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.


StDamascene said...

Hi Kate, I have been praying the Diurnal since Corpus Christi. My only problem is the finding of the Benedictus Antiphon for Sundays after Pentecost. I go the the seasonal section, and all I can find for each Sunday is the Magnificat Antiphon for the first Vespers, and the Collect. Is there another section to consult for the Benedictus ant, is the Vesperal Antiphon re-used, or is there another section? I hope that I haven't missed something, but a bit of help would be great!

Kate Edwards said...

Yes there is a bit of a trick to it - you have to look at the section after the texts for the months. So for the fifth Sunday after Pentecost, MD464* for Lauds.

If you look at the Ordos I post on the blog, you will find the page numbers both for the antiphons for I vespers on Saturday and Lauds and Vespers on Sunday. For July 2014:


Anonymous said...

"at particular times during the year, such as Eastertide, the Psalm 50 and Psalm 117 are replaced by rather more joyful psalms (92&99)."

Does this mean that Psalm 117 is not said at all during the Easter season?

Kate Edwards said...

Anon - Yes, under the 'modern' (post Tridentine) rubrics it is not said at all for that period. The Sunday 'festal' psalms is one of those imports from the Roman Office that aren't in the least bit consistent with St Benedict's conception of the psalter said in full every week in my view, but it is in the rubrics...