Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hitting a Roadblock...

...on your way to praying the Liturgy of the Hours? Maybe you're interested in starting, but don't know where to begin: which book (or online breviary) to use? How do I find time to do this?

Or maybe you've just cracked open that shiny new breviary...and have no idea how to find your place. Or you're not sure about what to do on a saint's memorial.

Or maybe you're pretty good at this, but have noticed on a visit to a monastery that the monks do things quite differently from the way you have been doing it, and want to know if your way is a valid option or whether you've been doing it wrong.

Or maybe....there's something else you want to know. Ask here, and I'll ransack the relevant Church documents to find the answer. Or if it's not a Church Documents sort of question, I'll tell you based on long experience and obsessive liturgical information gathering. 


  1. Mr Angelico Nguyen, OPNovember 30, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Do you know of any good resources to help non-musically-trained people learn simple chant tones or melodies for any parts of the Hours?

    I can't read music, but would like to chant some of the Office in English, Latin, or both. I'd also like to introduce a bit of chant into my Lay Dominican chapter's monthly Vespers, if others are interested.

    Do you have any hints about using any of the psalm tone instructions that start on page 1715 of the one-volume Christian Prayer?

    The Mundelein Psalter ( has gotten some good press, but at $50, it is a big investment -- possibly worthwhile, but too big a commitment to make lightly.

    Any opinions on the Mundelein Psalter, OR any other resources you know of, OR any advice from first- or secondhand experience, OR anything else that comes to mind, would be very welcome!

  2. It's interesting that you should ask, Angelico, because I am also looking into adding learning some chant to use when my husband and I pray the hours together.

    I have looked at the psalm tone instructions in Christian Prayer, but have not found these very easy to implement,(and I can read music), because the psalms in the psalter are not marked in any way that shows where to change from one note to another.

    By coincidence, I will be receiving the Mundelein Psalter as a Christmas gift. You may be able to find used copies for less than $50.
    The advantage of the Mundelein Psalter is that the text of the psalms have markings that indicate when to change to a different note.

    However, if you cannot read music, this will not be enough of a help.
    You will need to find someone who can either read music or play an instrument to help you learn the chant melodies. The Mundelein Psalter uses Gregorian notation which is different from standard music.

    If there is a seminary or a monastery nearby, you may be able to find someone who will help you learn to chant.

    Now here is something that might help you, although I have not actually seen it myself.

    It's a book with audio CDs called "Singing the Psalms" It was produced by a woman Episopalian "priest", who has chanted the Divine Office with Catholic monks. From reading the reviews,it is likely that the book contains questionable theology, but that should not affect one's ability to learn to chant with the CD.

    One way you can chant right away is by using the ancient "recto tono" method, which means that everything is sung on the same note. This will add some solemnity,and will make the psalms take longer to recite, hence giving you time to reflect as you sing. However, most people find this to be rather monotonous.

    One more idea. Since your group is new to chant, you might want to start with chanting only one part of the office. The Magnificat might be a good one to do.

    As I said earlier, I plan to study this subject more myself. If and when I learn more, I'll let you know. I wish you well with your plans.

  3. On today's OOR, this note is good to know:

    In view of the omission of yesterday’s ferial reading on account of the Feast of Saint Andrew, the following reading may precede today’s, in accordance with the GILH ¶249

    -Michael D.

  4. Mr Angelico Nguyen, OPDecember 1, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    Ms Sockey,

    Thank you!

    I'm pressed for time, so can't write much, but your information is really helpful -- and I will be on the lookout for any updates on this subject. Good luck to you and your husband!

  5. I may have to look into that CD. I'd love to learn to chant some of the psalms but I can't read music at all. I can learn new songs by ear, though, so if I had a model to follow, I think I could eventually pick it up. I keep hoping to find a treasure trove of free videos on You Tube but so far no luck. In any case if you do find more resources please do let us know.