Despite its antiquity and universal use in the Catholic Church, few Catholic families know anything about this fundamental devotion and even fewer know how to use it.
To bring the Liturgy of the Hours within the reach of all families and laymen, the Classical Liberal Arts Academy publishes a free weekly guide to praying the Hours. Our guide provides a detailed script for every hour of prayer every day, allowing you to focus on reading and praying, rather than searching for the right readings and prayers. Moreover, our guide prints out easily once per week and sits inside your prayer book. There’s no need to awkwardly read prayers from a computer or iPhone, when you can enjoy using your own breviary. For the first time, a guide for laymen and women is available that removes every obstacle that would keep your family from enjoying this rich tradition of prayer and reflection.
Subscribe today and begin receiving our printable guide every Saturday morning by e-mail.
“The whole life of the faithful, hour by hour, during day and night, is a kind of liturgy, or public service, in which the faithful give themselves over to the ministry of love toward God and men…For this reason the Hours are recommended to all Christ’s faithful members.” Pope Paul VI
Hymns of the LotH
Many individuals quickly realize that they don’t know the tunes to the hymns used throughout daily prayer. Few Catholics are familiar with the history of Christian hymnody and the LOTH makes use of hymns from both Catholic and Protestant traditions. Fortunately, this problem is easy to overcome.
First, you should make a general commitment to listen to and learn traditional Christian hymns. There are many hymn CDs available and many of the hymns in the LOTH are common to many hymnals and CDs. Spend some time on Sunday afternoons or in the evenings when the kids go to bed to listen to hymns…and memorize them so you can sing them all day long. Fulfill St. Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:19, that we:
“Speak to one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.”
Second, you should notice that beneath every hymn, the name of the melody and the meter of the tune are given. For example, on p. 687 in the Liturgy of the Hours, we see the hymn, “On This Day, the First of Days”. Underneath the text of the hymn, you can find the melody name: “Gott Sei Dank” and the meter: “77.77”. Both of these notes can help you.
Now, you can go to an online hymnal like the popular NetHymnal and simply enter the melody name in the site’s search box. You may get lucky and find the exact hymn you’re looking for. Or, you will find another hymn that uses the same melody. That’s no problem. Learn the tune, then sing the LOTH lyrics. What’s great, though, is that when you learn a tune, you will also be able to sing all the other songs that have the same meter or have been set to that melody. A handful of melodies can help you sing hundreds of hymns. You won’t always find the hymn in the LOTH (some are unfortunately modern and known by few), but you will find many there. Below you can hear a sample.
We are in the process of organizing all of the hymns necessary for the LOTH on one page here on the CLAA website. We have the first 50 ready here: CLAA LOTH Hymns page.
Buying a Breviary
To pray the Liturgy of the Hours, you will need your own breviary (BREE-vuh-ree), or prayer book. When you invest in a breviary, you will have two basic options: the one volume abridged version, called “Christian Prayer“, and the full four volume “Liturgy of the Hours” set.
The ultimate difference between the two is in the Office of Readings. If you desire to pray/read the Office of Readings, you will need the 4 volume set. The Office of Readings includes a complete year’s worth of daily readings from Scripture and the Church Fathers that correspond to the Church calendar.
However, if you intend only to pray Morning and Evening Prayer or maybe add Midday and/or Night Prayer, you will only need the one volume version. This edition is so easy to use that our 6 year-old son managed it by himself during our daily prayers.
Most people end up buying Saints’ biographies and Bibles anyway, but tend to have a hard time bringing them all together into a profitable routine of personal devotional reading. Instead of that, it may be best to bet the four volume set and make the Office of Readings your primary source for daily readings on the saints and in the Scriptures. You can always read more if you find the selections leave you desiring more, but we tend to “bite off more than we can chew” when it comes to starting devotions. This is why the Office of Readings is so helpful.
Praying in Latin
The Catholic Church published the Liturgia Horarum, making it unnecessary for any who prefer praying in Latin but wish to pray the Church’s modern offices. Information can be found here: http://universalis.com/latin.htm.