Vatican website translation:

100. Pastors of souls should see to it that the chief hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and the more solemn feasts. And the laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually.

Latin text:

100. Curent animarum pastores ut Horae praecipuae, praesertim Vesperae, diebus dominicis et festis sollemnioribus, in ecclesia communiter celebrentur. Commendatur ut et ipsi laici recitent Officium divinum, vel cum sacerdotibus, vel inter se congregati, quin immo unusquisque solus.

Slavishly literal translation:

100. Let pastors of souls take care that the primary Hours, especially Vespers, be celebrated communally in church, on Sundays and more solemn feasts. It is also to be commended that the laity themselves recite the Divine Office, whether with priests, or gathered among themselves, or even each one alone.


The Council Fathers encourage pastors in particular churches to celebrate at least some of the Divine Office with their people. They take special note of Vespers, but since Lauds has already been identified as one of the “hinge” Hours, one might expect that its celebration, too, would be explicitly commended. Some Western European churches and ethnic groups had already been celebrating Sunday Vespers at parochial levels. Certainly in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, certain parishes fostered an afternoon/evening service in addition to Mass, usually consisting of the rosary, sung Vespers and a sermon. Perhaps the Council Fathers were here gently suggesting that liturgical (i.e., the Liturgy of the Hours) and para-liturgical (e.g., the rosary) celebrations should be separated in practice.

Most interestingly, the Council Fathers also encourage lay participation in the Liturgy of the Hours whether with their (parish) priests or in gatherings of the laity alone. Notice that among women’s religious communities parts of the Divine Office normally assigned to clerics were already at the time of the Council being recited by their members with appropriate modifications recognizing their lay state. The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours will confirm forms of celebrating the Divine Office with lay verbal leadership.

Pray Tell readers may wish to discuss if the Council’s exhortation to develop the Liturgy of the Hours as parish prayer is much in evidence fifty years after Sacrosanctum Concilium was promulgated. Those who have successfully implemented this conciliar desire might indicate what things are needed to sustain the Liturgy of the Hours in parish practice. Those who have not done so might reflect on the reasons why such implementation has not taken place in particular churches.

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