some priests would say their entire breviary in one sitting to get it out of the way). It’s discouraged in the LOTH, as part of the reason for simplification was returning to the verity of each hour by making it easier to find time even during busy parts of the day. On the other hand only one minor hour is mandated, the other two are optional. As a friend of mine says, it’s like trying to consolidate your debts onto one credit card. It doesn’t really lighten the load compared to the previous practice of 3 short offices.

In my case I chant the LOTH, at least MP and EP, and usually Compline and OOR as well; mid-day depends on whether I’m working from home or the office. It’s very much part of the monastic tradition I’m attached to, our abbey has chosen to make Gregorian chant part of its charism. OOR I chant recto-tono in French, and Compline “in directum” in French during the week and Latin on Sundays, using the old monastic practice of using psalms 4, 90 and 133 every day (it’s allowed in the rubrics in the General Instructions… all the psalms of Compline during the week are repeated elsewhere so you don’t miss any by doing that).

My practice with the LOTH is to chant a psalm in Latin first, then read it meditatively in French (my mother tongue) afterwards. MP and EP take about 20-25 minutes in that manner. Obviously I couldn’t do that in the same time with the 1961 breviary; plus my commute (3x per week, 3x per week I work from home) is 1:15 each way of driving. In any case I would never chose to pray the 1961 breviary, simply because of my monastic leanings I’d choose a Monastic breviary instead. In fact that’s what I do when I have more time, I pray the post-Vatican II monastic breviary of the community I’m attached to. It’s the entire 150 psalms of the psalter in a week (and the cursing psalms are NOT eliminated but some “doubles” aren’t repeated), and there’s a couple of options to spread it over 2 weeks.

The big issue I have with that office is that I’m often missing one or another of the minor hours on a fairly regular basis, and therefore some psalms go missing. With the LOTH I always manage to get at least one minor hour in using DP, and the other optional hours using the complementary psalter and those psalms are repeated elsewhere, so over the course of 4 weeks I do get most of the psalter minus the cursing psalms and psalms that were displaced by a feast.

When you really get down to it, the LOTH was brilliantly designed to make it accessible to those who are time-limited yet want to maintain some traditional elements.


I don’t believe that’s what the LOTH was designed for, going off of the memoirs of the people who constructed it (Annibale Bugnini, for starters). If it was, then it’s superfluous, because a shorter Breviary with traditional elements already existed: the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

I read an article recently from a Benedictine priest who said that before Vatican II, he commended laypeople interested in the Hours to just pray Prime and Compline before trying to add other Hours, since those were the most suitable for those with time constraints. The same priest was very bewildered when Vatican II suppressed Prime by reason that it would make the Office easier to learn and pray.

By the way, it wasn’t just the curse Psalms that are absent from the LOTH. There’s also individual verses omitted from various Psalms. Most notably the last verse from Super flumina Babylonis.


I’m way off kilter right now, thanks to being home for the Christmas break. Once the semester starts back up, I think I’ll have a pretty good schedule.

5:30am Office of readings
6:30am Mass
7:30am Morning Prayer

10am Midmorning
12am Midday
3pm Midafternoon
(I’ll more than likely just stick with one that ends up working around my class schedule)

7:30pm Evening Prayer
10pm Night Prayer

I know the times don’t matter much, and I shouldn’t be too scrupulous about it, but sticking to a schedule is a good practice for many other aspects of life as well! :thumbsup:

Thanks for all your input as well! It’s really helped me determine the above schedule! :slight_smile:


I also have absolutely no idea what you guys are talking about. I knew there were some major differences between the pre and post-Vatican II Breviaries, but I don’t know what they are lol


Compare for yourself.

LOTH (post-Vatican II):
Roman Breviary (pre-Vatican II):

The most notable differences:

  1. Matins in the Breviary has to be prayed as the first Hour, and is combined with Lauds (though there is the option of anticipating Matins the evening before). Depending on the day, it either has three, six, or nine readings. In the LOTH, the Office of Readings can be prayed at any time, and always ha two readings.

  2. The LOTH has no Hour of Prime, and any of the three Daytime Hours can be used, or all three. The Breviary requires Prime and all of the daytime Hours to be prayed.

  3. The LOTH uses a four-week Psalter. The Breviary uses a one-week Psalter. The LOTH is missing a few Psalms and omits a handful of verses from other Psalms; the Breviary has every Psalm, every verse.

  4. The LOTH can be prayed in any approved language. The Breviary must be prayed in Latin; though as a private devotion, a layperson can use the vernacular.

  5. The LOTH is organized by liturgical seasons (Advent/Christmas, Lent/Easter, Ordinary Time I, Ordinary Time II). The Breviary is organized by the earth’s seasons (Autumnalis, Hiemalis, Verna, Aestiva).

  6. In 1911, Pope St. Pius X introduced to the Breviary the schema of Lauds i and Lauds ii. The former is the normal one. The latter one is used for penitential days (because Lauds i has a very uplifting and inspirational tone to it). The LOTH did away with this and just has one schema for Morning Prayer.

  7. The hymn in the LOTH is always after the introductory verse. In the Breviary it comes after the Psalms and before the short reading.


There may be some truth to that; read “From Breviary to Liturgy of the Hours” by Stanislaw Campbell. A bit dry… but worth the read. One thing it will do is put to rest that the new Office didn’t have any thought put into it. Still, regardless of the intent, it is much more within reach of the laity and the General Instructions in fact encourage lay participation, and if that was an unintended consequence instead of an intended one, it doesn’t matter to me.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe those shorter offices did not include the entire psalter. These offices were mostly used by lay brothers whereas the choir monks chanted the full Benedictine LOTH. One of the things (good things IMHO) that Vatican II did, was remove this distinction between lay and choir monks as it was never intended by the Rule. It’s one reason why simplified monastic breviaries came about after Vatican II. Our abbey for instance had a working farm, and still has a working cheese factory and cider factory. Those use to be the exclusive preserve of the lay brothers, but now all monks are professed and attend the same office, so some simplification was inevitable in order to retain balance.

The notion of simplification didn’t start with Vatican II. Pius X started it with the 1910 breviary, on which the 1961 was based, for largely the same reasons the LOTH came about, ease the load on diocesan clergy. Moreover, the work that led to the LOTH did not start with Vatican II. Annibale Bugnini started work on simplifying the liturgy in the 1940s with the Pian commission. Some of those fruits came out in the 50s, with simplified feasts and calendar, Holy Week reforms, different manner of chanting antiphons, etc.

There are probably as many opinions on this as there are monks. Our abbey uses a post-Vatican II LOTH that does not have Prime. The previous breviary required the chanting of 250+ psalms a week in choir. Some communities have retained that schema, others like ours have taken a simpler path that still follows St. Benedict’s instruction to pray all the psalms in a week, if monks were not fond of his distribution. None of the monks of our abbey that I’ve spoken to miss Prime. Vigils is at 5 am and ends just before 6 (and just after 6 on Sundays and feasts), Lauds is at 7:30, and the time in between dedicated to lectio divina. Many monks I’ve spoken to really appreciate the extra time dedicated to lectio, an important part of their vocation that tended to be rushed when Prime existed.

I’m well aware of that. The sources I use (Latin and French) for the LOTH have retained the cursing verses, either in brackets or as a footnote. Our abbey uses them. You may be aware of this already, the elimination of the cursing psalms and verses was insisted upon by Paul VI. The decision to remove them was not unanimous in the committee drafting the LOTH. Paul VI ruled and they were removed.


A couple of quibbles about point 7. In the monastic breviary, the hymn always came after the introductory verse for the minor hours and for Vigils/Matins, and after the psalmody for Lauds, Vespers and Compline (with a variation for Compline: the reading comes after the hymn rather than before as at Lauds and Vespers). The LOTH standardized on this format for all hours; however the post-Vatican II monastic LOTH continues to allow, ad libitum, the placement of the hymn after the psalmody for Lauds, Vespers and Compline.

The LOTH returns to the ancient monastic tradition at the Office of Readings of having a cycle of long biblical and patristic readings. Moreover the rubrics allow one to continue treating it as Vigils, and the rubrics also allow one to attach the OOR to Lauds (or to other offices for that matter). Voilà, Matins returns. The formula is: invitatory and invitatory psalm, hymn from either OOR or Lauds at one’s discretion, psalms of the OOR, first reading and responsory, second reading and responsory, Te Deum if applicable, the psalmody of Lauds, shorter reading and responsory of Lauds, Gospel canticle with antiphon, intercessions, Our Father, collect, conclusion.

The LOTH also allows as I mentioned the use of ps. 4, 90 and 133 daily at Compline, to allow recitation from memory, again an ancient monastic tradition. The LOTH also returns the gradual psalms, optionally, to their traditional positions at the minor hours.

On point 6, the LOTH places psalm 50 every Friday, which has traditionally been the penitential day in our tradition. In the monastic tradition, there was never a Lauds I and Lauds II. Psalm 50 (preceded by psalm 66) was prayed daily. By using the option to pray psalm 66 as the invitatory psalm, at least on Fridays one recaptures this 1500 y.o. tradition on one day of the week.

The LOTH does have a few options that appear to be not well-known as noted above.

I for one will continue to pray it joyfully. Perhaps my monastic attachment allows me to see more monastic elements in the LOTH; in fact some elements of monastic tradition that were in part lost by the 1961 breviary are at least made possible with the LOTH (such as the psalms of Compline).

No office is going to be perfect, but one key element of any office is that it’s liturgy, that is, “it’s not all about me”! I for one find much to commend in the LOTH, though from a personal viewpoint, there are things I don’t like, for instance the NT canticles at Vespers, which don’t chant well at all, they simply don’t have the poetic cadences of the psalms or even the OT canticles at Lauds.


All true. I was just keeping it simple.

The LOTH returns to the ancient monastic tradition at the Office of Readings of having a cycle of long biblical and patristic readings. Moreover the rubrics allow one to continue treating it as Vigils, and the rubrics also allow one to attach the OOR to Lauds (or to other offices for that matter). Voilà, Matins returns. The formula is: invitatory and invitatory psalm, hymn from either OOR or Lauds at one’s discretion, psalms of the OOR, first reading and responsory, second reading and responsory, Te Deum if applicable, the psalmody of Lauds, shorter reading and responsory of Lauds, Gospel canticle with antiphon, intercessions, Our Father, collect, conclusion.

I don’t see how it “returns” anything. Adding a Gospel reading for Vigils is optional both in the LOTH and the Roman Breviary. The only difference is that rubrics for it are directly in the LOTH, whereas for the Breviary, one has to extrapolate a bit from the Breviarium Monasticum.

I could get into a very, very long discussion about this. To keep it short… Bugnini talks about the curse Psalms and verses in his memoir. He evidently manipulated both the Consilium (who were largely against removing anything) and Paul VI (who agreed with the Consilium) by telling both parties that the other requested the removal of the Psalms/verses. This is not something that he obscures or repents for in any way: he was quite proud of what he accomplished.

Apparently he and the Pope had that sort of relationship for a long time, which is why the CDW made much more radical changes to the liturgy than Vatican II desired. So yes, while the Pope did approve some very questionable and novel changes, I don’t think I am being disobedient in saying that he did so in error. There is an anecdote that Paul VI wept when he realized the Pentecost Octave had been abolished in the Novus Ordo, when he showed up to the Papal chapel for daily Mass on the Monday after Pentecost and the altar servers had put out green vestments instead of red.


Can someone compare the old hours to the new so I know what y’all are referring to? lol!
I only know that Vespers = Evening Prayer


The “old” terms can still in fact be used, but for the record here are the equivalents:

Vigils (or Matins): replaced by the Office of Readings which can be said at any time but can still be used as a Vigil (night) prayer;

Lauds = Morning Prayer
Prime = abolished
Terce = Terce
Sext = Sext
None = None
Note at any one of Terce, Sext and None, Mid-day prayer can be said, with the other two being optional and psalms taken from the Complementary Psalter.

Vespers = Evening Prayer

Compline = Night Prayer


I guess I’m sort of “simple” but I’ve found that the Little Office of the BVM is my favorite. Its considerably shorter. I pray the version from 1904.

I pray matins/lauds first thing in the morning, then prime about 8:00 followed by terce at 9:00. Sext at noon, none at 3:00 vespers around 4-4:30 then compline just before bed.
I’ve got about 1/2 of it down in latin but I still have to fall back on the English side more than I care for.

Using the Little Office allows me more time for the Rosary. :slight_smile:


I think it’s important to maintain equilibrium in one’s prayer life, and not overdoing it, so I think you have a healthy approach.

It’s one reason why I use the LOTH, and when I do have more time, I can expand or contract it as needed with the other minor hours or by adding the Vigil canticles (the “3d Nocturne”) for feasts and Sundays.

Another option that I use is sometimes spread the psalms of the OOR over a two-week cycle instead of four weeks (it’s suggested actually, in the General Instructions of the Monastic Liturgy of the Hours for communities compelled to use the 4-week LOTH for valid reasons), and divide them into two nocturnes.

When my kids were young, doing the LOTH was considerably more difficult! Now for the most part we are empty nesters except on weekends when one of our three sons is home from junior college. My Anglican wife, BTW has discovered the LOTH; sometimes if she can’t sleep in the night she’ll read the Office of Readings on her iPad, she loves the long readings.


All those of you who are praying the full Office, I’m interested to know:
-How long does this take you and how, exactly, do you approach it.
-Do you have a specific place for prayer, special clothing like a scapular (for all you oblates out there)?
-Do you do all the movements, standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing at the Glory Be etc?
-Do you read the Office, reading along in your head or do you read aloud or sing? If you sing which tunes (or tones or modes) do you use and do you use different ones for each psalm, Hour or Season?
-Where did you get your Office books?
-For those who have tried different ‘flavours’ what were the differences?

A lot of what was said is quite different for my experience of the liturgy of my contemplative Benedictine community. Our Breviary was in the form of five books, two big books for Nocturns (called by others in this thread Matins or Office of Readings), two big books for Lauds and Vespers and one smaller volume for the Little Hours and Compline, plus a hymn book. I can’t imagine trying to do this on the bus on anything but the simplest day in Ordinary Time. Hymn book, book for the weekly psalms and another book if there is any kind of feast for special antiphons, readings, responsories and prayers. Just the juggling, much less the flipping from page to page inherent in any ordinary day, would be crazy.

Our Benedictine monastic Office is mostly sung. Each antiphon has a different tune (and every occasion has its own set of antiphons, thus the large books- it takes up a lot of space when you can only fit the first two Christmas antiphons on one page). Each psalm has its proper tone or mode, a solemn mode for Lauds and Vespers, a simple tone for the Little Hours and all the psalms sung on a sleepy, wavering FA at Nocturns. We sing the responsories, the Canticles and the prayers. The readings are read aloud rather slowly but on Christmas and Easter we even sing the Gospel readings. And, yes, this often means ten extra mintues on every feast + day trying to learn the tunes. Yes, it is worth it.

Our Office goes through all the Psalms in a week with some repetition as well as an Old Testament Canticle at Lauds and New Testament Canticles for the third Nocturn on Sunday. The comparison of the LOTH and the Breviary given by Ephel Duath doesn’t quite fit our monastic breviary in anywhere. Ours is pretty much line for line what St Benedict recommended but without Prime, with only two long readings at Nocturns and all in the vernacular.

I loved the Office in community. It gave the day rhythm and purpose and it was amazing how just the right psalm would turn up at just the right moment. There were plenty of funny moments, too- someone stands up to intone ‘By the rivers of Babylon’ and instead of singing solemn Gregorian chant starts off with a boppy pop number and the younger nuns giggle and the older nuns frown. Or someone sings ‘In the shadow of your wings I find refuse’ (not refuge).
But I’ll be honest, now that I am working full time I find it really hard to fit the Office into my day. I figure, and I’ll probably be corrected, that as a lay person the Office is a bonus. One Vespers said a week is better than none. I am not obliged to find the three and a half hours a day required to sing the Office properly. I’ll admit it, I’m quite erratic at praying the Office. I’m a shift worker, which means I might get up at 8 one day, finish work at 10pm and have to get up at 5am the next day, maybe staying up all night and sleeping through the day after that. I’ve never found a good way to reconcile any of the Offices with Night shift, something always goes pear shaped.

When I am on holiday I pray the whole Office: Nocturns, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None (rhymes with tone, not with nun), Vespers, Compline. When working I split the Office into two weeks and say Lauds, Vespers and Compline one week and Nocturns and the Little Hours the next week. It’s not perfect. I often miss Offices, but then, I also often miss lunch. There is only so much time.
And, yes, OraLabora, those NT psalms just don’t chant well.

Glad to have a chance to talk about the Office. I love it but very few people have even heard of it, much less willing to wait while I finish holding forth on my favourite topic!


To answer your questions, it depends. I too often use a Benedictine Office that has all psalms in one week. In fact I am using it now. Sometimes I revert to the LOTH when I’m busier or more tired.

But to answer your questions specifically:

-How long does this take you and how, exactly, do you approach it.

I chant at least Lauds, Vespers and Compline. I read or chant the other Offices as time allows. Basically, chanted: Vigils 25 min Monastic, 15 min. LOTH; Lauds and Vespers 25 min monastic, 20 min LOTH, Compline, about 10 min.

-Do you have a specific place for prayer, special clothing like a scapular (for all you oblates out there)?

Clothing, no, place yes:

-Do you do all the movements, standing, sitting, kneeling, bowing at the Glory Be etc?

No mostly sitting (I have knee and back issues) but will kneel for the intercessions during Lent.

-Do you read the Office, reading along in your head or do you read aloud or sing? If you sing which tunes (or tones or modes) do you use and do you use different ones for each psalm, Hour or Season?

See above; Lauds and Vespers usually in Latin Gregorian chant (but reading the psalm in French, my mother tongue, afterwards); Compline in French or Latin, and the other offices usually in French monotone but Gregorian hymns.

-Where did you get your Office books?

Various sources: Solesmes, Clervaux abbey in Luxembourg (French monastic Schema B), Les Heures Gregoriennes from Communauté St-Martin in France, and of course the LOTH available widely.

-For those who have tried different ‘flavours’ what were the differences?

The LOTH is nicely balanced for those with busy lives and want a more contemplative experience, IMHO, that is taking more time to digest each psalm and reading. It’s possible do that with the Monastic, but you need more time, something not always in plentiful supply. In particular with the Monastic I find Vigils troublesome sometimes; our schema is 6 psalms divided into two nocturnes of 2 normal-length psalms and one longer one in the middle (i.e. 77, 88, etc.). There are a couple of schemas to spread this schema over two weeks though (for Vigils, Lauds, Vespers and mid-day), which I tend to use.


I don’t pray they entire Office (and I actually only have Christian Prayer, not the 4-volume set).

Lauds: Shortly after I wake up. So depending on the day, anywhere from 7:00 - 8:00.
Vespers: After dinner or at 6:00. The exception being Tuesdays, because I have a Bible study at 8:00 and I lead Vespers with them a half hour beforehand.


Since I’ve gotten back to school for the semester, I finally follow a pretty set schedule that I’ve previously mentioned!
After vesting and setting up for Mass in the morning, I pray the Office of Readings (about fifteen to twenty minutes). Then Mass, then I pray Lauds immediately following Mass.
For both of these, I pray at the Basilica. I follow the appropriate movements here. I read them aloud on normal days, and chant on Solemnities, Feasts, and Sundays.

Then I pray the daytime hours (if my class and homework permits), which gives me flexibility. Since these are usually done in a classroom or the Student Union, I just say them silently in my head without the movements.

I always try and pause at the end of each Psalm and reading to meditate on how God is speaking to me through it. Then, if something particularly stands out to me, I’ll tweet it (darn millennials! ;)) and see what others think about that particular phrase or passage!

Vespers and compline are done back in my dorm before my crucifix and icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. (facing East of course :p)

I use the four volume LOTH from Catholic Book Publishing. Our Rector also just gifted me with a BEAUTIFUL Breviary cover from Florence that I’m in LOVE with! :smiley:

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