THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS
The site linked above is a splendid directory of online LOTH resources.
Here's my summary: The Liturgy of the Hours, which is sometimes called the “Divine Office” or “Breviary,” is — after the Holy Mass — the greatest prayer of the Church. It is prayed by priests, religious, and some lay people. The Church encourages us all to pray this beautiful prayer, as a sign of unity and to enrich our daily prayer life with the treasure of centuries of Christians, most notably early monastics like St. Benedict. One may even pray constantly by organizing her day around the hours.
The Liturgy of the Hours consists of seven “offices,” generally prayed every three hours: The Office of Readings (usually before Morning Prayer), Morning Prayer (at 6), Midmorning Prayer (at 9), Midday Prayer (at noon), Midafternoon Prayer (at 3), Evening Prayer (at 6), and Night Prayer (at 9). The “major” offices are generally held to be Morning and Evening Prayer, but one can benefit from praying whatever offices suit her schedule. In general, each hour consists of a hymn, three psalms/canticles with antiphons, short New Testament readings, and other prayers. The Office of Readings consists of the hymn and psalms, along with a reading from the Scriptures and one from the writings of the early Church Fathers, saints, Vatican II, etc.
There is a great free Website with excerpts from the LOTH (though in a different translation than the approved set): www.universalis.com.
There are three main publications of the LOTH: the complete four-volume set — used one volume at a time ($145 delivered from Amazon), Christian Prayer ($26), and Shorter Christian Prayer ($14, with the four-week Psalter and Morning and Evening prayer). The four-volume set comes with several useful reference cards and the publisher also sells a very helpful annual guide inexpensively.
For further information, visit:
- www.liturgyofthehours.org (great “frequently asked questions” about the LOTH and a guide to the books)
- www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/breviary.htm (a nice summary of the history and use of the LOTH)
- www.osb.org/sva/obl/pdf/LoHFAQ.pdf (a short Benedictine booklet that describes the history, format, use, etc. of the LOTH).