Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lost in Lauds? Confused about Compline?

Vague on Vespers?

It's your weekly change to ask any questions about praying the Divine Office. If I don't know the answer, I'll run to the General Instruction and find out. If it's not clear in the General Instruction, I'll hazard an opinion but clearly mark it as such.

Welcome readers who are visiting here from Fr. Z's blog. I do not use a pre-Vatican II breviary, thus I would not be able to answer questions related to it. Perhaps someone should start a blog like mine for those who do pray from the older breviary.   I will soon post some a couple links for online older breviaries. 


  1. I have a couple of questions; thanks for the offer to answer:

    1) I am sometimes interrupted from my prayers by a crying baby, waking children, or the needs of my spouse. I then am not able to get back to the prayer because of the needs of the family. Am I not being reverent to the office if this happens?

    2) In the same vein, I combine the Evening and Night Prayer. Is it wrong to do so?

    3) Do I have to sing the hymn if I am doing this alone?

    4) My church does the Morning Prayer, but they do not sing the hymn. Is that wrong?

    5) I say the daytime prayer at different times (sometimes at 09, rarely at 12, and mostly at 3pm). Am I supposed to stay consistent, or can I change times like that (if I am saying just the five offices a day).

    Thanks again!

  2. In short:
    1.No 2.No 3.No 4.No 5.Yes (you can change up Daytime Prayer.)
    1.You vocation-husband and father-always comes first. Even priests--who are bound under pain of sin to pray the full Office--are excused from part or all if their priestly duties interfere.
    2.The General Instruction states that two or more hours may be combined if it suits you. The Office of Readings is frequently combined, for example, with Morning Prayer at seminiaries and monasteries. When you do this, you don't use the concluding prayer of the first hour, and go right into the next one without the opening "O God come to my assistance" verse. That being said, the ideal is to keep some space between the hours, since the point of it is to sanctify the different times of the day. But like you, I sometimes find myself combining EP with NP.
    3.&4. Hymns in the LOTH serve the same purpose as Hymns at Mass, and in the same way are to be used or not used to suit the needs of the participants. A priest saying mass by himself would not normally sing a hymn before starring the mass. A hymn may or may not be sung be the congregation during a weekday mass, and usually is not, both for reasons of not wanting the prolong the weekday mass and also because a small congregation might not feel that they are able singers. Another clue to the optional character of the hymns is that the selection of hymn varies among breviaries--you'll notice that the hymn in your Christian prayer breviary is usually not the same one on ibreviary. That being said, the General Instruction has a section, which I won't reprint here, explaining why hymns have a place in the liturgy and describing how they can enhance our prayer. It also says many times throughout the instruction that the laity should adapt the Office to our needs. Reciting rather than singing the hymn, or leaving it out altogether, is clearly an adaptation that makes sense for those praying on their own. Likewise for the small group in your church on a weekday. It would, however, be commendable for your group in church to do the hymn, especially if it was a Sunday or a feastday.
    5. From the General Instruction, #77: " is permitted to choose from the three Hours the most appropriate to the time of day...#80 Different hymns and prayers are given for each of the[daytime] Hours ... those who recite only one hour should therefore choose the texts that correspond to it."

    For my own daytime prayer I mostly do midafternoon, but now and then go with one of the other two.

  3. Sorry that comment was so long. there's lots more I could say about hymns in particular, but might save that for an actual post.

  4. Thanks for the answers. I am not a big hymn fan (I know...pray twice...just not my thing). Appreciate some interepretation of the instructions; they are sometimes hard for me to work through.

  5. I will add that ibreviary often uses hymns from Stanbrook Abbey hymnal, which are often more poetic than the selections in Christian Prayer. If you have time they are worth reading as poetry.

    The Church also has specific Latin hymns meant to go with the breviary, but we don't have access to those here.

  6. I read in the general instructions that morning prayer and evening prayer need to be prayed at the correct times. My schedule is crazy and there is no way I can pray these at the correct times, so I was praying the office of readings and the daytime prayer until I found out that the morning and evening prayers come first and you should definitely pray them if you are praying the hours. What should I do?

  7. I think you are interpreting the General Instruction too strictly. Keep in mind that, first of all, only priests and religious are obliged to do all of the hours, so this mainly applies to them. Laity may adapt the LIturgy of the Hours to their situations.
    That being said, the Church does designate Morning and Evening Prayer as the "hinges" of the liturgical day. They are highly recommended. But on the other hand, the office of readings is also one of the major hours and is the richest in terms of content. So, if you can't do everything, it is really your choice which hours are the easiest and/or most important to you. The main thing is that you are participating in the Liturgy of the Hours in some degree.

    1. Thank you so much for your quick reply! I really appreciate it!