Vatican website translation:
89. 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.
89. Itaque, in instauratione Officii, hae normae serventur:
a) Laudes, ut preces matutinae, et Vesperae, ut preces vespertinae, ex venerabili universae Ecclesiae traditione duplex cardo Officii cotidiani, Horae praecipuae habendae sunt et ita celebrandae;
b) Completorium ita instruatur, ut fini diei apte conveniat;
c) Hora quae Matutinum vocatur, quamvis in choro indolem nocturnae laudis retineat, ita accommodetur ut qualibet diei hora recitari possit, et e psalmis paucioribus lectionibusque longioribus constet;
d) Hora Prima supprimatur;
e) In choro, Horae minores Tertia, Sexta, Nona serventur. Extra chorum e tribus unam seligere licet, diei tempori magis congruentem.
Slavishly literal translation:
89. And so, in the reformulation of the Office, these norms are to be observed:
a) Lauds, as daybreak prayers, and Vespers, as sunset prayers, the dual hinge of the daily Office according to the venerable tradition of the universal Church, are to be held as the principal hours and celebrated thus;
b) Compline is to be drawn up so that it might serve as the appropriate conclusion of the day;
c) The hour which is called Matins, while in choral celebration should retain the function of nocturnal praise, should be so adapted so that it could be recited at any hour of the day one wishes, and should consist of fewer psalms and longer readings;
d) The hour of Prime is eliminated;
e) In choral celebration, the minor Hours of Terce, Sext, and None are to be preserved. Outside of choral celebration it is lawful to select one of the three more congruent with the time of day.
Having presented theological foundations for reform of the Liturgy of the Hours, the Council Fathers now turn to concrete guidelines for that reform. Note that the hours are not considered to be of equal “weight.” If Prime is suppressed, it is clearly the least important among the hours, probably because it repeated so many of the thematics of Lauds. Mid-morning, noon-time and mid-afternoon prayers are specifically described as “minor” hours, and the fact that, outside of celebration in community, one “mid-day” prayer from among the three may be prayed by those not bound to choral celebration, makes it clear that these “pause-in-the-middle-of-work” prayers are of comparatively lesser weight than the other. Compline would seem to be “weightier” than the minor hours since its focus is as “prayer-at-the-end-of-day,” i.e., prayer to accompany going to sleep. Lauds and Vespers hold the greatest weight as prayers marking dawn and dusk, powerfully “mapping” the meaning of these liminal moments in the daily solar cycle onto the action of the creating and sustaining God as well as the Paschal Mystery of Christ. The decision to treat Matins as either a daily middle-of-the-night communal vigil or as a time for spiritual reading prayed whenever the individual might get to it represents an uneasy compromise between sustaining the “truth of the hours” in choral celebration or abandoning the distinctive purpose of the Divine Office as the sanctification of time in favor of guaranteeing some daily spiritual reading in the lives of active clerics and religious.
Pray Tell readers might want to discuss how effectively these wishes of the Council Fathers have been embodied in the reformed Liturgy of the Hours we have received. Are Lauds and Vespers celebrated as genuine daybreak and sunset prayers or (as is more likely in cultures less attuned to the daily solar cycle) as prayer for the beginning and end of the work-day? Is there an advantage to using invariable psalmody in the celebration of the minor hours so that they may be prayed “by heart,” or does this lead to boredom in liturgical celebration for which the minor hour with variable psalmody provide relief? Might the penitential acts optionally prefixed to Compline provide an opportunity for examen before sleep and might a similar possibility be extended to the central “minor hour” prayed daily? Finally how are the diverse functions now assigned to Matins to be reconciled (i.e., might the individualist character of “spiritual reading” be better served by simply indicating an amount of time for the reading with a suggestion of useful sources without the ceremonial and psalmody)?