Vatican II: A Walk-Through - Divine Office
The following are the main changes introduced by the Council in the signing or
recitation of the Divine Office.
- The sequence of the "hours" of the Office is to be restored to its traditional form, so
that each hour is in fact related to the time of day at which it is said; in this way the recitation
of the Office will better express its purpose, to sanctify the whole course of the day.
- The hour of Lauds represents the morning prayer of the Church; while Vespers is the hour of evening prayer. These two hours are to become once again the principal hours of the day's Office. Compline is to be revised so that it will become a suitable prayer for the end of the day.
- The hour of Prime is suppressed. When the office is recited in choir, the three "little
hours" of Terce, Sext and None are to be said. Those who are not obliged to recite the
Office in choir may select any one of these three hours, according to the time of day.
- When recited in choir, the hour of Matins is to be regarded as the night prayer of the
Church; but this hour is to be reconstructed with longer scriptural and other readings and
fewer psalms, and adapted so that it may be recited at any time of the day.
- The Latin language remains the official language of the Western Church; but in individual
cases, where Latin is an obstacle, bishops and other superiors may authorize the recitation
of the Office in the vernacular. This is because the Divine Office is, first and foremost,
a prayer offered to God.
The Council has recognized that, in some cases, the use of the Latin tongue can be a hindrance
of devotion and can make it difficult for a person to pray the Office as it should be prayed.
Next: The Liturgical Year
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