LITURGY OF THE HOURS
How to Pray the Liturgy of the Hours
In the Roman Catholic Church priests are required by canon law to pray the entire Liturgy of the Hours each day while deacons are required to pray the morning and evening hours. The practice
among religious communities varies according to their rules and constitutions. The Second Vatican Council also exhorted the Christian laity to take up the practice, and as a result, many lay people have begun reciting portions of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Current Roman Catholic usage focuses on three major hours and from two to four minor hours:
In each office, the psalms and canticle are framed by antiphons, and each concludes with the traditional Catholic doxology. The psalms often have a similar theme or topic.
The major hours consist of the Office of Readings, Morning (or Lauds) and Evening Prayer (or Vespers).
The Office of Readings consists of:
The character of Morning Prayer is that of praise; of Evening Prayer, that of thanksgiving. Both follow a similar format:
Throughout the Liturgy of the Hours, every psalm and canticle is concluded with the Glory to the Father unless otherwise indicated.
•Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
The recitation of each psalm (or canticle) therefore takes this order: antiphon, psalm, Glory to the Father, and antiphon. The psalm-prayer, which is optional, traditionally follows an interval of silence after the repetition of the antiphon at the end of the psalm.
An Invitatory precedes the canonical hours of the day beginning with the versicle “Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will proclaim your praise” (Ps 50/51 v.17), and continuing with an antiphon and the Invitatory Psalm, usually Psalm 94/95 .
All psalms and canticles are accompanied by antiphons.
Unless the Invitatory is used, each Hour begins with the versicle “God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me” (Ps 69/70 v.2), followed by a hymn. Each Hour concludes with a prayer followed by a short versicle and response.
Matins or the Office of Readings is the longest hour. Before Pope St. Pius X’s reform, it involved the recitation of 18 psalms on Sundays and 12 on ferial days. Pope Pius X reduced this to 9 psalms or portions of psalms, still arranged in three “nocturns”, each set of three psalms followed by three short readings, usually three consecutive sections from the same text. Pope Paul VI’s reform reduced the number of psalms or portions of psalms to three, and the readings to two, but lengthened these. On feast days the Te Deum is sung or recited before the concluding prayer.
After St. Pius X’s reform, Lauds was reduced to four psalms or portions of psalms and an Old Testament canticle, putting an end to the custom of adding the last three psalms of the Psalter (148-150) at the end of Lauds every day. The number of psalms or portions of psalms is now reduced to two, together with one Old Testament canticle chosen from a wider range than before. After these there is a short reading and response and the singing or recitation of the Benedictus. Vespers has a very similar structure, differing in that Pius X assigned to it five psalms (now reduced to 2 psalms and a New Testament canticle) and the Magnificat took the place of the Benedictus. On some days in Pius X’s arrangement, but now always, there follow Preces or intercessions. In the present arrangement, the Lord’s Prayer is also recited before the concluding prayer.
Terce, Sext and None have an identical structure, each with three psalms or portions of psalms. These are followed by a short reading from Scripture, once referred to as a “little chapter” (capitulum) , and by a versicle and response. The Lesser Litany (Kyrie and the Lord’s Prayer) of Pius X’s arrangement have now been omitted.
Names of The Hours
Sign of the Cross
Normal way unless indicated
1. Invitatory. At the words: Lord, open my lips. Made with right thumb on the lips.
2. Opening Antiphon (unless preceded by the Invitatory). At the words: God, come to my assistance.
3. Gospel Canticles (Morning and Evening Prayer). Made on first verse of the Canticle (Blessed be the Lord ..., or, My soul magnifies the Lord ...).
4. Dismissal. Either when the blessing is given by a priest or deacon, or, when lead by a lay person, at the words: May the Lord bless us...
The liturgical bow for the Names of the Persons of the Trinity (an incline of the upper body of about 30 degrees) is given throughout the Liturgy of the Hours when called for (Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit ...).
Bow the head at the name of Jesus.
ebreviary - A website with the following to download
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Postures during the LOH
Stand - Invitiatory, Opening Antiphon, Psalm, Hymn
Sit - Psalmody, Reading, Responsory
Stand - Responsory; Magnificat, Benedictus, or Nunc Dimittis;intercessions; Lord's prayer; until the end
Liturgy of the Hours Links
GENERAL INSTRUCTION OF LOH