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!