Wednesday, March 11, 2015

We Can Do This! Laetare! New Hymnal!

Laetare Sunday is nearly here, marking the halfway point of lent. Time to reflect on how your lent has been going, tweak your prayer, penance and almsgiving routine, and rejoice (that is what Laetare  means) that we are a little more than halfway to Easter.

This morning's Office of Readings had one of my favorite psalm verses: How blessed the people who know Your praise (Ps.89:16) That's us, folks. We are the lucky ones who know that perfect praise can be offered numerous times daily to our Creator and Savior. Perfect, not because we are, but because the Word of God with which we praise is perfect, and the One Who praise the Father with us and in us (that's Jesus) is perfect.

For those of you who wish to sing/chant the traditional, official  breviary hymns that come from the Roman breviary, I've found another lovely hymnal that, although less comprehensive than the Hymnal for the Hours that I reviewed at length a while ago, it has its own charms.

The new hymnal I refer to is the Lumen Christi Hymnal from Illuminare publications. This would be the ideal hymnal for a church that regularly provides Liturgy of the Hours services for its congregation. It's a slim volume overall--nice for those of us whose wrists ache from some of the hefty monstrosities  currently in most pews. Every one of the hymns is traditional, beautiful,and  easy to sing. You won't find anything written after 1965 here. No fickle melodic lines that can't make up their mind what key or time signature they want to be in. No tunes that are reminiscent of Broadway show tunes or pop hits.   But what I really like is the second half--gregorian chant hymns for lauds, vespers, and compline. All translated into English, and all on the modern five-line staff, so much easier for those who read music or teach themselves a song by plunking it out on a keyboard. There are hymns for weekdays and Sundays in every season, plus additional ones for many saints feasts and also for commons of saints.   There is only a single choice for each day (rather than the many choices as in the Hymnal for the Hours) but in some ways this works in its favor: I don't waste time considering which hymn to use but just do the hymn that is given. I also notice that these choices usually correspond to the second hymn given for lauds and vespers on

So if you like the idea of chanting the official hymns for morning and evening prayer, check it out.

Welcome new readers Shannon, Patti, Racheal, Peggy, Robert, Catherine,  Maryann and Mischa! Glad to have you here. Free free to comment and especially to ask any questions about the Liturgy of the Hours by commenting on any post.

And that applies to the rest of you. How's lent going? Are you faithful to your committment to praying the Divine Office? Is anything  about the breviary confusing?   Let me know.


  1. "hefty monstrosities " indeed. Thanks for the tip on the new hymnal.

  2. I don't know if you or your readers know about this site:

    It has some useful psalm charts and such, but for me the important thing it has is the 2 year cycle of Office of Readings readings taken from the Christian Prayer volume. There seem to be some small errors in there that might be typos. Using this instead of the 1-year OOR included in LotH does mean that you lose the responsories after the readings (and you need a separate bible), but the 2 year cycle is much richer and more complete than the 1-year. For instance, the remainder of Lent for this year (year 1) is the complete Letter to the Hebrews rather than the selections given in the main books. During Easter this year is 1 Peter, Revelation, and the three letters of John (all complete).

    1. Thanks for this! The author of those charts, Russ Stutler, follows this blog and comments now and then, often referencing the huge time difference which makes many of my posts related to the office of the day a bit too late for him. I don't think Russ ever sent me the link to these charts, and I'm glad you did. I'll definitely be printing some for my own use and should probably write a post about this for the other readers. Yes, I keep thinking that I should switch to the two year cycle, if can be so much better to read an epistle in its entirety rather than just selections.
      Your name looks Japanese. Do you know Russ personally?

  3. The name's Japanese but I don't know Russ; I don't live in Japan (anymore). Just a coincidence.

  4. I can recommend the two year cycle for the Office of Readings from:

    You do need to invent your own responsory after each reading (if you feel the need) but that can be an interesting challenge. I enjoy the readings from Origen and Tertullian: good stuff!

    BTW: Daria: do you happen to know of a cheat sheet for legitimate shortcuts for those who pray the Office individually?

    For instance, I recently noted that one can leave out the short responsory at Lauds and Vespers if they are not sung. I do that now and enjoy some sacred silence after the Scripture reading.

    I'm not trying to be irreverent but want to unclutter the Office and omit what is purely optional and not suited for private recitation according to the GILH.

    Thank you for your ministry and kind regards


  5. RE: cheat sheet. I think I explain most of the shortcuts in my book, but not all on one page. Going from memory, these include: 1. not repeating the antiphon for each psalm/canticle after the Glory Be 2. The responsory, as you've noted. OR to do a short version of the responsory where you do not repeat the first line. 3. You don't do the introductory line to the intercessions. Also, just read the petitions w/o repeating the "Lord Hear Our Prayer"-type response. 4. I have said in the past that the opening hymn is optional, but I've gotten some blowback on that, and the General Instruction does not state that it is. (I'd been going on what I'd observed from many priests and others who pray alone, and the logic that we don't usually open weekday mass with a hymn so that's a precedent.) Although it is true that you need not sing the hymn, just read it like a poem. Oh also, 5. If the antiphon matches the first verse of the psalm, you need not repeat that first verse but instead should go right to the second. That's all I can think of offhand.