Divine Office

The Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) is currently on-hold due to the pandemic.

We begin the Divine Office, also known as the Liturgy of the Hours, with the Office of Readings at 7:25 am. Morning Prayer, or Laudes, follows afterward.

The Divine Office at St. Raymond goes as follows:

  • Opening versicle (Lord, Open my Lips. And my mouth shall declare your praise.)
  • Invitatory – an opening psalm, usually Psalm 95.
  • A hymn
  • One or two psalms recited in 3-parts
  • A reading from Scripture.
  • A short responsorial
  • A hagiographical passage or theological treatise written by or about a saint.
  • A short responsorial
  • If a Sunday, feast or solmenity, the Te Deum is sung.
  • The Office of Readings ends and Morning Prayer begins with a psalm, an old testiment caticle, and another pslam.
  • A short passage from scripture.
  • A short responsorial
  • The Benedictus (Canticle of Zachariah)
  • Intercessions
  • The Our Father
  • Concluding Prayer
  • Blessing (if a deacon or priest is present)

The Divine Office is a way of prayer that sets aside various times (or “hours”) throughout the day—morning, noon, evening, and night—so that the entire day can be made holy. It is a public liturgy of the Church that is a fundamental element of Dominican life and the lives of bishops, priests, and deacons and, indeed, all religious orders. However, it is meant to be shared by all the baptized who are able, so that the whole Body of Christ is at prayer ceaselessly throughout the day.

Each “hour”—don’t worry, it doesn’t take an hour!—includes Psalms, Bible readings, hymns, and prayers. All 150 Psalms are sung over the course of a four-week cycle. The historical roots of the Divine Office are found in Jewish prayer customs dating back to the Babylonian Exile (6th century B.C.). Deprived of the temple, the Jewish people—our elder brothers and sisters in faith—gathered in synagogues to read the Torah, chant Psalms, and sing hymns of praise.

The practice of praying in cycle with the sun, the moon, and the seasons is portrayed in the Psalms. “Evening and morning, and at noon I will speak and declare and he shall hear my voice” (55:17). “I rose at midnight to give praise to thee” (119:62). “Seven times a day I have given praise to thee, for the judgments of thy justice” (119:64).

Jesus himself prayed to the Father often and fervently, in public and in private, giving praise and thanks, as well as petitions. He also prayed at appointed hours. 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 in prayer to God (General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours 1:4).

After the Resurrection, the early Church continued to gather together to pray. The book of Acts frequently portrays the early Christians praying at appointed hours. “Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour” (3:1). “The prince of the apostles went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour” (10:9). “And at midnight, Paul and Silas, praying, praised God” (Acts 16:25). Christians soon added Bible readings and canticles to the community prayer. The general structure of the Office was well established by the fourth century, and the modern form, while less complex, is, in essence, the same as that of the ninth century.

The Liturgy of the Hours is for everyone. The Church encourages the laity to pray the Office in parish groups. Families frequently discover that praying the Office at home offers not only structure and tradition, but ample opportunity for extemporaneous and intercessory prayer.

Please join us for prayer in the morning at St. Raymond’s or consider praying Morning Prayer at home!