The General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours


Issued 2 February, 1971


Chapter I: Importance of the Liturgy of the Hours or Divine Office in the Life of the Church


I. Prayer of Christ

II. Prayer of the Church

III. Liturgy of the Hours

IV. Participants in the Liturgy of the Hours

  A. Celebration in Common

  B. Mandate to Celebration the Liturgy of the Hours

  C. Structure of the Celebration


Chapter II: Sanctification of the Day: The Different Liturgical Hours


I. Introduction to the Whole Office

II. Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer

III. Office of Readings

IV. Vigils

V. Daytime Hours

VI. Night Prayer

VII. Combining the Hours With Mass or With Each Other


Chapter III: Different Elements in the Liturgy of the Hours


I. Psalms and Their Connection With Christian Prayer

II. Antiphons and Other Aids to Praying the Psalms

III. Ways of Singing the Psalms

IV. Plan for the Distribution of the Psalms in the Office

V. Canticles From the Old and New Testaments

VI. Readings from Sacred Scripture

  A. Reading of Sacred Scripture in General

  B. Cycle of Scripture REadings in the Office of Readings

  C. Short Readings

VII. Readings from the Fathers and Church Writers

VIII. Readings in Honor of Saints

IX. Responsories

X. Hymns and Other Nonbiblical Songs

XI. Intercessions, Lord's Prayer, and Concluding Prayer

  A. The Prayers or Intercessions at Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer

  B. Lord's Prayer

  C. Concluding Prayer

XII. Sacred Silence


Chapter IV: Various Celebrations Throughout the Year


I. Mysteries of the Lord

  A. Sunday

  B. Easter Triduum

  C. Easter Season

  D. Christmas Season

  E. Other Solemnities and Feasts of the Lord

II. The Saints

III. Calendar and Option to Choose an Office or Part of an Office

  A. Calendar to be Followed

  B. Option to Choose an Office

  C. Option to Choose Texts


Chapter V: Rites for Celebration in Common


I. Offices to be Carried Out

II. Singing in the Office









1. Public and common prayer by the people of God is rightly considered to be

among the primary duties of the Church. From the very beginning those who were

baptized "devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the

community, to the breaking of the bread, and to prayer" (Acts 2:42). The Acts of

the Apostles give frequent testimony to the fact that the Christian community

prayed with one accord. [1]


The witness of the early Church teaches us that individual Christians devoted

themselves to prayer at fixed times. Then, in different places, it soon became

the established practice to assign special times for common prayer, for example,

the last hour of the day when evening draws on and the lamp is lighted, or the

first hour when night draws to a close with the rising of the sun.


In the course of time other hours came to be sanctified by prayer in common.

These were seen by the Fathers as foreshadowed in the Acts of the Apostles.

There we read of the disciples gathered together at the third hour. [2] The

prince of the apostles "went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour"

(10:9); "Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the

ninth hour" (3:1); "about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns

to God" (16:25).


2. Such prayer in common gradually took the form of a set cycle of hours. This

liturgy of the hours or divine office, enriched by readings, is principally a

prayer of praise and petition. Indeed, it is the prayer of the Church with

Christ and to Christ.






3. When the Word, proceeding from the Father as the splendor of his glory, came

to give us all a share in God's life, "Christ Jesus, High Priest of the new and

eternal covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile the

hymn of praise that is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven." [3]

From then on in Christ's heart the praise of God assumes a human sound in words

of adoration, expiation, and intercession, presented to the Father by the Head

of the new humanity, the Mediator between God and his people, in the name of all

and for the good of all.


4. In his goodness the Son of God, who is one with his Father (see Jn 10:30) and

who on entering the world said: "Here I am! I come, God, to do your will" (Heb

10:9; see Jn 6:38), has left us the lesson of his own prayer. The Gospels many

times show us Christ at prayer: when his mission is revealed by the Father; [4]

before he calls the apostles; [5] when he blesses God at the multiplication of

the loaves; [6] when he is transfigured on the mountain; [7] when he heals the

deaf-mute; [8] when he raises Lazarus; [9] before he asks for Peter's confession

of faith; [10] when he teaches the disciples how to pray; [11]when the disciples

return from their mission; [12] when he blesses the little children; [13] when

he prays for Peter. [14]


The work of each day was closely bound up with his prayer, indeed flowed out

from it: he would retire into the desert or into the hills to pray, [15] rise

very early [16] or spend the night up to the fourth watch [17] in prayer to God.



We are right in thinking that he took part both in public prayers: in the

synagogues, which he entered on the Sabbath "as his custom was;" [19] in the

temple, which he called a house of prayer; [20] and in the private prayers that

for devout Israelites were a daily practice. He used the traditional blessings

of God at meals, as is expressly mentioned in connection with the multiplication

of the loaves, [21] the last supper [22] and the meal at Emmaus. [23] He also

joined with the disciples in a hymn of praise. [24]


To the very end of his life, as his passion was approaching, [25] at the last

supper, [26] in the agony in the garden, [27] and on the cross, [28] the divine

teacher showed that prayer was the soul of his Messianic ministry and paschal

death. "In the days of his life on earth he offered up prayers and entreaties

with loud cries and tears to the one who could deliver him from death and

because of his reverence his prayer was heard" (Heb 5:7). By a single offering

on the altar of the cross "he has made perfect forever those who are being

sanctified" (Heb 10-14). Raised from the dead, he lives for ever, making

intercession for us. [29]






5. Jesus has commanded us to do as he did. On many occasions he said: "Pray,"

"ask," "seek" [30] "in my name." [31] He taught us how to pray in what is known

as the Lord's Prayer. [32] He taught us that prayer is necessary, [33] that it

should be humble, [34] watchful, [35] persevering, confident in the Father's

goodness, [36] single-minded, and in conformity with God's nature. [37]


Here and there in their letters the apostles have handed on to us many prayers,

particularly of praise and thanks. They instruct us on prayer in the Holy

Spirit, [38] through Christ, [39] offered to God, [40] as to its persistence and

constancy, [41] its power to sanctify, [42] and on prayer of praise, [43]

thanks, [44] petition, [45] and intercession for all. [46]




6. Since we are entirely dependent on God, we must acknowledge and express this

sovereignty of the Creator, as the devout people of every age have done by means

of prayer.


Prayer directed to God must be linked with Christ, the Lord of all, the one

Mediator [47] through whom alone we have access to God.[48] He unites to himself

the whole human community [49] in such a way that there is an intimate bond

between the prayer of Christ and the prayer of all humanity. In Christ and in

Christ alone human worship of God receives its redemptive value and attains its




7. There is a special and very close bond between Christ and those whom he makes

members of his Body, the Church, through the sacrament of rebirth. Thus, from

the Head all the riches belonging to the Son flow throughout the whole Body: the

communication of the Spirit, the truth, the life, and the participation in the

divine sonship that Christ manifested in all his prayer when he dwelt among us.


Christ's priesthood is also shared by the whole Body of the Church, so that the

baptized are consecrated as a spiritual temple and holy priesthood through the

rebirth of baptism and the anointing by the Holy Spirit [50] and are empowered

to offer the worship of the New Covenant, a worship that derives not from our

own powers but from Christ's merit and gift.


"God could give us no greater gift than to establish as our Head the Word

through whom he created all things and to unite us to that Head as members. The

results are many The Head is Son of God and Son of Man, one as God with the

Father and one as man with us. When we speak in prayer to the Father, we do not

separate the Son from him and when the Son's Body prays it does not separate

itself from its Head. It is the one Savior of his Body, the Lord Christ Jesus,

who prays for us and in us and who is prayed to by us. He prays for us as our

priest, in us as our Head; he is prayed to by us as our God. Recognize therefore

our own voice in him and his voice in us." [51]


The excellence of Christian prayer lies in its sharing in the reverent love of

the only-begotten Son for the Father and in the prayer that the Son put into

words in his earthly life and that still continues without ceasing in the name

of the whole human race and for its salvation, throughout the universal Church

and in all its members.




8. The unity of the Church at prayer is brought about by the Holy Spirit, who is

the same in Christ, [52] in the whole Church, and in every baptized person. It

is this Spirit who "helps us in our weakness" and "intercedes for us with

longings too deep for words" (Rom 8:26). As the Spirit of the Son, he gives us

"the spirit of adopted children, by which we cry out: Abba, Father" (Rom 8:15;

see Gal 4:6; 1 Cor 12:3; Eph 5:18; Jude 20). There can be therefore no Christian

prayer without the action of the Holy Spirit, who unites the whole Church and

leads it through the Son to the Father.




9. It follows that the example and precept of our Lord and the apostles in

regard to constant and persevering prayer are not to be seen as a purely legal

regulation. They belong to the very essence of the Church itself, which is a

community and which in prayer must express its nature as a community. Hence,

when the community of believers is first mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles,

it is seen as a community gathered together at prayer "with the women and Mary,

the mother of Jesus, and his brothers" (Acts 1:14). "There was one heart and

soul in the company of those who believed" (Acts 4:32). Their oneness in spirit

was founded on the word of God, on the communion of charity, on prayer, and on

the eucharist. [53]


Though prayer in private and in seclusion [54] is always necessary and to be

encouraged [55] and is practiced by the members of the Church through Christ in

the Holy Spirit, there is a special excellence in the prayer of the community.

Christ himself has said: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I

am there in their midst" (Mt 18:20).






10. Christ taught us: "You must pray at all times and not lose heart" (Lk 18:1).

The Church has been faithful in obeying this instruction; it never ceases to

offer prayer and makes this exhortation its own: "Through him (Jesus) let us

offer to God an unceasing sacrifice of praise" (Heb 15:15). The Church fulfills

this precept not only by celebrating the eucharist but in other ways also,

especially through the liturgy of the hours. By ancient Christian tradition what

distinguishes the liturgy of the hours from other liturgical services is that it

consecrates to God the whole cycle of the day and the night. [56]


11. The purpose of the liturgy of the hours is to sanctify the day and the whole

range of human activity. Therefore its structure has been revised in such a way

as to make each hour once more correspond as nearly as possible to natural time

and to take account of the circumstances of life today. [57]


Hence, "that the day may be truly sanctified and the hours themselves recited

with spiritual advantage, it is best that each of them be prayed at a time most

closely corresponding to the true time of each canonical hour." [58]




12. To the different hours of the day the liturgy of the hours extends [59] the

praise and thanksgiving, the memorial of the mysteries of salvation, the

petitions and the foretaste of heavenly glory that are present in the

eucharistic mystery, "the center and high point in the whole life of the

Christian community." [60]


The liturgy of the hours is in turn an excellent preparation for the celebration

of the eucharist itself, for it inspires and deepens in a fitting way the

dispositions necessary for the fruitful celebration of the eucharist: faith,

hope, love, devotion, and the spirit of self-denial.




13. In the Holy Spirit Christ carries out through the Church "the task of

redeeming humanity and giving perfect glory to God," [61] not only when the

eucharist is celebrated and the sacraments administered but also in other ways

and especially when the liturgy of the hours is celebrated. [62] There Christ

himself is present - in the gathered community, in the proclamation of God's

word, "in the prayer and song of the Church." [63]




14. Our sanctification is accomplished [64] and worship is offered to God in the

liturgy of the hours in such a way that an exchange or dialogue is set up

between God and us, in which "God is speaking to his people ... and his people

are responding to him by both song and prayer." [65]


Those taking part in the liturgy of the hours have access to holiness of the

richest kind through the life-giving word of God, which in this liturgy receives

great emphasis. Thus its readings are drawn from sacred Scripture, God's words

in the psalms are sung in his presence, and the intercessions, prayers, and

hymns are inspired by Scripture and steeped in its spirit. [66]


Hence, not only when those things are read "that are written for our

instruction" (Rom 15:4), but also when the Church prays or sings, faith is

deepened for those who take part and their minds are lifted up to God, in order

to offer him their worship as intelligent beings and to receive his grace more

plentifully. [67]




15. In the liturgy of the hours the Church exercises the priestly office of its

Head and offers to God "without ceasing" [68] a sacrifice of praise, that is, a

tribute of lips acknowledging his name. [69] This prayer is "the voice of a

bride addressing her bridegroom; it is the very prayer that Christ himself,

together with his Body, addresses to the Father." [70] "All who render this

service are not only fulfilling a duty of the Church, but also are sharing in

the greatest honor of Christ's Bride for by offering these praises to God they

are standing before God's throne in the name of the Church, their Mother." [71]


16. When the Church offers praise to God in the liturgy of the hours, it unites

itself with that hymn of praise sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven;

[72] it also receives a foretaste of the song of praise in heaven, described by

John in the Book of Revelation, the song sung continually before the throne of

God and of the Lamb. Our close union with the Church in heaven is given

effective voice "when we all, from every tribe and tongue and people and nation

redeemed by Christ's blood (see Rv 5:9) and gathered together into the one

Church, glorify the triune God with one hymn of praise." [73]


The prophets came almost to a vision of this liturgy of heaven as the victory of

a day without night, of a light without darkness: "The sun will no more be your

light by day, and the brightness of the moon will not shine upon you, but the

Lord will be your everlasting light" (Is 60:19; see Rv 21:23 and 25). "There

will be a single day, known to the Lord, not day and night, and at evening there

will be light" (Zech 14:7). Already "the end of the ages has come upon us (see I

Cor 10:11) and the renewal of the world has been irrevocably established and in

a true sense is being anticipated in this world." [74] By faith we too are

taught the meaning of our temporal life, so that we look forward with all

creation to the revealing of God's children. [75] In the liturgy of the hours we

proclaim this faith, we express and nourish this hope, we share in some degree

the joy of everlasting praise and of that day that knows no setting.




17. But besides the praise of God, the Church in the liturgy of the hours

expresses the prayers and desires of all the faithful; indeed, it prays to

Christ, and through him to the Father, for the salvation of the whole world.

[76] The Church's voice is not just its own; it is also Christ's voice, since

its prayers are offered in Christ's name, that is, "through our Lord Jesus

Christ," and so the Church continues to offer the prayer and petition that

Christ poured out in the days of his earthly life [77] and that have therefore a

unique effectiveness. The ecclesial community thus exercises a truly maternal

function in bringing souls to Christ, not only by charity, good example, and

works of penance but also by prayer. [78]


The concern with prayer involves those especially who have been called by a

special mandate to carry out the liturgy of the hours: bishops and priests as

they pray in virtue of their office for their own people and for the whole

people of God; [79] other sacred ministers, and also religious. [80]


18. Those then who take part in the liturgy of the hours bring growth to God's

people in a hidden but fruitful apostolate, [81] for the work of the apostolate

is directed to this end, "that all who are made children of God by faith and

baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of this Church, to take

part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's Supper." [82]


Thus by their lives the faithful show forth and reveal to others "the mystery of

Christ and the real nature of the true Church. It is of the essence of the

Church to be visible yet endowed with invisible resources, eager to act yet

intent on contemplation, present in this world yet not at home in it." [83]


In their turn the readings and prayers of the liturgy of the hours form a

wellspring of the Christian life: the table of sacred Scripture and the writings

of the saints nurture its life and prayers strengthen it. Only the Lord, without

whom we can do nothing, [84] can, in response to our request, give power and

increase to what we do, [85] so that we may be built up each day in the Spirit

into the temple of God, [86] to the measure of Christ's fullness, [87] and

receive greater strength also to bring the good news of Christ to those outside.





19. Mind and voice must be in harmony in a celebration that is worthy,

attentive, and devout, if this prayer is to be made their own by those taking

part and to be a source of devotion, a means of gaining God's manifold grace, a

deepening of personal prayer, and an incentive to the work of the apostolate.

[89] All should be intent on cooperating with God's grace, so as not to receive

it in vain. Seeking Christ, penetrating ever more deeply into his mystery

through prayer [90] they should offer praise and petition to God with the same

mind and heart as the divine Redeemer when he prayed.






20. The liturgy of the hours, like other liturgical services, is not a private

matter but belongs to the whole Body of the Church, whose life it both expresses

and affects. [91] This liturgy stands out most strikingly as an ecclesial

celebration when, through the bishop surrounded by his priests and ministers,

[92] the local Church celebrates it. For "in the local Church the one, holy,

catholic, and apostolic Church is truly present and at work." [93] Such a

celebration is therefore most earnestly recommended. When, in the absence of the

bishop, a chapter of canons or other priests celebrate the liturgy of the hours,

they should always respect the true time of day and, as far as possible, the

people should take part. The same is to be said of collegiate chapters.


21. Wherever possible, other groups of the faithful should celebrate the liturgy

of the hours communally in church. This especially applies to parishes - the

cells of the diocese, established under their pastors, taking the place of the

bishop; they "represent in some degree the visible Church established throughout

the world." [94]


22. Hence, when the people are invited to the liturgy of the hours and come

together in unity of heart and voice, they show forth the Church in its

celebration of the mystery of Christ. [95]


23. Those in holy orders or with a special canonical mission [96] have the

responsibility of initiating and directing the prayer of the community; "they

should expend every effort so that those entrusted to their care may become of

one mind in prayer." [97] They must therefore see to it that the people are

invited, and prepared by suitable instruction, to celebrate the principal hours

in common, especially on Sundays and holydays. [98] They should teach the people

how to make this participation a source of genuine prayer; [99] they should

therefore give the people suitable guidance in the Christian understanding of

the psalms, in order to progress by degrees to a greater appreciation and more

frequent use of the prayer of the Church. [100]


24. Communities of canons, monks, nuns, and other religious who celebrate the

liturgy of the hours by rule or according to their constitutions, whether with

the general rite or a particular rite, in whole or in part, represent in a

special way the Church at prayer. They are a fuller sign of the Church as it

continuously praises God with one voice and they fulfill the duty of "working,"

above all by prayer, "to build up and increase the whole Mystical Body of

Christ, and for the good of the local Churches." [101] This is especially true

of those living the contemplative life.


25. Even when having no obligation to communal celebration, all sacred ministers

and all clerics living in a community or meeting together should arrange to say

at least some part of the liturgy of the hours in common, particularly morning

prayer and evening prayer. [102]


26. Men and women religious not bound to a common celebration, as well as

members of any institute of perfection, are strongly urged to gather together,

by themselves or with the people, to celebrate the liturgy of the hours or part

of it.


27. Lay groups gathering for prayer, apostolic work, or any other reason are

encouraged to fulfill the Church's duty, [103] by celebrating part of the

liturgy of the hours. The laity must learn above all how in the liturgy they are

adoring God the Father in spirit and in truth; [104] they should bear in mind

that through public worship and prayer they reach all humanity and can

contribute significantly to the salvation of the whole world. [105]


Finally, it is of great advantage for the family, the domestic sanctuary of the

Church, not only to pray together to God but also to celebrate some parts of the

liturgy of the hours as occasion offers, in order to enter more deeply into the

life of the Church. [106]




28. Sacred ministers have the liturgy of the hours entrusted to them in such a

particular way that even when the faithful are not present they are to pray it

themselves with the adaptations necessary under these circumstances. The Church

commissions them to celebrate the liturgy of the hours so as to ensure at least

in their persons the regular carrying out of the duty of the whole community and

the unceasing continuance of Christ's prayer in the Church. [107]


The bishop represents Christ in an eminent and conspicuous way and is the high

priest of his flock; the life in Christ of his faithful people may be said in a

sense to derive from him and depend on him. [108] He should, then, be the first

of all the members of his Church in offering prayer. His prayer in the

recitation of the liturgy of the hours is always made in the name of the Church

and on behalf of the Church entrusted to him. [109]


United as they are with the bishop and the whole presbyterium, priests are

themselves representative in a special way of Christ the Priest [110] and so

share the same responsibility of praying to God for the people entrusted to them

and indeed for the whole world. [111]


All these ministers fulfill the ministry of the Good Shepherd who prays for his

sheep that they may have life and so be brought into perfect unity. [112] In the

liturgy of the hours that the Church sets before them they are not only to find

a source of devotion and a strengthening of personal prayer, [113] but must also

nourish and foster pastoral missionary activity as the fruit of their

contemplation to gladden the whole Church of God. [114]


29. Hence bishops, priests, and other sacred ministers, who have received from

the Church the mandate to celebrate the liturgy of the hours (see no. 17),

should recite the full sequence of hours each day, observing as far as possible

the true time of day.


They should, first and foremost, attach due importance to those hours that are,

so to speak, the two hinges of the liturgy of the hours, that is, morning prayer

and evening prayer,, which should not be omitted except for a serious reason.


They should faithfully pray the office of readings, which is above all a

liturgical celebration of the word of God. In this way they fulfill daily a duty

that is peculiarly their own, that is, of receiving the word of God into their

lives, so that they may become more perfect as disciples of the Lord and

experience more deeply the unfathomable riches of Christ. [115]


In order to sanctify the whole day more completely, they will also treasure the

recitation of daytime prayer and night prayer, to round off the whole Opus Dei

and to commend themselves to God before retiring.


30. It is most fitting that permanent deacons recite daily at least some part of

the liturgy of the hours, to be determined by the conference of bishops. [116]


31. a. Cathedral and collegiate chapters should celebrate in choir those parts

of the liturgy of the hours that are prescribed for them by the general law or

by particular law.


In private recitation individual members of these chapters should include those

hours that are recited in their chapter, in addition to the hours prescribed for

all sacred ministers. [117]


b. Religious communities bound to the recitation of the liturgy of the hours and

their individual members should celebrate the hours in keeping with their own

particular law; but the prescription of no. 29 in regard to those in holy orders

is to be respected.


Communities bound to choir should celebrate the whole sequence of the hours

daily in choir; [118] when absent from choir their members should recite the

hours in keeping with their own particular law; but the prescriptions in no. 29

are always to be respected.


32. Other religious communities and their individual members are advised to

celebrate some parts of the liturgy of the hours, in accordance with their own

situation, for it is the prayer of the Church and makes the whole Church,

scattered throughout the world, one in heart and mind. [119]


This recommendation applies also to laypersons. [120]




33. The structure of the liturgy of the hours follows laws of its own and

incorporates in its own way elements found in other Christian celebrations. Thus

it is so constructed that, after a hymn, there is always psalmody, then a long

or short reading of sacred Scripture, and finally prayer of petition.


In a celebration in common and in private recitation the essential structure of

this liturgy remains the same, that is, it is a conversation between God and his

people. Celebration in common, however, expresses more clearly the ecclesial

nature of the liturgy of the hours; it makes for active participation by all, in

a way suited to each one's condition, through the acclamations, dialogue,

alternating psalmody, and similar elements. It also better provides for the

different literary genres that make up the liturgy of the hours. [121] Hence,

whenever it is possible to have a celebration in common, with the people present

and actively taking part, this kind of celebration is to be preferred to one

that is individual and, as it were, private. [122] It is also advantageous to

sing the office in choir and in community as opportunity Offers, in accordance

with the nature and function of the individual parts.


In this way the Apostle's exhortation is obeyed: "Let the word of Christ dwell

in you in all its fullness, as you teach and counsel each other in all wisdom by

psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing thankfully to God in your

hearts" (Col 3:16; see Eph 5:19-20).










34. The whole office begins as a rule with an invitatory. This consists in the

verse, Lord, open my lips. And my mouth will proclaim your praise, and Ps 95.

This psalm invites the faithful each day to sing God's praise and to listen to

his voice and draws them to hope for "the Lord's rest." [1]


In place of Ps 95, Ps 100, Ps 67, or Ps 24 may be used as circumstances may



It is preferable to recite the invitatory psalm responsorially as it is set out

in the text, that is, with the antiphon recited at the beginning, then repeated,

and repeated again after each strophe.


35. The invitatory is placed at the beginning of the whole sequence of the day's

prayer, that is, it precedes either morning prayer or the office of readings,

whichever of these liturgical rites begins the day. The invitatory psalm with

its antiphon may be omitted, however, when the invitatory is the prelude to

morning prayer.


36. The variation of the invitatory antiphon, to suit the different liturgical

days, is indicated at its place of occurrence.




37. "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 celebrated as

such." [2]


38. As is clear from many of the elements that make it up, morning prayer is

intended and arranged to sanctify the morning. St. Basil the Great gives an

excellent description of this character in these words: "It is said in the

morning in order that the first stirrings of our mind and will may be

consecrated to God and that we may take nothing in hand until we have been

gladdened by the thought of God, as it is written: 'I was mindful of God and was

glad' (Ps 77:4 [Jerome's translation from Hebrew]), or set our bodies to any

task before we do what has been said: 'I will pray to you, Lord, you will hear

my voice in the morning; I will stand before you in the morning and gaze on you'

(Ps 5:4-5)." [3]


Celebrated as it is as the light of a new day is dawning, this hour also recalls

the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the true light enlightening all people (see

Jn 1:9) and "the sun of justice" (Mal 4:2), "rising from on high" (Lk 1:78).

Hence, we can well understand the advice of St. Cyprian: "There should be prayer

in the morning so that the resurrection of the Lord may thus be celebrated." [4]


39. When evening approaches and the day is already far spent, evening prayer is

celebrated in order that "we may give thanks for what has been given us, or what

we have done well, during the day." [5] We also recall the redemption through

the prayer we send up "like incense in the Lord's sight," and in which "the

raising up of our hands" becomes "an evening sacrifice." [6] This sacrifice "may

also be interpreted more spiritually as the true evening sacrifice that our

Savior the Lord entrusted to the apostles at supper on the evening when he

instituted the sacred mysteries of the Church or of the evening sacrifice of the

next day, the sacrifice, that is, which, raising his hands, he offered to the

Father at the end of the ages for the salvation of the whole world." [7] Again,

in order to fix our hope on the light that knows no setting, "we pray and make

petition for the light to come down on us anew; we implore the coming of Christ

who will bring the grace of eternal light." [8] Finally, at this hour we join

with the Churches of the East in calling upon the "joy-giving light of that holy

glory, born of the immortal, heavenly Father, the holy and blessed Jesus Christ;

now that we have come to the setting of the sun and have seen the evening star,

we sing in praise of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. . . ."


40. Morning prayer and evening prayer are therefore to be accorded the highest

importance as the prayer of the Christian community. Their public or communal

celebration should be encouraged, especially in the case of those who live in

community. Indeed, the recitation of these hours should be recommended also to

individual members of the faithful unable to take part in a celebration in



41. Morning prayer and evening prayer begin with the introductory verse, God

come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me. There follows the Glory to

the Father, with As it was in the beginning and Alleluia (omitted in Lent). This

introduction is omitted at morning prayer when the invitatory immediately

precedes it.


42. Then an appropriate hymn is sung immediately. The purpose of the hymn is to

set the tone for the hour or the feast and, especially in celebrations with a

congregation, to form a simple and pleasant introduction to prayer.


43. After the hymn the psalmody follows, in accordance with the rules laid down

in nos. 121-125. The psalmody of morning prayer consists of one morning psalm,

then a canticle from the Old Testament and, finally, a second psalm of praise,

following the tradition of the Church.


The psalmody of evening prayer consists of two psalms (or two parts of a longer

psalm) suited to the hour and to celebration with a congregation and a canticle

from the letters of the apostles or from the Book of Revelation.


44. After the psalmody there is either a short reading or a longer one.


45. The short reading is provided to fit the day, the season, and the feast. It

is to be read and received as a true proclamation of God's word that emphasizes

some holy thought or highlights some shorter passages that may be overlooked in

the continuous cycle of Scripture readings.


The short readings are different for each day of the psalter cycle.


46. Especially in a celebration with a congregation, a longer Scripture reading

may be chosen either from the office of readings or the Lectionary for Mass,

particularly texts that for some reason have not been used. From time to time

some other more suitable reading may be used, in accordance with the rules in

nos. 248-249 and 251.

47. In a celebration with a congregation a short homily may follow the reading

to explain its meaning, as circumstances suggest.


48. After the reading or homily a period of silence may be observed.


49. As a response to the word of God, a responsorial. chant or short responsory

is provided; this may be omitted. Other chants with the same purpose and

character may also be substituted in its place, provided these have been duly

approved by the conference of bishops.


50. Next is the solemn recitation of the gospel canticle with its antiphon, that

is, the Canticle of Zechariah at morning prayer and the Canticle of Mary at

evening prayer. Sanctioned by age-old popular usage in the Roman Church, these

canticles are expressions of praise and thanksgiving for our redemption. The

antiphon for each canticle is indicated, according to the character of the day,

the season, or the feast.


51. After the canticle, at morning prayer come the petitions for the

consecration of the day and its work to God and at evening prayer, the

intercessions (see nos. 179-193).


52. After the petitions or intercessions the Lord's Prayer is said by all.


53. Immediately after the Lord's Prayer there follows the concluding prayer,

which for weekdays in Ordinary Time is found in the psalter and for other days

in the proper.


54. Then, if a priest or deacon is presiding, he dismisses the congregation with

the greeting, The Lord be with you, and the blessing as at Mass. He adds the

invitation, Go in peace. R. Thanks be to God. In the absence of a priest or

deacon the celebration concludes with May the Lord bless us, etc.




55. The office of readings seeks to provide God's people, and in particular

those consecrated to God in a special way, with a wider selection of passages

from sacred Scripture for meditation, together with the finest excerpts from

spiritual writers. Even though the cycle of scriptural readings at daily Mass is

now richer, the treasures of revelation and tradition to be found in the office

of readings will also contribute greatly to the spiritual life. Bishops and

priests in particular should prize these treasures, so that they may hand on to

others the word of God they have themselves received and make their teaching

"the true nourishment for the people of God." [9]


56. But prayer should accompany "the reading of sacred Scripture so that there

may be a conversation between God and his people: 'we talk with God when we

pray, we listen to him when we read God's words." [10] For this reason the

office of readings consists also of psalms, a hymn, a prayer, and other texts,

giving it the character of true prayer.


57. The Constitution on the Liturgy directs that the office of readings, "though

it should retain its character as a night office of 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." [11]


58. Those who are obliged by their own particular law and others who commendably

wish to retain the character of this office as a night office of praise (either

by saying it at night or very early in the morning and before morning prayer),

during Ordinary Time choose the hymn from the selection given for this purpose.

Moreover, for Sundays, solemnities, and certain feasts what is said in nos.

70-73 about vigils must be kept in mind.


59. Without prejudice to the regulations just given, the office of readings may

be recited at any hour of the day, even during the night hours of the previous

day, after evening prayer has been said.


60. If the office of readings is said before morning prayer, the invitatory

precedes it, as noted (nos. 34-36). Otherwise it begins with the verse, God,

come to my assistance with the Glory to the Father, As it was in the beginning,

and the Alleluia (omitted in Lent).


61. Then the hymn is sung. In Ordinary Time this is taken either from the night

selections, as already indicated (nos. 34-36), or from the morning selections,

depending on what the true time of day requires.


62. The psalmody follows and consists of three psalms (or parts in the case of

longer psalms). During the Easter triduum, on days within the octaves of Easter

and Christmas, on solemnities and feasts, the psalms are proper, with their

proper antiphons.


On Sundays and weekdays, however, the psalms and their antiphons are taken from

the current week and day of the psalter. On memorials of the saints they are

similarly taken from the current week and day of the psalter, unless there are

proper psalms or antiphons (see nos. 218ff.).


63. Between the psalmody and the readings there is, as a rule, a verse, marking

a transition in the prayer from psalmody to listening.


64. There are two readings: the first is from the Scriptures, the second is from

the writings of the Fathers or church writers, or else is a reading connected

with the saints.


65. After each reading there is a responsory (see nos. 169-172).


66. The scriptural reading is normally to be taken from the Proper of Seasons,

in accordance with the rules to be given later (nos. 140-155). On solemnities

and feasts, however, it is taken from the proper or the common.


67. On solemnities and feasts of saints a proper second reading is used; if

there is none, the second reading is taken from the respective Common of Saints.

On memorials of saints when the celebration is not impeded, the reading in

connection with the saint replaces the current second reading (see nos. 166 and



68. On Sundays outside Lent, on days within the octaves of Easter and Christmas,

and on solemnities and feasts the Te Deum is said after the second reading with

its responsory but is omitted on memorials and weekdays. The last part of this

hymn, that is, from the verse, Save your people, Lord to the end, may be



69. The office of readings normally concludes with the prayer proper to the day

and, at least in recitation in common, with the acclamation, Let us praise the

Lord. R. And give him thanks.




70. The Easter Vigil is celebrated by the whole Church, in the rites given in

the relevant liturgical books. "The vigil of this night," as St. Augustine said,

"is of such importance that it could claim exclusively for itself the name

'vigil,' common though this is to all the others." [12] "We keep vigil on that

night when the Lord rose again and inaugurated for us in his humanity that

life ... in which there is neither death nor sleep.... Hence, the one whose

resurrection we celebrate by keeping watch a little longer will see to it that

we reign with him by living a life without end." [13]


71. As with the Easter Vigil, it was customary to begin certain solemnities

(different in different Churches) with a vigil. Among these solemnities

Christmas and Pentecost are preeminent. This custom should be maintained and

fostered, according to the particular usage of each Church. Whenever it seems

good to add a vigil for other solemnities or pilgrimages, the general norms for

celebrations of the word should be followed.


72. The Fathers and spiritual writers have frequently encouraged Christians,

especially those who lead the contemplative life, to pray during the night. Such

prayer expresses and awakens our expectation of the Lord's Second Coming: "At

midnight the cry went up: 'See, the bridegroom is coming, go out to meet him...

(Mt 25:6). "Keep watch, then, for you do not know when the master of the house

is coming, whether late or at midnight or at cockcrow or in the morning, so that

if he comes unexpectedly he may not find you sleeping" (Mk 13:35-36). All who

maintain the character of the office of readings as a night office, therefore,

are to be commended.


73. Further, since in the Roman Rite the office of readings is always of a

uniform brevity, especially for the sake of those engaged in apostolic work,

those who desire, in accordance with tradition, to extend the celebration of the

vigils of Sundays, solemnities, and feasts should do so as follows.


First, the office of readings is to be celebrated as in The Liturgy of the Hours

up to the end of the readings. After the two readings and before the Te Deum

canticles should be added from the special appendix of The Liturgy of the Hours.

Then the gospel should be read; a homily on the gospel may be added. After this

the Te Deum is sung and the prayer said.


On solemnities and feasts the gospel is to be taken from the Lectionary for

Mass; on Sundays, from the series on the paschal mystery in the appendix of The

Liturgy of the Hours.




74. Following a very ancient tradition Christians have made a practice of

praying out of private devotion at various times of the day, even in the course

of their work, in imitation of the Church in apostolic times. In different ways

with the passage of time this tradition has taken the form of a liturgical



75. Liturgical custom in both East and West has retained midmorning, midday, and

midafternoon prayer, mainly because these hours were linked to a commemoration

of the events of the Lord's passion and of the first preaching of the Gospel.


76. Vatican Council II decreed that these lesser hours are to be retained in

choir. [14]


The liturgical practice of saying these three hours is to be retained, without

prejudice to particular law, by those who live the contemplative life. It is

recommended also for all, especially those who take part in retreats or pastoral



77. Outside choir, without prejudice to particular law, it is permitted to

choose from the three hours the one most appropriate to the time of day, so that

the tradition of prayer in the course of the day's work may be maintained.


78. Daytime prayer is so arranged as to take into account both those who recite

only one hour and those who are obliged, or desire, to say all three hours.


79. The daytime hours begin with the introductory verse, God come to my

assistance with the Glory to the Father, As it was in the beginning, and the

Alleluia (omitted in Lent).


Then a hymn appropriate to the hour is sung. The psalmody is next, then the

reading, followed by the verse. The hour concludes with the prayer and, at least

in recitation in common, with the acclamation, Let us praise the Lord. R. And

give him thanks.


80. Different hymns and prayers are given for each of the hours so that, in

keeping with tradition, they may correspond to the true time of day and thus

sanctify it in a more pointed way. Those who recite only one hour should

therefore choose the texts that correspond to the true time of day.


In addition, the readings and prayers vary in keeping with the character of the

day, the season, or the feast.


81. Two psalmodies are provided: the current psalmody and the complementary

psalmody. Those who pray one hour should use the current psalmody. Those who

pray more than one hour should use the current psalmody at one hour and the

complementary psalmody at the others.


82. The current psalmody consists of three psalms (or parts in the case of

longer psalms) from the psalter, with their antiphons, unless directions are

given to the contrary.


On solemnities, the Easter triduum, and days within the octave of Easter, proper

antiphons are said with three psalms chosen from the complementary psalmody,

unless special psalms are to be used or the celebration falls on a Sunday, when

the psalms are those from the Sunday of Week I of the psalter.


83. The complementary psalter consists of three sets of three psalms, chosen as

a rule from the Gradual Psalms.




84. Night prayer is the last prayer of the day, said before retiring, even if

that is after midnight.


85. Night prayer begins like the other hours, with the verse, God, come to my

assistance, the Glory to the Father, As it was in the beginning, and the

Alleluia (omitted in Lent).


86. It is a laudable practice to have next an examination of conscience; in a

celebration in common this takes place in silence or as part of a penitential

rite based on the formularies in the Roman Missal.


87. The appropriate hymn follows.


88. After evening prayer I of Sunday the psalmody consists of Ps 4 and Ps 134;

after evening prayer II of Sunday it consists of Ps 91.


On the other days psalms are chosen that are full of confidence in the Lord; it

is permissible to use the Sunday psalms instead, especially for the convenience

of those who may wish to pray night prayer from memory.


89. After the psalmody there is a reading, followed by the responsory, Into your

hands. Then, as a climax to the whole hour, the Canticle of Simeon, Lord, now

you let your servant go in peace follows, with its antiphon.


90. The concluding prayer then follows, as it appears in the psalter.


91. After the prayer the blessing, May the all-powerful Lord is used, even in

private recitation.


92. Finally, one of the antiphons in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary is said.

In the Easter season this is always to be the Regina caeli. In addition to the

antiphons given in The Liturgy of the Hours, others may be approved by the

conferences of bishops. [15]




93. In particular cases, if circumstances require, it is possible to link an

hour more closely with Mass when there is a celebration of the liturgy of the

hours in public or in common, according to the norms that follow, provided the

Mass and the hour belong to one and the same office. Care must be taken,

however, that this does not result in harm to pastoral work, especially on



94. When morning prayer, celebrated in choir or in common, comes immediately

before Mass, the whole celebration may begin either with the introductory verse

and hymn of morning prayer, especially on weekdays, or with the entrance song,

procession, and celebrant's greeting, especially on Sundays and holydays; one of

the introductory rites is thus omitted.


The psalmody of morning prayer follows as usual, up to, but excluding, the

reading. After the psalmody the penitential rite is omitted and, as

circumstances suggest, the Kyrie; the Gloria then follows, if required by the

rubrics, and the celebrant says the opening prayer of the Mass. The liturgy of

the word follows as usual.


The general intercessions are made in the place and form customary at Mass. But

on weekdays, at Mass in the morning, the intercessions of morning prayer may

replace the daily form of the general intercessions at Mass.


After the communion with its communion song the Canticle of Zechariah, Blessed

be the Lord, with its antiphon from morning prayer, is sung. Then follow the

prayer after communion and the rest as usual.


95. If public celebration of a daytime hour, whichever corresponds to the time

of day, is immediately followed by Mass, the whole celebration may begin in the

same way, either with the introductory verse and hymn for the hour, especially

on weekdays, or with the entrance song, procession, and celebrant's greeting,

especially on Sundays and holydays; one of the introductory rites is thus



The psalmody of the hour follows as usual up to, but excluding, the reading.

After the psalmody the penitential rite is omitted and, as circumstances

suggest, the Kyrie; the Gloria then follows, if required by the rubrics, and the

celebrant says the opening prayer of the Mass.


96. Evening prayer, celebrated immediately before Mass, is joined to it in the

same way as morning prayer. Evening prayer I of solemnities, Sundays, or feasts

of the Lord falling on Sundays may not be celebrated until after Mass of the

preceding day or Saturday.


97. When a daytime hour or evening prayer follows Mass, the Mass is celebrated

in the usual way up to and including the prayer after communion.


When the prayer after communion has been said, the psalmody of the hour begins

without introduction. At the daytime hour, after the psalmody the short reading

is omitted and the prayer is said at once and the dismissal takes place as at

Mass. At evening prayer, after the psalmody the short reading is omitted and

the Canticle of Mary with its antiphon follows at once; the intercessions and

the Lord's Prayer are omitted; the concluding prayer follows, then the blessing

of the congregation.


98. Apart from Christmas eve, the combining of Mass with the office of readings

is normally excluded, since the Mass already has its own cycle of readings, to

be kept distinct from any other. But if by way of exception, it should be

necessary to join the two, then immediately after the second reading from the

office, with its responsory, the rest is omitted and the Mass begins with the

Gloria, if it is called for; otherwise the Mass begins with the opening prayer.


99. If the office of readings comes immediately before another hour of the

office, then the appropriate hymn for that hour may be sung at the beginning of

the office of readings. At the end of the office of readings the prayer and

conclusion are omitted and in the hour following the introductory verse with the

Glory to the Father is omitted.










100. In the liturgy of the hours the Church in large measure prays through the

magnificent songs that the Old Testament authors composed under the inspiration

of the Holy Spirit. The origin of these verses gives them great power to raise

the mind to God, to inspire devotion, to evoke gratitude in times of favor, and

to bring consolation and courage in times of trial.


101. The psalms, however, are only a foreshadowing of the fullness of time that

came to pass in Christ the Lord and that is the source of the power of the

Church's prayer. Hence, while the Christian people are all agreed on the supreme

value to be placed on the psalms, they can sometimes experience difficulty in

making this inspired poetry their own prayer.


102. Yet the Holy Spirit, under whose inspiration the psalms were written, is

always present by his grace to those believers who use them with good will. But

more is necessary: the faithful must "improve their understanding of the Bible,

especially of the psalms," [1] according to their individual capacity, so that

they may understand how and by what method they can truly pray through the



103. The psalms are not readings or prose prayers, but poems of praise. They can

on occasion be recited as readings, but from their literary genre they are

properly called Tehillim ("songs of praise") in Hebrew and psalmoi ("songs to be

sung to the lyre") in Greek. In fact, all the psalms have a musical quality that

determines their correct style of delivery. Thus even when a psalm is recited

and not sung or is said silently in private, its musical character should govern

its use. A psalm does present a text to the minds of the people, but its aim is

to move the heart of those singing it or listening to it and also of those

accompanying it "on the lyre and harp."


104. To sing the psalms with understanding, then, is to meditate on them verse

by verse, with the heart always ready to respond in the way the Holy Spirit



The one who inspired the psalmist will also be present to those who in faith and

love are ready to receive his grace. For this reason the singing of psalms,

though it demands the reverence owed to God's majesty, should be the expression

of a joyful spirit and a loving heart, in keeping with their character as sacred

poetry and divine song and above all with the freedom of the children of God.


105. Often the words of a psalm help us to pray with greater ease and fervor,

whether in thanksgiving and joyful praise of God or in prayer for help in the

throes of suffering. But difficulties may arise, especially when the psalm is

not addressed directly to God. The psalmist is a poet and often addresses the

people as he recalls Israel's history; sometimes he addresses others, including

subrational creatures. He even represents the words as being spoken by God

himself and individual people, including, as in Ps 2, God's enemies. This shows

that a psalm is a different kind of prayer from a prayer or collect composed by

the Church. Moreover, it is in keeping with the poetic and musical character of

the psalms that they do not necessarily address God but are sung in God's

presence. Thus St. Benedict's instruction: "Let us reflect on what it means to

be in the sight of God and his angels, and let us so stand in his presence that

our minds are in harmony with our voices." [2]


106. In praying the psalms we should open our hearts to the different attitudes

they express, varying with the literary genre to which each belongs (psalms of

grief, trust, gratitude, etc.) and to which biblical scholars rightly attach

great importance.


107. Staying close to the meaning of the words, the person who prays the psalms

looks for the significance of the text for the human life of the believer.


It is clear that each psalm was written in its own individual circumstances,

which the titles given for each psalm in the Hebrew psalter are meant to

indicate. But whatever its historical origin, each psalm has its own meaning,

which we cannot overlook even in our own day. Though the psalms originated very

many centuries ago among an Eastern people, they express accurately the pain and

hope, the unhappiness and trust of people of every age and country, and sing

above all of faith in God, of revelation, and of redemption.


108. Those who pray the psalms in the liturgy of the hours do so not so much in

their own name as in the name of the entire Body of Christ. This consideration

does away with the problem of a possible discrepancy between personal feelings

and the sentiments a psalm is expressing: for example, when a person feels sad

and the psalm is one of joy or when a person feels happy and the psalm is one of

mourning. Such a problem is readily solved in private prayer, which allows for

the choice of a psalm suited to personal feelings. The divine office, however,

is not private; the cycle of psalms is public, in the name of the Church, even

for those who may be reciting an hour alone. Those who pray the psalms in the

name of the Church nevertheless can always find a reason for joy or sadness, for

the saying of the Apostle applies in this case also: "Rejoice with the joyful

and weep with those who weep" (Rom 12:15). In this way human frailty, wounded

by self-love, is healed in proportion to the love that makes the heart match the

voice that prays the psalms. [3]


109. Those who pray the psalms in the name of the Church should be aware of

their full sense (sensus plenus), especially their Messianic sense, which was

the reason for the Church's introduction of the psalter into its prayer. This

Messianic sense was fully revealed in the New Testament and indeed was affirmed

publicly by Christ the Lord in person when he said to the apostles: "All that is

written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be

fulfilled" (Lk 24:44). The best-known example of this Messianic sense is the

dialogue in Matthew's Gospel on the Messiah as Son of David and David's Lord,

[4] where Ps 110 is interpreted as Messianic.


Following this line of thought, the Fathers of the Church saw the whole psalter

as a prophecy of Christ and the Church and explained it in this sense; for the

same reason the psalms have been chosen for use in the liturgy. Though somewhat

contrived interpretations were at times proposed, in general the Fathers and the

liturgy itself had the right to hear in the singing of the psalms the voice of

Christ crying out to the Father or of the Father conversing with the Son;

indeed, they also recognized in the psalms the voice of the Church, the

apostles, and the martyrs. This method of interpretation also flourished in the

Middle Ages; in many manuscripts of the period the Christological meaning of

each psalm was set before those praying by means of the caption prefixed. A

Christological meaning is by no means confined to the recognized Messianic

psalms but is given also to many others. Some of these interpretations are

doubtless Christological only in an accommodated sense, but they have the

support of the Church's tradition.


On the great feasts especially, the choice of psalms is often based on their

Christological meaning and antiphons taken from these psalms are frequently used

to throw light on this meaning.




110. In the Latin tradition of psalmody three elements have greatly contributed

to an understanding of the psalms and their use as Christian prayer: the

captions, the psalm-prayers, and in particular the antiphons.


111. In the psalter of The Liturgy of the Hours a caption is given for each

psalm to explain its meaning and its import for the personal life of the

believer. These captions are intended only as an aid to prayer. A quotation from

the New Testament or the Fathers of the Church is added to foster prayer in the

light of Christ's new revelation; it is an invitation to pray the psalms in

their Christological meaning.


112. Psalm-prayers for each psalm are given in the supplement to The Liturgy of

the Hours as an aid to understanding them in a predominantly Christian way. An

ancient tradition provides a model for their use: after the psalm a period of

silence is observed, then the prayer gives a resume and resolution of the

thoughts and aspirations of those praying the psalms.


113. Even when the liturgy of the hours is recited, not sung, each psalm retains

its own antiphon, which is also to be said in private recitation. The antiphons

help to bring out the literary genre of the psalm; they highlight some theme

that may otherwise not attract the attention it deserves; they suggest an

individual tone in a psalm, varying with different contexts: indeed, as long as

farfetched accommodated senses are avoided, antiphons are of great value in

helping toward an understanding of the typological meaning or the meaning

appropriate to the feast; they can also add pleasure and variety to the

recitation of the psalms.


114. The antiphons in the psalter have been designed to lend themselves to

vernacular translation and to repetition after each strophe, in accordance with

no. 125.


When the office of Ordinary Time is recited, not sung, the quotations printed

with the psalms may be used in place of these antiphons (see no. 111).


115. When a psalm may be divided because of its length into several sections

within one and the same hour, an antiphon is given for each section. This is to

provide variety, especially when the hour is sung, and also to help toward a

better understanding of the riches of the psalm. Still, it is permissible to say

or sing the complete psalm without interruption, using only the first antiphon.


116. Proper antiphons are given for each of the psalms of morning prayer and

evening prayer during the Easter triduum, on the days within the octaves of

Easter and Christmas, on the Sundays of the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent,

and Easter, on the weekdays of Holy Week and the Easter season, and from the

17th to the 24th of December.


117. On solemnities proper antiphons are given for the office of readings,

morning prayer, the daytime hours, and evening prayer; if not, the antiphons are

taken from the common. On feasts the same applies to the office of readings and

to morning prayer and evening prayer.


118. Any memorials of the saints that have proper antiphons retain them (see no.



119. The antiphons for the Canticles of Zechariah and of Mary are taken, during

Ordinary Time, from the Proper of Seasons, if they are given there; if not, they

are taken from the current week and day of the psalter. On solemnities and

feasts they are taken from the proper if they are given there; if not, they are

taken from the common. On memorials without proper antiphons the antiphon may be

taken at will either from the common or from the current week.


120. During the Easter season Alleluia is added to all antiphons, unless it

would clash with the meaning of a particular antiphon.




121. Different psalms may be sung in different ways for a fuller grasp of their

spiritual meaning and beauty. The choice of ways is dictated by the literary

genre or length of each psalm, by the language used, whether Latin or the

vernacular, and especially by the kind of celebration, whether individual, with

a group, or with a congregation. The reason for using psalms is not the

establishment of a fixed amount of prayer but their own variety and the

character proper to each.


122. The psalms are sung or said in one of three ways, according to the

different usages established in tradition or experience: directly (in diredum),

that is, all sing the entire psalm, or antiphonally, that is, two choirs or

sections of the congregation sing alternate verses or strophes, or



123. At the beginning of each psalm its own antiphon is always to be recited, as

noted in nos. 113-120. At the end of the psalm the practice of concluding with

the Glory to the Father and As it was in the beginning is retained. This is the

fitting conclusion endorsed by tradition and it gives to Old Testament prayer a

note of praise and a Christological and Trinitarian sense. The antiphon may be

repeated at the end of the psalm.


124. When longer psalms occur, sections are marked in the psalter that divide

the parts in such a way as to keep the threefold structure of the hour; but

great care has been taken not to distort the meaning of the psalm.

It is useful to observe this division, especially in a choral celebration in

Latin; the Glory to the Father is added at the end of each section.


It is permissible, however, either to keep this traditional way or to pause

between the different sections of the same psalm or to recite the whole psalm

and its antiphon as a single unit without a break.


125. In addition, when the literary genre of a psalm suggests it, the divisions

into strophes are marked in order that, especially when the psalm is sung in the

vernacular, the antiphons may be repeated after each strophe; in this case the

Glory to the Father need be said only at the end of the psalm.




126. The psalms are distributed over a four-week cycle in such a way that very

few psalms are omitted, while some, traditionally more important, occur more

frequently than others; morning prayer and evening prayer as well as night

prayer have been assigned psalms appropriate to these hours. [5]


127. Since morning prayer and evening prayer are particularly designed for

celebration with a congregation, the psalms chosen for them are those more

suited to this purpose.


128. For night prayer the norm given in no. 88 has been followed.


129. For Sunday, including its office of readings and daytime prayer, the psalms

chosen are those that tradition has particularly singled out as expressions of

the paschal mystery. Certain psalms of a penitential character or connected with

the passion are assigned to Friday.


130. Three psalms (78, 105, and 106) are reserved for the seasons of Advent,

Christmas, Lent, and Easter, because they throw a special light on the Old

Testament history of salvation as the forerunner of its fulfillment in the New.


131. Three psalms (58, 83, and 109) have been omitted from the psalter cycle

because of their curses; in the same way, some verses have been omitted from

certain psalms, as noted at the head of each. The reason for the omission is a

certain psychological difficulty, even though the psalms of imprecation are in

fact used as prayer in the New Testament, for example, Rv 6:10, and in no sense

to encourage the use of curses.


132. Psalms too long to be included in one hour of the office are assigned to

the same hour on different days so that they may be recited in full by those who

do not usually say other hours. Thus Ps 119 is divided in keeping with its own

internal structure and is spread over twenty-two days during daytime prayer,

because tradition has assigned it to the day hours.


133. The four-week cycle of the psalter is coordinated with the liturgical year

in such a way that on the First Sunday of Advent, the First Sunday in Ordinary

Time, the First Sunday of Lent, and Easter Sunday the cycle is always begun

again with Week I (others being omitted when necessary).


After Pentecost, when the psalter cycle follows the series of weeks in Ordinary

Time, it ' begins with the week indicated in the Proper of Seasons at the

beginning of the appropriate week in Ordinary Time.


134. On solemnities and feasts, during the Easter triduum, and on the days

within the octaves of Easter and Christmas, proper psalms are assigned to the

office of readings from those with a tradition of use at these times and their

relevance is generally highlighted by the choice of antiphon. This is also the

case at daytime prayer on certain solemnities of the Lord and during the octave

of Easter. At morning prayer the psalms and canticle are taken from the Sunday

of the Week I of the psalter. On solemnities the psalms at evening prayer I are

taken from the Laudate Psalms, following an ancient custom. At evening prayer II

on solemnities and at evening prayer on feasts the psalms and canticle are

proper. At daytime prayer on solemnities (except those already mentioned and

those falling on Sunday) the psalms are taken from the Gradual Psalms; at

daytime prayer on feasts the psalms are those of the current week and day of the



135. In all other cases the psalms are taken from the current week and day of

the psalter, unless there are proper antiphons or proper psalms.




136. At morning prayer between the first and the second psalm a canticle from

the Old Testament is inserted, in accordance with custom. In addition to the

series handed down from the ancient Roman tradition and the other series

introduced into the breviary by St. Pius X, several other canticles have been

added to the psalter from different books of the Old Testament, in order that

each weekday of the four-week cycle may have its own proper canticle and on

Sunday the two sections of the Canticle of the Three Children may be alternated.


137. At evening prayer, after the two psalms, a canticle of the New Testament is

inserted, from the letters of the apostles or the Book of Revelation. Seven

canticles are given for each week of the four-week cycle, one for each day. On

the Sundays of Lent, however, in place of the Alleluia Canticle from the Book of

Revelation, the canticle is from the First Letter of Peter. In addition, on the

solemnity of the Epiphany and the feast of the Transfiguration the canticle is

from the First Letter to Timothy; this is indicated in those offices.


138. The gospel Canticles of Zechariah, of Mary, and of Simeon are to be treated

with the same solemnity and dignity as are customary at the proclamation of the

gospel itself.


139. Both psalmody and readings are arranged in keeping with the received rule

of tradition that the Old Testament is read first, then the writings of the

apostles, and finally the gospel.






140. The reading of sacred Scripture, which, following an ancient tradition,

takes place publicly in the liturgy, is to have special importance for all

Christians, not only in the celebration of the eucharist but also in the divine

office. The reason is that this reading is not the result of individual choice

or devotion but is the planned decision of the Church itself, in order that in

the course of the year the Bride of Christ may unfold the mystery of Christ

"from his incarnation and birth until his ascension, the day of Pentecost, and

the expectation of blessed hope and of the Lord's return." [6] In addition, the

reading of sacred Scripture in the liturgical celebration is always accompanied

by prayer in order that the reading may have greater effect and that, in turn,

prayer - especially the praying of the psalms - may gain fuller understanding

and become more fervent and devout because of the reading.


141. In the liturgy of the hours there is a longer reading of sacred Scripture

and a shorter reading.


142. The longer reading, optional at morning prayer and evening prayer, is

described in no. 46.




143. The cycle of readings from sacred Scripture in the office of readings takes

into account both those special seasons during which by an ancient tradition

particular books are to be read and the cycle of readings at Mass. The liturgy

of the hours is thus coordinated with the Mass in such a way that the scriptural

readings in the office complement the readings at Mass and so provide a complete

view of the history of salvation.


144. Without prejudice to the exception noted in no. 73, there are no readings

from the Gospel in the liturgy of the hours, since in the Mass each year the

Gospel is read in its entirety.


145. There are two cycles of biblical readings. The first is a one-year cycle

and is incorporated into The Liturgy of the Hours; the second, given in the

supplement for optional use, is a two-year cycle, like the cycle of readings at

weekday Masses in Ordinary Time.


146. The two-year cycle of readings for the liturgy of the hours is so arranged

that each year there are readings from nearly all the books of sacred Scripture

as well as longer and more difficult texts that are not suitable for inclusion

in the Mass. The New Testament as a whole is read each year, partly in the Mass,

partly in the liturgy of the hours; but for the Old Testament books a selection

has been made of those parts that are of greater importance for the

understanding of the history of salvation and for deepening devotion.


The complementarity between the readings in the liturgy of the hours and in the

Mass in no way assigns the same texts to the same days or spreads the same books

over the same seasons. This would leave the liturgy of the hours with the less

important passages and upset the sequence of texts. Rather this complementarity

necessarily demands that the same book be used in the Mass and in the liturgy of

the hours in alternate years or that, if it is read in the same year, there be

some interval in between.


147. During Advent, following an ancient tradition, passages are read from

Isaiah in a semicontinuous sequence, alternating in a two-year cycle. In

addition, the Book of Ruth and certain prophecies from Micah are read. Since

there are special readings from 17 to 24 December (both dates included),

readings for the Third Week of Advent which fall on these dates are omitted.


148. From 29 December until 5 January the readings for Year I are taken from the

Letter to the Colossians (which considers the incarnation of the Lord within the

context of the whole history of salvation) and the readings for Year II are

taken from the Song of Songs (which foreshadows the union of God and humanity in

Christ): "God the Father prepared a wedding feast for God his Son when he united

him with human nature in the womb of the Virgin, when he who is God before all

ages willed that his Son should become man at the end of the ages. [7]


149. From 7 January until the Saturday after the Epiphany the readings are

eschatological texts from Isaiah 60-66 and Baruch. Readings remaining unused are

omitted for that year.


150. During Lent the readings for the first year are passages from Deuteronomy

and the Letter to the Hebrews. Those for the second year review the history of

salvation from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. The Letter to the Hebrews

interprets the Old Covenant in the light of the paschal mystery of Christ. A

passage from the same letter, on Christ's sacrifice (Heb 9:11-28), is read on

Good Friday; another, on the Lord's rest (Heb 4:1-16), is read on Holy Saturday.

On the other days of Holy Week the readings in Year I are the third and fourth

Songs of the Servant of the Lord and extracts from Lamentations; in Year II the

prophet Jeremiah is read, as a type of Christ in his passion.


151. During the Easter season, apart from the First and Second Sundays of Easter

and the solemnities of the Ascension and Pentecost, there are the traditional

readings from the First Letter of Peter, the Book of Revelation, and the Letters

of John (for Year 1), and from the Acts of the Apostles (for Year II).


152. From the Monday after the feast of the Baptism of the Lord until Lent and

from the Monday after Pentecost until Advent there is a continuous series of

thirty-four weeks in Ordinary Time.


This series is interrupted from Ash Wednesday until Pentecost. On the Monday

after Pentecost Sunday the cycle of readings in Ordinary Time is resumed,

beginning with the week after the one interrupted because of Lent; the reading

assigned to the Sunday is omitted.


In years with only thirty-three weeks in Ordinary Time, the week immediately

following Pentecost is dropped, in order to retain the readings of the last

weeks which are eschatological readings.


The books of the Old Testament are arranged so as to follow the history of

salvation: God reveals himself in the history of his people as he leads and

enlightens them in progressive stages. This is why prophetic books are read

along with the historical books, but with due consideration of the period in

which the prophets lived and taught. Hence, the cycle of readings from the Old

Testament contains, in Year I, the historical books and prophetic utterances

from the Book of Joshua as far as, and including, the time of the exile. In Year

II, after the readings from Genesis (read before Lent), the history of salvation

is resumed after the exile up to the time of the Maccabees. Year II includes the

later prophets, the wisdom literature, and the narratives in Esther, Tobit, and



The letters of the apostles not read at special times are distributed through

the year in a way that takes into account the readings at Mass and the

chronological order in which these letters were written.


153. The one-year cycle is shortened in such a way that each year special

passages from sacred Scripture are read, but in correlation with the two-year

cycle of readings at Mass, to which it is intended to be complementary.


154. Proper readings are assigned for solemnities and feasts; otherwise the

readings are taken from the respective Common of Saints.


155. As far as possible, each passage read keeps to a certain unity. In order

therefore to strike a balance in length (otherwise difficult to achieve in view

of the different literary genres of the books), some verses are occasionally

omitted, though omissions are always noted. But it is permissible and

commendable to read the complete passage from an approved text.




156. The short readings or "chapters" (capitula) are referred to in no. 45,

which describes their importance in the liturgy of the hours. They have been

chosen to give clear and concise expression to a theme or an exhortation. Care

has also been taken to ensure variety.


157. Accordingly, four weekly series of short readings have been composed for

Ordinary Time. They are incorporated into the psalter in such a way that the

reading changes during the four weeks. There are also weekly series for the

seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter, In addition there are proper

short readings for solemnities, feasts, and some memorials, as well as a

one-week series for night prayer.


158. The following determined the choice of short readings:


a. in accordance with tradition, exclusion of the Gospels;


b. respect for the special character of Sunday, or even of Friday, and of the

individual hours;


c. use only of the New Testament for the readings at evening prayer, following

as they do a New Testament canticle.




159. In keeping with the tradition of the Roman Church the office of readings

has, after the biblical reading, a reading from the Fathers or church writers,

with a responsory, unless there is to be a reading relating to a saint (see nos.



160. Texts for this reading are given from the writings of the Fathers and

doctors of the Church and from other ecclesiastical writers of the Eastern and

Western Church. Pride of place is given to the Fathers because of their

distinctive authority in the Church.


161. In addition to the readings that The Liturgy of the Hours assigns to each

day, the optional lectionary supplies a larger collection, in order that the

treasures of the Church's tradition may be more widely available to those who

pray the liturgy of the hours. Everyone is free to take the second reading

either from The Liturgy of the Hours or from the optional lectionary.


162. Further the conferences of bishops may prepare additional texts adapted to

the traditions and culture of their own region, [8] for inclusion in the

optional lectionary as a supplement. These texts are to be taken from the works

of Catholic writers, outstanding for their teaching and holiness of life.


163. The purpose of the second reading is principally to provide for meditation

on the word of God as received by the Church in its tradition. The Church has

always been convinced of the need to teach the word of God authentically to

believers, so that "the line of interpretation regarding the prophets and

apostles may be guided by an ecclesial and catholic understanding." [9]  


164. By constant use of the writings handed down by the universal tradition of

the Church, those who read them are led to a deeper reflection on sacred

Scripture and to a relish and love for it. The writings of the Fathers are an

outstanding witness to the contemplation of the word of God over the centuries

by the Bride of the incarnate Word: the Church, "possessing the counsel and

spirit of its Bridegroom and God," [10] is always seeking to attain a more

profound understanding of the sacred Scriptures.


165. The reading of the Fathers leads Christians to an understanding also of the

liturgical seasons and feasts. In addition, it gives them access to the

priceless spiritual treasures that form the unique patrimony of the Church and

provide a firm foundation for the spiritual life and a rich source for

increasing devotion. Preachers of God's word also have at hand each day superb

examples of sacred preaching.




166. The "hagiographical" readings or readings in honor of saints are either

texts from a Father of the Church or another ecclesiastical writer, referring

specifically or rightly applicable to the saint being commemorated, or the

readings are texts from the saint's own writings, or are biographical.


167. Those who compose particular propers for saints must ensure historical

accuracy [11] as well as genuine spiritual benefit for those who will read or

hear the readings about the saints. Anything that merely excites amazement

should be carefully avoided. Emphasis should be given to the individual

spiritual characteristics of the saints, in a way suited to modern conditions;

stress should also be laid on their contribution to the life and spirituality of

the Church.


168. A short biographical note, simply giving historical facts and a brief

sketch of the saint's life, is provided at the head of the reading. This is for

information only and is not for reading aloud.




169. Its responsory follows the biblical reading in the office of readings. The

text of this responsory has been drawn from traditional sources or freshly

composed, in order to throw new light on the passage just read, put it in the

context of the history of salvation, lead from the Old Testament to the New,

turn what has been read into prayer and contemplation, or provide pleasant

variety by its poetic beauty.


170. A pertinent responsory also follows the second reading. It is less closely

linked with the text of the reading, however, and thus makes for a greater

freedom in meditation.


171. The responsories and the portions to be repeated even in private recitation

therefore retain their value. The customary reprise of the whole responsory may

be omitted when the office is not being sung, unless the sense requires this



172. In a similar but simpler way, the responsory at morning prayer, evening

prayer, and night prayer (see nos. 49 and 89), and the verse at daytime prayer,

are linked to the short reading as a kind of acclamation, enabling God's word to

enter more deeply into the mind and heart of the one listening or reading.




173. A very ancient tradition gives hymns the place in the office that they

still retain. [12] By their mystical and poetic character they are specifically

designed for God's praise. But they also are an element for the people; in fact

more often than the other parts of  the office the hymns bring out the proper

theme of individual hours or feasts and incline and draw the spirit to a devout

celebration. The beauty of their language often adds to this power. Furthermore,

in the office hymns are the main poetic element created by the Church.


174. A hymn follows the traditional rule of ending with a doxology, usually

addressed to the same divine person as the hymn itself.


175. In the office for Ordinary Time, to ensure variety, a twofold cycle of

hymns is given for each hour, for use in alternate weeks.


176. In addition, a twofold cycle of hymns has been introduced into the office

of readings for Ordinary Time, one for use at night and the other for use during

the day.


177. New hymns can be set to traditional melodies of the same rhythm and meter.


178. For vernacular celebration, the conferences of bishops may adapt the Latin

hymns to suit the character of their own language and introduce fresh

compositions, [13] provided these are in complete harmony with the spirit of the

hour, season, or feast. Great care must be taken not to allow popular songs that

have no artistic merit and are not in keeping with the dignity of the liturgy.






179. The liturgy of the hours is a celebration in praise of God. Yet Jewish and

Christian tradition does not separate prayer of petition from praise of God;

often enough, praise turns somehow to petition. The Apostle Paul exhorts us to

offer prayers, petitions, intercessions, and thanksgiving for all: for kings and

all in authority, so that we may be able to live quiet and peaceful lives in all

reverence and decency, for this is good and acceptable before God our Savior,

who wishes all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Tm

2:1-4). The Fathers of the Church frequently explained this as an exhortation to

offer prayer in the morning and in the evening. [14]


180. The general intercessions, restored in the Mass of the Roman Rite, have

their place also at evening prayer, though in a different fashion, as will be

explained later.


181. Since traditionally morning prayer puts the whole day in God's hands, there

are invocations at morning prayer for the purpose of commending or consecrating

the day to God.


182. The word preces covers both the intercessions at evening prayer and the

invocations for dedicating the day to God at morning prayer.


183. In the interest of variety and especially of giving fuller expression to

the many needs of the Church and of all people in relation to different states

of life, groups, persons, circumstances, and seasons, different intercessory

formularies are given for each day of the four-week psalter in Ordinary Time and

for the special seasons of the liturgical year, as well as for certain feasts.


184. In addition, the conferences of bishops have the right to adapt the

formularies given in the book of the liturgy of the hours and also to approve

new ones, [15] in accordance with the norms that follow.

185. As in the Lord's Prayer, petitions should be linked with praise of God and

acknowledgment of his glory or with a reference to the history of salvation.


186. In the intercessions at evening prayer the last intention is always for the



187. Since the liturgy of the hours is above all the prayer of the whole Church

for the whole Church, indeed for the salvation of the whole world, [16]

universal intentions should take precedence over all others, namely, for: the

Church and its ministers; secular authorities; the poor, the sick, and the

sorrowful; the needs of the whole world, that is, peace and other intentions of

this kind.


188. It is permissible, however, to include particular intentions at both

morning prayer and evening prayer.


189. The intercessions in the office are so arranged that they can be adapted

for celebration with a congregation or in a small community or for private



190. The intercessions in a celebration with a congregation or in common are

thus introduced by a brief invitation, given by the priest or minister and

designating the single response that the congregation is to repeat after each



191. Further, the intentions are phrased as direct addresses to God and thus are

suitable for both common celebration and private recitation.


192. Each intention consists of two parts; the second may be used as an

alternative response.


193. Different methods can therefore be used for the intercessions. The priest

or minister may say both parts of the intention and the congregation respond

with a uniform response or a silent pause, or the priest or minister may say

only the first part of the intention and the congregation respond with the

second part.




194. In accord with ancient tradition, the Lord's Prayer has a place suited to

its dignity, namely, after the intercessions at morning prayer and evening

prayer, the hours most often celebrated with the people.


195. Henceforth, therefore, the Lord's Prayer will be said with solemnity on

three occasions during the day: at Mass, at morning prayer, and at evening



196. The Lord's Prayer is said by all after a brief introduction, if this seems





197. The concluding prayer at the end marks the completion of an entire hour. In

a celebration in public and with a congregation, it belongs by tradition to a

priest or deacon to say this prayer. [17]


198. In the office of readings, this prayer is as a rule the prayer proper to

the day. At night prayer, the prayer is always the prayer given in the psalter

for that hour.


199. The concluding prayer at morning prayer and evening prayer is taken from

the proper on Sundays, on the weekdays of the seasons of Advent, Christmas,

Lent, and Easter, and on solemnities, feasts, and memorials. On weekdays in

Ordinary Time the prayer is the one given in the four-week psalter to express

the character of these two hours.


200. The concluding prayer at daytime prayer is taken from the proper on

Sundays, on the weekdays of the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter,

and on solemnities and feasts. On other days the prayers are those that express

the character of the particular hour. These are given in the four-week psalter.




201. It is a general principle that care should be taken in liturgical services

to see that "at the proper times all observe a reverent silence." [18] An

opportunity for silence should therefore be provided in the celebration of the

liturgy of the hours.


202. In order to receive in our hearts the full sound of the voice of the Holy

Spirit and to unite our personal prayer more closely with the word of God and

the public voice of the Church, it is permissible, as occasion offers and

prudence suggests, to have an interval of silence. It may come either after the

repetition of the antiphon at the end of the psalm, in the traditional way,

especially if the psalm-prayer is to be said after the pause (see no. 112), or

after the short or longer readings, either before or after the responsory.


Care must be taken to avoid the kind of silence that would disturb the structure

of the office or annoy and weary those taking part.


203. In individual recitation there is even greater freedom to pause in

meditation on some text that moves the spirit; the office does not on this

account lose its public character.












204. The office of Sunday begins with evening prayer I, which is taken entirely

from the four-week psalter, except those parts that are marked as proper.


205. When a feast of the Lord is celebrated on Sunday, it has a proper evening

prayer I.


206. The way to celebrate Sunday vigils, as circumstances suggest, has been

discussed in no. 73.


207. It is of great advantage to celebrate, when possible, at least evening

prayer with the people, in keeping with a very ancient tradition. [1]




208. For the Easter triduum the office is celebrated in the way set forth in the

Proper of Seasons.


209. Those who take part in the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper or the

celebration of the Lord's passion on Good Friday do not say evening prayer on

either day.


210. On Good Friday and Holy Saturday the office of readings should be

celebrated publicly with the people before morning prayer, as far as this is



211. Night prayer for Holy Saturday is said only by those who are not present at

the Easter Vigil.


212. The Easter Vigil takes the place of the office of readings. Those not

present at the solemn celebration of the Vigil should therefore read at least

four of its readings with the chants and prayers. It is desirable that these be

the readings from Exodus, Ezekiel, St. Paul, and from the Gospel. The Te Deum

follows, then the prayer of the day.


213. Morning prayer for Easter Sunday is said by all. It is fitting that evening

prayer be celebrated in a more solemn way to mark the ending of so holy a day

and to commemorate the occasions when the Lord showed himself to his disciples.

Great care should be taken to maintain, where it exists, the particular

tradition of celebrating evening prayer on Easter Sunday in honor of baptism.

During this there is a procession to the font as the psalms are being sung.




214. The liturgy of the hours takes on a paschal character from the acclamation,

Alleluia that concludes most antiphons (see no. 120), from the hymns, antiphons,

and special intercessions, and from the proper readings assigned to each hour.




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.


216. Morning prayer on Christmas Day is said as a rule before the Mass at Dawn.




217. In arranging the office for solemnities and feasts of the Lord, what is

said in nos. 225-233 should be observed, with any necessary changes.




218. The celebrations of the saints are arranged so that they do not take

precedence over those feast days and special seasons that commemorate the

mysteries of salvation. [2] Nor are they allowed to break up the sequence of

psalms and biblical readings or to give rise to undue repetitions. At the same

time, the plan makes proper provision for the rightful honoring of the

individual saints. These principles form the basis for the reform of the

calendar, carried out by order of Vatican Council 11, and for the plan for

celebrating the saints in the liturgy of the hours that is described in the

following paragraphs.


219. Celebrations in honor of the saints are either solemnities, feasts, or



220. Memorials are either obligatory memorials or, when not so classified,

optional memorials. In deciding on the merits of celebrating an optional

memorial in an office to be celebrated with the people or in common, account

should be taken of the general good or of the genuine devotion of the

congregation, not simply that of the person presiding.


221. When more than one optional memorial falls on the same day, only one may be

celebrated; the rest are omitted.


222. Only solemnities are transferred, in accordance with the rubrics.


223. The norms that follow apply to the saints entered in the General Roman

Calendar and to those with a place in particular calendars.


224. Where proper parts are not given, they are supplied from the respective

Common of Saints.




225. Solemnities have an evening prayer I on the preceding day.


226. At evening prayer I and 11, the hymn, the antiphons, the short reading with

its responsory, and the concluding prayer are proper. Where anything proper is

missing, it is supplied from the common.


In keeping with an ancient tradition, at evening prayer I both psalms are as a

rule taken from the Laudate Psalms (Ps 113, 117, 135, 146, 147 A, 147 B). The

New Testament canticle is noted in its appropriate place. At evening prayer II

the psalms and canticles are proper; the intercessions are either proper or from

the common.


227. At morning prayer, the hymn, the antiphons, the short reading with its

responsory, and the concluding prayer are proper. Where anything proper is

missing, it is supplied from the common. The psalms are to be taken from the

Sunday of Week I of the four-week psalter; the intercessions are either proper

or from the common.


228. In the office of readings, everything is proper: the hymn, the antiphons

and psalms, the readings and the responsories. The first reading is from

Scripture; the second is about the saint. In the case of a saint with a purely

local cult and without special texts even in the local proper, everything is

taken from the common.


At the end of the office of readings the Te Deum and the proper prayer are said.


229. At daytime prayer, the hymn of the weekday is used, unless other directions

are given. The psalms are from the Gradual Psalms with a proper antiphon. On

Sundays the psalms are taken from the Sunday of Week I of the four-week psalter

and the short reading and concluding prayer are proper. But on certain

solemnities of the Lord there are special psalms.


230. At night prayer, everything is said as on Sundays, after evening prayer I

and II respectively.




231. Feasts have no evening prayer 1, except those feasts of the Lord that fall

on a Sunday. At the office of readings, at morning prayer, and at evening

prayer, all is done as on solemnities.

232. At daytime prayer, the hymn of the weekday is used. The weekday psalms with

their antiphons are said, unless a special reason or tradition requires a proper

antiphon; this will be indicated as the case occurs. The reading and concluding

prayer are proper.


233. Night prayer is said as on ordinary days.




234. In the arrangement of the office there is no difference between obligatory

and optional memorials, except in the case of optional memorials falling during

privileged seasons.




235. In the office of readings, at morning prayer, and at evening prayer:


a. the psalms and their antiphons are taken from the current week and day,

unless there are proper antiphons or proper psalms, which is indicated as the

case occurs;


b. the antiphon at the invitatory, the hymn, the short reading, the antiphons at

the Canticles of Zechariah and of Mary, and the intercessions must be those of

the saint if these are given in the proper; otherwise, they are taken either

from the common or from the current week and day;


c. the concluding prayer from the office of the saint is to be said;


d. in the office of readings, the Scripture reading with its responsory is from

the current cycle. The second reading is about the saint, with a proper

responsory or one taken from the common; if there is no proper reading, the

patristic reading for the day is used. The Te Deum is not said.


236. At daytime prayer and night prayer, all is from the weekday and nothing is

from the office of the saint.




237. On Sundays, solemnities, and feasts, on Ash Wednesday, during Holy Week,

and during the octave of Easter, memorials that happen to fall on these days are



238. On the weekdays from 17 to 24 December, during the octave of Christmas, and

on the weekdays of Lent, no obligatory memorials are celebrated, even in

particular calendars. When any happen to fall during Lent in a given year, they

are treated as optional memorials.


239. During privileged seasons, if it is desired to celebrate the office of a

saint on a day assigned to his or her memorial:


a. in the office of readings, after the patristic reading (with its responsory)

from the Proper of Seasons, a proper reading about the saint (with its

responsory) may follow, with the concluding prayer of the saint;


b. at morning prayer and evening prayer, the ending of the concluding prayer may

be omitted and the saint's antiphon (from the proper or common) and prayer may

be added.




240. On Saturdays in Ordinary Time, when optional memorials are permitted, an

optional memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary may be celebrated in the same way

as other memorials, with its own proper reading.






241. The office in choir and in common is to be celebrated according to the

proper calendar of the diocese, of the religious family, or of the individual

churches. [3] Members of religious institutes join with the community of the

local Church in celebrating the dedication of the cathedral and the feasts of

the principal patrons of the place and of the wider geographical region in which

they live. [4]


242. When clerics or religious who are obliged under any title to pray the

divine office join in an office celebrated in common according to a calendar or

rite different from their own, they fulfill their obligation in respect to the

part of the office at which they are present.


243. In private celebration, the calendar of the place or the person's own

calendar may be followed, except on proper solemnities and on proper feasts. [5]




244. On weekdays when an optional memorial is permitted, for a good reason the

office of a saint listed on that day in the Roman Martyrology, or in an approved

appendix to it, may be celebrated in the same way as other memorials (see nos.



245. For a public cause or out of devotion, except on solemnities, the Sundays

of the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, the octave

of Easter, and 2 November, a votive office may be celebrated, in whole or in

part: for example, on the occasion of a pilgrimage, a local feast, or the

external solemnity of a saint.




246. In certain particular cases there is an option to choose texts different

from those given for the day, provided there is no distortion of the general

arrangement of each hour and the rules that follow are respected.


247. In the office for Sundays, solemnities, feasts of the Lord listed in the

General Calendar, the weekdays of Lent and Holy Week, the days within the

octaves of Easter and Christmas, and the weekdays from 17 to 24 December

inclusive, it is never permissible to change the formularies that are proper or

adapted to the celebration, such as antiphons, hymns, readings, responsories,

prayers, and very often also the psalms.


In place of the Sunday psalms of the current week, there is an option to

substitute the Sunday psalms of a different week, and, in the case of an office

celebrated with a congregation, even other psalms especially chosen to lead the

people step by step to an understanding of the psalms.


248. In the office of readings, the current cycle of sacred Scripture must

always be respected. The Church's intent that "a more representative portion of

the holy Scriptures will be read to the people in the course of a prescribed

number of years" [6] applies also to the divine office.


Therefore the cycle of readings from Scripture that is provided in the office of

readings must not be set aside during the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent,

and Easter. 'During Ordinary Time, however, on a particular day or for a few

days in succession, it is permissible, for a good reason, to choose readings

from those provided on other days or even other biblical readings, for example,

on the occasion of retreats, pastoral gatherings, prayers for Christian unity,

or other such events.


249. When the continuous reading is interrupted because of a solemnity or feast

or special celebration, it is allowed during the same week, taking into account

the readings for the whole week, either to combine the parts omitted with others

or to decide which of the texts are to be preferred.


250. The office of readings also offers the option to choose, with a good

reason, another reading from the same season, taken from The Liturgy of the

Hours or the optional lectionary (no. 161), in preference to the second reading

appointed for the day. On weekdays in Ordinary Time and, if it seems opportune,

even in the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter, the choice is open

for a semicontinuous reading of the work of a Father of the Church, in harmony

with the biblical and liturgical context.


251. The readings, prayers, songs, and intercessions appointed for the weekdays

of a particular season may be used on other weekdays of the same season.


252. Everyone should be concerned to respect the complete cycle of the four-week

psalter. [7] Still, for spiritual or pastoral advantage, the psalms appointed

for a particular day may be replaced with others from the same hour of a

different day. There are also circumstances occasionally arising when it is

permissible to choose suitable psalms and other texts in the way done for a

votive office.










253. In the celebration of the liturgy of the hours, as in all other liturgical

services, "each one, minister or layperson, who has an office to perform, should

do all of, but only, those parts which pertain to that office by the nature of

the rite and the principles of liturgy." [1]


254. When a bishop presides, especially in the cathedral, he should be attended

by his college of priests and by ministers and the people should take a full and

active part. A priest or deacon should normally preside at every celebration

with a congregation and ministers should also be present.


255. The priest or deacon who presides at a celebration may wear a stole over

the alb or surplice; a priest may also wear a cope. On greater solemnities the

wearing of the cope by many priests or of the dalmatic by many deacons is



256. It belongs to the presiding priest or deacon, at the chair, to open the

celebration with the introductory verse, begin the Lord's Prayer, say the

concluding prayer, greet the people, bless them, and dismiss them.


257. Either the priest or a minister may lead the intercessions.


258. In the absence of a priest or deacon, the one who presides at the office is

only one among equals and does not enter the sanctuary or greet and bless the



259. Those who act as readers, standing in a convenient place, read either the

long readings or the short readings.


260, A cantor or cantors should intone the antiphons, psalms, and other chants.


With regard to the psalmody, the directions of nos. 121-125 should be followed.


261. During the gospel canticle at morning prayer and evening prayer there may

be an incensation of the altar, then of the priest and congregation.


262. The choral obligation applies to the community, not to the place of

celebration, which need not be a church, especially in the case of those hours

that are celebrated without solemnity.


263. All taking part stand during:


a. the introduction to the office and the introductory verses of each hour;


b. the hymn;


c. the gospel canticle;


d. the intercessions, the Lord's Prayer, and the concluding prayer.


264. All sit to listen to the readings, except the gospel.


265. The assembly either sits or stands, depending on custom, while the psalms

and other canticles (with their antiphons) are being said.

266. All make the sign of the cross, from forehead to breast and from left

shoulder to right, at:


a. the beginning of the hours, when God, come to my assistance is being said;


b. the beginning of the gospel, the Canticles of Zechariah, of Mary, and of



The sign of the cross is made on the mouth at the beginning of the invitatory,

at Lord, open my lips.




267. In the rubrics and norms of this Instruction, the words "say .. .. recite,"

etc., are to be understood to refer to either singing or recitation, in the

light of the principles that follow.


268. "The sung celebration of the divine office is more in keeping with the

nature of this prayer and a mark of both higher solemnity and closer union of

hearts in offering praise to God. . . . Therefore the singing of the office is

earnestly recommended to those who carry out the office in choir or in common."



269. The declarations of Vatican Council II on liturgical singing apply to all

liturgical services but in a special way to the liturgy of the hours. [3] Though

every part of it has been revised in such a way that all may be fruitfully

recited even by individuals, many of these parts are lyrical in form and do not

yield their fuller meaning unless they are sung, especially the psalms,

canticles, hymns, and responsories.


270. Hence, in celebrating the liturgy singing is not to be regarded as an

embellishment superimposed on prayer; rather, it wells up from the depths of a

soul intent on prayer and the praise of God and reveals in a full and complete

way the community nature of Christian worship.


Christian communities of all kinds seeking to use this form of prayer as

frequently as possible are to be commended. Clerics and religious, as well as

all the people of God, must be trained by suitable catechesis and practice to

join together in singing the hours in a spirit of joy, especially on Sundays and

holydays. But it is no easy task to sing the entire office; nor is the Church's

praise to be considered either by origin or by nature the exclusive possession

of clerics and monks but the property of the whole Christian community.

Therefore several principles must be kept simultaneously in mind if the sung

celebration of the liturgy of the hours is to be performed correctly and to

stand out in its true nature and splendor.


271. It is particularly appropriate that there be singing at least on Sundays

and holydays, so that the different degrees of solemnity will thus come to be



272. It is the same with the hours: all are not of equal importance; thus it is

desirable that those that are the true hinges of the office, that is, morning

prayer and evening prayer, should receive greater prominence through the use of



273. A celebration with singing throughout is commendable, provided it has

artistic and spiritual excellence; but it may be useful on occasion to apply the

principle of "progressive solemnity." There are practical reasons for this, as

well as the fact that in this way the various elements of liturgical celebration

are not treated indiscriminately, but each can again be given its connatural

meaning and genuine function. The liturgy of the hours is then not seen as a

beautiful memorial of the past demanding intact preservation as an object of

admiration; rather it is seen as open to constantly new forms of life and growth

and to being the unmistakable sign of a community's vibrant vitality.


The principle of "progressive solemnity" therefore is one that recognizes

several intermediate stages between singing the office in full and just reciting

all the parts. Its application offers the possibility of a rich and pleasing

variety. The criteria are the particular day or hour being celebrated, the

character of the individual elements comprising the office, the size and

composition of the community, as well as the number of singers available in the



With this increased range of variation, it is possible for the public praise of

the Church to be sung more frequently than formerly and to be adapted in a

variety of ways to different circumstances. There is also great hope that new

ways and expressions of public worship may be found for our own age, as has

clearly always happened in the life of the Church.


274. For liturgical celebrations sung in Latin, Gregorian chant, as the music

proper to the Roman liturgy, should have pride of place, all other things being

equal. [4] Nevertheless, "the Church does not exclude any type of sacred music

from liturgical services as long as the music matches the spirit of the service

itself and the character of the individual parts and is not a hindrance to the

required active participation of the people." [5] At a sung office, if a melody

is not available for the given antiphon, another antiphon should be taken from

those in the repertoire, provided it is suitable in terms of nos. 113 and



275. Since the liturgy of the hours may be celebrated in the vernacular,

"appropriate measures are to be taken to prepare melodies for use in the

vernacular singing of the divine office." [6]


276. But it is permissible to sing the various parts in different languages at

one and the same celebration. [7]


277. The decision on which parts to choose for singing follows from the

authentic structure of a liturgical celebration. This demands that the

significance and function of each part and of singing should be fully respected.

Some parts by their nature call for singing:  [8] in particular, acclamations,

responses to the greetings of priest and ministers, responses in litanies, also

antiphons and psalms, the verses and reprises in responsories, hymns and

canticles. [9]


278. Clearly the psalms are closely bound up with music (see nos. 103-120), as

both Jewish and Christian tradition confirm. In fact a complete understanding of

many of the psalms is greatly assisted by singing them or at least not losing

sight of their poetic and musical character. Accordingly, whenever possible

singing the psalms should have preference, at least for the major days and hours

and in view of the character of the psalms themselves.


279. The different ways of reciting the psalms have been described in nos.

121-123. Varying these ways should depend not so much on external circumstances

as on the different genres of the psalms to be recited in the same celebration.

Thus the wisdom psalms and the narrative psalms are perhaps better listened to,

whereas psalms of praise and thanksgiving are of their nature designed for

singing in common. The main consideration is to ensure that the celebration is

not too inflexible or elaborate nor concerned merely with formal observance of

rules, but that it matches the reality of what is celebrated. The primary aim

must be to inspire hearts with a desire for genuine prayer and to show that the

celebration of God's praise is a thing of joy (see Ps 147).


280. Even when the hours are recited, hymns can nourish prayer, provided they

have doctrinal and literary excellence; but of their nature they are designed

for singing and so, as far as possible, at a celebration in common they should

be sung.


281. The short responsory after the reading at morning prayer and evening prayer

(see no. 49) is of its nature designed for singing and indeed for congregational



282. The responsories following the readings in the office of readings by their

very nature and function also call for their being sung. In the plan of the

office, however, they are composed in such a way that they retain their power

even in individual and private recitation. Responsories set to simpler melodies

can be sung more frequently than those responsories drawn from the traditional

liturgical books.


283. The longer readings and the short readings are not of themselves designed

for singing. When they are proclaimed, great care should be taken that the

reading is dignified, clear, and distinct and that it is really audible and

fully intelligible for all. The only acceptable melody for a reading is

therefore one that best ensures the hearing of the words and the understanding

of the text.


284. Texts that are said only by the person presiding, such as the concluding

prayer, can be sung gracefully and appropriately, especially in Latin. This,

however, will be more difficult in some languages, unless singing makes the

texts more clearly audible for all.






Chapter I


1)    See Acts 1:14, 4:24, 12:5 and 12. See also Eph 5:19-21.

2)    See Acts 2:1-15.

3)    SC art. 83.

4)    See Lk 3:21-22.

5)    See Lk 6:12.

6)    See Mt 14:19, 15:36; Mk 6:41, 8:7; Lk 9:16; Jn 6:11.

7)    See Lk 9:28-29.

8)    See Mk 7:34.

9)    See Jn 11:41ff.

10)   See Lk 9:18.

11)   Lk 11:11.

12)   See Mt 11:25.ff; Lk 10:21ff.

13)   See Mt 19:13.

14)   See Lk 22:32.

15)   See Mk 1:35, 6:46; Lk 5:16. See also Mt 4:1 and par.; Mt 14:23.

16)   See Mk 1:35.

17)   See Mt 14:23 and 25; Mk 6:46 and 48.

18)   See Lk 6:12.

19)   See Lk 4:16.

20)   See Mt 21:13 and par.

21)   See Mt 14:19 and par.; Mt 15:36 and par.

22)   See Mt 26:26 and par.

23)   See Lk 24:30.

24)   See Mt 26:30 and par.

25)   See Jn 12:27ff.

26)   See Jn 17:1-26.

27)   See Mt 26:36-44 and par.

28)   See Lk 23:34 and 46; Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34.

29)   See Heb 7:25.

30)   Mt 5:44, 7:7, 26:41; Mk 13:33, 14:38; Lk 6:28, 10:2, 11:9, 22:40 and 46.

31)   Jn 14:13ff., 15:16, 16:23ff. and 26.

32)   See Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4.

33)   See Lk 18:1.

34)   See Lk 18:9-14.

35)   See Lk 21:36; Mk 13:33.

36)   See Lk 11:5-13,18:1-8; Jn 14:13, 16:23.

37)   See Mt 6:5-8, 23:14; Lk 20:47; Jn 4:23.

38)   See Rom 8:15 and 26; 1 Cor 12:3; Gal 4:6; Jude 20.

39)   See 2 Cor 1:20; Col 3:17.

40)   See Heb 13:15.

41)   See Rom 12:12; 1 Cor 7:5; Eph 6:18; Col 4:2; 1 Thes 5:17; 1 Tm 5:5; 1 Pt


42)   See 1 Tm 4:5; Jas 5:15ff.; 1 Jn 3:22, 5:14ff.

43)   See Eph 5:19ff.; Heb 13:15; Rv 19:5.

44)   See Col 3:17; Phil 4:6; 1 Thes 5:17; 1 Tm 2:1.

45)   See Rom 8:26; Phil 4:6.

46)   See Rom 15:30; 1 Tm 2:1ff.; Eph 6:18; 1 Thes 5:25; Jas 5:14 and 16.

47)   See 1 Tm 2:5; Heb 8:6, 9:15, 12:24.

48)   See Rom 5:2; Eph 2:18, 3:12.

49)   See SC art. 83.

50)   See LG no. 10.

51)   Augustine, Enarrat. in Ps. 85, 1: CCL 39, 1176.

52)   See Lk 10:21, the occasion when Jesus "rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and

              said: 'I thank you, Father...'".

53)   See Acts 2:42 Gr.

54)   See Mt 6:6.

55)   See SC art. 12.

56)   See SC art. 83-84.

57)   See SC art. 88.

58)   See SC art. 94.

59)   See PO no. 5.

60)   CD no. 30.

61)   SC art. 5.

62)   See SC art. 83 and 98.

63)   SC art. 7.

64)   See SC art. 10.

65)   SC art. 33.

66)   See SC art. 24.

67)   See SC art. 33.

68)   1 Thes 5:17.

69)   See Heb 13:15.

70)   SC art. 84.

71)   SC art. 85.

72)   See SC art. 83.

73)   LG no. 50; SC art. 8 and 104.

74)   LG no. 48.

75)   See Rom 8:19.

76)   See SC art. 83.

77)   See Heb 5:7.

78)   See PO no. 6.

79)   See LG no. 41.

80)   See no. 24 of this Instruction.

81)   See PC no. 7.

82)   SC art. 10.

83)   SC art. 2.

84)   See Jn 15:5.

85)   See SC art. 86.

86)   See Eph 2:21-22.

87)   See Eph 4:13.

88)   See SC art. 2.

89)   See SC art. 90. Rule of St. Benedict ch. 19.

90)   See PO no. 14; OT no. 8.

91)   See SC art. 26.

92)   See SC art. 41.

93)   CD no. 11.

94)   See art. 42. See also AA no. 10.

95)   See SC art. 26 and 84.

96)   See AG no. 17.

97)   CD no. 15.

98)   See SC art. 100.

99)   See PO no. 5.

100)  See nos. 100-109 of this Instruction.

101)  CD no. 33; see also PC nos. 6, 7, 15; AG no. 15.

102)  See SC art. 99.

103)  See SC art. 100.

104)  See Jn 4:23.

105)  See GE no. 2; AA no. 16.

106)  See AA no. 11.

107)  See PO no. 13.

108)  See SC art. 41; LG no. 21.

109)  See LG no. 26; CD no. 15.

110)  See PO no. 13.

111)  See PO no. 5.

112)  See Jn 10:11, 17:20 and 23.

113)  See SC art. 90.

114)  See LG no. 41.

115)  See DV no. 25; PO no. 13.

116)  See Paul VI, Motu Proprio Sacram Diaconatus Ordinem, 18 June 1967, no. 27.

117)  See SCR, Instr. InterOec no. 78b.

118)  See SC art. 95.

119)  See Acts 4:32.

120)  See SC art. 100.

121)  See SC art. 26, 28-30.

122)  See SC art. 27.


Chapter II


1)    See Heb 3:7-4:16.

2)    SC art. 89a; see also art. 100.

3)    Basil the Great, Regulae fusius tractatae resp. 37, 3: PG 31, 1014.

4)    Cyprian, De oratione dominica 35: PL 4, 561.

5)    Basil the Great, Regulae fusius tractatae resp. 37, 3: PG 31, 1015.

6)    See Ps 141:2.

7)    John Cassian, De institutione coenob. 3, 3: PL 49, 124, 125.

8)    Cyprian, De oratione dominica 35: PL 4, 560.

9)    RP, Ordination of Priests no. 14.

10)   Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum 1, 20, 88: PL 16, 50. See also DV no. 25.

11)   SC art. 89c.

12)   Augustine, Sermo Guelferbytanus 5: PL Suppl 2, 550.

13)   Ibid.: PL Suppl 2, 552.

14)   See SC art. 89.

15)   See SC art. 38.


Chapter III


1)    SC art. 90.

2)    Rule of St. Benedict ch. 19.

3)    See Rule of St. Benedict ch. 19.

4)    See Mt 22:44ff.

5)    See SC art. 91.

6)    SC art. 102.

7)    Gregory the Great, Homilia 34 in Evangelia: PL 76: 1282.

8)    See SC art. 38.

9)    Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium 2: PL 50, 640.

10)   Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermo 3 in vigilia Nativitatis 1: PL 183 (ed. 1879)


11)   See SC art. 92c.

12)   See SC art. 93.

13)   See SC art. 38.

14)   Thus, for example, John Chrysostom, In Epist. ad Tim 1, Homilia 6: PG 62,


15)   See SC art. 38.

16)   See SC art. 83 and 89.

17)   See no. 256 of this Instruction.

18)   SC art. 30.


Chapter IV


1)    See SC art. 100.

2)    See SC art. 111.

3)    See General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar no. 52.

4)    See ibid. no. 52c.

5)    See ibid. Table of Liturgical Days nos. 4 and 8.

6)    SC art. 51.

7)    See nos. 100-109 of this Instruction.


Chapter V


1)    SC art. 28.

2)    SCR, Instr. MusSacr, 5 March 1967, no. 37. See also SC art. 99.

3)    See SC art. 113.

4)    See SC art. 116.

5)    SCR, Instr. MusSacr no. 9. See also SC art. 116.

6)    SCR, Instr. MusSacr no. 41; see also nos. 54-61.

7)    See ibid. no. 51.

8)    See ibid. no. 6.

9)    See ibid. nos. 16a and 38.


This document taken from:

The Catholic Liturgical Library