(Liturgy of the Hours, Divine Office)
This is a guide to help individuals start praying the Liturgy of the Hours with minimal confusion. Please don't regard these instructions as authoritative (like if you're under obligation to pray the Liturgy of the Hours or something). I don't have that much experience with the Liturgy of the Hours, but as a computer scientist I'm supposed to be good at writing instructions with mechanical precision! So I've tried to reformulate the official instructions as clearly as possible, with as few distracting options as possible. I hope it's helpful to someone.

The rules for figuring out the liturgical day are complicated—it might be easiest to refer to a precomputed calendar or a web page. On a saint's day, you may see a rank indicated: solemnities are the most important, then feasts, and then memorials. If no rank is indicated, it's an optional memorial: you may use it or ignore it. (UK edition: if no rank is indicated, it's a feast.) Remember this rank; you will need it later. Memorials during Lent and Dec 17–31 (sometimes called commemorations) are done in a special way, if they are done at all. The simplest rule is: during Lent and Dec 17–31, ignore all memorials. There are seven hours each day: Invitatory: not an hour but always stuck to the front of the first hour (Office of Readings or Morning Prayer) Office of Readings: can be any time of day, but traditionally first; can be stuck to the front of the hour following Morning Prayer Daytime Prayers: these are designed so that if you only pray one of the three, you won't miss much Midmorning Midday Midafternoon Evening Prayer Night Prayer If you only have time to pray two, make them Morning and Evening Prayer. Sundays and solemnities have two Evening Prayers: Evening Prayer I on the day before and Evening Prayer II on the day itself. Similarly, there are two Night Prayers. Usually this means that the day before loses its Evening Prayer and Night Prayer:

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Concluding prayer Let us praise the Lord. because a day will only give up its Evening Prayer (and Night Prayer) to a more important day. If you really want to figure it +Gospel canticle Concluding prayer May the all‐powerful Lord Reading Reading Reading Hymn Psalm OT Canticle/Psalm Psalm/NT Canticle Hymn Psalm Psalm Psalm Examination of conscience Hymn Psalm (Psalm) 2 of 6 30/03/2011 20:47 .isi. Day before Invitatory Office of Readings Morning/Evening Prayer Daytime Prayers Night Prayer *Lord. you will have to consult the hairy Table of Liturgical Days.http://www. As it was in the beginning. is now. open my lips. +God.) Psalm 95 Hymn Psalm Psalm Psalm [The invitatory is always joined to the first hour. And my mouth will proclaim Lord.html Sunday/Solemnity Invitatory Invitatory Office of Readings Office of Readings Morning Prayer Morning Prayer Daytime Prayers Daytime Prayers Evening Prayer I Evening Prayer II Night Prayer after Evening Prayer I Night Prayer after Evening Prayer II Occasionally the diagram above is not correct. and to the Holy Spirit. come to my assistance. Glory to the Father. and will be forever. Amen. +Gospel canticle Intercessions and Our Father Concluding prayer May the Lord bless us.] Verse First reading Second reading (Te Deum) Concluding prayer Let us praise the Lord. make haste to help me. and to the Son. (Alleluia. your praise.

Marian antiphon To join two columns together (the invitatory with the Office of Readings or Morning Prayer. The Ordinary is the master plan. The Proper of Seasons will tell you what week to use (you might have to look back to Sunday of that week). Count Ash Wednesday and the three days following as "week 0" of Lent. because these are all on fixed dates. These sections can be thought of like layers of a cake: Proper of Saints 3 of 6 30/03/2011 20:47 . The Commons contain material that is shared by various saints' offices. and Christ the King. grant us a restful night and a peaceful death. Another one‐day cycle for Daytime Prayers. and join. protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Corpus Christi. move the hymn from the second hour to the first. Sacred Heart. Similarly. plus special days tied to the seasons. Solemnities are treated like Sunday. The Sundays after Christmas can also be tricky.isi. called the Complementary Psalmody. Again. you need only sing one hymn in a sitting. etc. * Make the sign of the cross on the mouth. most of the time you will go in order through this section. or the Office of Readings with any other hour): remove the red portion from the first column and blue portion from the second. the weekdays after Christmas are like "week 0" and the following Sunday would use Psalter week I. The Psalter contains: A four‐week cycle for all the hours but Night Prayer. The general rule is that whatever the current week of the current season is. There are five main sections in the breviary: The Proper of Seasons goes through the liturgical seasons. but remainder 0 = week IV. divide that by four and take the remainder: remainder 1 = week 1. A one‐week cycle for Night Prayer. There are three series for the three Daytime hours. Most of the time you will go in order through this section.http://www. but otherwise. except for one: Immaculate Heart of Mary.html And give him thanks. then the following Sunday you would use Psalter week II. so use Psalter week IV. if Christmas falls on Sunday. The Proper of Saints has the rest of the special days. Amen. And give him thanks. + Make the large sign of the cross. which is listed between May 31 and June 1. Amen. In some editions these are in a separate section for Solemnities.. but there are a few during Ordinary time that you should watch out for: Trinity Sunday.

look for it starting with the page for the day. But there are parts of the Common you shouldn't use. The Psalter fills all the slots in. and the breviary has to provide texts just in case. 4 of 6 30/03/2011 20:47 . The psalm (skip the first line if it's identical to the antiphon). Then. The antiphon again. or else the Psalter). but with some empty slots. There are three Daytime hours but only one set of psalms (or none) is given.html Proper of Seasons Psalter Ordinary The Ordinary provides the foundation.isi.http://www. then use the given set of psalms (if any) for one of them. you don't need to say and always have the same form: The antiphon. So find the most specific page for the day (in one of the Propers. for each part listed in the Ordinary. but may be overridden by the layer above it (which may be overridden by the next layer above). Often a psalm has a title and a quote in front of it. The psalm‐prayers are supplemental. "from the weekday and the common of X. So the simplest rule is: on memorials. sometimes you will be referred to the Common but in fact you shouldn't use all of it. Sometimes you will see unhelpful instructions like. A rarer case is Daytime Prayers on feasts. This applies very frequently. for the patron of your diocese). don't use the Common at all. drop to the next layer down in the cake. Psalms and canticles These occur in many places. don't use the Daytime Prayer antiphons from the Common. and the rest is optional. Thus: On memorials. Look instead in the next layer down in the cake. Sometimes the breviary doesn't tell you where to go (or it will say something vague like "from the weekday"). Glory Be." In this case the rule is (I think): on feasts. you will be told to use the Common. and I don't know where to insert them. For example. the Proper of Saints usually refers you to one of the Commons. but don't read them out loud. If you pray more than one of the Daytime hours. The reason for this (as far as I can tell) is that a memorial or a feast might get upgraded to a higher rank (for example. and use the Complementary Psalmody (in the Psalter) for the rest. Look at them. In that case. But what if you don't see a particular part? Sometimes you will be told where to go (or be given a couple of choices). though normally you don't use them. However.

and to the Son.http://www.) You don't have to repeat the R each time. The antiphon. Third psalm. B (UK edition: there is a single response. B after the first time. and to the Holy Spirit: —A. The most common one (at Morning/Evening/Night Prayer) looks like this: A.isi. The antiphon. R etc. B C —B Glory to the Father. B —A. R A2—B2. In individual recitation. Then it would seem the most consistent thing to do is: The antiphon. First psalm. Second psalm. Glory Intercessions The intercessions always have the following form: V: R A1—B1. For example. Glory Be. (UK edition: the versicles are not split into A and B. Readings and responsories The responsories have a few different forms. The antiphon. Glory Be. you don't have to repeat so much. 5 of 6 30/03/2011 20:47 .html Often during Daytime Prayer there is only one antiphon given for all three psalms. not split into A and B). you could leave out the responses A.

. Loveliest whom in Heaven they see. for ever and ever.html Concluding prayer Sometimes the ending of the prayer is not written out. O Queen of Heav'n enthroned.http://www. joy to thee.. holy Queen Some editions don't have Ave Regina Caelorum. the rest is just: . "We ask this. your Son. but the traditional scheme is as follows: Season Latin name English name Advent to Presentation Alma Redemptoris Mater Loving mother of the Redeemer After Presentation to Holy Saturday Ave Regina Caelorum Hail...through our Lord Jesus Christ. by angels Mistress owned.. 6 of 6 30/03/2011 20:47 . At Daytime/Night Prayer. rejoice After Pentecost to before Advent Salve Regina Hail. one God. Gate of morn." At Morning/Evening Prayer and the Office of Readings.through Christ our Lord. the rest is: . Marian antiphon There are several options for this closing hymn.. Whence the world's true light was born. who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Glorious Virgin. O Queen of heaven Easter to Pentecost Regina Caeli Queen of heaven. Root of Jesse. Fairest thou where all are fair! Plead with Christ our sins to spare. but says something like. Here it is: Hail.

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