As is noted above, the canonical hours stemmed from Jewish prayer. In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelite priests to offer sacrifices of animals in the morning and evening (Exodus 29:38–39). Eventually, these sacrifices moved from the Tabernacle to the Temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem. During the Babylonian Exile, when the Temple was no longer in use, the first synagogues were established, and the services (at fixed hours of the day) of Torah readings, psalms, and hymns began to evolve. This "sacrifice of praise" began to be substituted for the sacrifices of animals.
After the people returned to Judea, the prayer services were incorporated into Temple worship as well. As time passed, the Jews began to be scattered across the Greco-Roman world in what is known as the Diaspora. By the time of the Roman Empire, the Jews (and eventually early Christians) began to follow the Roman system of conducting the business day in scheduling their times for prayer. In Roman cities, the bell in the forum rang the beginning of the business day at about six o'clock in the morning (Prime, the "first hour"), noted the day's progress by striking again at about nine o'clock in the morning (Terce, the "third hour"), tolled for the lunch break at noon (Sext, the "sixth hour"), called the people back to work again at about three o'clock in the afternoon (None, the "ninth hour"), and rang the close of the business day at about six o'clock in the evening (the time for evening prayer).
The narrative of Jesus' crucifixion and death refers to the sixth and ninth hours:
Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice … and breathed His last.
The first miracle of the apostles, the healing of the crippled man on the temple steps, occurred because Peter and John went to the Temple to pray (Acts 3:1). Also, one of the defining moments of the early Church, the decision to include Gentiles among the community of believers, arose from a vision Peter had while praying at noontime (Acts 10:9–49).
As Christianity began to separate from Judaism, the practice of praying at fixed times continued. The early church was known to pray the Psalms (Acts 4:23–30), which have remained the principal part of the canonical hours. By 60 AD, the Didache, the oldest known liturgical manual for Christians, recommended disciples to pray the Lord's Prayer three times a day; this practice found its way into the canonical hours as well. Pliny the Younger (63 – c. 113), who was not a Christian himself, mentions not only fixed times of prayer by believers, but also specific services—other than the Eucharist—assigned to those times: “they met on a stated day before it was light, and addressed a form of prayer to Christ, as to a divinity … after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble, to eat in common a harmless meal.”
By the second and third centuries, such Church Fathers as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Tertullian wrote of the practice of Morning and Evening Prayer, and of the prayers at the third, sixth and ninth hours. The prayers could be prayed individually or in groups.
As the form of fixed-hour prayer developed in the Christian monastic communities in the East and West, the Offices grew both more elaborate and more complex, but the basic cycle of prayer still provided the structure for daily life in monasteries. By the fourth century, the elements of the canonical hours were more or less established. For secular (non-monastic) clergy and lay people, the fixed-hour prayers were by necessity much shorter, though in many churches, the form of the fixed-hour prayers became a hybrid of secular and monastic practice (sometimes referred to as 'cathedral' and 'monastic' models).
In the East, the development of the Divine Services shifted from the area around Jerusalem to Constantinople. In particular, St. Theodore the Studite (c. 758 – c. 826) combined a number of influences from the Byzantine court ritual with monastic practices common in Asia Minor, and added thereto a number of hymns composed by himself and his brother Joseph (see Typicon for further details).
In the West, St. Benedict in his famous Rule modeled his guidelines for the prayers on the customs of the basilicas of Rome. It was he who expounded the concept in Christian prayer of the inseparability of the spiritual life from the physical life. St. Benedict set down the dictum, 'Ora et labora' – 'Pray and work'. The Benedictines began to call the prayers the Opus Dei or "Work of God." The fixed-hour prayers came to be known as the "Divine Office" (office coming from the Latin word for duty).
As the Divine Office grew more important in the life of the Church, the rituals became more elaborate. Praying the Office already required various books, such as a Psalter for the psalms, a lectionary to find the assigned Scripture reading for the day, a Bible to proclaim the reading, a hymnal for singing, etc. As parishes grew in the Middle Ages away from cathedrals and basilicas, a more concise way of arranging the hours was needed. So, a sort of list developed called the breviary, which gave the format of the daily office and the texts to be used. The spread of breviaries eventually reached Rome, where Pope Innocent III extended their use to the Roman Curia. The Franciscans sought a one-volume breviary for their friars to use during travels, so the order adopted the Breviarium Curiae, but substituting the Gallican Psalter for the Roman. The Franciscans gradually spread this breviary throughout Europe. Eventually, Pope Nicholas III adopted the widely used Franciscan breviary to be the breviary used in Rome. By the 14th century, the breviary contained the entire text of the canonical hours.
The Council of Trent, in its final session on 4 December 1563, entrusted the reform of the Breviary to the Pope. On 9 July 1568, Pope Pius V, the successor of the Pope who closed the Council of Trent, promulgated an edition, known as the Roman Breviary, with his Apostolic Constitution Quod a nobis, imposing it in the same way in which, two years later, he imposed his Roman Missal and using language very similar to that in the bull Quo primum with which he promulgated the Missal, regarding, for instance, the perpetual force of its provisions, the obligation to use the promulgated text in all places, and the total prohibition of adding or omitting anything, declaring in fact: "No one whosoever is permitted to alter this letter or heedlessly to venture to go contrary to this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult declaration, will decree and prohibition. Should anyone, however, presume to commit such an act, he should know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul."
Later Popes altered the Roman Breviary of Pope Pius V. Pope Clement VIII made changes that he made obligatory on 10 May 1602, 34 years after Pius V's revision. Pope Urban VIII made further changes, including "a profound alteration in the character of some of the hymns. Although some of them without doubt gained in literary style, nevertheless, to the regret of many, they also lost something of their old charm of simplicity and fervour." For the profound revision of the book by Pope Pius X see Reform of the Roman Breviary by Pope Pius X.
Pope Pius XII also began reforming the Roman Breviary, allowing use of a new translation of the Psalms and establishing a special commission to study a general revision, with a view to which all the Catholic bishops were consulted in 1955. His successor, Pope John XXIII, made a further revision in 1960.
Latin typical editions
Following the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church's Roman Rite simplified the observance of the canonical hours and sought to make them more suited to the needs of today's apostolate and accessible to the laity, hoping to restore their character as the prayer of the entire Church.
The Council itself abolished the office of Prime, and envisioned a manner of distributing the psalms over a period of more than 1 week. In the succeeding revision, the character of Matins was changed to an Office of Readings so that it could be used at any time of the day as an office of Scriptural and hagiographical readings. Furthermore, the period over which the entire Psalter is recited has been expanded from one week to four. Since 1985, with the publication of the second typical edition of the Latin liturgical books, the Latin hymns of the Roman Office were once again restored to their pre-Urban revision.
The Roman breviary is now published under the title Liturgia Horarum. A translation is published by Catholic Book Publishing Corp. under the title The Liturgy of the Hours in four volumes, arranged according to the liturgical seasons of the Church year.Volume I: Advent & Christmastide
Volume II: Lent, the Sacred Triduum & Eastertide
Volume III: Weeks 1 to 17 of the Year
Volume IV: Weeks 18 to 34 of the Year
The current liturgical books for the celebration of the Hours in Latin are those of the editio typica altera (second typical edition) promulgated in 1985. The official title is Officium Divinum, Liturgia Horarum iuxta Ritum Romanum, editio typica altera.
Official English translations
Two English translations are in use.
The Divine Office (non-ICEL) The Divine Office is translated by a commission set up by the Episcopal Conferences of England and Wales, Australia and Ireland. First published in 1974 by HarperCollins, this edition is the official English edition for use the above countries, as well as many Asian and African dioceses. This title comes complete in three volumes:Volume I: Advent, Christmastide & Weeks 1–9 of the Year
Volume II: Lent and Eastertide
Volume III: Weeks of the Year (6–34).
The psalms are taken from the 1963 Grail Psalms, while the Scriptural readings and canticles are taken from various versions of the Bible, including the Revised Standard Version, the Jerusalem Bible, the Knox Bible, the Good News Bible, and the New English Bible.
Collins also publishes shorter editions of The Divine Office:Daily Prayer – comprising the complete Divine Office, except for the Office of Readings
Morning & Evening Prayer – comprising the complete Morning, Evening and Night prayers from the Divine Office
Shorter Morning & Evening Prayer – comprising the Psalter for Morning, Evening and Night prayers and a selection of texts from the liturgical seasons and feasts
Between 2005 and 2006, Collins republished The Divine Office and its various shorter editions with a new cover.
Catholic Truth Society published Prayer During the Day in 2009.
Liturgy of the Hours (ICEL) The Liturgy of the Hours is translated by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). First published in 1975 by Catholic Book Publishing Company in the USA, this edition is the official English edition for use in the USA, Canada and several other English-speaking dioceses. This title comes complete in four volumes in an arrangement identical to the original Latin typical edition.
The psalms are taken mainly from the 1963 Grail Psalms, while the Scriptural readings and canticles are taken from the New American Bible.
Shorter editions of the Liturgy of the Hours are also available from various publishers: Christian Prayer (Daughters of St Paul and Catholic Book Publishing Company), Shorter Christian Prayer (Catholic Book Publishing Company only) and Daytime Prayer (Catholic Book Publishing Company). In 2007, Liturgy Training Publications released the new Mundelein Psalter, which provided the complete Morning, Evening and Night Prayers from ICEL's translation set to chant tones.
Both these editions are based on the Latin 1971 editio typica.
Priests are required by canon law to pray the entire Divine Office each day while permanent deacons are required to pray the morning and evening hours. All clerics are free to use the Liturgy of the Hours or the traditional Roman Breviary, according to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, to fulfill this obligation. The practice among religious communities varies according to their rules and constitutions. The Second Vatican Council also exhorted the Christian laity to take up the practice, and as a result, many lay people have begun reciting portions of the Liturgy of the Hours.
The modern Liturgy of the Hours usage focuses on three major hours and from two to four minor hours:Invitatory (not an hour properly called, but the introduction to the first hour said on the current day, whether it be the Office of Readings or Morning Prayer).
the Office of Readings (formerly Matins), major hour
Morning prayer (Lauds), major hour
Daytime prayer, which can be one or all of
Midmorning prayer (Terce)
Midday prayer (Sext)
Midafternoon prayer (None)
Evening prayer (Vespers), major hour
Night Prayer (Compline)
The major hours consist of the Office of Readings (formerly Matins), Morning (or Lauds) and Evening Prayer (or Vespers).
The Office of Readings consists of:a hymn
one or two long psalms divided into three parts
a long passage from scripture, usually arranged so that in any one week, all the readings come from the same text
a long hagiographical passage, such as an account of a saint's martyrdom, or a theological treatise commenting on some aspect of the scriptural reading, or a passage from the documents of the Second Vatican Council
on nights preceding Sundays and feast days, the office may be expanded to a vigil by inserting three Old Testament canticles and a reading from the gospels
the hymn Te Deum (solemnities, feasts, and Sundays outside of Lent)
the concluding prayer
a short concluding verse
The character of Morning Prayer is that of praise; of Evening Prayer, that of thanksgiving. Both follow the same format:a hymn
two psalms, or one long psalm divided into two parts, and a scriptural canticle (taken from the Old Testament in the morning and the New Testament in the evening)
a short passage from scripture
a responsory, typically a verse of scripture, but sometimes liturgical poetry
a canticle taken from the Gospel of Luke: the Canticle of Zechariah (Benedictus) for morning prayer, and the Canticle of Mary (Magnificat) for evening prayer
the Lord's Prayer
the concluding prayer
a blessing given by the priest or deacon leading Morning or Evening Prayer, or in the absence of clergy and in individual recitation, a short conclusion
The daytime hours follow a simpler format:a hymn
three short psalms, or, three pieces of longer psalms; in the daytime hours the psalmody is taken in large part from psalm 119, the longest in the Psalter
a very short passage of scripture, followed by a responsorial verse
the concluding prayer
a short concluding verse
Night prayer has the character of reflection on the day that is past and preparing the soul for its passage to eternal life:an examination of conscience
one or two psalms
a short reading from scripture
the responsory In manus tuas, Domine (Into Your Hands, Lord)
the Canticle of Simeon, Nunc dimittis, from the Gospel of Luke, framed by the antiphon Protect us, Lord
a concluding prayer
a short concluding blessing
a hymn to Mary, the mother of Jesus
In each office, the psalms and canticle are framed by antiphons, and each concludes with the traditional Catholic doxology.
In addition to the distribution of almost the whole Psalter over a four-week cycle, the Church also provides appropriate hymns, readings, psalms, canticles and antiphons, for use in marking specific celebrations in the Roman Calendar, which sets out the order for the liturgical year. These selections are found in the 'Proper of Seasons' (for Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter), and the 'Proper of Saints' (for feast days of the Saints).
Because the Rite of Constantinople evolved as a synthesis of two distinct rites — cathedral rite of Constantinople called the "asthmatiki akolouthia" ("sung services") and the monastic typicon of the Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified near Jerusalem — its offices are highly developed and quite complex.
Two main strata exist in the rite, those places that have inherited the traditions of the Russian Church which had been given only the monastic Sabbaite typicon which she uses to this day in parishes and cathedrals as well as in monasteries, and everywhere else where some remnant of the cathedral rite remained in use; therefore, the rite as practiced in monasteries everywhere resembles the Russian recension, while non-Russian non-monastic customs differs significantly. For example, in the Russian tradition, the "all-night vigil" is served in every church on Saturday nights and the eves of feast days (all though it may be abridged to be as short as two hours) while elsewhere, it is usual to have matins on the morning of the feast; however, in the latter instance, vespers and matins are rather less abridged but the Divine Liturgy commences at the end of matins and the hours are not read, as was the case in the extinct cathedral rite of Constantinople.
Also, as the rite evolved in sundry places, different customs arose; an essay on some of these has been written by Archbishop Basil Krivoshein and is posted on the web.
The Horologion (῾Ωρολόγιον; Church Slavonic: Chasoslov, Часocлoвъ), or Book of Hours, provides the fixed portions of the Daily Cycle of services (Greek: akolouthies, ἀκολουθίες) as used by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches.
Into this fixed framework, numerous moveable parts of the service are inserted. These are taken from a variety of liturgical books:Psalter (Greek: Ψαλτήρ(ιον), Psalter(ion); Slavonic: Ѱалтырь or Ѱалтирь, Psaltyr' ) A book containing the 150 Psalms divided into 20 sections called Kathismata together with the 9 Biblical canticles which are chanted at Matins; although these canticles had been chanted in their entirety, having over time come to be supplemented by interspersed hymns (analogously to stichera) to form the Canon, the canticles themselves are now only regularly used in a few large monasteries The Psalter also contains the various "selected psalms", each composed of verses from a variety of psalms, sung at matins on feast days, as well as tables for determining which Kathismata are to be read at each service; in addition to the Psalms read at the daily offices, all the Psalms are read each week and, during Great Lent, twice a week.
Octoechos (Greek: Ὀκτώηχος; Slavonic: Октоихъ, Oktoikh or Осмогласникъ, Osmoglasnik)—Literally, the Book of the "Eight Tones" or modes. This book contains a cycle of eight weeks, one for each of the eight echoi (church modes of the Byzantine musical system of eight modes), providing texts for each day of the week for Vespers, Matins, Compline, and (on Sundays) the Midnight Office. The origins of this book go back to compositions by St. John Damascene.
Menaion (Greek: Μηναίον; Slavonic: Минеѧ, Mineya)—A twelve-volume set which provides liturgical texts for each day of the calendar year, printed as 12 volumes, one for each months of the year. Another volume, the General Menaion contains propers for each class of saints for use when the propers for a particular saint are not available. Additionally, locally venerated saints may have services in supplemental volumes, pamphlets, or manuscripts.
Menologion A collection of the lives of the saints and commentaries on the meaning of feasts for each day of the calendar year, also printed as 12 volumes, appointed to be read at the meal in monasteries and, when there is an all-night vigil for a feast day, between vespers and matins.
Triodion (Greek: Τριῴδιον, Triodion; Slavonic: Постнаѧ Трїωдь, Postnaya Triod' ; Romanian: Triodul), also called the Lenten Triodion. The Lenten Triodion contains propers for:
the Pre-Lenten Season
the Forty Days of Great Lent itself
Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday
Pentecostarion (Greek: Πεντηκοστάριον, Pentekostarion; Slavonic: Цвѣтнаѧ Трїωдь, Tsvetnaya Triod' , literally "Flowery Triodon"; Romanian: Penticostar) This volume contains the propers for the period from Pascha to the Sunday of All Saints. This period can be broken down into the following periods:
Bright Week (Easter Week) Commencing with matins on Pascha (Easter Sunday) through the following Saturday
Paschal Season—The period from Thomas Sunday until Ascension
Ascension and its Afterfeast
Pentecost and its Afterfeast
All Saints Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost)
Synaxarion (Greek: Συναξάριον; Romanian: Sinaxar)—The Synaxarion contains for each day of the year brief lives of the saints and meanings of celebrated feasts, appointed to be read after the Kontakion and Oikos at Matins.
Irmologion (Greek: ῾Ειρμολόγιον; Slavonic: Ирмологий, Irmologii)—Contains the Irmoi chanted at the Canon of Matins and other services.
Priest's Service Book (Greek: ῾Ἱερατικόν, Ieratikon; Slavonic: Слѹжебникъ, Sluzhebnik)Contain the portions of the services which are said by the priest and deacon and is given to a deacon and to a priest with his vestments at ordination.
Bishop's Service Book (Greek: Ἀρχιιερατικόν Archieratikon, Slavonic: Чиновникъ, Chinovnik) the portions of the services which are said by the Bishop; for the Canonical Hours, this differs little from what is in the Priest's Service Book.
Gospel Book (Greek: Ευαγγέλιον, Evangelion) Book containing the 4 Gospels laid out as read at the divine services.
Apostle Book (Greek: Απόστολος, Apostolos; Slavonic: Апостолъ, Apostol) Contains the readings for the Divine Liturgy from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles together with the Prokeimenon and Alleluia verses that are chanted with the readings.
Patristic writings Many writings from the Church fathers are prescribed to be read at matins and, during great lent, at the hours; in practice, this is only done in some monasteries and frequently therein the abbot prescribes readings other than those in the written rubrics. therefore it is not customary to enumerate all the volumes required for this.
Collections (Greek: Ανθολόγιον, Anthologion; Slavonic: Сборникъ, Sbornik) There are numerous smaller anthologies available which were quite common before the invention of printing but still are in common use both because of the enormous volume of a full set of liturgical texts and because the full texts have not yet been translated into several languages currently in use.
Typicon (Greek: Τυπικόν, Typikon; Slavonic: Тѵпико́нъ, Typikon or уста́въ, ustav) Contains all of the rules for the performance of the Divine Services, giving directions for every possible combination of the materials from the books mentioned above into the Daily Cycle of Services.
Various cycles of the liturgical year influence the manner in which the materials from the liturgical books (above) are inserted into the daily services:
Each day of the week has its own commemoration:Sunday—Resurrection of Christ
Monday—The Holy Angels
Tuesday—St. John the Forerunner
Wednesday—The Cross and the Theotokos
Thursday—The Holy Apostles and St. Nicholas
Saturday—All Saints and the departed
Most of the texts come from the Octoechos, which has a large collections of hymns for each weekday for each of the eight tones; during great lent and, to a lesser degree, the pre-lenten season, the Lenten Triodion supplements this with hymns for each day of the week for each week of that season, as does the Pentecostarion during the pascal season. Also, there are fixed texts for each day of the week are in the Horologion and Priest's Service Book (e.g., dismissals) and the Kathismata (selections from the Psalter) are governed by the weekly cycle in conjunction with the season.
Commemorations on the Fixed Cycle depend upon the day of the calendar year, and also, occasionally, specific days of the week that fall near specific calendar dates, e.g., the Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross. The texts for this cycle are found in the Menaion.
The commemorations on the Paschal Cycle (Moveable Cycle) depend upon the date of Pascha (Easter). The texts for this cycle are found in the Lenten Triodion, the Pentecostarion, the Octoechos and also, because the daily Epistle and Gospel readings are determined by this cycle, the Gospel Book and Apostle Book. The cycle of the Octoechos continues through the following great lent, so the variable parts of the lenten services are determined by both the preceding year's and the current year's dates of Easter.
8 Week Cycle of the Octoechos
The cycle of the eight Tones is found in the Octoechos and is dependent on the date of Easter and commences with the Sunday after (eighth day of) Easter, that week using the first tone, the next week using the second tone, and so, repeating through the week preceding the subsequent Palm Sunday.
11 Week Cycle of the Matins Gospels
The portions of each of the Gospels from the narration of the Resurrection through the end are divided into eleven readings which are read on successive Sundays at matins; there are hymns sung at Matins that correspond with that day's Matins Gospel.
The Daily Cycle begins with Vespers and proceeds throughout the night and day according to the following table:
The Typica is served whenever the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated at its usual time, i.e., when there is a vesperal Liturgy or no Liturgy at all. On days when the Liturgy may be celebrated at its usual hour, the Typica follows the sixth hour (or matins, where the custom is to serve the Liturgy then) and the Epistle and Gospel readings for the day are read therein; otherwise, on aliturgical days or when the Liturgy is served at vespers, the Typica has a much shorter form and is served between the ninth hour and vespers.
Also, there are Inter-Hours for the First, Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours. These are services of a similar structure to, but briefer than, the hours. their usage varies with local custom, but generally they are used only during the Nativity Fast, Apostles Fast, and Dormition Fast on days when the lenten alleluia replaces "God is the Lord" at matins, which may be done at the discretion of the ecclesiarch when the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated.
In addition to these public prayers, there are also private prayers prescribed for both monastics and laypersons; in some monasteries, however, these are read in church. These include Morning and Evening Prayers and prayers (and, in Russia, canons) to be prayed in preparation for receiving the Eucharist.
The full cycle of services are usually served only in monasteries, cathedrals, and other katholika. In monasteries and parishes of the Russian tradition, the Third and Sixth Hours are read during the Prothesis ( Liturgy of Preparation); otherwise, the Prothesis is served during matins, the final portion of which is omitted, the Liturgy of the Catechumens commencing straightway after the troparion following the Great Doxology.
The Midnight Office is seldom served in parishes churches except at the Paschal Vigil as the essential office wherein the burial shroud is removed from the tomb and carried to the altar.
The sundry Canonical Hours are, in practice, grouped together into aggregates so that there are three major times of prayer a day: Evening, Morning and Midday. The most common groupings are as follows:Evening — Ninth Hour, Vespers, Compline
Morning Watches — Midnight Office, Matins, First Hour
Morning — Third Hour, Sixth Hour, and the Divine Liturgy or Typica
Evening — Great Compline
Morning Watches — Midnight Office, Matins, First Hour
Morning — Third Hour, Sixth Hour, Ninth Hour, Typica, Vespers (sometimes with the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts or, on the Annunciation, the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom)
On the eves before Great Feasts and, in some traditions, on all Sundays, this grouping is used. However, the all-night vigil is usually abridged so as to not last literally "all-night" and may be as short as two hours; on the other hand, on Athos and in the very traditional monastic institutions, that service followed by the hours and Liturgy may last as long as 18 hours.Afternoon — Ninth Hour, Little Vespers, Compline (where it is not read at the commencement of the Vigil)
Early night — Compline (where it is not the custom for it to follow small vespers), Great Vespers, a reading, Matins, First Hour
Evening — Ninth Hour, Vespers, Compline
Morning Watches — Midnight Office, Matins
Morning — First, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hours and the Typica
When the feast is a weekday (or, in the Russian tradition, on any day for Christmas, Theophany), Vespers (with the Liturgy in most instances) is served earlier in the day and so Great Compline functions much as Great vespers does on the vigils of other feast days.Evening — Great Compline (in some traditions) and, if there be an All-Night Vigil, the reading, matins, first hour.
Morning Watches — (unless there be an all-night vigil) midnight office, matins, first hour.
The Alexandrian Rite is observed by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and the Coptic Catholic Church. The cycle of canonical hours is largely monastic, primarily composed of psalm readings. The Coptic equivalent of the Byzantine Horologion is the Agpeya.
Seven canonical hours exist, corresponding largely to the Byzantine order, with an additional "Prayer of the Veil" which is said by Bishops, Priests, and Monks (something like the Byzantine Midnight Office).
The hours are chronologically laid out, each containing a theme corresponding to events in the life of Jesus Christ:"Midnight Praise" (said in the early morning before dawn) commemorates the Second Coming of Christ. It consists of three watches, corresponding to the three stages of Christ's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane ( Matthew 25:1–13 ).
Prime (dawn) is said upon waking in the morning or after the Midnight Praise the previous night. Associated with the Eternity of God, the Incarnation of Christ, and his Resurrection from the dead.
Terce (9 a.m.) commemorates Christ's trial before Pilate, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Sext (noon) commemorates the Passion of Christ.
Terce and Sext are prayed before each Divine Liturgy.
None (3 p.m.) commemorates the death of Christ on the Cross. This hour is also read during fasting days.
Vespers (sunset) commemorates the taking down of Christ from the Cross.
Compline (9 p.m. – before bedtime) commemorates the burial of Christ, the Final Judgment.
Vespers and Compline are both read before the Liturgy during Lent and the Fast of Nineveh.
The Veil is reserved for bishops, priests and monks, as an examination of conscience.
Every one of the Hours follows the same basic outline:Introduction, which includes the Lord’s Prayer
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Psalm 50 (LXX).
An excerpt from the Holy Gospel
Some prayers (Only during Prime and Compline)
Lord Have Mercy is then chanted 41 times (representing the 39 lashes Christ received before the crucifixion, plus one for the spear in His side, plus one for the crown of thorns)
Prayer of "Holy Holy Holy..." and Lord's Prayer
Prayer of Absolution
Prayer of Every Hour
The East Syrian Rite (also known as the Chaldean, Assyrian, or Persian Rite) has historically been used in Syria, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Malabar. The nucleus of the Daily Office is of course the recitation of the Psalter. There are only three regular hours of service (Evening, Midnight, and Morning), with a rarely used Compline. When East Syrian monasteries existed (which is no longer the case) seven hours of prayer were the custom in them, and three hulali (sections) of the Psalter were recited at each service. This would accomplish the unique feat of the common recitation of the entire Psalter each day.
The present arrangement provides for seven hulali at each ferial night service, ten on Sundays, three on "Memorials", and the whole Psalter on Feasts of the Lord. At the evening service there is a selection of from four to seven psalms, varying with the day of the week, and also a Shuraya, or short psalm, with generally a portion of Psalm 118, varying with the day of the fortnight. At the morning service the invariable psalms are 109, 90, 103:1–6, 112, 92, 148, 150, 116. On ferias and "Memorials" Psalm 146 is said after Psalm 148, and on ferias Psalm 1:1–18, comes at the end of the psalms.
The rest of the services consist of prayers, antiphons, litanies, and verses (giyura) inserted—like the Greek stichera, but more extensively—between verses of psalms. On Sundays the Gloria in Excelsis and Benedicte are said instead of Psalm 146. Both morning and evening services end with several prayers, a blessing, (Khuthama, "Sealing" ), the kiss of peace, and the Creed.
The variables, besides the psalms, are those of the feast or day, which are very few, and those of the day of the fortnight. These fortnights consist of weeks called "Before" (Qdham) and "After" (Wathar), according to which of the two choirs begins the service. Hence the book of the Divine Office is called Qdham u wathar, or at full length Kthawa daqdham wadhwathar, the "Book of Before and After".
The East Syrian liturgical Calendar is unique. The year is divided into periods of about seven weeks each, called Shawu'i; these are Advent (called Subara, "Annunciation"), Epiphany, Lent, Easter, the Apostles, Summer, "Elias and the Cross", "Moses", and the "Dedication" (Qudash idta). "Moses" and the "Dedication" have only four weeks each. The Sundays are generally named after the Shawu'a in which they occur, "Fourth Sunday of Epiphany", "Second Sunday of the Annunciation ", etc., though sometimes the name changes in the middle of a Shawu'a. Most of the "Memorials" (dukhrani), or saints' days, which have special lections, occur on the Fridays between Christmas and Lent, and are therefore movable feasts; but some, such as Christmas, Theophany, the Dormition, and about thirty smaller days without proper readings, are on fixed days.
There are four shorter fasting periods besides the Great Lent; these are:the Fast of Mar Zaya (three days after the second Sunday of the Nativity)
the Fast of the Virgins (after the first Sunday of the Epiphany)
the Fast of the Ninevites (seventy days before Easter)
the Fast of Mart Mariam (Our Lady) (from the first to the fourteenth of August)
The Fast of the Ninevites commemorates the repentance of Nineveh at the preaching of Jonas, and is carefully kept. Those of Mar Zaya and the Virgins are nearly obsolete. The Malabar Rite has largely adopted the Roman Calendar, and several Roman days have been added to that of the Chaldean Catholics. The Chaldean Easter coincides with that of the Eastern Orthodox Church, as the Julian Calendar is used to calculate Easter. The years are numbered, not from the birth of Christ, but from the Seleucid era (year 1 = 311 B.C.).
The West Syrian Rite, used in Syria by the Syriac Orthodox (Jacobites) and Catholic Syrians is in its origin simply the old rite of Antioch in the Syriac language. The translation must have been made very early, evidently before the division in the church over Chalcedon, before the influence of Constantinople over the Antiochian Rite had begun. No doubt as soon as Christian communities arose in the rural areas of Syria the prayers which in the cities (Antioch, Jerusalem, etc.) were said in Greek, were, as a matter of course, translated into Syriac for common use.
In accordance with Psalm 119:164, “Seven times in the day have I praised Thee for Thy judgments, O Righteous One,” the Syriac Orthodox Church observes seven services of prayer each day:Evening or Ramsho prayer (Vespers)
Drawing of the Veil or Sootoro, meaning "Protection", from Psalm 91, which is sung at this prayer, "He who sits under the protection of the Most High" (Compline)
Midnight or Lilyo prayer (Matins)
Morning or Saphro prayer (Prime, 6 a.m.)
Third Hour or Tloth sho`in prayer (Terce, 9 a.m.)
Sixth Hour or Sheth sho`in prayer (Sext, noon)
Ninth Hour or Tsha` sho`in prayer (None, 3 p.m.)
The Midnight prayer (Matins) consists of three qawme or "watches" (literally "standings"). As in other traditional rites, the ecclesiastical day begins in the evening at sunset with Vespers (Ramsho). Today, even in monasteries, the services are grouped together: Vespers and Compline are said together; Matins and Prime are said together; and the Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours are said together; resulting in three times of prayer each day.
The Syriac Orthodox Book of Hours is called the Shhimo, "simple prayer." The shhimo has offices for the canonical hours for each day of the week. Each canonical office begins and ends with a qawmo, a set of prayers that includes the Lord's Prayer. At the end of the office, the Nicene Creed is recited. The great part of the office consists of lengthy liturgical poems composed for the purpose, similar to the Byzantine odes.
The Daily Services in the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church are made up of nine services. The daily cycle of prayer begins with the Night Service, according to the ancient belief that a new day begins at nightfall.
The Night Service (midnight) Dedicated to the praising of God the Father. Themes of the service are: thanksgiving to God for the blessing of sleep and asking that the remainder of the night pass in peace and tranquility, and that the next day be spent in purity and righteousness.
The Morning Service (dawn) Dedicated to the praising of God the Son. Symbolizes the Resurrection of Christ and his appearance to the Myrrh-bearing Women.
The Sunrise Service (6:00 a.m.) Dedicated to the praising of the Holy Spirit. Symbolizes the appearance to Christ to the disciples after the Resurrection.
The Third Hour (9:00 a.m.) Dedicated to the Holy Spirit. Symbolizes Eve’s original tasting the forbidden fruit and eventual liberation from condemnation through Jesus Christ. The service has a profound penitential meaning.
The Sixth Hour (noon) Dedicated to God the Father. Symbolizes Christ’s Crucifixion. The prayers at the service ask for God’s help towards feeble human nature.
The Ninth Hour (3:00 p.m.) Dedicated to God the Son. Symbolizes Christ’s death and liberation of humanity from the power of the Hell.
The Evening Service (before sunset) Dedicated to God the Son. Symbolizes Christ’s burial, asks God for a quiet night and a peaceful sleep.
The Peace Service (after sunset) Dedicated to the Holy Spirit. Symbolizes Christ’s descent into Hell and liberation of the righteous from torments.
The Rest Service (before retiring for sleep) Dedicated to God the Father. In early times it was the continuation of the Peace Service.
In ancient times all nine services were offered every day, especially in monasteries. At present the following services are conducted in churches daily for the majority of the year:In the morning: Night and Morning Services together
In the evening: Evening Service
During Great Lent, all of the services are offered on weekdays (except Saturday and Sunday) according to the following schedule:In the morning: Night, Morning and Sunrise Services
In the afternoon: Third, Sixth, Ninth Hours
In the evening:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: Peace Service
Wednesday, Friday: Rest Service
Saturday, Sunday: Evening Service
The book which contains the hymns which constitute the substance of the musical system of Armenian liturgical chant is the Sharagnots (see Armenian Octoechos), a collection of hymns known as Sharakan. Originally, these hymns were Psalms and biblical Canticles that were chanted during the services, similar to the Byzantine Canon. In addition, the eight modes are applied to the psalms of the Night office, called ganonaklookh (Canon head).
The Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1549 and revised down the centuries, constitutes the basis of the liturgy for Anglicans and Anglican Use Roman Catholics. All Anglican prayer books provide offices for Morning Prayer (often called Mattins or Matins) and Evening Prayer (colloquially known as Evensong).
Since the early 20th century, revised editions of the Book of Common Prayer or supplemental service books published by Anglican churches have often added offices for midday prayer and Compline. The Book of Common Prayer (1928) of the Episcopal Church in the USA also restored the office of Prime, although it has not appeared in later revisions. In England and other Anglican provinces, service books now include four offices:Morning Prayer, corresponding to Matins and Lauds.
Prayer During the Day, conflating the lesser hours of Terce, Sext, and None.
Evening Prayer, corresponding to Vespers.
Night Prayer, or Compline.
Some prayer books also include a selection of prayers and devotions specifically for family use. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. also provides an "Order of Worship for the Evening" as a prelude to Evensong with blessings for the lighting of candles and the singing of the ancient Greek lamp-lighting hymn, the Phos Hilaron. In the Church of England, the publication in 2005 of Daily Prayer, the third volume of Common Worship, adds "Prayer During the Day" to the services for Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline, and adds a selection of antiphons and responsories for the seasons of the Church Year. The 1989 New Zealand Prayer Book provides different outlines for Mattins and Evensong on each day of the week, as well as "Midday Prayer," "Night Prayer," and "Family Prayer."
In 1995, the Episcopal Church (United States) published the Contemporary Office Book in one volume with the complete psalter and all readings from the two-year Daily Office lectionary.
The traditional structure of Matins and Evensong in most Anglican prayer books reflects the intention by the reforming Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, to return to the office's older roots as the daily prayer of parish churches. For this purpose, he eliminated the lesser hours and conflated the medieval offices of Matins and Lauds, incorporating the canticles associated with each: the Benedictus and Te Deum. Similarly, Evening Prayer incorporated both the Magnificat from Vespers and the Nunc Dimittis from Compline. In Cranmer's design, each canticle was preceded by a reading from scripture. This parallelism of two readings, each followed by a canticle, is a distinctive feature of the Anglican daily office. For the sake of simplicity, Cranmer also eliminated responsories and antiphons, although these have been restored in many contemporary Anglican prayer books.
Like many other Reformers, Cranmer sought to restore the daily reading or singing of psalms as the heart of Christian daily prayer. Since his time, every edition of the Book of Common Prayer has included the complete psalter, usually arranged to be read over the course of a month. One distinctive contribution of Anglican worship is a broad repertory of Anglican Chant settings for the psalms and canticles.
The daily offices have always had an important place in Anglican spirituality. Until comparatively recently Mattins and Evensong were the principal Sunday services in most Anglican churches, sung to settings by composers both ancient and modern.
While Evensong with its musical repertory spanning five centuries continues to play an important role in Anglican worship, the eucharist has replaced Morning Prayer as the principal service on Sunday mornings in most Anglican parishes and cathedrals.
Most Anglican monastic communities use a Daily Office based on the Book of Common Prayer or on Common Worship but with additional antiphons and devotions. The Order of the Holy Cross and Order of St. Helena published A Monastic Breviary (Wilton, Conn.: Morehouse-Barlow) in 1976. The Order of St. Helena published the St. Helena Breviary (New York: Church Publishing) in 2006 with a revised psalter eliminating male pronouns in reference to God. The All Saints Sisters of the Poor also use an elaborated version of the Anglican Daily Office. The Society of St. Francis publishes Celebrating Common Prayer, which has become especially popular for use among Anglicans.
Some Anglo-Catholics use the Anglican Breviary, an adaptation of the Pre-Vatican II Roman Rite and the Sarum Rite in the style of Cranmer's original Book of Common Prayer, along with supplemental material from other western sources, including a common of Octaves, a common of Holy Women, and other material. It provides for the eight historical offices in one volume, but does not include the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was bound along with many editions of the Breviarium Romanum. Other Anglo-Catholics use the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours (U.S.) or Divine Office (U.K.). Various Anglican adaptations of pre-Vatican II Roman office-books have appeared over the years, among the best known being Canon W. Douglas' translation of the 'Monastic Diurnal' into the idiom of the 'Book of Common Prayer'. Former Anglicans worshiping in Roman Catholic parishes of the Pastoral Provision and the Personal Ordinariates maintain the Anglican flavor of the Daily Office using the Book of Divine Worship, an adaptation of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer approved for Anglican Use Catholics in 2003.
Historically, Anglican clergy have vested in cassock, surplice and tippet for Morning and Evening Prayer, while bishops wear the rochet and chimere. In some monastic communities and Anglo-Catholic parishes, the officiant wears surplice or alb, stole and cope when Evensong is celebrated solemnly.
The canons of the Church of England and some other Anglican provinces require clergy to read Morning and Evening Prayer daily, either in public worship or privately. According to Canon C.24, "Every priest having a cure of souls shall provide that, in the absence of reasonable hindrance, Morning and Evening Prayer daily and on appointed days the Litany shall be said in the church, or one of the churches, of which he is the minister." Canon C.26 stipulates that "Every clerk (cleric) in Holy Orders is under obligation, not being let (prevented) by sickness or some other urgent cause, to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer...." In other Anglican provinces, the Daily Office is not a canonical obligation but is strongly encouraged.
F.W. Macdonald, the biographer of The Rt. Rev. John Fletcher Hurst, stated that Oxford Methodism "with its almost monastic rigors, its living by rule, its canonical hours of prayer, is a fair and noble phase of the many-sided life of the Church of England". The traditional 1784 Methodist Daily Office is contained in the The Sunday Service of the Methodists, which was written by John Wesley himself. It was consequently updated in the Book of Offices, published in 1936 in Great Britain, and The United Methodist Book of Worship, published in 1992 in the United States. Some Methodist religious orders publish the Daily Office to be used for that community, for example, The Book of Offices and Services of The Order of Saint Luke contains Morning, Mid-Morning, Noon, Mid-Afternoon, Evening, Compline and Vigil.
The Liberal Catholic Church, and many groups in the Liberal Catholic movement, also use a simple version of the Western canonical hours, said with various scripture reading and collects. According to the Liturgy of the Liberal Catholic Church, the Scriptures used are generally limited to the readings of the day, and the complete psalter is not incorporated unless at the discretion of the priest presiding, if as a public service, or of the devotee in private use. The Hours of the Liberal Rite consist of: Lauds, Prime, Sext, Vespers, and Complin. Its recitation is not obligatory on Liberal Catholic priests or faithful, according to current directs from the General Episcopal Synod.
A pew edition of the Hours was published in 2002 by St. Alban's Press. However, the Liturgy of the Liberal Catholic Church also includes the Hours for recitation.
Some Reformed churches—notably the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ—have published daily office books adapted from the ancient structure of morning and evening prayer in the Western church, usually revised for the purpose of inclusive language.
The New Century Psalter, published in 1999 by The Pilgrim Press, includes an inclusive-language revision of the psalms adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible with refrains and complete orders for Morning and Evening Prayer. Simple family prayers for morning, evening and the close of day are also provided.
Book of Common Worship Daily Prayer, published in 1994 by Westminster John Knox Press, includes the daily offices from The Book of Common Worship of 1993, the liturgy of the Presbyterian Church USA. In addition to Morning and Evening Prayer there is a complete service for Compline. Its psalter—an inclusive-language revision of the psalter from the 1979 American Book of Common Prayer—also includes a collect for each psalm. Antiphons and litanies are provided for the seasons of the church year.
Both books are intended for ecumenical use and can be used with any daily lectionary.
Lutheran worship books usually include orders for Morning and Evening Prayer as well as Compline. Liturgies published by immigrant Lutheran communities in North America were based at first on the Book of Common Prayer. In recent years, under the impact of the liturgical movement, Lutheran churches have restored the historic form of the Western office. Both Evangelical Lutheran Worship published by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada as well as the Lutheran Service Book of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod provide daily offices along with a complete psalter.