Thursday, May 28, 2009

Learning the Office part XIVB: Singing the Office continued

I want to continue, in this part (if you've just found this series, start at Part I, to be found n the righthand side bar) to say something about singing the Office, and I'm going to do this by working through the various types of chant you will find in the Office.

I can't, of course, in one part, teach you how to sing the office. But I can give you some pointers to resources to help you, and provide a bit of a guide through as you attempt to work it out for yourself. The key text is of course the Antiphonale Monasticum, a page of which (for Sunday Vespers) is pictured above - click on the picture to see a larger version of it.

How music reflects the solemnity of the Office

One of the reasons it is important to tackle the music of the Office is that music is used, amongst other things, to indicate the degree of solemnity of the particular hour and day. For example:
  • for many basic chants, such as the introductory 'Deus in adjutorium' there are different versions to use at the little hours (the simple tone), and a 'solemn tone' to use at Lauds and Vespers;
  • the tone for standard hymns (at the minor hours) can differ between Sundays and weekdays, for different classes of feasts, and in particular seasons and feasts; and
  • there are lots of beautiful settings of the concluding 'Benedicamus Domino...Deo Gratias' that vary depending on the type and level of feast, hour and season.
Start recto tono

I said in the last part that it is always an option to sing everything on one note - called recto tono. My suggestion is to stat by doing just that - it will get you singing the Latin aloud and getting familiar with how it sounds. And that will help you immensely when you come to sing to the proper tones.

There are basically two methods of singing the psalms. The first is to follow speech rhythm, lengthening the accented syllables of the words (either the first syllable or the one marked). The second is to make all syllables the same length, slightly lengthening the last two syllables of each half of the verse. The first method allows you to put more meaning into the text - but the second is a lot simpler and particularly useful in keeping together large groups of singers, so is often used in monasteries.

Build up gradually

My second suggestion is, build up gradually. Pick a little section to add each week. There are many variants to the Office chants - ignore these at first and stick to it until you know it really well without worrying to much about whether it is the correct tone for the day or season at first. Then, once you are comfortable with it, add the next variant or element to your repertoire.

And start with the simpler types of chant in the Office. The main types of chant in the Office, in increasing degree of elaborateness, are:
  • the common tones used for things like the Deus in adjutorium.., versicles and so forth, which often aren't much more than a few variations on one note. They generally come in two or more variants, a simple tone for the little hours, and a solemn tone for Lauds and Vespers;
  • the set patterns - called psalm tones - used for the psalms and canticles. I'll say more about these below;
  • the antiphons, which are typically very short, and often use the same tunes or phrases over and over, but can be quite elaborate;
  • the hymns;

  • more elaborate chants, often for feasts, such as the 'prolix responsories' that are an option for First Vespers of major feasts.
You might want to skip down this list a little and say add a few hymns in fairly early on, but in general, I'd suggest starting at the top of this list, and working down it.

The Liber Usualis and Roman Office chant books

One way of starting off is to start off by working from the Liber Usualis, which contains most of the chants for the Mass, and a lot of the chants for the (Roman) Office, particularly the common tones. It is available online, contains instructions on how to sing the psalms, and is rather easier to follow in places to the Antiphonale, so a good place to begin. As well as setting out most of the chants for the (Roman) Sunday day Office (which is very similar to the Benedictine, but remember to skip the extra psalm!), as well as the antiphons for most major feasts, the Liber also has the proper antiphon for the Magnificat in with the Mass propers for each week (though for the Roman Office, they are normally pretty much the same as the Benedictine ones).

There are some minor differences in the chants between the Roman Office and the Benedictine - but a lot of them, I suspect, reflect nothing other than the state of the monastery of Solesmes' views at the date the various books were published (in general, Benedictine chant is the source for Roman chant!). In any case, if you start off by working from the Liber, you can always correct to the Monastic version once you feel more confident of the chant and have acquired the Monastic Antiphonary.

I won't attempt to give page references, you really need to sit down and look through the section starting 'The Ordinary Chants of the Office', and looking through the Offices provided for Sunday for yourself. Be careful though - though the chant tones are often the same, or differ only in minor ways, the Offices themselves are do have significant differences, so watch out for those as you work your way through it.

The psalms and antiphons

The psalms are of course the core of the Office. Essentially, the psalms are normally sung to one of eight set patterns. Which pattern or 'psalm tone' is to be used depends on the antiphon. If you look at the page from the Antiphonale above, for example, you will see it says 'VIIc2' on the line above the antiphon. The VII means psalm tone 7, and the 'c2' refers to the particular ending to be used (there is usually a choice of several) in this case. And in fact if you look down three lines of chants you will see a few notes with 'euouae' underneath them - this is the abbreviation for 'Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen', and shows you how those words fits against ending c2 in case you have forgotten which one it is!

A useful resource to get a flavour of the various psalm tones can be found in the sidebar of the chant blog. The examples given on the MP3s are, I think, all in English, but it will still give you the basic idea. Note that there are some minor variants in the ending labels etc between the Antiphonale and the Liber, plus a few extra purely monastic psalm tones, so if you switch from one to the other, watch out for these!

In order to sing using the psalm tones of course you need to know which tone to use (which tees off the antiphon) and then when to change from the reciting note to the midpoint and ending patterns in the verse. The Liber uses italics and bolding to 'point' the psalms to tell you when to change note so is a very useful resource. It points most of the psalms for Sunday Vespers, and a few others - you will find a lot more of the ones needed for the monastic office in the book I noted yesterday for Vespers and Compline (and the publication details can also be found by following the link in the sidebar under Office books available via Amazon - although 'available' might be too strong a word in reality - as they are mostly out of print, you will probably need to search out other sources for them!).

In terms of learning the psalm tones, I would strongly suggest learning them one at a time, then adding relevant psalms (or perhaps the Magnificat on Sunday in the simple tone version) in that tone into your Office. Start with the easiest, tone 8, then 5, then 2. Tones 3, 4 and 7 are the hardest.

Good luck!

Part XIVA: Singing the Office - Overview

It is important to realise that the Benedictine Office is intended to be sung, not said! Firstly the psalms, the core of the Office are songs. And the hymns set for each hour were of course composed with a view to being sung. Secondly, you will find that singing it gives you a quite different experience of the Office, and is far more conducive to contemplation.

So I want now to focus on learning to sing the Office. This part is a bit of an overview. Then next part will go through some more specific strategies to actually tackle the task, including saying a bit about the different types of chant used in the Office.

Singing is the Benedictine tradition

Private recitation is a much later tradition invented by other religious orders; by contrast many Benedictine communities (used to) pride themselves on the maintenance of the choral office without a break across decades or even centuries.

'Singing' the Office doesn't necessarily mean anything elaborate - virtually every traditional monastery sings at least some of the hours most days 'recto tono', at least for the psalms.

But in the Office, the musical settings are used to indicate the level of the feast, the season, the importance of the particular hour and much more. The different chant tones used help add variety to the Office, which is important given the repetitiousness of the cycle of psalms, and also help give a subtlely different flavour and perhaps interpretation to to the texts set for each day.

In order to sing the Office you need to....

There are basically three requisites for singing the Office which I'll talk a little more about below:
  • being able to sing - St Benedict of course specifies that only those whose voices are edifying should sing in choir. But in the privacy of your own home, if you croak like a frog, only God will know, and will perhaps appreciate you making the effort in any case...;
  • being able to read chant 'square notation' - this is actually much easier than conventional modern musical notation to learn, and there are some good resources around to help you on this which I'll point to below;
  • access to the chant books. There is actually a fair amount of chant available online that you can use to at least get yourself started. I'll say a little about the books to buy below.
Being able to sing - listen first!

To be able to sing chant, you need to be able to sing. I'm personally in the camp that claims that even the most tone deaf person can actually to be taught to sing with a bit of work. Because most people are not really deaf - they just don't know how to reproduce what they hear. And that's mostly because they have never been taught to really listen properly.

And since listening is a very Benedictine virtue, it is a good one to learn! If you fear you might be in this category (and even if you aren't), record yourself to check how you are going. Even monks in some of the traditional monasteries regularly do this as a cross-check on themselves, as we often hear what we want to , not what we are really doing! The key point is to know what you are aiming at sound-wise, and keep testing how far off you are from achieving it.

So one of the the best ways to learn to sing the Office is to listen to examples of it being sung over and over again until you have it in your head and can imitate it. I've posted a few youtube and other chant links as we've gone along in this series, and I'll point you to a few more in the next part of this series.

But google key texts to see what you can find on the net, and look out for CDs. One of the most useful starting points in terms of CD's is Solesmes' recording of Sunday Vespers and Compline - it is a slightly novus ordoized version of the Office, and the (Latin) psalm translation is a different one to that used in the Diurnal, but it is still an excellent reference point. I've put an Amazon link in the sidebar to it in case you are interested in listening to some of it (and if you order it via the link, Amazon rewards me a little too for all my hard work!).

Be aware though that there are some very different singing styles around (and I'll talk a little more on that in the next part) - personally I prefer the more robust sound of the Norcia monks for example, to Solesmes, but it is all a matter of personal taste.

Reading square notation

In terms of learning to read chant notation, particularly if you can already read conventional notation, a useful starting point is The Idiot's Guide to Square Notes by Oost-Zinner and Tucker. If you don't find that's enough, there are a number of books around aimed at teaching it more systematically, often accompanied by CDs. Readers might be able to recommend one or other of them!

The chant books

The basic book you need for the day hours is the Antiphonale Monasticum. Make sure you buy the 1934 edition with updates through the 1950s if possible (so you have later feasts) - do not buy the most recent Solesmes edition of this book (which comes in three parts) as the texts do not match those in the Diurnal. You can either buy it new through the Monastery of Le Barroux and other places, or secondhand.

There are however, a few supplementary books that are worth thinking about, and a few other possible starting places. As the name suggests, the Antiphonale contains all of the antiphons, along with the tones for the hymns and the other chants used in the Office. However, it doesn't write out all the variants for the psalms and hymns in full, and that makes for hard work and lots of mistakes at first.

So to make it easier for yourself, two books are particularly helpful to acquire if you can:
  • the Liber Hymnarius published by Solesmes often sets all of the verses of a hymn to the music, making things a lot easier than being presented with one verse set to the music and the rest to work out how it fits for yourself. It also contains a lot of the music for Matins if you eventually decide to add that hour to your regime (or do it occasionally on special occasions) so it is useful to have. Be warned though, it is a bit frustrating, and isn't cheap. It doesn't always write out all the verses for key hymns, and some of the hymns have been changed or dropped altogether in line with Solesmes' later revisions of the Office;
  • Psalmi Vespertini ad Antiphonale Monasticum...put out by St Meinrad's (available secondhand only) is a truly invaluable publication to have. It writes out all of the psalms, plus the Magnificat, used in Vespers throughout the week and year and against the psalm tone to be used. It also covers Compline.
The other useful text - particularly since you can download it for free - is the Liber Usualis, which I'll talk a little more abut in the next part, since it can provide a useful starting point for learning the chants of the Office.

The key point on singing is that, just like learning the Office itself, or learning to say the Latin, you need to start slowly and build up as you become more confident. So by all means start off singing it all just on one note. I'll talk a bit about how to built up from that in the next part.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Learning the Office Part XIII: Tackling the Latin!

The first part of this series can be found here.

I want to talk in this part about using Latin in the Office. Although the Diurnal provides an English translation of the Office, and that translation may have been used liturgically in some communities, it is really the Latin that is ecclesiastically approved for liturgical purposes. And there are lots of good reasons for saying it in Latin - not the least of which is, if you are saying a traditional Office, you probably want to say it in the language it has traditionally been said in.

Learning to say the Office in Latin is not hard, and doesn't mean sacrificing understanding if you tackle it right.

I'll talk a little bit about getting the pronunciation right, or at least point to some resources to help on that. But I really want to focus here on actually understanding the Latin from the point of view of those who are not classical scholars.  Note that I'm not a linguist or language teacher, so these are just my ideas that may or may not work for you.

The three attentions

On an email list I was once a member of, a monk said that when they were novices they were taught about a hierarchy of 'attentions', which I've adapted a little here:

(1) Attention to the WORDS -- getting the rubrics right, so that we say the correct texts at the correct time; using the appropriate body postures; and saying or singing the words correctly;

(2) Attention to the SENSE -- focusing on the "what " we were saying, the translation of the words;

(3) Attention on GOD -- not worrying about words or sense but simply praying before the Divine Majesty.

The third is the most important. But it is by working on the first two attentions that our attention on God increases, as we penetrate ever more deeply into the meaning of the Office. Up until now we've mainly focused on the rubrics - but as we turn to the Latin, hopefully we start crossing into the territory of the second attention a little more.

Pronouncing Church Latin

So, some basics first. Church Latin is pronounced like spoken Italian. So, if you know Italian, you are set.

If not, there are two things you need to focus on. The first is getting the sounds of the letters right. There are a number of guides to pronunciation on the net, but one that seems quite nice and clear to me can be found here. The second issue is getting the pattern of accents on the words right. The basic rules are as follows:
  • in a two syllable word, accent the first;
  • in a three syllable word, look out for the accent mark in the Diurnal, and stress the syllable marked.
Here, for example is the opening of the first psalm from Compline (MD 260), with the stressed syllables coloured in:

Cum invorem exauvit me Deus justítiæ meæ...
The easiest way to learn though, is to listen to Latin being pronounced correctly. There are lots of resources on the web to help you here, but watch out - a lot of them use classical Latin pronunciation or other variants. Some good starting points are:
Ideally you need to immerse yourself in as much Latin as possible, both to learn how to say it properly and to start understanding it. To really get your ear around the Latin, try listening to some extended readings, such as Fr Z's readings from the Fathers in his podcasts.

Strategies for starting to say it in Latin

If you aren't familiar with Latin, the solution is to start slowly! Start by saying the Pater Noster (Our Father) at each hour in Latin, then add the 'Deus' in adjutorium', and slowly build up.

And focus on learning the meaning as you get the pronunciation right. You don't need to start off understanding the underlying grammar - learn it phrase by phrase, using the translations alongside the text, rather than focusing on each word at first. Maybe take a psalm a week: when you get to that psalm, read the translation first, then say the Latin, then read the translation again, doing this verse by verse. You might even want to put phrases on a flashcard, and test yourself on the meaning regularly.

Once you have built up a small repertoire of psalms learnt this way, start drilling down, picking out which word aligns with what meaning. To help this process along, make up some flashcards for yourself to learn the individual words. You can download a dictionary for all of the words in the psalter here. If you can't find the word you are looking for, it may be because the basic form of the word is not the root form. Try putting it in the dictionary tool here (there are a few of these type of tools around the net).

The great advantage of the Diurnal is that it is very repetitious (just like those nursery rhymes and books kids read over and over and over..), so if you build up slowly, verse by verse of a psalm, you will find it stays in your head! If it doesn't, just flick your eyes across to the translation to refresh your memory.

Tackling the grammar

As you build up your vocabulary, you will probably find you start getting a feel for how Latin works - which endings of verbs mean 'I'" or 'you' or 'him' for example. But it is worth taking a look at one of the various quick and dirty Latin courses on the net to help this process along - the Latin Mass Society's Simplicissimus course is probably a good choice at least as a starting point.

Ideally of course you should do a full Latin course, but see how you go by this method as a starter.

Say it out loud

I'll talk a little bit more about singing in the next part, but I would just note that actually saying the Latin aloud or better still, singing it will really help you learn it faster - there is a reason why children learn all those little ditties! For the Our Father, just use the chant tone the priest uses at Mass. Or sing everything on one note (called recto tono) as a starting point.

And on singing, the next part, which tackles this very subject, can be found here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Ordinary of Ascensiontide

Now that the great feast of the Ascension is over, we move into 'Ascensiontide' for the next week and a bit. In the pre-1962 calendar this was an 'octave', and remnants of the octave can be found in the Office as it now stands.

You can find the rubrics for this period on page 383* of the Diurnal, and do make sure you know what changes!

The appropriate texts for the minor hours (except for the collects) are set out in the psalter. For the collects, Lauds and Vespers however, you need to keep your ribbon on the page for the Ordinary of Ascensiontide. The key points to note are set out below.

At Lauds

  • the antiphons are as for Eastertide;
  • the chapter is Conresuscitavit..., MD 384*
  • the short responsory is Ascendit Deus, MD 384*
  • the hymn is Iesu, nostra redemptio, MD 384-5* (written out in the Liber Hymnaius, pp 88-9)
  • versicle Dominus in caelo, MD 385*
  • Benedictus antiphon (note that this is used each day except where displaced by a feast, Sunday etc), Ascendo, MD 386*
  • the collect for Friday is on MD 386, for Saturday is of the Little Office of Our Lady, for Sunday, of the Sunday, MD 391* (except in places where Our Lady Help of Christians or another feast is celebrated), for the week after, MD 386*
At Prime
  • the antiphon is as noted in the psalter, Alleluia
  • versicle has alleluia added to it (as for TP)
At Terce, Sext and None
  • the antiphon is alleluia, as noted in the psalter
  • note that the chapters and versicles are in the psalter for Ascensiontide (Tempore Ascensionis).
At Vespers
  • the (single) antiphon is alleluia, as for Eastertide;
  • the chapter is Conrescuscitavit, as for Lauds, MD 384*
  • the responsory is Ascendens, MD 388*
  • the hymn is Iesu, as for Lauds, 384-5*
  • the versicle is Ascendit, MD 388*
  • the antiphon for the Magnificat each day (unless displaced) is O Rex, MD 388*
  • the collects are as for Lauds.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Learning the Office Part XIIB: Calendars and Ordos

In the previous part of this series, I started talking about how to construct your own Ordo, and the option of aligning the Office you say with that of the Roman Extraordinary Form. This time I want to tackle the slightly more complex issue of aligning the Benedictine calendar with the Novus Ordo, as well as take a brief look at the older, pre-1962 calendar. Finally, I want to say a brief word about Ordos.

The Novus ordo calendar compared to the 1962 Calendar

The Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal is essentially geared to the 1962 EF calendar. If follows exactly the same liturgical seasons, use of vigils etc. The differences are just in the inclusion and level of particular feasts. By contrast the Novus Ordo calendar:

  • uses a completely different season structure and Sunday numbering system - it has, for example, no season of Septuagesima at all;
  • many dates of saints feasts have been moved around;
  • many saints in the 1962 calendar have been omitted altogether and new ones added.

I really don't think it is possible to use the Monastic Diurnal and attempt to line up the liturgical seasons! But it is feasible - albeit with a bit of work - to align saints feasts. You will need to check the index of feasts in the MD (at the back, (238)) to see if there are rubrics in the book for the saint. If not, apply the same principles I discussed in the last part of this series, looking at the category of the saint. Note that the names of the categories are slightly different in the novus ordo - but it is pretty easy to work out where to put them! Pastors =confessors, etc.

Working out the appropriate level of the feast is a little harder. The newer calendar has four categories. They more or less (but not exactly) align as follows:

  • Solemnity (1970) = Class I (1962);
  • Feasts = Class II/III
  • Memorials and Optional Memorials = commemorations/memorials
  • ferias = Class IV/feria.

But note that there are a lot of memorials in the Novus Ordo calendar that were previously Class III feasts!

The pre-1962 calendar

Some people do prefer to use this calendar for various reasons, particularly in conjunction with older breviaries. For Matins in particular the older version does have some advantages. But the other reason for at least being able to recognise the terminology is that if you want to sing the Office, most of the chant books that will be of use to you still use this earlier categories of feasts.

In terms of the liturgical seasons there are differences between the 1962 and earlier calendars, but a few feasts aside, these mainly relate to the elimination of most octaves - which stretch the celebration of a feast over the next week - in the 1962 calendar.

In terms of the level of feasts though, there used to be:

  • Feria
  • Commemorations
  • Simple
  • Semidouble
  • Double of the I Class
  • Double of the II Class,
  • Greater Double or Major Double;
  • Double.

If you want to know more about this, the Catholic Encyclopedia (available online) has a good article about the evolution of the system over time, adn which feasts were put in which category!


Finally, a brief word on Ordos.

Ideally, you need an Ordo for the Extraordinary Form produced for your country, so as to capture all of the local feasts. Such Ordos are put out by the FSSP and others. There are a lot of useful Ordos online though, and I'd just like to mention two:

None of these can be followed exactly, as each includes feasts particular to the country and/or monastery. The way I construct the Ordo I put up on this site is generally to start from the Diurnal itself, then crosscheck it (and my assumptions about which feasts have priority) against those two Ordos plus two Australian ones. But they are very useful resources.

Hope that all helps!

The next part of this series can be found here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Learning the Office Part XIIA: A note on calendars

We are getting down, now to the technical stuff which is not absolutely essential to understanding and saying the Office, but which is at least useful to have thought about briefly. So if you've just found this blog and want to learn how to say the monastic Office, please do start at Part I of this series.

In terms of what I still plan to cover, my list currently is calendars/Ordos, pronouncing the Latin (and learning it), and singing the Office. Feel free to make suggestions though!

In the meantime, here first is a note on calendars and Ordos. The points I want to look at briefly are:

  • which calendar you should be using;
  • how to construct your own personal Ordo; and
  • how to adapt the Benedictine Office to the Roman (EF) calendar.

I'll devote a second post to the differences between the pre-1962, 1962 and 1970 calendars, sources of Ordos and more - those who want to sing the Office in particular will need to know something about the pre-1962 calendar.

A plethora of calendars: rubrics

The first point to note is that if you are just saying the Office as a devotional exercise, it really doesn't matter which calendar you are using. And really, for most people that will be the case, and so you can take or leave what I have to say below!

But if you want to formally join yourself to the liturgical prayer of the Church, you probably need to use one of the calendar systems that is actually approved by the Church and one that you are entitled to use.

In effect that means firstly either the 1962 calendar (Extraordinary Form) or the 1970 (Novus Ordo) version or the calendar of the monastery you are an oblate of (abbeys can construct their own calendars within certian constraints), rather than any of the earlier or alternative versions (for example as on, or the Orthodox calendar). It also means that you need to include the appropriate local feasts that you won't necessarily find in the Diurnal.

Benedictine Oblates are entitled to follow the Benedictine calendar of the monastery they are aggregated to (and many monasteries send out copies of their calendar for this purpose) but the situation for other followers of St Benedict is a little fuzzier shall we say!

Fortunately, the differences between the Roman calendar and the Benedictine calendar are not huge - the liturgical seasons are the same, so mostly it is a matter of omissions and additions of feasts, and changes to the level of some feasts.

The Mass and the Office

One key consideration aside from the rubrics is that the Office is very closely linked to the Mass. If you can get to daily mass at a traditional monastery you are all set with the Diurnal - but not many of us have that privilege! If you don't go to daily mass, this isn't much of an issue (you just need to think about the Sunday feasts and liturgical seasons). But if you do, it makes sense to try and line up your Office with the calendar used where you go to Mass as much as possible. If you go to an EF (1962) Mass, that is pretty easy to do, and I'll talk about it below. Much harder for the novus ordo though.

Constructing an Ordo

The Farnborough Diurnal actually gives you all of the information you need to construct an Ordo for each week as far as the universal feasts of the Church goes provided you know the rules about which feasts have priority. However, unless you have some expertise on this front, I'd strongly suggest using the Ordos provided on various sites, including this one, at least as a starting point. I'll talk more about this in the next post.

To that Ordo, though, you ideally need to add a few things (General rubrics, 45-50):

  • any feasts particular to the Congregation of Benedictines your monastery belongs to;
  • feasts particular to your monastery, such as the name feast of the oratory or church; and
  • feasts celebrated in your diocese, such as the patron saint of your country, region, province or diocese (all Class I feasts); your parish churches feast day; and the anniversary of the dedication of your cathedral (Class I).
Using the Roman EF calendar with the Benedictine Office

The other issue is how to add feasts or change their level to line up with the (EF) mass you attend! If you want, for example, to say the Office of a saint who is celebrated in the Roman calendar, but only rates a commemoration or is not celebrated at all in the Benedictine calendar, it is really pretty straightforward.

All you really need to know is what type of saint he or she is - and then look at the Common of (martyrs, confessors, etc). All of the Commons provide a standard collect where you can just insert the appropriate saint's name. But the better alternative is to use the collect for the mass provided in your missal.

Use the card that comes with the Diurnal to help you work out what parts of the Common to use, and whether or not to use the 'festal' psalms at lauds and vespers. So for a third class feast, use the antiphons and psalms from the psalter, the rest from the common; for a second class feast, use the festal psalms and antiphons from the common.

Another possible source for antiphons is the Liber Usualis, which contains antiphons (with chant) for vespers on many major feasts, and is available online.

A similar process applies to adding a commemoration of a saint at Lauds - simply say the Benedictus antiphon, versicle and collect from the relevant common (or from your missal).

Hope that doesn't confuse, but do ask if it does!

You can find the second part of this discussion on calendars and Ordos here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Learning the Office Part XC - Lauds during the week

I'm finally up to Lauds during the week, the last part of this series covering the hours of the day Office. In fact, if you are comfortable with Sunday Lauds, the weekday version becomes pretty straightforward.

If you are just starting off, however, start reading this series at Part I.

The structure of Lauds during the week

St Benedict prescribes the structure of Lauds on weekdays as follows (RB13):

"On weekdays Lauds shall be celebrated as follows.

Let Psalm 66 be said without an antiphon somewhat slowly without an antiphon, as on Sunday, in order that all may be in time for Psalm 50, which has an antiphon.

After that let two other Psalms be said according to custom, namely: on Monday Psalms 5 and 35, on Tuesday Psalms 42 and 56, on Wednesday Psalms 63 and 64, on Thursday Psalms 87 and 89, on Friday Psalms 75 and 91, and on Saturday Psalm 142 and the canticle from Deuteronomy, which is to be divided into two sections each terminated by a "Glory be to the Father."

But on the other days let there be a canticle from the Prophets, each on its own day as chanted by the Roman Church.

Next follow the Psalms of praise [148-50], then a lesson of the Apostle to be recited from memory, the responsory, the hymn, the versicle, the canticle from the Gospel book, the Kyrie, and the conclusion."

The structure, in other words, is pretty much the same as for a Sunday, but with different psalms and canticles in the middle.

The opening of Lauds

So, looking at Monday, the opening section goes as follows:

Deus in adjutorium...MD 58 (as per the standard opening for the hours)

Ps 66: Deus misereatur....MD 59

Note that on subsequent days, the Diurnal doesn't bother writing this all out again, so you need to remember that the abbreviations on page 75 (for Tuesday) and subsequent days are reminding you go use the Monday opening and first psalm.

Antiphons of the season, day or feast

The Diurnal then notes the antiphon for the Miserere (Ps 50) for 'Throughout the year' and for Eastertide. The 'throughout the year' antiphons differ for each day (ie there is a set for Monday, pg 59ff, another set for Tuesday and so forth. These normal day antiphons however can be displaced - for example by ones set for a season (ie Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia for Eastertide).

Normally, a saint's feast which has proper antiphons (or is second class or higher) bumps the feast up to using the 'festal' psalms (set out in the Sunday section of the psalter), whereas third class feasts just uses the antiphons of the day.

But there are exceptions. On Vigils such as Ascension and Pentecost, for example, the day can be a first or second class feast - but the normal daily psalms and antiphons of the season are still used. Similarly, there are one or two cases where antiphons for a feast are used with the psalms of Lauds of the day - so watch what the rubrics tell you in terms of which psalms and antiphons to use!

As on Sunday, there can either be three antiphons or five. On a three antiphon day, the pattern is:

antiphon 1
Psalm 50
Psalm of the day
Psalm of the day
antiphon 1

antiphon 2
antiphon 2

antiphon 3
Psalm 148, 149, 150
antiphon 3

On a five antiphon day (which is more typical), the antiphons go before and after each psalm or canticle up until the Laudate psalms (148, 149, 150), which have one antiphon for the three of them.

The canticle

A key decision you have to make about Lauds during the week concerns which of the two canticles, the first of which is labelled 'ferial', the second 'festal' (see MD 65, 66) offered you should say. There are basically two alternative systems in operation.

The first option is to say the ferial canticle on ferias (class IV), the festal on third class feasts or above (such as Vigils). This is the simplest approach and I recommend it!

The alternative practice alluded to in a rubrical note in the Diurnal (pg 65) is to say the festal canticle most of the year, and the ferial on penitential days - so the ferial is only used during Lent, Advent, Septuagesima, Ember Days, Rogation Days, etc.

It is entirely up to you, the rubrics permit either approach.

Saturday psalms and canticles

This is by way of a footnote in case you ever visit a monastery and attend Saturday Lauds and wonder why it is slightly different to what is laid out in the Diurnal - but can be ignored if you don't care! There is a curious discrepancy between Lauds in the Diurnal, and Lauds as it appears in the 1963 Monastic Breviary and earlier editions of the Office. If you look at the extract from the Rule above, St Benedict specifies that there be only one psalm on Saturday (142), followed by the canticle divided into two sections. For reasons one can only speculate on (someone at some point decided the Rule had been mistranslated for centuries?), the Diurnal splits the psalm, rather than the Canticle.

If you want to follow the Breviary (which is the more authoritative text I think), ignore the 'divisio' in the psalm marked in the Diurnal (pg 136) and sing it right through. Then in the canticle, make a split (ie add the Gloria patri) after the verse 'Numquid dierum antiquorum...creavit te' in the ferial canticle, or after 'Ut cognoscant te...Domine' in the festal canticle.

Chapter, responsory etc

The rest of the hour follows the same structure as Sunday Lauds (and pretty much mirrors Vespers as well):

Short responsory (for a refresher on the structure of responsories, go here.)
Antiphon; Benedictus; Antiphon for the Benedictus
Kyrie, etc and standard conclusion of the Office, MD 75 - for a refresher on the conclusion of the hours, go here.

The Diurnal provides the 'throughout the year' options for each of chapter and so forth, including an antiphon for the Benedictus, but note that these can be displaced by texts for the season or day. Note also that the Diurnal doesn't bother writing out the Benedictus each day - this is where that handy card that comes with the book is used!

Cheat sheet: Lauds throughout the week
  • Morning prayer said at first light;
  • For Lauds on higher level feasts with the festal psalms, see notes on Sunday Lauds;
  • Monday Lauds starts page 58 - select either the ferial (p65) or the festal (p66) canticle depending on season or class of day; collect of the previous Sunday or feast, see Ordo; if there is a commemoration (memorial), the relevants texts are said immediately after the collect of the day;
  • Tuesday Lauds  - opening prayers and Psalm 66 as for Monday, pages 58-59; then go to page 76 ff; select either the ferial (p80) or the festal (p82) canticle depending on season or class of day; Benedictus from the card, or page 73; Concluding prayers as for Monday, page 75; Collect of the previous Sunday or feast, see Ordo; if there is a commemoration (memorial), the relevants texts are said immediately after the collect of the day.
  • Wednesday Lauds - Opening prayers and Psalm 66 as for Monday, pages 58-59; then go to page 89ff; Select either the ferial (p94) or the festal (p96) canticle depending on season or class of day; Benedictus from the card, or page 73; Concluding prayers as for Monday, page 75; Collect of the previous Sunday or feast, see Ordo; if there is a commemoration (memorial), the relevants texts are said immediately after the collect of the day.
  • Thursday Lauds  - Opening prayers and Psalm 66 as for Monday, pages 58-59; then go to page 102; select either the ferial (p108) or the festal (p109) canticle depending on season or class of day; Benedictus from the card, or page 73; Concluding prayers as for Monday, page 75; Collect of the previous Sunday or feast, see Ordo; if there is a commemoration (memorial), the relevants texts are said immediately after the collect of the day.
  • Friday Lauds - Opening prayers and Psalm 66 as for Monday, pages 58-59; Then go to page 118; Select either the ferial (p123) or the festal (p126) canticle depending on season or class of day; Benedictus from the card, or page 73; Concluding prayers as for Monday, page 75; Collect of the previous Sunday or feast, see Ordo; if there is a commemoration (memorial), the relevants texts are said immediately after the collect of the day.
  • Saturday Lauds - opening prayers and Psalm 66 as for Monday, pages 58-59; then go to page 133; Select either the ferial (p137) or the festal (p138) canticle depending on season or class of day; Benedictus from the card, or page 73; Concluding prayers as for Monday, page 75; Collect of the previous Sunday or feast, see Ordo; if there is a commemoration (memorial), the relevant texts are said immediately after the collect of the day.
For the next part in this series go here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Learning the Office: Part XI, The Office of Our Lady on Saturday

Now that we've looked at each of the Day Hours, there are just a few other things to cover, really by way of appendices. The first of these is the Office of Our Lady on Saturday, which can be found in the Diurnal on page (129).

Honouring Our Lady

The Office of Our Lady on Saturday, as the name suggests, honours Our Lady. The antiphons and hymn are all used in the Common of Feasts of Our Lady, and also in the Little Office of Our Lady, and I suspect that the Little Office actually evolved from this (the Little Office originated at Monte Cassino, so has strong Benedictine connections!). The Saturday Office came into wide use in the tenth century when St Hugh of Cluny ordered it to be said in all the houses of the Cluniac Congregation, and was later mandated for the Roman Office as well.

The Office of Our Lady on Saturday is basically said on any Saturday that is Class IV.  So any Saturday that is not a third class feast or higher.

The Office starts with Matins and ends at None.

It comes with three main variants:
  • throughout the year, page (130) ff in the Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal;
  • from Christmas to the Purification MD (133)ff; and
  • Eastertide (including the Saturday after the Ascension), MD (135).
Office of Our Lady on Saturday throughout the year
  • At Lauds, use the normal Saturday antiphons and psalms, then the rest from MD (130);
  • each of the minor hours has its own antiphon, set out on MD (131) ff, as well as a chapter and versicle;
  • the collect from Lauds to None is set out on MD (131)
The Office after Christmas

The Office after Christmas has its own collect and antiphons, set out on MD (133).

Office of Our Lady on Saturday during Eastertide

The starting point is the normal Saturday Office in the psalter.
At Lauds:
  • The Psalms and antiphons are as in the psalter for Saturday during Eastertide;
  • The chapter is as throughout the year, MD (130);
  • the responsory has alleluias added to it, MD (135);
  • the hymn is as throughout the year, O Gloriosa Domina, MD (130);
  • the versicle has alleluias added, MD (135);
  • the Benedictus antiphon is Regina caeli, MD (135)
  • the collect is as throughout the year, Concede nos...,MD (131).
At Prime:
  • Everything as in the psalter for Saturday, except for the antiphon, which is the antiphon from the Office of Our Lady on Saturday throughout the year, MD (131) with an alleluia added to the end, thus 'Dum esset Rex...suavitatis, Alleluia'
At Terce, Sext and None:
  • Use the antiphons, chapters, versicles and collect for the Office of Our Lady throughout the year, but add an alleluia to the antiphons and each line of the versicles (not noted in the Diurnal).
The next part of this series, with more on calendars and Ordos, can be found here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Le Barroux video

Fr Z has a nice spread on the monks of Le Barroux, with photos excerpted from a video on their life - a selection here, plus a teaser video.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Learning the Office Part XB - Sunday Lauds and Lauds for higher level feasts

Lauds, as I've previously noted comes in two main versions with some variants. In this part I want to look at the version used on Sundays, which is also used on higher level feasts.

If you've just discovered this series though, you might find this a little complicated to start off with - it would be best to work through systematically, starting from Part I, here.

The structure of the Sunday lauds

St Benedict actually specified that Lauds on Sundays should be structured as follows (RB 12):

"Lauds on Sundays should begin with Psalm 66 recited straight through without an antiphon. After that let Psalm 50 be said with "Alleluia," then Psalms 117 and 62, the Benedicite and the Laudate Psalms; then a lesson from the Apocalypse to be recited by heart, the responsory, the hymn, the verse, the canticle from the Gospel book, the Kyrie eleison and so the end."

Over time, however, some variants have crept in, so that rather than the lesson (chapter) always being from Revelation, there are some variations according to the season. Similarly, at particular times during the year, such as Eastertide, the Psalm 50 and Psalm 117 are replaced by rather more joyful psalms (92&99). In addition, more antiphons have come into use, varying the 'alleluia' that St Benedict originally prescribed. Accordingly, there are two main things to watch out for in relation to the psalms and antiphons:
  • whether the Sunday has five antiphons or only three;
  • whether to use Psalm 50 &117 or Ps 92&99.
Five antiphon days

The structure I've given below is for five antiphon days - I'll show what happens on a three antiphon day further below.

Deus in adjutorium...MD 37 (as per the standard opening for the hours)

Ps 66: Deus misereatur....(MD 38)

antiphon 1
Ps 50: Miserere (MD39) or Ps 92: Dominus regnavit (MD 44) (with Gloria Patri)
antiphon 1

antiphon 2
Ps 117: Confitemini (MD 41) or Ps 99: Jubilate Deo (MD 44) (with Gloria Patri)
antiphon 2

antiphon 3
Ps 62: Deus, Deus meus (MD 45) with Gloria Patri
antiphon 3

antiphon 4
Canticle: Benedicite (MD 47) Note: No Gloria Patri
antiphon 4

antiphon 5
Ps 148, 149, 150: Laudate (MD 49-52)
antiphon 5

Short responsory (for a refresher on the structure of responsories, go here.)


Antiphon for the Benedictus
Canticle: Benedictus (MD 56)
Antiphon for the Benedictus

Kyrie, etc and standard conclusion of the Office (MD 57-8) - for a refresher on the conclusion of the hours, go here.

Three antiphon days

For much of the year, there are only three antiphons used at Lauds on Sundays, in which case the structure collapses down as follows:

Deus in adjutorium...

Ps 66: Deus misereatur....

antiphon 1
Ps 50: Miserere (MD39) or Ps 92: Dominus regnavit (MD 44)
Ps 117: Confitemini (MD 41) or Ps 99: Jubilate Deo (MD 44)
Ps 62: Deus, Deus meusantiphon 1

antiphon 2
Canticle: Benedicite (MD 47)
antiphon 2

antiphon 3
Ps 148, 149, 150: Laudateantiphon 3

And then the rest as above.

Which psalms?

Basically, Psalm 50 & 117 are used on most Sundays throughout the year. The festal versions are used on Sundays:
  • during particular festal seasons, such as Eastertide, the octave of Christmas and the first Sunday after Epiphany;
  • where a feast displaces the normal Sunday of the year.
The festal psalms are also used on other days instead of the psalms for Lauds of the day of the week:
  • on all first and second class feasts;
  • on third class feasts with their own proper antiphons.
The rubrics in the proper of the season or for the feast always prompt you by giving the antiphon and then 'Ps 92' if you are meant to be using the festal psalms (have a look, for example, at the rubrics for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, p 368*).

The antiphons

The antiphons for Sundays during the year and Eastertide are actually set out in the psalter. So you only have to use different ones when specified in the rubrics for the season or feast day. If it is a first or second class feast and no proper antiphons are set, use the appropriate Common.

The canticle of the three young men

The Benedicite is used on all Sundays and on higher level feasts. Its particular peculiarity is that no doxology (Gloria Patri) is added onto it. The choir rubrics usually specify that one should actually stand and bow for the verse (near the end) Benedicamus Patrem et Filium cum Sancto Spiritu..., which is in effect the doxology for this canticle.

Chapter and responsory

The chapter and responsory used 'throughout the year' are included in the psalter, MD 52. During particular seasons (such as Eastertide) or on feasts, these are displaced by the texts either for the season, the proper of the feast, or from the relevant common (as noted in the rubrics for the day).


The Diurnal includes two hymns (and associated versicles) in the psalter section of the book:
  • Aeterne rerum (MD 53), said from January 14 up until Lent, and from October up until Advent;
  • Ecce iam (MD 55), said from the second Sunday after Pentecost until the end of September.
At other times of the year - such as Eastertide, and feasts, the hymn and versicle will be 'proper'.

Benedictus and its antiphon

The antiphon for the Benedictus is always 'proper', that is specified for the particular Sunday, the season or the feast, so you need to consult the relevant section of the Diurnal.

As usual, please don't hesitate to ask question, seek clarification, or query what I've said.

Cheat sheet summary: Sunday Lauds
  • Starts page 37 in the MD
  • Make sure you know which psalm schema to use – for most Sundays during the year it is schema 1: Psalms 50, 117, (jump over 92, 99), 62, then canticle, Ps 148-150
  • Check on the antiphons to be used (including the number of them) as this varies by season
  • The hymn varies by liturgical season and time of year – for most of time after Pentecost season it is Ecce Iam Noctis, MD 55 (skip over Aeterne rerum)
  • The antiphon for the Benedictus is specific to the particular Sunday, check the Ordo for the correct page number
  • The collect (prayer) is specific to the particular Sunday, check the Ordo for the page reference
And for the next part of this series, go here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Learning the Office Part XA: Lauds

I've deliberately left the best, my favourite hour, Lauds, until last, partly because it is the most elaborate of the Hours in many respects as far as rubrics go and so easier to learn once you are familiar with the other hours. But it is an hour that really repays the learning curve.

I'm going to split this up into a couple of parts, with this one serving as a general introduction.

Where Lauds fits in the scheme of things

Vatican II describes Lauds and Vespers as the hinges of the Office. I'm not sure that is really quite as true of the Benedictine Office, where really Matins, Lauds and Vespers are the 'big three'.

In the traditional Roman Office, the norm is for Matins and Lauds to be effectively treated as one Office, said with little or no separation between them. That isn't the case in the Monastic Office, where St Benedict specifies that in winter at least there should be a reasonable gap between the two hours, with the time to be devoted to studying the psalms or lectio divina.

The main point is that Lauds is intended to be said at first light (RB 8), and see in the dawn. The hymns of the hour and the psalms (all of which have been carefully selected for the hour) contain many references to the dawn and the morning, the coming light and so forth, so watch out for them. And the length of the hour itself works nicely to take you from first light to dawn (note: some translators argue that the Rule should be read as saying that Lauds should start at dawn. I think the arguments for a first light reading are compelling, not least from the context of the text of the Office itself). Realistically, not many people these days can arrange their schedule as a vigil for the dawn, but try it at least once or twice if you can, just to get the flavour of it.

The structure of Lauds and its spirituality

Lauds is the longest of the day-hours, and has quite a bit of repetition in it, so I think it is worth looking at some of the reasons for this.

The first point, as I've noted relates to it being a dawn vigil. After the long night Vigil which the monk keeps through the darkness of the literal and metaphorical night, Lauds focuses us on preparing for and rejoicing at the coming of the sun/Son.

The hour always starts (after the Deus in Adjutorium) with Psalm 66 (page 38 in the psalter section of the Farnborough Monastic Diurnal), a beautiful psalm asking for God's blessing to come upon us.

We then get a mini-lesson on the pattern of our lives, the struggle to free ourselves from sin so that we might rejoice with God for eternity. The first psalm (save on some Sundays and on feasts) is the Miserere (Ps 50), begging forgiveness for our sinfulness. My favourite line is always 'Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui....' (Give me back the joy of thy salvation..).

The next two psalms set for the hour vary each day of the week, and are all particularly pertinent to the themes of the hour, take a look through!

Then comes a canticle, a selection from one of the great psalm-like songs from elsewhere in Scripture, often focusing on what God has already done for us, and his promises, followed by the Laudate psalms from the very end of the psalter.

To me all of this, together with the ever increasing light in the sky always seems to symbolise the 'almost/but not yet' time we live in - after the Coming of Our Lord, but before the Kingdom is fully realised on earth. The literal day, of course, does come, and so the use of the Laudate ('praising' - Psalms 148-150) psalms serve as a reminder that the Kingdom too, will inevitably come. The other great highlight of the hour, the Gospel canticle, the Benedictus, with its prophecies, serves a similar purpose.

Two schemas....

In his Rule, St Benedict sets out two schemas for Lauds, one for Sundays (RB 12) and another for weekdays (RB 13). Each of these has a festal variant, which I'll explain in the next two parts.

In the meantime, enjoy a little of a much longer setting of the Benedictus then I expect you will ever use at Lauds, by Lully.

You can find the next part of this series here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Learning the Office Part IX: Vespers

Once you've learnt the minor hours, Vespers is the next logical hour to add, particularly because it is often sung on a Sunday Afternoon in the Roman Rite (which is very similar to the Benedictine) in many traditionally oriented parishes. And once you are familiar with Vespers, you will find Lauds easier to learn too.

You will find Sunday Vespers on page 203 of the psalter section of the Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal.

The structure of Vespers

The standard structure of Vespers (to which there are some variants) is as follows:

Standard opening: Deus in adjutorium...(see the fully written out version on page 1 of the psalter)

Antiphon 1
Psalm (always with Gloria Patri... at the end as set out on page 4 of the psalter, unless otherwise specified)
Antiphon 1

Antiphon 2
Antiphon 2

Antiphon 3
Antiphon 3

Antiphon 4
Antiphon 4





Canticle: Magnificat...(full text on page 209, and on the convenient card that comes with Diurnal)

Conclusion to the Hour (as per standard): Kyrie eleison...etc

The psalms of Vespers

Like Prime, Vespers has its own running cursus of psalms allocated across each day of the week, which starts with Ps 109 on Sunday, and runs up to Ps 147 on Saturday, less a few used at other hours. Most days Vespers consists of four psalms (rather than the five of the traditional Roman Rite) - but a little cheating occurs on Monday, with the psalter's shortest psalm (116) squeezed in after Ps 115 and under the same Gloria Patri (Diurnal page 215-6).

On feasts however, the psalms used can vary. If you look at the chart that comes with the Diurnal, you can see that on a feast day which has its own antiphons, and/or is a first or second class feast, you use the 'festal' psalms. Often - but not always - that means the Sunday psalms. There actually several sets of special 'festal' psalms given for different categories of saints and so forth in the Commons section of the Diurnal, and it is a matter of reading the rubrics carefully to know which ones to use.

The antiphons for the psalms

The psalter sets out antiphons for each psalm which are used for most of the year, unless displaced by a feast or special antiphons set during particular seasons. In Eastertide (unless there is a feast), things are a little simpler than usual, as only one antiphon is used (Alleluia....), said before the first psalm and after the last psalm.

On feasts, the rubrics will either specify the antiphons to be used (either 'proper' to the day, or from the relevant Common). Occasionally though, they will just instruct you to use the antiphons from Lauds - in that case, unless directed otherwise, skip the fourth one in order not to have to many.

Chapter, responsory, hymns and versicle

Generally, the chapter, responsory, hymn and versicle are for the day of the week in the season or the feast. The psalter does includes some default texts, but you need to ignore these when it isn't 'throughout the year'. So for example, nothing on pages 208-9 up to the Magnificat is said for Sunday during Eastertide - instead you need to look at either the Ordinary for Eastertide (p350*ff) during the week, or the texts set for the relevant Sunday (so page 364* for the Third Sunday after the Octave of Easter).

As for the little hours, in the absence of a 'proper' text for a third class feast or higher, you use the relevant 'common'.

Look out for the responsories - the Diurnal gives them in highly abbreviated form and you need to know how to expand them out correctly. If you can't remember how to do this, go here to refresh your memory.

The Magnificat and its antiphon

The highlight of Vespers is always, in my view, the singing (if you can) of the Magnificat, the Gospel Canticle of Our Lady from Luke 1. It is normal to stand for it, and to make the sign of the cross during the first verse.

The antiphon for the Magnificat can be for the day of the week (noted in the psalter), the season, the feast, or at particular times of the year such as Eastertide, unique to each day. Watch the rubrics or consult an Ordo (such as the one provided on this blog) to know which one to use!

The conclusion of the hour

The conclusion to the hour is as for the other hours (go here if you need a refresher). The collect is usually that of the previous Sunday unless it is replaced by that of a feast.

A memorial doesn't impact on Vespers. Just occasionally, however, you will need to 'make a commemoration of the feria' when a feast displaces special texts set for the season (for example during Lent), or displaces a Sunday. You can find instructions on how to do a commemoration in the part of this series dealing with the conclusion of the hours, linked above.

Listen to vespers

And finally, to get a feel for how it should sound like, and work on your pronunciation of the psalms, you can find recordings of Vespers on the website of the monastery of Norcia. I particularly like the way slightly ideosyncratic pauses and note lengthening they use to draw out and savour the doxology (Gloria Patri etc), St Bede the Venerable's favourite prayer.

Cheat sheet summary: Vespers
  • Evening prayer
  • On feasts consult the Ordo/rubrics - antiphons, psalms, hymn, chapter etc may be particular to the day
  • Saturday Vespers (I Vespers of Sunday) starts on page 249 in the Diurnal.  The antiphon for the Magnificat (text on pg 209-10) is particular to the day of the year, for the correct page number see the Ordo.
  • Sunday vespers can be found starting at page 203 (opening prayer as on page 1).  The antiphons are for Sunday of the season or feast (see ordo).  The antiphon for the Magnificat (pg 209) is always particular to that Sunday of the year/feast, for the correct page number see the Ordo.
  • Monday vespers starts page 211 (opening prayer as on page 1), antiphons for Monday of the season or day (see ordo).  For the text of the Magnificat see pg 209; concluding prayers, 210; collect from previous Sunday or of the day (see ordo).
  • Tuesday Vespers starts page 220;(opening prayer as on page 1), antiphons for Tuesday of the season or day (see ordo). For the text of the Magnificat see pg 209; concluding prayers, 210; collect from previous Sunday or of the day (see ordo).
  • Wednesday vespers starts page 226 (opening prayer as on page 1), antiphons for Wednesday of the season or day (see ordo). For the text of the Magnificat see pg 209; concluding prayers, 210; collect from previous Sunday or of the day (see ordo).
  • Thursday Vespers starts page 235 (opening prayer as on page 1), antiphons for Thursday of the season or day (see ordo). For the text of the Magnificat see pg 209; concluding prayers, 210; collect from previous Sunday or of the day (see ordo).
  • Friday Vespers starts page 243 (opening prayer as on page 1), antiphons for Friday of the season or day (see ordo). For the text of the Magnificat see pg 209; concluding prayers, 210; collect from previous Sunday or of the day (see ordo).
For the next part of this series, go here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Learning the office Part VIII: Terce, Sext and None***updated

I want to continue my series on learning the Day Office as set out in the Farnborough Diurnal now by looking at the Little Hours of Terce, Sext and None. If you've just found this blog, have a skim through the parts of this series in order if you can, as they do try and build on each other. You can find links to them all in the sidebar (under learning the Office), or start with the first one here.

Why say the Little Hours?

Adding one or more of Terce, Sext or None to your regime once you are comfortable with Prime and Compline is the next logical step, partly because they are short (each of them only takes five to ten minutes to say), partly because they are the next step up in terms of levels of complexity of the Office, and partly because it makes sense to add, say, midday prayer (Sext) to morning and evening prayer.

Like Prime, these hours are very tailored to the time of day, particularly in their hymns (do read them over carefully, they are gems). All three of them follow a very similar structure to Prime, so my comments here will mainly focus on the things that are different to that hour.

The structure of the little hours

(Note, words you say in red, terms covered in previous parts in green)

The basic structure of the little hours is as follows:

Deus in adiutorium...(as on page 1 of the psalter, for Prime)

Hymn: These are fixed for the hour, and (almost) never vary (except in terms of the tune if you were singing it). So:

- Terce: Nunc Sancte nobis p151
- Sext: Rector Potens, p 155
- None: Rerum Deus, p 159

Antiphon (of the day, season or feast)

Antiphon (a repeat of the one above)

Chapter ...Deo gratias


And the closing section is the same as for all the hours, see page 154. See my notes on the concluding prayers and collects here. Just by way of a quick refresher it goes:


Pater Noster...

Domine exaudi...Et clamor...


Domine exaudi...Et clamor...

Benedicamus Domino. Deo Gratias

Fidelium animae...Amen

Four main variants

The card that comes with the Diurnal sets out three categories for the little hours (Terce, Sext and None), but I think it makes more sense to think of it as four main basic variants:
  • Sunday Terce, Sext and None, which can be found on pages 151-162 of the psalter in the Farnborough Diurnal, for which sections of Psalm 118 (started at Prime on that day) are used;
  • Monday Terce, Sext and None, page 162 - 183, which continues through Psalm 118 (the longest of all of the psalms);
  • the little hours from Tuesday to Saturday (labelled 'throughout the week') in the psalter, pages 183-203, which uses the same psalms each day for each of these five days of the week, some of the 'gradual' psalms, the songs pilgrims traditionally sang while making their way to the great feasts in Jerusalem;
  • the little hours on feasts.
The little hours on Sunday

Generally speaking, a 'normal' Sunday is pretty straightforward:
  • the antiphon before and after the psalm sections comes from the 'proper' of the Sunday or the season, the front section of the Diurnal with page numbers indicated by asterisk's. So during Eastertide for example, the antiphon is four alleluias (MD348*);
  • each of the psalm sections (a new section is marked by a red initial letter) finishes with a 'Gloria Patri...', just as if it was a completley new psalm;
  • the chapter and versicle are from the season or feast, or as set out on page 154ff;
  • the collect is the Sunday collect.
Monday at Terce, Sext and None

Monday follows the same basic pattern, continuing the meditation on that long (but nicely broken up into digestible chunks in the Office!) and beautiful psalm about the law of the Lord. The Diurnal actually sets out the antiphons, chapter and versicles in the psalter section (MD 166) which reduces the page flipping required.

There is one other point you might want to note - if you look at Monday Terce, MD 165 you will see a couple of verses set in upper case. These are the verses used as part of the Benedictine monastic profession ceremony, so in a monastery are often marked with a bow as a reminder of the vocational grace God bestows. But we can all do with this reminder of God's help I think.

Tuesday to Saturday

The Little Hours as they are normally said (the exception is during Holy Week)from Tuesday to Saturday are set out from page 183 onwards, and follow the same basic pattern as for Sunday and Monday. The daily use of the gradual psalm serves as a reminder that we are on life's journey toward the holy city.


The first point is that memorials do not affect Terce, Sext or None at all - the collect is the one from Sunday.

On a first, second or third class feast day, the hymn and psalms don't change from what they otherwise would be, but the other key parts of the Office do:
  • if there are special antiphons for Lauds, use them (omitting the fourth unless otherwise specified).  Otherwise, use the antiphons from the relevant Common;
  • if there are no proper texts, use the chapter, versicle etc from the Common (as for example on the Feast of St Athanasius, MD [138], do the same thing at the little hours;
  • always use the collect of the feast.

Cheat sheet summary: Terce (mid-morning prayer)
  • Said at the 'third hour', or mid-morning
  • Sunday Terce starts page 151 in the MD
  • Monday Terce starts at pg 163
  • Tuesday-Saturday, pg 183
  • Antiphon varies according to the season or feast
  • Collect is of the (previous) Sunday or the day (see Ordo)
Cheat sheet Summary: Sext (midday prayer)
  • Said around the middle of the day
  • Sunday Sext starts page 155 in the MD
  • Monday Sext starts at pg 169
  • Tuesday-Saturday, pg 190
  • Antiphon varies according to the season or feast
  • Collect is of the (previous) Sunday or the day (see Ordo)
Cheat sheet summary: None (Mid-afternoon prayer)
  • Said around the mid-afternoon (ninth hour of the day)
  • Sunday Sext starts page 159 in the MD
  • Monday Sext starts at pg 176
  • Tuesday-Saturday, pg 196
  • Antiphon varies according to the season or feast
  • Collect is of the (previous) Sunday or the day (see Ordo)