Books for Matins (revised)

Someone asked about chant books for Monastic Matins, so I thought I'd set out what I've found on books for Matins more generally - others may wish to chip in!

This is a post for the enthusiasts only!

The Breviary

The essential book for officially approved version of Matins is the Monastic Breviary - in full, 'Breviarium Monasticum Summorum Pontificum cura recognitum pro omnibus sub regula S. P. Benedicti militantibus issu abbatis primatis editum'. It is published by Marietti at Rome, 1963 and comes in two volumes. These days it is of course out of print, but can be found readily in secondhand book shops. This edition is of course in Latin only.

If you really want the English, there are a couple of options. Lancelot Andrews Press have published an edition of it entirely in English. It follows the structure for Matins set out by St Benedict, but uses the psalms from the Book of Common Prayer/Scripture from the King James Version. The Gospels and other readings do not always line up with the official version, and it obviously doesn't come with an imprimatur.

The other option is that Clear Creek monastery has produced a partial parallel Latin-English text for the use of their novices and visitors, covering ferias only (you can obtain it through lulu). It does not provide the variable texts such as readings, and texts for seasons and feasts however.

I have also mentioned in a previous post the book of Liturgical Readings put out by Grail Publications which provides many of the patristic readings (available in a reprint).

Singing Matins

In terms of actually singing Matins, a fair amount of the music is available from books you may already have, or that can be downloaded from the net. In particular:
  • the Liber Hymnarius provides most (though not all) of the invitatory antiphons and hymns;
  • the psalms and antiphons for the daily (ferial) Office can be downloaded here;
  • the Liber Responsorialis provides most of the responsories and other texts you need is available (also reprinted by Nova et Vetera)
The other useful book you may wish to acquire is the Processionale Monasticum (though most of its contents also appear in the Liber Responsorialis), which is also readily available in a reprint.


Séamas Choilm Chille said...

The English might be useful as a crutch while I am studying Latin. But they (Lancelot Andrewes) want $45 for their Monastic Breviary Matins, and I am not sure I want to spend that much for an Anglican Matins, that conforms to the King James bible, etc.

I did manage to find a copy of the St. Meinrad book "Liturgical Readings" which you mentioned, so that will be helpful.

Just what I need, another excuse to buy books!

okie said...

I know this might be a lot of effort, but as far as Matins goes, I would simply like to know which Psalms are being said each day. I know they are variable, but even if you posted a table just so we knew which psalms we were "missing" by only saying the day hours would be great. Again, if this is too much trouble, I understand, but I personally do not see myself saying Matins for a while, nor do I have money to buy it simply to know which psalms I should "stay up" with on my own in order to keep reading/praying the entire psalms and bible...

okie said...

Oh, whether you take up my suggestion or not, thank you for the time and effort you put forth in helping all us newbies!

Terra said...

Okie - you can find a listing of the relevant psalms here:

And thanks!

okie said...

Thanks for the link! Since you are so helpful, I will be bold and ask: is there anyway you could list the Monastic Matins lessons? Or do you know a web site that does? I'm not asking for a transcription, just a list of the readings. Or do they generally follow the roman lessons? Thanks in advance for the insight either way!

Denis said...

The Psalterium you mention is still on the Solesmes catalogue (their reference 3006). It was published in 1981 and contains all psalms and the necessary antiphons, canticles and hymns. The text is the disconcerting neo vulgate. The latin-french version is still in print (Solesmes reference 3007) and is identical in terms of the latin.
The contents is sufficient for all ferial use.

SaintRobertBellarmine said...

Here is the link to the Psalterium for Matins. I finally just got my Nova Et Vetera Liber Responsorialis. Its awesome! Now I can follow along with all the Gregorian Chant CD's I have bought. Some of them are from Matins. Where would you recommend for me to get a Breviarum Monasticum from. I bought the Solesmes Antiphonale you recommended. By the way thank you so much for the effort you have put in the website. God will richly Bless you for it. It seems like I am set, all I need now is that Breviarum Monasticum. Does Solesmes have New ones printed? If they do I would like to buy it, definitely sometime soon.

Kate said...

Unfortunately there is no new print around of the Monastic Breviary, so you will have to do a hunt of the secondhand book websites!

Anonymous said...

The following web site claims to have Benedictine Matins, Latin/English (which it calls pre-Tridentine Monastice):

Kate, can you comment on how accurate it might be?


Kate said...

Dean - I think the short answer is, not very!

It is certainly a useful starting point if you are looking for the psalms. As a devotion I guess it is fine.

But as far as I can tell it doesn't actually follow any of the approved breviaries of any period, just does a cut and paste of the Roman Breviary according to the provisions in the Rule.

The problem with that is that firstly it ignores how the Office has actually been said pretty much from the Carolingian period onward.

And because it is based on the Roman Breviary, it doesn't include all the readings, antiphons etc.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for taking a look at that web site. I suppose I was hoping for too much. It would be great to find a real solution such as we have in the MD for the day hours. I am grateful for the way you have brought the existing options to our attention, but they are too complicated for me at the moment.

May God richly bless you for your ministry to us,


CountrySteve said...

By any chance, how familiar are you with the one published from Lancelot Andrews Press? I know its not liturgical to pray it, but it could help foster the discipline of "Matins" when I can manage it. God bless!

Kate Edwards said...

Unfortunately I don't own a copy (I mainly use the Monastic Breviary these days), but as far as I can gather it works reasonably well as a devotional prayer. Some calendar alignment issues of course.

I have to say though that my personal view is that we should try and keep some balance in our lives between liturgical prayer, lectio divina and work/family/community engagement.

If you add Matins into the mix, that's a lot of liturgical prayer and it has to come at the expense of something.

In my view most laypeople (unless they are single, retired and attempting to live a quasi-monastic life!) would be better off saying a short version of Matins if they must, such as the Little Office of Our Lady, or perhaps three of the psalms of the Monastic Matins (do a four week rotation) and putting more time into lectio divina and especially parish/community/family life, consistent with their state of life.

Matins has always been regarded as a particularly monastic domain for good reasons.

Amy Grimer said...


I hope i am not out of line for asking this. But my father in law sings as latin mass and was mentioning a book of matins he would love. He said it was published by a german (i think) priest, which doesnt have the episma and mora marks in it. But is entire book of matins?

I would love to get it for him

I hope this makes sense.

Janol said...

"In my view most laypeople (unless they are single, retired and attempting to live a quasi-monastic life!) would be better off saying a short version of Matins if they must, such as the Little Office of Our Lady, or perhaps three of the psalms of the Monastic Matins (do a four week rotation) and putting more time into lectio divina..."

Kate, up to now I've been reciting the MD Matins of the Dead but keep wanting to use my Anglican Monastic Matins for the patristic readings. I've already divided the psalms of each nocturn in half, but never got into the habit or reciting Monastic Matins. Thank you for suggesting a four week rotation! I probably would have discounted the suggestion from anyone else! :) I will try this for Lent.