Table of Contents
Chapter I: Importance of the Liturgy of
the Hours or Divine Office in the Life of the Church
Chapter I-I. Prayer of Christ 
Chapter I-II. Prayer of the Church 
Chapter I-III. Liturgy of the Hours 
Chapter I-IV. Participants in the Liturgy of the Hours
Chapter II: Sanctification of the Day: The Different
Chapter II-I. Introduction to the Whole Office 
Chapter II-II. Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer 
Chapter II-III. Office of Readings 
Chapter II-IV. Vigils 
Chapter II-V. Daytime Hours 
Chapter II-VI. Night Prayer 
Chapter II-VII. Combining the Hours With Mass or With
Chapter III: Different Elements in the Liturgy of the
Chapter III-I. Psalms and Their Connection With
Chapter III-II. Antiphons and Other Aids to Praying the Psalms
Chapter III-III. Ways of Singing the Psalms
Chapter III-IV. Plan for the Distribution of the Psalms in the Office
Chapter III-V. Canticles From the Old and New Testaments
Chapter III-VI. Readings from Sacred Scripture
Chapter III-VII. Readings from the Fathers and Church Writers
Chapter III-VIII. Readings in Honor of Saints
Chapter III-IX. Responsories
Chapter III-X. Hymns and Other Nonbiblical Songs
Chapter III-XI. Intercessions, Lord’s Prayer, and Concluding Prayer
Chapter III-XII. Sacred Silence
Chapter IV: Various Celebrations Throughout the Year 
Chapter IV-I. Mysteries of the Lord 
Chapter IV-II. The Saints
Chapter IV-III. Calendar and Option to Choose an Office or Part of an
2 February 1971
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. 
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.  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.
Christ The Intercessor With The Father
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.”  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;  before he calls
the apostles;  when he blesses God at the multiplication of the loaves;
 when he is transfigured on the mountain;  when he heals the
deaf-mute;  when he raises Lazarus;  before he asks for Peter’s
confession of faith;  when he teaches the disciples how to pray;
when the disciples return from their mission;  when he blesses the
little children;  when he prays for Peter. 
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,  rise very early  or spend the night up to the
fourth watch  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;”  in the temple, which he called a house of prayer;
 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,
 the last supper  and the meal at Emmaus.  He also joined with
the disciples in a hymn of praise. 
To the very end of his life, as his passion was
approaching,  at the last supper,  in the agony in the garden,
 and on the cross,  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. 
Command to Pray
5. Jesus has commanded us to do as he did. On many
occasions he said: “Pray,” “ask,” “seek”
 “in my name.”  He taught us how to pray in what is
known as the Lord’s Prayer.  He taught us that prayer is necessary,
 that it should be humble,  watchful,  persevering, confident
in the Father’s goodness,  single-minded, and in conformity with God’s
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,  through Christ,  offered to God,
 as to its persistence and constancy,  its power to sanctify, 
and on prayer of praise,  thanks,  petition,  and intercession
for all. 
Christ’s Prayer Continued by the Church
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  through whom alone we have access to
God. He unites to himself the whole human community  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 goal.
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  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.” 
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.
Action of the Holy Spirit
8. The unity of the Church at prayer is brought about by
the Holy Spirit, who is the same in Christ,  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.
Community Character of Prayer
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. 
Though prayer in private and in seclusion  is always
necessary and to be encouraged  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”
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. 
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. 
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.” 
Liturgy of the Hours and the Eucharist
12. To the different hours of the day the liturgy of the
hours extends  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.” 
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
Priesthood of Christ in the Liturgy of the Hours
13. In the Holy Spirit Christ carries out through the
Church “the task of redeeming humanity and giving perfect glory to
God,”  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.  There Christ himself is present –
in the gathered community, in the proclamation of God’s word, “in the
prayer and song of the Church.” 
Sanctification of God’s People
14. Our sanctification is accomplished  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
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. 
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. 
Praising God With the Church in Heaven
15. In the liturgy of the hours the Church exercises the
priestly office of its Head and offers to God “without ceasing”
 a sacrifice of praise, that is, a tribute of lips acknowledging his
name.  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.”  “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
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;  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.” 
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.”
 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. 
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.
Petition and Intercession
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.  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  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. 
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;  other sacred ministers, and
also religious. 
18. Those then who take part in the liturgy of the hours
bring growth to God’s people in a hidden but fruitful apostolate,  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.” 
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.” 
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,  can, in
response to our request, give power and increase to what we do,  so
that we may be built up each day in the Spirit into the temple of God,
 to the measure of Christ’s fullness,  and receive greater
strength also to bring the good news of Christ to those outside. 
Harmony of Mind and Voice
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.  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 
they should offer praise and petition to God with the same mind and heart
as the divine Redeemer when he prayed.
Celebration in Common
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.  This liturgy stands
out most strikingly as an ecclesial celebration when, through the bishop
surrounded by his priests and ministers,  the local Church celebrates
it. For “in the local Church the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic
Church is truly present and at work.”  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
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.” 
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. 
23. Those in holy orders or with a special canonical
mission  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.” 
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.  They should teach the people how
to make this participation a source of genuine prayer;  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. 
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.”  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.
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,  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;  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. 
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. 
Mandate to Celebrate the Liturgy of the
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. 
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.  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. 
United as they are with the bishop and the whole
presbyterium, priests are themselves representative in a special way of
Christ the Priest  and so share the same responsibility of praying to
God for the people entrusted to them and indeed for the whole world. 
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.  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,  but must also nourish and foster
pastoral missionary activity as the fruit of their contemplation to
gladden the whole Church of God. 
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. 
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
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. 
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. 
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;  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.  This recommendation applies also to laypersons. 
Structure of the Celebration
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.  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.  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
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.” 
In place of Ps 95, Ps 100, Ps 67, or Ps 24 may be used as
circumstances may suggest.
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
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.” 
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).” 
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.”
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.”  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.”
 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.”  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.”  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 common.
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
The short readings are different for each day of the
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
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
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.” 
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.”  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.” 
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
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.
63. Between the psalmody and the readings there is, as a
rule, a verse, marking a transition in the prayer from psalmody to
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.
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 235).
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 omitted.
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.”  “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.” 
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
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
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 celebration.
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. 
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 meetings.
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
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
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
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
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. 
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 Sundays.
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
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 omitted.
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
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
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
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,”  according to their individual capacity, so that they may
understand how and by what method they can truly pray through the psalms.
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 desires. 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
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.” 
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
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, 
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
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
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
118. Any memorials of the saints that have proper
antiphons retain them (see no. 235).
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
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 responsorially.
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. 
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
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
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 psalter.
135. In all other cases the psalms are taken from the
current week and day of the psalter, unless there are proper antiphons or
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.
Reading of Sacred Scripture in General
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.”  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.
Cycle of Scripture Readings in the Office
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. 
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
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
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
in accordance with tradition, exclusion of the
respect for the special character of Sunday, or even
of Friday, and of the individual hours;
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. 228-239).
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,  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.” 
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,”  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  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
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 repetition.
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.  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 i~ 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,  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.
The Prayers or Intercessions at Morning
and Evening Prayer
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. 
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
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,  in accordance with the norms that
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 dead.
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,  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 recitation.
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 petition.
191. Further, the intentions are phrased as direct
addresses to God and thus are suitable for both common celebration and
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
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 prayer.
196. The Lord’s Prayer is said by all after a brief
introduction, if this seems opportune.
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. 
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.”  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
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 possible.
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.
Other Solemnities and Feasts of the Lord
217. In arranging the office for solemnities and feasts of
the Lord, what is said in nos. 225-233 should be observed, with any
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.  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 II, 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 memorials.
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
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
223. The norms that follow apply to the saints entered in
the General Roman Calendar and to those with a place in particular
224. Where proper parts are not given, they are supplied
from the respective Common of Saints.
1. ARRANGEMENT OF THE OFFICE FOR
225. Solemnities have an evening prayer I on the preceding
226. At evening prayer I and II, 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
230. At night prayer, everything is said as on Sundays,
after evening prayer I and II respectively.
2. ARRANGEMENT OF THE OFFICE FOR FEASTS
231. Feasts have no evening prayer I, 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.
3. ARRANGEMENT OF THE OFFICE FOR MEMORIALS
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.
Memorials During Ordinary Time
235. In the office of readings, at morning prayer, and at
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
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.
Memorials During Privileged Seasons
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 disregarded.
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
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.
Memorials of the Blessed Virgin Mary on
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
Calendar to be Followed
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.  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. 
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
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. 
Option to Choose an Office
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. 234-239).
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
Option to Choose Texts
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
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
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”  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
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.  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
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 permitted.
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
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 people.
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
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
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 Simeon.
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.  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
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
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 recognized.
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 singing.
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
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
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.  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.” 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.” 
276. But it is permissible to sing the various parts in
different languages at one and the same celebration. 
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:
 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. 
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 singing.
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.
See Acts 1:14, 4:24, 12:5 and 12. See also Eph
See Acts 2:1-15.
SC art. 83.
See Lk 3:21-22.
See Lk 6:12.
See Mt 14:19, 15:36; Mk 6:41, 8:7; Lk 9:16; Jn 6:11.
See Lk 9:28-29.
See Mk 7:34.
See Jn 11:41ff.
See Lk 9:18.
See Mt 11:25.ff; Lk 10:21ff.
See Mt 19:13.
See Lk 22:32.
See Mk 1:35, 6:46; Lk 5:16. See also Mt 4:1 and par.;
See Mk 1:35.
See Mt 14:23 and 25; Mk 6:46 and 48.
See Lk 6:12.
See Lk 4:16.
See Mt 21:13 and par.
See Mt 14:19 and par.; Mt 15:36 and par.
See Mt 26:26 and par.
See Lk 24:30.
See Mt 26:30 and par.
See Jn 12:27ff.
See Jn 17:1-26.
See Mt 26:36-44 and par.
See Lk 23:34 and 46; Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34.
See Heb 7:25.
Mt 5:44, 7:7, 26:41; Mk 13:33, 14:38; Lk 6:28, 10:2,
11:9, 22:40 and 46.
Jn 14:13ff., 15:16, 16:23ff. and 26.
See Mt 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4.
See Lk 18:1.
See Lk 18:9-14.
See Lk 21:36; Mk 13:33.
See Lk 11:5-13,18:1-8; Jn 14:13, 16:23.
See Mt 6:5-8, 23:14; Lk 20:47; Jn 4:23.
See Rom 8:15 and 26; 1 Cor 12:3; Gal 4:6; Jude 20.
See 2 Cor 1:20; Col 3:17.
See Heb 13:15.
See Rom 12:12; 1 Cor 7:5; Eph 6:18; Col 4:2; 1 Thes
5:17; 1 Tm 5:5; 1 Pt 4:7.
See 1 Tm 4:5; Jas 5:15ff.; 1 Jn 3:22, 5:14ff.
See Eph 5:19ff.; Heb 13:15; Rv 19:5.
See Col 3:17; Phil 4:6; 1 Thes 5:17; 1 Tm 2:1.
See Rom 8:26; Phil 4:6.
See Rom 15:30; 1 Tm 2:1ff.; Eph 6:18; 1 Thes 5:25; Jas
5:14 and 16.
See 1 Tm 2:5; Heb 8:6, 9:15, 12:24.
See Rom 5:2; Eph 2:18, 3:12.
See SC art. 83.
See LG no. 10.
Augustine, Enarrat. in Ps. 85, 1: CCL 39, 1176.
See Lk 10:21, the occasion when Jesus “rejoiced
in the Holy Spirit and said: ‘I thank you, Father…'”.
See Acts 2:42 Gr.
See Mt 6:6.
See SC art. 12.
See SC art. 83-84.
See SC art. 88.
See SC art. 94.
See PO no. 5.
CD no. 30.
SC art. 5.
See SC art. 83 and 98.
SC art. 7.
See SC art. 10.
SC art. 33.
See SC art. 24.
See SC art. 33.
1 Thes 5:17.
See Heb 13:15.
SC art. 84.
SC art. 85.
See SC art. 83.
LG no. 50; SC art. 8 and 104.
LG no. 48.
See Rom 8:19.
See SC art. 83.
See Heb 5:7.
See PO no. 6.
See LG no. 41.
See no. 24 of this Instruction.
See PC no. 7.
SC art. 10.
SC art. 2.
See Jn 15:5.
See SC art. 86.
See Eph 2:21-22.
See Eph 4:13.
See SC art. 2.
See SC art. 90. Rule of St. Benedict ch. 19.
See PO no. 14; OT no. 8.
See SC art. 26.
See SC art. 41.
CD no. 11.
See art. 42. See also AA no. 10.
See SC art. 26 and 84.
See AG no. 17.
CD no. 15.
See SC art. 100.
See PO no. 5.
See nos. 100-109 of this Instruction.
CD no. 33; see also PC nos. 6, 7, 15; AG no. 15.
See SC art. 99.
See SC art. 100.
See Jn 4:23.
See GE no. 2; AA no. 16.
See AA no. 11.
See PO no. 13.
See SC art. 41; LG no. 21.
See LG no. 26; CD no. 15.
See PO no. 13.
See PO no. 5.
See Jn 10:11, 17:20 and 23.
See SC art. 90.
See LG no. 41.
See DV no. 25; PO no. 13.
See Paul VI, Motu Proprio Sacram Diaconatus Ordinem,
18 June 1967, no. 27.
See SCR, Instr. InterOec no. 78b.
See SC art. 95.
See Acts 4:32.
See SC art. 100.
See SC art. 26, 28-30.
See SC art. 27.
See Heb 3:7-4:16.
SC art. 89a; see also art. 100.
Basil the Great, Regulae fusius tractatae resp.
37, 3: PG 31, 1014.
Cyprian, De oratione dominica 35: PL 4, 561.
Basil the Great, Regulae fusius tractatae resp.
37, 3: PG 31, 1015.
See Ps 141:2.
John Cassian, De institutione coenob. 3, 3: PL
49, 124, 125.
Cyprian, De oratione dominica 35: PL 4, 560.
RP, Ordination of Priests no. 14.
Ambrose, De officiis ministrorum 1, 20, 88: PL
16, 50. See also DV no. 25.
SC art. 89c.
Augustine, Sermo Guelferbytanus 5: PL Suppl 2,
Ibid.: PL Suppl 2, 552.
See SC art. 89.
See SC art. 38.
SC art. 90.
Rule of St. Benedict ch. 19.
See Rule of St. Benedict ch. 19.
See Mt 22:44ff.
See SC art. 91.
SC art. 102.
Gregory the Great, Homilia 34 in Evangelia: PL
See SC art. 38.
Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium 2: PL 50, 640.
Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermo 3 in vigilia
Nativitatis 1: PL 183 (ed. 1879) 94.
See SC art. 92c.
See SC art. 93.
See SC art. 38.
Thus, for example, John Chrysostom, In Epist. ad
Tim 1, Homilia 6: PG 62, 530.
See SC art. 38.
See SC art. 83 and 89.
See no. 256 of this Instruction.
SC art. 30.
See SC art. 100.
See SC art. 111.
See General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the
Calendar no. 52.
See ibid. no. 52c.
See ibid. Table of Liturgical Days nos. 4 and 8.
SC art. 51.
See nos. 100-109 of this Instruction.
SC art. 28.
SCR, Instr. MusSacr, 5 March 1967, no. 37. See also SC
See SC art. 113.
See SC art. 116.
SCR, Instr. MusSacr no. 9. See also SC art. 116.
SCR, Instr. MusSacr no. 41; see also nos. 54-61.
See ibid. no. 51.
See ibid. no. 6.
See ibid. nos. 16a and 38.