Non solum: Mauds and Mespers

Do you have any experience with joining Mass with Lauds or Vespers? The General Instruction on the Liturgy  of the Hours (1970) allows this – see the citation below.

A certain school of thought says that liturgies have their own integrity and should not be lumped together. Do you agree with this? Or do you see pastoral reason for joining the office with Mass? Please share your experiences and your thoughts.

VII  The Way of Joining Hours of the Office with Mass or Among Themselves

93  In special cases, if the circumstances require it, a liturgical Hour celebrated in public or in common may be joined more closely with Mass, provided that they are both of the same Office. This should be done in accordance with the norms which follow. Care should be taken to ensure that this is not pastorally harmful, especially on Sundays.

94  When Lauds, celebrated in choir or in common, immediately precedes Mass, the liturgical function may begin either with the introductory verse and hymn of Lauds (especially on ferial days), or with the entrance song and procession, and the celebrant’s greeting (especially on festive days). When one of these introductory forms is used, the other is omitted. The psalmody of Lauds is said in the usual way as far as the short reading exclusively. The penitential act of the Mass is omitted, as also the Kyrie, if so desired; the Gloria in excelsis is then said, if the rubrics require it, and the celebrant says the opening prayer of the Mass. The Liturgy of the Word follows in the usual way. The Prayer of the Faithful is said at the normal time and in the form customary at Mass. During the morning Mass of a ferial day, however, the intercessions of Lauds may replace the Prayer of the Faithful. After the communion song, the Benedictus is sung with its antiphon, followed by the postcommunion prayer and the remainder of Mass is as normal.

95  If the public celebration of the Prayer during the Day immediately precedes Mass, the celebration may begin with the introductory verse and hymn of the Hour (especially on ferial days), or with the entrance song and procession, and celebrant’s greeting (especially on festive days). When one of these introductory forms is used, the other is omitted. The psalmody of the Hour then follows in the usual way as far as the short reading exclusively, omitting the penitential act and if desired the Kyrie, the Gloria in excelsis is said, if the rubrics require it, and the celebrant says the opening prayer of the Mass.

96  Vespers celebrated immediately before Mass is joined with it in the same way as Lauds. First Vespers of solemnities, Sundays and feasts of our Lord occurring on Sundays may not be celebrated until after the Mass of the previous day or the Saturday.

97  When the Prayer during the Day or Vespers follows Mass, the Mass is celebrated in the usual way as far as the postcommunion prayer inclusively. The psalmody of the Hour begins without an introductory verse immediately after the postcommunion prayer. In the Prayer during the Day the short reading is omitted after the psalmody, and the concluding prayer said, followed by a dismissal as at Mass. At Vespers, the Magnificat with its antiphon follows immediately after the psalmody—there is no reading, no intercessions and no Lord’s Prayer—and then comes the concluding prayer and the blessing of the people.


  1. I’ve never had an experience of this in a Roman-rite context. Only experiences I have is with the Anglican Book of Common Prayer combining, usually Morning Prayer, with the Eucharist. I’ve observed an instance where it was done the ‘old way’ (i.e., 1662-ish, with full Matins, Litany, and Holy Communion one after another) as well as in ‘Frankenmass’ form (Penitential Introduction through to the Prayers as the Liturgy of the Word, with the Eucharistic rite tacked on using the 79 book, or Invitatory Psalm through the Benedictus/Magnificat and Creed as Liturgy of the Word and picking up the Eucharistic Rite with the ‘offertory’ verse, followed by the Prayer for the Church, Confession, etc.

    While a very well executed Frankenmass is occasionally enjoyable, I tend to be of the mindset that the Hours are the Hours and the Eucharist is the Eucharist.

  2. “In special cases, if the circumstances require it”

    When would the circumstances ever require it?

  3. The model is not uncommon in Orthodox Christian Liturgical commemorations for the days of the Eve of certain major Feasts. The imprint behind the model is a much older practice, whose awkwardness in the ‘ever- tidying’ order of services is reflected in rather straind re-readings of daily time and experience in order to accommodate what was clearly ‘on the ground’ an evening Eucharistic celebration with Vesperal prayers.

  4. I have experienced this at national deacons meetings, it rarely goes well. This year the celebrant forgot we had started vespers and never finished it after mass. I would not recommend the practice…EVER

  5. Some might remember that between the mid-1950s and 1970 (more or less), before the introduction of the Missal of Paul VI, at the Easter Vigil, after Communion, an abbreviated form of Lauds was included (i.e., Ps 150 and the Benedictus), before the Post-Communion prayer and dismissal. I don’t have a pre-1955 Missale with me, but I think the older Vigil included Vespers (i.e., the Magnificat) at that point. In the early 1970s, I remember visiting a Benedictine priory in Missouri where Evening Prayer seemed regularly joined to Mass, but that custom may have changed over the last 40 years!

  6. I believe that somewhere in the General Instructions on the Liturgy of the Hours, it is recommended to combine the Office of the Readings with the Mass During the Night on Christmas Eve.

    1. @Charles Kramer:

      Intriguing. Is the combination of Matins and Midnight Mass supposed to reflect the length of the Easter Vigil? Certainly the readings for the Easter Vigil have been designed as a “liturgical whole”, while Matins is not an integral part of Midnight Mass. I certainly would like to participate in this, but some might balk given the length of the Hour-Mass at a late time in the evening. Also, Lessons and Carols would probably be deleted, perhaps to the consternation of some.

      edit: Matins and Midnight Mass were said together in St. Mary Major at least during the reign of Pope St. Pius X.

  7. i was bewildered by a reference to the Magnificat at the end of the Easter Vigil until I read a fascinating description of liturgies in Rome in the early 20th century. Evidently, the Vatican celebration began at 8:00 am on Holy Saturday morning and included the chanting of all Twelve Prophecies. It also included all the ordinations to the Minor and Major Orders that had not been accomplished the previous Ember Day. Five hours later, Vespers was sung at the normal hour of 1 pm. Positively Wagnerian in duration!
    This tradition has been revived in some parishes that celebrate the pre-1955 Holy Week rites:

  8. I’m pretty sure I experienced this (“Mauds”) on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time in 1990 at St. Nicholas Church in Amsterdam. I was backpacking through Europe before heading off to graduate school, but I have vivid memories of many details of this liturgy – among them the chanting of mornings psalms at the beginning of the Mass. This occurred long before I had any knowledge of the GILR.

  9. We (Monastery of the Holy Cross, Chicago) combined Mass and Vespers for years, following the model of the Community of Jerusalem. I personally found it intriguing at first, taxing after awhile. More than that, since we separated them back out, the integrity of each as a unique segment of the full liturgy is more apparent and satisfying.

    The brothers at Saint Mary’s priory in Petersham join Mass and Terce, and this is somewhat common in our Congregation. I guess I would prefer this to another practice I’ve experienced, where as soon as Mass ends and the priests have returned from the sacristy (or even before), Terce begins afresh. Both are practical adjustments to the demands of monastic life in the modern world, but I prefer in this case joining Terce to Mass, rather than interrupting what might be a moment to pray after Mass with the beginning of a new office.

  10. We did this once in the seminary, on December 8, 1982, with Morning Prayer preceding Eucharist. That we never did it again says enough.

  11. I would greatly prefer that the intercessions of Lauds replace the usual freeform Prayer of the Faithful. Certainly, prayers for the ailing and the dead, wedding banns, and a concluding Hail Mary could be added where customary. kyrie elesion; Christe, exaudi nos; or vernacular equivalents could be used regularly instead of the responses of Lauds.

    This is personal preference and in no way empirical. I do find, like many other Catholics, that the freeform universal prayer can become obtuse and even unrelated to the Sacrifice. Lauds intercessions provide theologically well formed and thoughtful prayers.

  12. I’ve put this together and executed music for Lauds/Mass for various Diocesan events held on Saturday morning, especially when a large number of clerics are present. As long as one has a musician who understands the rubrics, a Master of Ceremonies who will make sure things run smoothly in the sanctuary, and a worship aid that keeps people in-the-know, it can be just fine.

  13. @Jordan Zarembo

    The General Instruction:

    215. On Christmas eve it is fitting that by means of the office of readings, a solemn
    vigil be celebrated before Mass. Night prayer is not said by those present at this vigil.

    It is my understanding that Lessons and Carols was derived from an Anglican office which corresponds to the RC Office of the readings.

  14. For many years Worth Abbey had “Masspers” (a better term than “Mespers” ?) on weekdays, but seem no longer to do this. It was in fact very effective. The integration of the psalms into the Liturgy of the Word, and the use of the Magnificat as a postcommunion song of thanksgiving worked well. Of course there will always be those who try something like this and don’t like it because it is unfamiliar and then say it didn’t work. When you are used to it, it is quite comfortable.

    An analogous combination of Office and rite is also successful in Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest — much to be preferred instead of Word and Communion.

  15. This seems to be a rather common practice in religious communities, some already mentioned above and many others I have visited in France and the UK. It is also something I do when celebrating Mass with priest friends on holiday. I am not sure I would want it as my daily practice but I do think it works quite well, the Gospel canticle as part of the concluding rites of Mass reminds me of Cranmer’s placing of the Gloria and works well. It always feels to me that the Mass doesn’t suffer but there is a feeling of not having quite prayed the Office and having lost the structure no some of the content of the Office. Among Anglicans Matins and Mass used to be known as Mati-Mass, something I haven’t experienced for many years. Of course for those who use a full Anglican lectionary at the Office combining Office and Mass means losing one lectionary.

  16. Back in the late seventies,when I regularly celebrated Mass for a community of sisters , we combined Matins and the Eucharist three times a week. The sisters missed it when I moved on.
    In our seminary here in Japan, when there are no classes on Saturday morning, we combine Matins and the Eucharist. Following an SVD tradition, the hymn is the Veni Creator, in Latin, sung a capella, and similarly the psalms are also chanted in Japanese, a capella. It is such a long established custom that it seems the natural thing to do. On Sunday evenings we also combine Vespers with Eucharistic Adoration/Benediction. Might I add finally that Japanese is a language that seems to lend itself naturally to chant.
    Our seminary community is multi-national, and new, younger members, particularly from other Asian countries soon get accustomed to the practice. Hopefully they will see the custom carried forward.

  17. Peter Funk’s posting was helpful. After my experience with the Jerusalem monks and nuns in Paris, a fellow campus minister and I starting making the Latin liturgy longer, slower, more contemplative and we did that by introducing the liturgy of the hours in the Liturgy of the Word. With long pauses after the readings and between the palms.
    I experineced the Ukrainian Catholic Divine Liturgy with its litanies and psalms. I found it enriched the sober (too sober?) simplicity of the Latin rite. I wonder sometimes if the attraction some feel for the extraordinary rite is not ritual but pace and richness of scripture.
    The monks at St Benoit sur Loire add a psalm after Communion to replace one of the day hours. It enriches things more than a popular style Communion my opinion.

    1. Brian Palmer at #23: “The Pauline rite’s introductory prayers were usually said at the foot of the altar, as was the prayer for the blessing of water and salt for Asperges (during Eastertide performed at the font). The pastor generally wore the cope during the procession until he intoned the collect of Mass.

      The reformed asperges/vidi aquam is rather cumbersome, especially for the conjunction of hours and Mass. The new asperges contains long didactic prayers. Perhaps the shorter Tridentine-style asperges should be permitted optionally, with cope as Brian notes. I will agree that the prayer exaudi nos, Domine at the close of the EF asperges has nothing to do with baptismal theology. Still, I would say that the reformers wandered off into an unnecessarly didactic path here.

      Halbert Weidner at #18: “ I found it enriched the sober (too sober?) simplicity of the Latin rite. I wonder sometimes if the attraction some feel for the extraordinary rite is not ritual but pace and richness of scripture.

      +1 quite astute, Halbert. I agree that many who attend the EF often prefer the unreformed rites precisely because of the duplication of prayers and the greater verbosity of unreformed worship. The OF, especially when celebrated with the quickest options is the holy sacrifice but reduced to its bare minimum. Liturgical minimalism was sadly common in the Tridentine era also. Still, we (clergy, religious, and laity all) can hope for more.

      If St. John’s Abbey were to celebrate Vespers + Mass + anticipated Matins + anticipated Lauds, I’ll be the first to make the road trip out to Collegeville. I doubt I’ll ever see this in a parish.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo:
        Jordan, I agree with respect to using the EF Asperges rite in place of the OF form. I think my former pastor probably got the idea for the blessing of salt and water added to the springling rite from his knowledge of the Sarum usage, and managed to work it into a rite already topheavy with liturgical activity.

        In your last para in your remarks to Halbert, I’d only add I too doubt you’ll ever see in any Roman rite parish V+M+M+L either. That could try the soul of the most ardent Cistercian, wouldn’t it? Even the Russian and Balkan Orthodox are struggling in this country to keep Saturday’s Matins or extended Vigil.

        The Greek Orthodox in some places are toying with a Saturday anticipated liturgy (with a quick introductory office of Vespers) to replace the usual practice of Vespers Saturday night and Divine Liturgy Sunday morning. The times, they are a changing.

  18. I recall that at the first Catholic Easter Vigil I ever attended, at the Trappist Monastery in Conyers Georgia back in 1982, they did abbreviated Lauds after communion: Psalm 150 and the Benedictus. I, of course, had no idea that was not what was done everywhere. Perhaps one could justify this rubrically by seeing it as a form of the song of thanksgiving after communion.

    In terms of what the LOH envisions, I have only experienced that a handful of times. I can’t say I’m that crazy about it but it may simply be that I am not used to it, as Paul says.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
      At Saint Meinraid’s Archabbey, their Easter Vigil is all night long. After Reading #4, the monks recite psalms 1-149, then the lazier guests (like myself) come back and they pick up with Reading #5.
      After Communion, they recite/sing Psalm 150 and the Benedictus. I never put 2 and 2 together until right now. It’s all perfectly timed so sunrise is during the Eucharistic Prayer.

      Maybe you slept through Psalm 1-149? 🙂

      1. @Chuck Middendorf:
        I’ve been to some Easter vigils in Eurpoe where between the readings the vigil is extended by adding the 12 prophecies from the pre-1955 rite. Whether the entire psalter is added or the 12 prophecies, it enhances the rite immensely. It seems to be a true all night vigil.

  19. While in the novitiate (which, in my community was stand-alone) we would combine lauds with Mass on Wednesday mornings so that we could get to our apostolates on time. If done well I think that this practice can help to bridge the self-imposed gap that Latin rite Catholics have placed between “the Liturgy” (Mass) and the full liturgical expression which includes the Divine Office.

  20. In a former parish of mine the pastor (a former Anglican with bi-ritual faculties) believed in greater psalmody in our Latin rite eucharistic liturgy, and he was very creative in developing para-liturgies to advance that objective. So, at the 8 am Mass he would combine the patristic reading from the Office of Readings with the fixed sunday psalms from Lauds. To follow the novus ordo introductory rite and Asperges on Sundays.

    The Pauline rite’s introductory prayers were usually said at the foot of the altar, as was the prayer for the blessing of water and salt for Asperges (during Eastertide performed at the font). The pastor generally wore the cope during the procession until he intoned the collect of Mass.

    I recall during Lent and Advent the Benedictus with an incensation of the altar was sung in place of the Gloria. I think the litany of Lauds preceded it with the Kyrie Eleison as the response to each petition. I don’t recall that we ever varied this responsefor sundays and feasts.

    While this entrance rite and office considerably lengthened the celebration, I thought combining it with Mass in this case worked very well in introducing more psalmody and canticles to the laity. Giving them a big dose of the Old Testament as a type of gateway to the new covenant in the eucharist.

    Furthermore, it had the added advantage of giving the congregation a much richer and more contemplative setting to the Mass by singing psalms and canticles in an unhurried fashion–choir and people together. It accomplishes this with great effect in ways the traditional Liturgy of the Word for Mass alone doesn’t do. I may be exposing my personal bias here having been a former low churchman myself.

    It goes without saying the pastor’s tastes clearly reflect his Anglican upbringing and his immersion in Byzantine spirituality and liturgical practice.

  21. Speaking of Byzantine, I notice that the Orthodox sisters at Ellwood who streamline their services do various combinations. Sometimes they offer Mattins before Divine Liturgy in the morning with Vigils in the evening. On Sundays they serve an Akathist before Divine Liturgy followed by a combination of Vespers and Compline in the evening.

    Services are sung in English with tiny bits of Greek, Slavonic and Romanian. Quite delightful!

  22. For a period in the 1990s St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, England, started the !2:30 weekday Mass with Prayer during the day. I have no idea whether they still do this, but they kept it up for at least a year or two. My expectation is that people would prefer the relatively fixed form of daytime prayer to the complexities of the principal offices. (Just as they used to prefer reciting the rosary to more complex forms of prayer)

  23. There are two monasteries in my area that join Lauds with Mass. I’ve normally found this to be an improvement; the office helps flesh out the otherwise sparse character of the modern Roman Rite.

  24. Liturgy of Hours in for the santification of daily time, Eucharist is basically eschatological, two styles are conflicting.

    When I was chaplain for a convent of sisters 25 years ago, we tried this, and I thougght it was horrendous. It destroyed the beauty and the flow of each. Frankenprayer.

    1. If I’m not mistaken, it was the thesis of Gregory Dix that LoH is for sanctification of time but Eucharist is eschatological. Fr. Robert Taft’s big book on the liturgy of the hours (I think in the last section on theology of the LoH but I haven’t looked it up) demolishes this – both are both. I think he’s right about this.

  25. I agree with Fr. Ruff, the idea that the Office only sanctifies time and that the Mass is only eschatological is simply wrong. All prayer does both, along with many other things. We are both/and people.

    But this post is really to mention that at our Dominican House of Studies in Oakland CA, the weekday Mass is in the evening (travel to GTU for classes prevents morning Mass) and is always combined with Vespers (unless there is the First Vespers of a following Solemnity). Much as I like separating Mass and Office, to do one and then immediately follow with the second is very awkward—and feels that way when they must be separated because of a First Vespers.

    The combination done according to the rubrics, with the Magnificat after Communion, works fine once you are used to it and understand it. The many laypeople who attend our evening Mass really enjoy singing the Psalms and never arrive late to avoid them.

    A blessed Christmas!

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