Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Do you pray the Divine Office in a parish or workplace group?

A journalist friend of mine, Celeste Behe, recently called my attention to this story, which reports that the Archbishop of Singapore suggests that staff of Catholic schools and organizations gather daily for morning daytime and evening prayer from the LIturgyof the HOurs. 

Even more interesting, Bishop William Goh Seng Chye links this activity to the New Evangelization, which begins with the interior renewal of those who already profess the faith:

“As you are all aware, the battle cry of the Universal Church is the urgency of the work of the New Evangelization which entails, in the first place, a personal conversion of every Catholic, from the Pope to the bishops, priests, religious and laity,” Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye wrote in a recent letter. “The primary conversion is a renewal of our personal relationship with the Lord, encountering Him in a real and personal way so that we can effectively and convincingly proclaim the joy of the Gospel to all those who do not yet know Him.”

Celeste finds this so interesting that she want to write a feature article about it for one of the premier Catholic platforms she works with.  And she needs your help. Celeste asks:

"Do the Catholics in your parish/workplace/school gather to pray the Liturgy of the Hours? If so, please share for an article I'm writing."

If you would like to help Celeste with her story, email her:   celeste.I.behe"at"gmail"dot"com  Tell her where you are from, where you pray the LOTH in a Catholic parish/organization/school, etc., and maybe other facts such as how many folk participate, which hours you pray with this group, and whether you think it's had an impact on the group to pray the hours together.   

This is great way to do a little evangelizing on behalf of the Liturgy of the Hours, so please participate if you can. 


  1. Hello Daria,

    I apologize for switching subjects, but I was wondering if you might be able to help me. Recently, while looking for some other information on the LOTH, I came across more than a few sources that said you weren't suppose to skip the hymns when praying the Office. As I've been dropping them for years, I decided to check the GILOTH and wasn't able to find anything that allowed for that, nor have I been able to find any other official source that even mentions the subject. Can you point me to any official document that speaks to the issue one way or the other?

    Thank you.

    Pax Vobis,,

  2. John, sorry it's taken me so long to reply but twice now my own blog has erased my comments! Hopefully this attempt will succeed. I'd be happy to see the sources you mention since I"m always up for learning something new, and my grounds for saying the hymns are optional might be a little shaky, but here they are: 1. My reading of GILH 280 seems to imply that hymns are meant primarily for communal celebration. 2. I've known many priests who skip the hymn for private recitation. 3. Our current breviaries in the USA don't even give us the official Roman hymns, but rather offer a wide assortment, some of which seem to lack the artistic merit the GILOTH calls for. These are so lacking in that fixed, traditional, and universal character that the other elements of the LOTH possess, that they just don't seem to be essential.The upcoming revised US breviary is supposed to drop the eclectic hymnal in favor of the Roman hymns, so maybe then the obligation will be clearer to me! 4. I see the hymns as analogous to hymns at mass: for weekday mass, for various practical reasons, hymns are rarely sung (small group, lack of a leader or musical ability, desire to keep weekday mass brief for the sake of those who have jobs to get to) and it seems to me that similar reasons apply to those of us praying alone, therefore, skipping the hymn seems to be a reasonable adaptation of the LOTH for the laity. Now, others have argued with me that hymns actually belong to the LOTH more organically than they do to the mass. So I guess I'm also weighing all this and wishing there was some statement from the church like the one that a priest-reader of this blog found for me recently which resolved the question of reciting it aloud vs. silently.

    1. I have no problem with skipping hymns, even though as I read the GILH about it and checked every place where the word "hymn" is mentioned, it seems clear the hymn is considered one of the four essentials of the structure of the hours (hymn, psalms, reading, prayers). That said, I'd skip the LotH hymns for the same reasons you mention, Daria.

      One breviary that seems to have catered to the individual recitation of the hours is the old mid-1960s Lauds-Vespers-Compline (one-volume English-language book). It gives instead of the metrical hymn text a prose version more suited to individual meditation. Sort of a prose-poem-hymn instead of something to be sung. I like that.

  3. Hello Daria,

    Most of what I found was anecdotal, similar to the remarks that were cited by those who thought the Office had to be vocalized when privately prayed. As I mentioned, I've been praying the Office for years without the hymns, because the tutorial I first used said they were optional. But when I checked the GILOTH there wasn't any mention of an option to drop them and it also seemed to view them as fairly important.

    I have a feeling that somewhere in the perviously referenced "Documents on the Liturgy 1963 - 1979" the issue was brought up and reciting the Office without the them was allowed. Which would explain why we can't find a source for what seems to be a widely used practice.

    Whatever the case may be, thank you for your thoughts. I'm looking forward to seeing you on Bookmarks.


  4. Perhaps I am wrong, but I would make an assumption most people would skip a song because they don't know the melody. There are certainly enough I don't know. But there would be nothing to prevent you from using a different tune and adapt the words. For example, hopefully, at a minimum you could hum The Church's One Foundation.
    So if you have the 4 volume set, take a look at volume II, page 2359. The Church's One Foundation is listed, the meter is 76.76.D. (The D stands for double, so in real simple terms, 7 syllables in the first line, 6 syllables in the second line, etc.) Now, the song below The Church's One Foundation is The Day of Resurrection. It also is listed as 76.76.D. So even if you have never heard that song you could sing it to the tune of The Church's One Foundation. Similarly, on this page there are 5 songs listed as L.M. If you know the melody of just one of these, you can sing any of the others.
    I help lead Monday at Vespers, small group 5 - 10. I can play a dulcimer just enough to help lead the music, so I have done a bit of 'substituting' just to keep simple and use tunes with which people are familiar.
    Good luck, and keep the prayers goings.