What a Simplified Office Book Might Look Like

One of the main reasons why the Liturgy of the Hours has not become popular is that the current printed editions are way too complex. The office book is a book for experts, not for regular churchgoers who need to be made familiar with the value and beauty of this liturgical treasure in the first place.

I remember Saturday, December 19, 2015. I joined a Capuchin community for Vespers. We used the regular German office book (“Stundenbuch”). The edition contains six ribbon page markers. You know how complex the rubrics in the seven days before Christmas are: On that very day the six markers did not suffice to prepare all required pages!

The German Stundenbuch (volume III for ordinary time, ca. 1400 pages) with its six page markers.

I regard this experience as a personal challenge: How would I arrange an office book, preserving as much of the liturgical treasure as possible, but also making it more useful for beginners or communities with little experience? Could the Roman Catholic Church get something as simple as an Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer?

Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer by the Episcopal Church in the US, ca. 1000 pages, containing much more than the Office.

Here is an outline:

Let us neither reduce the course of hours per day nor the course of elements as used since 1970 (I am not against such ideas, but that would raise much more fundamental questions). The focus in the first step should be on the arrangement of psalms and canticles for a simplified office book, fully according to the Council’s reform of the Liturgy of the Hours (Sacrosanctum Concilium 83–101) and preserving key elements of the Western tradition.

What should be preserved?

  • “Morning psalms” (e.g. Ps 63) at the beginning of Lauds (typical topics: awakening, sunrise),
  • “laud psalms” (e.g. Ps 148–150) at the end of Lauds (praise, salvation, exultation),
  • “torah psalms” (e.g. Ps 119) in the Little Hours (constancy, truth to God’s word),
  • “pilgrim psalms” (e.g. Ps 122) in the Little Hours (pilgrimage, Jerusalem),
  • “evening psalms” (e.g. Ps 141) in Vespers (sunset, danger, trust in God, thanksgiving),
  • “trust psalms” (e.g. Ps 91) in Compline,
  • appearance of every psalm and canticle during a certain period of time,
  • course reading of the psalms (traditionally in Vigils, Little Hours, and Vespers).

We can find all of these principles more or less in the entire history of Western liturgy from the Rule of St Benedict to date. Current Old Testament scholars consider the course reading the original meaning of the psalter: The psalms were meant to be meditated in exactly that order.

What should be done differently to the current Roman breviary?

  • All psalms and canticles should have a chance to appear, even if you only pray e.g. the Vespers regularly,
  • course reading should be highlighted as a very simple and probably the oldest method of meditating the Scripture,
  • feast days should not be regarded as important as the regular cycle,
  • the printed edition should be made for almost self-explanatory use.

I suggest a new office book with two parts. The first part contains the Office for a one-week-cycle, the second part contains all psalms and canticles in biblical order. You need one page marker for the first part (e.g. on the page where “Thursday Vespers” begin), and one page marker for the second part (I will explain that a little later).

Every hour during the week has certain fixed psalms. The Lauds start with a morning psalm and end with a “laud psalm”. The Little Hour starts with a torah psalm and ends with a pilgrim psalm. The Vespers start with an evening psalm and end with what could be called “psalm of rest” which I select from the current psalms of Vespers and Compline. Those psalms should somehow lead over to the night – even if there is still Compline afterwards. So we have two psalms fixed for Lauds, Little Hour, and Vespers, the middle place is still empty. The Office of Readings is completely empty by now. The Compline gets a small selection of traditional Compline psalms (see below).

Finally – and this is where part two of the edition comes into play – all empty space is filled with course reading: Take as many psalms as you like and start where you have finished last time (this is where you need the second page marker). If you want to perpetuate the current order, you take one psalm in Lauds, Little Hour, and Vespers, and three psalms in the Office of Readings. If you are a priest very tired from work but obliged to pray the office, you take no psalm at all, so you are free to shorten the hour. If you are a hermit who loves to spend every minute with the Scripture, you take more than one psalm.

The result might look like this:

  • Office of Readings:
    Course reading (as long as you like)
  • Lauds:
    Sunday: Ps 118 – course reading – Ps 150
    Monday: Ps 63 – course reading – Ps 117
    Tuesday: Ps 3 – course reading – Ps 145
    Wednesday: Ps 5 – course reading – Ps 146
    Thursday: Ps 57 – course reading – Ps 147
    Friday: Ps 51 – course reading – Ps 148
    Saturday: Ps 92 – course reading – Ps 149
  • Little Hour:
    Sunday: Ps 1 – course reading – Ps 121
    Monday: Ps 119 I – course reading – Ps.122
    Tuesday: Ps 119 II – course reading – Ps 123
    Wednesday: Ps 119 III – course reading – Ps 124
    Thursday: Ps 119 V – course reading – Ps 125
    Friday: Ps 119 XIV – course reading – Ps 126
    Saturday: Ps 119 XVIII – course reading – Ps 127
  • Vespers:
    Sunday: Ps 110 – course reading – Ps 114
    Monday: Ps 111 – course reading – Ps 16
    Tuesday: Ps 113 – course reading – Ps 138
    Wednesday: Ps 115 – course reading – Ps 116
    Thursday: Ps 23 – course reading – Ps 62
    Friday: Ps 130 – course reading – Ps 31
    Saturday: Ps 141 – course reading – Ps 27
  • Compline:
    Daily: Ps 4 – Ps 91 – Ps 134 (or a selection of these three)

The result would not be a uniform Roman Breviary for the worldwide Church. It would rather be a flexible pattern that can be (and has to be) customized by every individual or group. I regard this as an advantage. Communities that do not pray all the hours do not miss any psalm. Even if it takes a long time before a certain psalm occurs, it will occur for sure some day. Every time you pray the office you get a new – maybe unsettling, maybe inspiring – combination of biblical words.

There are some additional ideas I have in mind. Most of them would enlarge the printed edition or make its use more complex:

  • Every Hour should get a selection of Scripture readings for different times of the year (Advent, Lent, etc.).
  • Every psalm should get a selection of antiphons for different times of the year.
  • Orders for feast days of the Lord, feast days of St. Mary, feast days of martyrs, days of sorrow, etc. could be added to the one-week-cycle.
  • The Old and New Testament canticles should be part of the course reading, but could also be highly recommended for certain feast days (instead of a fixed psalm or instead of the course reading).
  • The canticles from the New Testament could replace the Benedictus in the Lauds or the Magnificat in the Vespers on certain days.
  • A second volume of the book could offer the Hours for the most important or unusual days in the year, such as the Paschal Triduum, Christmas, All Souls’ Day, Ash Wednesday, etc.
  • Of course, the entire book should be printed with melodies so that all parts of the liturgy could be sung.

The result might be a book of about 300 pages in post card size (without the readings for the Office of Readings); similar to the Office in an Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer.

Benediktinisches Brevier
Benediktinisches Brevier (ca. 300 pages), compiled from the Benediktinisches Antiphonale (three volumes, ca. 1900 pages in total) for friends of Münsterschwarzach abbey in Germany. All elements are provided with melodies.

Of course, all these ideas are not fully elaborated, but I would be interested in your opinion: Is this a way the Roman Catholic office book could go?


  1. I agree that there aren’t enough ribbons for certain days. Thank goodness for holy cards, they make handy bookmarks!

    Your proposals for reconstructing the contents of the various Hours are pretty interesting, and I look forward to reading what others think. Unless or until that day comes, we could think about how to make the existing Hours practicable for someone who doesn’t pray them regularly and finds navigating the books to be daunting. I can think of two basic options:

    * Use a subscription service (either hard copy or electronic) in which the texts of the hours essentially have been pre-selected by an editor and laid out by the subscription service;


    * As is the case with Sunday mass at many parishes, the local community needs a liturgist / director / coordinator (or a team) who will be responsible for selecting the appropriate texts and providing sufficient worship aid (whether that be a subscription service, breviaries, projected texts or perhaps some other medium) to allow the people to participate appropriately.

    My personal view is that most people are reasonably bright, and if a parish or local faith community is able to cultivate a stable group, with good leadership, to pray some of the hours, they’ll learn to navigate a breviary. But more ribbons would be a good thing!

    1. The Dominicans put out a subscription to the Hours all set up . It’s called MAGNIFICAT. Its short & handy, has inspirational reading, especially on the lives of the saints.

      1. “Give Us This Day” from Liturgical Press is miles better than “Magnificat” !

  2. Glad to see an article about the Liturgy of the Hours! My first reaction to this proposal is that I worry about the ‘privatization’ of a portion of liturgy. Liturgy seems to be to be, by its very nature, a public expression of faith. In the case of the LOTH even though the prayer may be done by an individual, they are joining in the “prayer of the whole People of God”. While the aims of ‘course reading’ are very good, my concern would be the effect on the ‘shared’ nature of the prayer. If my brother and I are visiting and say Vespers together, do we say his course, or my course? Certainly there would be guidance around such things, and the universal nature of the rest of the prayer remains. Generally, I think the proposal is very good. I’m very much in favor of working to expose more of the faithful to the Roman Breviary, and I would love to have a breviary fully notated for singing.

  3. I confess that I don’t see the current breviary as overly complex but I do note that there is always a tension between variation (to avoid monotony) and simplicity.

    If I were to simplify the LOTH, I would totally remove daytime prayer as this is perhaps the most burdensome office for diocesan priests and the laity. The Office of Readings/Matins would be moved to a separate volume(s) sans Psalms. This would include a two year cycle of scripture/patristic readings and depending on formatting could be printed in 1 or 2 volumes.

    Morning, Evening and Night Prayer would be in one volume. With the removal of daytime prayer, there should be more room to reprint duplicate items within the volume to avoid page flipping. For example, reprinting the texts of Morning prayer Sunday 1 within the feast and solemnity instead of flipping back to the Psalter, and printing the appropriate texts during the Octave of Christmas and Easter instead of flipping back to Christmas and Easter Day.

    Also I would move the material for feasts that occur during the Octave of Christmas from the Proper of Saints to the Proper of Seasons. Memorials would only be celebrated with the substitution of the proper collect (and perhaps a proper antiphon for the Gospel Canticles) so special memorials like Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Martin would lose their proper texts. Instead of feasts day of Our Lady referring back to the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you could print the material in on the appropriate page in hte Proper of Saints.

    For local solemnities/feasts that are new or for a particular place, you could have just one set of common texts and eliminate the Commons of the BVM, Martyrs, Doctors, etc.) which should reduce ribbon flipping and save up space for reprinting duplicate texts.

    Ideally then you would only need three ribbons for MP and EP ( the Proper of Seasons, the Psalter and Proper of Saints) and then a ribbon for Night Prayer.

    1. Devin, I really like those ideas, you’re definitely addressing my pain points :-).

      To my point about subscription services: an online service like iBreviary pre-selects and lays out all the texts for a day. All ribbon placement and page flipping is eliminated. The limitation (from what I’ve seen; perhaps someone who uses it more frequently than I do could weigh in) is that the service makes decisions regarding text choices, which optional memorial to celebrate, etc. that I’d rather make myself. And granted, hard copy printouts of these services for purposes of group celebration kill a lot of trees. But smart phones seem so ubiquitous, at least in the developed world, that having people use their personal devices for group prayer could be a practical option.

      1. I prayed briefly w/ the DivineOffice.org before it was shutdown due to copyright issues. The site never celebrated optional memorials. And of course, local diocesan calendars are ignored such as when in many dioceses St. Patrick’s day is a patronal feast.

        I think your implicit question may be “how hard would it be to design an application that would allow you to select an optional memorial at the start of the process and then provide all of the required texts without an additional click?” I have no idea but I suspect it is doable.

        The following website https://ebreviary.com/
        provides a subscriptions service and it costs 50 dollars a year to print booklets for small groups to pray the entire office each day of the year. It includes daily OR, MP, DP, EP and NP. I doubt they would do optional memorials but it seems reasonably priced for a parish community. If you explore the website, they provide the booklets for free for Sundays (and a few other days) so you can see the booklets for this coming Sunday 11/19. The also have extended vigils for advent and lent.

        That said, I just explored the IBreviary website (I don’t have a smart phone) and they have a wide range of rites from the Book of Blessings and sacramental rites. A priest or deacon could literally celebrate all the sacraments using the application.

  4. I also like the idea of a one week cycle. I find the repetition of Ps 50 for Friday Lauds or 110 for Sunday Vespers very good. In my experience people who are not used to praying the Liturgy of the Hours get confused by Week One, Week Two, etc. and all the page turns. However most people can get their mind around Monday, Tuesday, etc.

    I would go for a simpler solution, leave all of the “shape” of the Hours as is. Then simply select the most popular/spiritual beneficial Psalm or Canticle from the 4 that are currently in that place in the 4 weeks of the current Liturgy of the Hours. Then keep the Psalms of the Day for each day, even on Feast Days. Then this could be supplemented by a better selection of Scripture passages (maybe some version of the little known Biennial Lectionary for the Office of Readings could be a starting point). That way you could reduce the number of ribbons and make it easier to pray.

    of course, I would allow encourage any individual or community that wanted to continue using the current 4 Volume Set to continue doing so.

    This would reduce the number of Psalms prayed by almost 75%, but I think that getting more people to pray the Liturgy of the Hours far outweighs the benefit of using most of the Psalter (also note that we do not use all 150 Psalms as it stands).

  5. There are even simplified forms in existence with just one week and just one psalm for each office each day, giving a total of only 28 (or 22 if Compline always has the same psalm). That may be too slimmed-down for some people.

    I notice in Liborius’s schema that the OT and NT canticles do not figure, only the psalms. Some tweaking would be required to fix that.

    The biggest difficulty for lay people is finding their way around the breviary; and one way of making their life easier is this: eliminate all the antiphons. That simple manoeuvre at a stroke removes a lot of the chasing back and forth between pages, while allowing people to concentrate on praying the psalms.

  6. A few months ago, I acquired by chance a copy of the 1954 St. John’s Abbey Short Breviary for Religious and the Laity (complete edition).

    As I’m sure many readers might already know, it:
    1) completely respects the traditional structure of the various hours of the Roman Breviary,
    2) shortens psalmody to 3 pss. for Matins, 4 each for Lauds and Vespers (incl. Lauds OT Canticle), and 1 each for Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Compline,
    3) goes through about 2/3 of all Psalms each week, with an optional 4 week Matins psalm cycle that covers all Psalms not included in the weekly cursus (not edited for “psychological difficulties”),
    4) has one single Common for all feasts based on a simplified calendar with only 2nd-class Doubles and above (as well as a number of additional collects for more well-known lower class feasts, to be said with the ferial psalter),
    5) has a single medium-length Matins scripture reading for every day of the year, following closely the cycle of occurring scripture in the RB,
    6) includes brief, clear, enlightening, orthodox and liturgically devout footnote commentary by the great Dr. Pius Parsch, for every hour and for each psalm within each hour,
    7) uses the 1950 Confraternity edition of the Psalms – contemporary, accessible, fresh, poetic and literal at the same time.

    In sum, it lovingly takes the Roman Breviary and, adding a few Monastic elements and a great deal of careful simplification while respecting the structure and content of the whole, makes the divine office living and accessible for busy layfolk like myself… In 1954.

    A real shame that it had to be thrown out and consigned to oblivion post-1970, and now we just keep reinventing the wheel. A tragic waste of effort.

    1. Wasn’t there an update of The Short Brievary a la Liturgia Horarum which was forbidden by the ecclesiastical authorities because it gave real competition to their inferior version? I can never keep it in stock even though I charge absurdly high prices for it.

      I once picked up at the Salesian bookstore across from Termini a copy of the Italian equivalent of the above issued by the S. Giustina Benedictines which I gave to a friend who had to brush up his Italian for the visit of his relatives. Quite a lovely production, AEG, in one chubby volume which my friend told me made the office an added joy for him. Hopefully he’s now enjoying fellowship with Dante in the heavenly realms speaking la bella lingua.

      1. Would this be Christian Prayer and Shorter Christian Prayer? I have not used them but would they not fit the bill?

      2. I believe you’re right, Brian. I am not familiar with that nixed version. As re Fr Forte’s comment on the Little Office – yes!! It is still a fantastic office for the laity, an excellent exercise in training the liturgical memory, and a primary source of catechesis for my small children as well. As a family we pray out of the Angelus Press version that conforms to Summorum Pontificum/1960, so no commemorations, but I also have a copy of St. Bonaventure Publications’ very high-quality reprint of the Benziger Brothers 1904 version. Aside from all the material eliminated in subsequent decades (e.g. Pss 66 and 149-150 at Lauds), it also contains both the Commemoration of All Saints for Lauds and Vespers, as well as additional commemorations from both the BR and from various orders’ own proper breviaries for certain major feasts.

        I have the 1980s Catholic Book Publishing version based on the LOTH as well, and appreciate it for what it is, though I have not prayed it personally. Some might appreciate the weekly cycle better than the daily repetition of 1960 and prior.

      3. The Liturgical Press’s Short Breviary went through a 3rd edition in 1962, but the 4th edition is the one for which the imprimatur and nihil obstat were removed because it was seen as competition for the “official” version. It used the Confraternity psalter and observed the 4-week cycle of the Liturgia Horarum. It was eventually published as Book of Prayer for Personal Use in 1975, not by Liturgical Press but by St. John’s Abbey. Copies occasionally show up on eBay and Amazon, etc., at a hefty price. The binding was not sturdy, so it’s tough to find copies in good condition.

  7. Why not the Little Office with a restoration of the commemorations of feasts? This was the traditional adaptation for the laity. Simple to use.

    1. I am presently on a clergy retreat for which many of the priests, about 40, have travelled considerable distances. I don’t see many office books in use. Even the older priests are mostly using Universalis on smart phones and iPads. The app has many regional versions with local calendars but not, unfortunately the ability to choose optional memorials— which could, no doubt, be easily supplied. Talk of ribbons and page chasing is probably addressing a problem that will soon disappear. If and when a revised LOTH is published it will probably have an extravagant cost, and the switch to e-breviaries will receive an extra boost. Times are changing.

      1. That is pretty interesting. I’m glad to hear they’re praying the hours! And I’m impressed that the older guys are using personal devices. We have an older guy as our parish administrator, and he’s not at technophobe, either.

        I wish the Universalis site was allowed to use the official translations. But if Universalis is enabling priests to pray the Hours regularly, then “Who am I to judge”? Still – in case any members of the USCCB’s committee on Divine Worship are lurking out there: making texts freely available to people who want to pray should trump concerns about copyrights (including revenues!). Just my 2 cents.

        On a similar subject: I use the usccb.org website all the time to look at the mass readings for the day. It’s more than high time that the site also incorporated the propers for each day.

  8. One of the missteps of post-conciliar reform. We probably need a number of forms. Each religious or monastic order their own–for themselves and their lay associates. One for diocesan clergy and interested laypeople. A more-or-less official version for public prayer in parishes that dispenses with the euphemisms of “morning praise” and “evensong.” Maybe a simpler version for parents with children–various options: compline at a child’s bedtime, simplified hinge hours for breakfast/departing for school and after an evening meal. Smart phones make complex versions much easier. In another two generations, ribbons may be obsolete.

    More to the point, perhaps we need a clarification before embarking on reform. Is the LotH intended to sanctify the day? Is it an exercise in personal, mostly private piety? Is it a real communal liturgy? Is it a fallback when there is no priest to celebrate Mass? Is it a complement to a community celebration of Mass at another time of the day?

  9. Thanks for the lots of comments so far!
    Some aspects that come into my mind regarding your comments:
    – My proposal almost completely omits the OT and NT canticles. In my eyes that it the biggest price I had to pay, but at the end of my post I try to compensate that a bit. Nevertheless I would prefer a better solution (which I have not found yet).
    – I do not think that the LOTH needs uniformity in order to be an official public liturgy of the Church. The history of the Office shows that there has always been some amount of pluriformity, and the LOTH reform by Vatican II respects the different circumstances monks, priests, parishes, families, etc. live in.
    – Yes, there are smartphone apps etc. that can eliminate the ribbon problem, but such apps might also “incapacitate” the individual users, because if you don’t know how to handle the ribbons in a book, you also cannot reconstruct what decisions the editors of the apps make and why.
    – I can imagine psalms without antiphons, but antiphons could be a simple way of giving the LOTH a different atmosphere depending on the time of the year or on feast days. Antiphons in general are such a rich element of Western liturgy that I would not like to omit them completely. Maybe they could be omitted if the LOTH is not sung but only prayed privately, but for an official edition (that should be made for community gatherings in the first place) I would prefer antiphons as a different focus for different occasions in the year.

  10. I should also note that the Divine Worship (Ordinariate) Use of the Divine Office, awaiting final approval by the CDF at this time and available in close-to-final form online at http://prayer.covert.org/ will be a terrific new addition to officially sanctioned liturgical prayer of Holy Church. It retains the form and structure, as well as the optional 30-day full cursus of the psalter devised by Cranmer (or, alternatively, the 7-week course for busier folk), and is largely inspired by a combination of the 1662 English and 1928 American Prayer Books (with some elements of 1979, e.g. the Phos Hilaron at Evensong, also present). It keeps the psalmody without antiphons, but it does reincorporate proper invitatories to Ps94/95, as well as proper Gospel Canticle antiphons for Sundays and everything ranked Feast and above. It will also add Terce, Sext and None, and separate Compline. But Sacrosanctum’s principle that Lauds and Vespers are the “hinges” of the Office will remain perhaps most evident among all formal Offices in use in the Latin Church. I can’t wait for its formal approval and printing!

    1. Oh, also, the Ordinariate has restored proper First Vespers for Feasts and above, suppressed in the 1955 round of reforms.

  11. A reader writes in:

    “Is no one at Saint John’s going to put a plug in for Benedictine Daily Prayer, the successor to A Short Breviary, which already incorporates much of what this article suggests?”

    It’s my pleasure to bring it up. Christian Daily Prayer is a single volume, 2088 pages, beautifully produced. You can find the book here:

    One of its many positive reviews mentions some of the issues discussed in this thread:

    “Anyone who desires to pray Christian daily prayer offices will welcome this fresh revision of Benedictine Daily Prayer. Much easier to use with less turning of pages, a generous selection of psalmody, additional readings from patristic sources for all three years, arranged in two-week cycles-all these features make this a more accessible and rich resource…”

    — Don E. Saliers, Cannon Professor of Theology and Liturgy, Emeritus, Theologian-in-Residence, Emory University

  12. The notion of a simplified book is limiting. As a couple of people have pointed out already, the book form may be phased out soon enough in favor of allowing computing devices to figure out what pieces should be assembled into the day’s format, leaving proper space for human input.
    Before we get there, there are intermediate steps. Monthly liturgettes that would assemble the order for the days of that month. This would give an opportunity to see what is needed, or isn’t needed.
    My personal preference would be that the psalms be left out, so that a bible or psalter would have to be used alongside the disposable publications. (A parallel issue, the Benedictus and the Magnificat should be used every day as a sign the Gospel is more permanent than the other NT canticles)
    The liturgettes would also show that the prayer is not a private thing even if it is individualized, as the computer programmed version would have to be. We share in the prayer with the others for whom the monthly issues are printed.
    I coined liturgettes from missalettes in part to remind us that any suggestion we come up with is going to have annoying consequences just because it will be new. My experience of visiting a few monasteries in the 70s tells me that any simplification we come up with will be met with countervailing complications. How long would it take me to figure out what songbooks, psalters and other books I would need to take part in prayer here? A day? A week? A lifetime?

    1. Jim, please retire the word “liturgettes” immediately.

      Your invention isn’t just objectionable because it is new!!! It has no relationship to the title “Liturgy of the Hours.” Whatever you think of the term missalette, at least it has some link to the word “missal.” Good heavens.

    1. You guys are hilarious! It reminds me of the Washington Post Style Invitational.

      I thought Fr. Anthony Forte won the prize for “Brevette” but Jim P. and his “Briefiary” had me in stitches.

      That said… DON’T TRY IT! We have enough hideous neologisms on our hands as it is!

  13. I really like the ideas expressed in this post, thank you. I will think them through more, and intend to blog about it on my website soon.

    Please, could I have a reference to which writings are being referred to in the declaration: “Current Old Testament scholars consider the course reading the original meaning of the psalter: The psalms were meant to be meditated in exactly that order.”


    Bosco Peters

  14. Gregory Woolfenden (2017) argues (and I think persuasively) that the preconciliar Latin rite Vespers combines and shortens two synaxes of a monastic and a people’s office in Daily Liturgical prayer: Origins and Theology. The Chapter/’Reading’ begins the people’s office (a non-presbyteral blessing), and continues with the Responsory (the Psalm), the Office Hymn (the Lucernarium), and its versicle and response (a relic of the incense psalm), which smoke wafts and drifts into the Magnificat.

    Perhaps this might provide a model for a version of the Liturgy of the Hours. A reading of the Psalm cursus which then segues into the People’s Office, which are already printed in many hymnals (Worship/ Gather/Journeysong) as Morning Praise and Evensong.

    Flowerday’s call for a family of prayer forms is also worth considering. I am reminded of William Storey’s small volume of prayer books with devotions inflected towards the Liturgy of the Hours (or is it the Hours adapted for states of life?). Added to this, of course, is the periodical Give us This Day. There is so much potential for these books to invigorate popular devotion if we can sort out the theology of the liturgy of the hours in a way that includes these forms.

  15. I once heard a bishop state that the rosary was adopted as sort of a “liturgy of the hours for the common man”. The 150 recitations of Hail Mary in the (traditional) three-set “cursus” of rosary mysteries corresponded (he said) to the praying of the 150 psalms in the liturgy of the hours.

    1. An ancillary comment followed John Paul’s creation of the Mysteries of Light: “Who is going to compose the extra 50 psalms!”

      1. They are there already. They just need to be assembled. You can start with the canticle for Morning Prayer on each day of the four-week psalter.

  16. I think the Liturgy of the Hours isn’t complex so much as it is rich in variety of seasons and holy days. It is also one of the public liturgies of the universal Church and ought to be prayed as such. For those who are committed to praying the LotH, it becomes simple to know where to find the appropriate texts. So, I think this idea of simplifying it is somewhat misguided. Using online breviaries seems to be the remedy for uncommitted or occasional celebrants. Otherwise, stick to the rosary or mash up some other personal devotion, but don’t call it Liturgy of the Hours.

  17. Actually there are a couple of mentions of Universalis, which is what I use.
    Also to join in belatedly, Cranmer’s solution for a Parochial Office has stood the test of time. And unlike the 2088 pages of the ‘shorter’ breviary mentioned above, the Book of Common Prayer runs to 436 pages, (including the Communion service and it’s readings, plus Baptism, Marriage, Burial, and all other services!). You also need a bible for the readings. My 1968 English copy, bound with the 779 hymns of Ancient and Modern, weighs less than 6 oz/170gm, with hardcovers, and measures just under 6″*4″*1″, admittedly my 80 year-old eyes cannot cope without glasses. Simplicity achieved by indexing the psalms in sequence using day of the month, and dropping antiphons, with just a collect to tie the Office to the festal calendar..

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