In the Roman Catholic Church priests are required by canon law to pray the entire Liturgy of the Hours each day while deacons are required to pray the morning and evening hours. The practice among religious communities varies according to their rules and constitutions. The Second Vatican Council also exhorted the Christian laity to take up the practice, and as a result, many lay people have begun reciting portions of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Current Roman Catholic usage focuses on three Major Hours and from two to four minor hours:
All hours, including the minor hours start with the verse Ps 69/70 v.2:
God, come to my assistance.
— Lord, make haste to help me.
Followed by the doxology:
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
— as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Alleluia.
The verse is omitted if the hour (either Morning Prayer or Office of Reading) begins with the Invitatory.
The Invitatory is the introduction to the first hour said on the current day, whether it be the Office of Readings or Morning Prayer.
The opening is followed by a hymn. The hymn is followed by psalmody. The psalmody is followed by a scripture reading. The reading is called a chapter (capitula) if it is short, or a lesson (lectio) if it is long. The reading is followed by a versicle. The hour is closed by an oration followed by a concluding versicle. Other components are included depending on the exact type of hour being celebrated.
In each office, the psalms and canticle are framed by antiphons, and each concludes with the traditional Catholic doxology.
The major hours consist of the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer (or Lauds) and Evening Prayer (or Vespers).
The Office of Readings consists of:
The character of Morning Prayer is that of praise; of Evening Prayer, that of thanksgiving. Both follow a similar format:
An Invitatory precedes the canonical hours of the day beginning with the versicle:
Lord, open my lips.
—And my mouth will proclaim your praise (Ps 50/51 v.17), and continuing with an antiphon and the Invitatory Psalm, usually Psalm 95.
All psalms and canticles are accompanied by antiphons.
Unless the Invitatory is used, each Hour begins with the versicle:
God, come to my assistance.
— Lord, make haste to help me. (Ps 69/70 v.2), followed by a hymn. Each Hour concludes with a prayer followed by a short versicle and response.
Matins or the Office of Readings is the longest hour. Before Pope St. Pius X’s reform, it involved the recitation of 18 psalms on Sundays and 12 on ferial days. Pope Pius X reduced this to 9 psalms or portions of psalms, still arranged in three “nocturns”, each set of three psalms followed by three short readings, usually three consecutive sections from the same text. Pope Paul VI’s reform reduced the number of psalms or portions of psalms to three, and the readings to two, but lengthened these. On feast days the Te Deum is sung or recited before the concluding prayer.
After St. Pius X’s reform, the Morning Prayer was reduced to four psalms or portions of psalms and an Old Testament canticle, putting an end to the custom of adding the last three psalms of the Psalter (148-150) at the end of Lauds every day. The number of psalms or portions of psalms is now reduced to two, together with one Old Testament canticle chosen from a wider range than before. After these there is a short reading and response and the singing or recitation of the Benedictus.
The Evening Prayer has a very similar structure, differing in that Pius X assigned to it five psalms (now reduced to 2 psalms and a New Testament canticle) and the Magnificat took the place of the Benedictus. On some days in Pius X’s arrangement, but now always, there follow Preces or intercessions. In the present arrangement, the Lord’s Prayer is also recited before the concluding prayer.
Midmorning, Midday and Midafternoon Prayers have an identical structure, each with three psalms or portions of psalms. These are followed by a short reading from Scripture, once referred to as a “little chapter” (capitulum), and by a versicle and response. The Lesser Litany (Kyrie and the Lord’s Prayer) of Pius X’s arrangement have now been omitted.
Prime (which is now suppressed and gone) and Night Prayer (Compline) also were of similar structure, though different from Midmorning, Midday and Midafternoon (Terce, Sext and None).
Your contribution ensures this site will be around to serve thousands who use it daily to pray.
A monthly recurring payment is not required, but your support ensures this site will be around to serve thousands who use it daily to pray. You can select the amount of your monthly contribution below, or you can select "custom amount" and set it in the next page.
If you prefer not to commit to a monthly contribution right now, please consider a one-time contribution. You will be able to set any amount in the next page.
You can also contribute through PayPal from this page, or you can mail a check.
News and Updates from our ministry
Monica on May 29th, 2023at 6:25
Dear community, In an effort to encourage and promote among our community members more interaction, communication and spiritual support for one another, Divine Office has been working on a new email notification system where members... Continue readingLogin to like (19)
Monica on May 10th, 2023at 3:35
Dear Community, Adoremus.org had published a fragment from the January 2022 Bishop’s Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter concerning the progress ICEL and USCCB made on the new edition of the Liturgy of the Hours. The... Continue readingLogin to like (3)
Monica on December 30th, 2022at 11:07
Dear Community, At the start of the New Year, our gift to you is a new website design with a different architecture. We meant it to be fresh and beautiful, to promote our members’ interactions... Continue readingLogin to like (2)
Monica on August 5th, 2022at 5:31
Dear community, Those of you in the United States can now pray the Liturgy of the Hours with Alexa. It’s yet another simple and convenient way to pray the hours and we hope it will... Continue readingLogin to like (1)
Pray always and everywhere with our Award-Winning Liturgy of the Hours app for iPhone, iPad, Android and Kindle Fire. NOW FREE!
Our DivineOffice app is rated 4.9 out of 5, based on over 2,400 ratings and won the About.com Best Catholic App Award for 3 years in a row.
Support us by starting your amazon shopping by clicking on this link.
I have prayed the Divine Office for many years. [...] When I discovered this app, all of my concerns of ribbon placement were gone. Having the Divine Office on my phone is absolutely the best thing ever! The sense of community is so wonderful as I see how many others are praying at the same time as myself. [...] Now I don’t need to turn a lamp on as I use to when I used the Office printed volumes. It is such a blessing to have the Divine Office in my pocket. Many times I’ve been sitting in a doctor’s waiting room at the time of Mid Morning prayer. It is so calming of any worries to pull out my phone, open the app, and be able to connect with Our Lord at those times I need Him most. I don’t use the audio version much but the few times I’ve traveled, it is so comforting to not have to skip the Office in order to keep my hands on the steering wheel and my eyes in the road. I recommend this app to friends all the time, especially to those who’d like to pray the Office but feel intimidated by the size of the printed version and getting the ribbons placed properly. Thank you for developing this app. It is my constant companion.
SheezyOCon October 13, 2021
I have only been introduced to the divine office prayers two times before I downloaded this app. It is laid out in a way that is very easy to understand, and there is an audio option that will say all of the prayers. There is an option to set reminders throughout the day. I got this because, I didn’t really know how to say the divine office, and I didn’t know what prayer books I needed to purchase to begin. During the shutting down of churches for covid :( this has been a wonderful resource. One cool feature is that you can tap on the “in prayer” link and see little specks of light around the globe lighting up in the area that someone else is praying. It’s so cool to see everyone praying with you and is a powerful reminder that we are all connected and unified in Christ’s mystical body.
tori6543588on May 5, 2020
Praying with the whole Church
I love this app! Since it is now free and no longer for sale, I made sure to donate the price of buying it, and then some. I have loved the Liturgy of the Hours for 25 years. But I always felt alone when I prayed it. With this app, I am connected to others! I use it in conjunction with my printed Christian Prayer volume. On other days, I cannot get to my book but with the app, I always have the prayers available. I have the printed calendar with my book, but I actually rely on this more for placing my ribbons. The audio is wonderful!! I often read out loud with it. I love that I can change the speed of the audio! I have found that 1.3 is good for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this app. Thank you for still supporting it. Thank you for updating the “one God,” to just “God” change in the prayers. My book still throws me off but your app is right! Highly recommend this. Many friends have it. THANK YOU!!
MommytoNFP2on June 12, 2022