Sacrosanctum Concilium 89

Now we get into the Council’s revision of the Liturgy of the Hours. It was another decade before the promulgation of the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours, so draw your own conclusions from the slightly longer timetable than the Mass.

Therefore, when the office is revised, these norms are to be observed:

a) By the venerable tradition of the universal Church, Lauds as morning prayer and Vespers as evening prayer are the two hinges on which the daily office turns; hence they are to be considered as the chief hours and are to be celebrated as such.

b) Compline is to be drawn up so that it will be a suitable prayer for the end of the day.

c) The hour known as Matins, although it should retain the character of nocturnal praise when celebrated in choir, shall be adapted so that it may be recited at any hour of the day; it shall be made up of fewer psalms and longer readings.

d) The hour of Prime is to be suppressed.

e) In choir the hours of Terce, Sext, and None are to be observed. But outside choir it will be lawful to select any one of these three, according to the respective time of the day.

What does this mean? Lauds and Vespers are given the most effort. For communities that pray the Office in whole, these celebrations are to stand out above the others. For communities (like parishes)  that praysome of the Office, these are to be chosen for celebration, generally above other considerations.

I don’t know what Compline was like before Vatican II. I find it a very suitable prayer for the end of the day, both as a communal experience and when I pray it on my own.

The Matins reform seems sensible to me. I never pray it outside of a monastery, so perhaps our commentariat might weigh in with their sense of it.

Those other hours mentioned in d) and e) designate the ancient numbering of the hours of the day: the first, third, sixth, and ninth hour after sunrise. Any problems with the suppression of Prime? Or other comments, perhaps?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to Sacrosanctum Concilium 89

  1. Liam says:

    One major impact of the suppression of Prime, IIRC, was the moving of the reading/chanting of the Martyrology to the Office of Readings, if at all. The other was that Prime customarily preceded the Eucharistic Liturgy, IIRC.

  2. Gavin says:

    This is an area where I’m totally ignorant. I do say the more the merrier, however.

    I’ve been considering preceding my choir rehearsals with an Hour. So if I understand both you and Liam; Prime WAS the customary Hour for before Mass, but now Lauds would be the best because it’s the new “default morning prayer”?

    My “short breviary” that I use predates Vatican 2. Compline is about just like the Lutheran order from LW. I’m not intensely familiar with any other forms of compline than those. It’s pretty much confession-reading-psalm-responsory-nunc or so. Again, I don’t know what the current V2 compline is.

  3. I’ve been attached to the Liturgy of the Hours since the “interim” translation of the 70′s. I think Matins/Office of Readings is the hour that just doesn’t get respect — but with its Readings, its the next inportant after the Lauds and Vespers. Back when I was still working, the Office of Readings was my lunch hour companion. Morning Prayer before work, Evening Prayer when I got home after work, and Readings in between was what worked for me, and I’ve absorbed so much of the Church’s wisdom from the daily non-Scriptural readings —- even from the two weeks each year of “On Pastors” that I like to gripe about on my blog.

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