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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 11 May 2002

The Divine Office QUESTION from Father Taurasi March 13, 2000 1. I would like to introduce Lauds and Vespers into parish life. Is there an inexpensive paper back version I can buy for the parish?
2. When praying the various Hours of the Office, is it permitted to substitute other appropriate hymns for the ones that appear in the breviary?
3. I have noticed that the Official Latin version of the Liturgy of the Hours does not contain the Psalm-prayers. They are also missing in the Italian and Spanish Office Books. Since they do not appear in the official Latin Office, can they be considered optional?
Thank you, Father Taurasi
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on March 22, 2000 Hello again Father:
Sorry to take so long to get back to you. I have been ill and am WAY behind.
On question #1: Catholic Book Publishers do offer a paperback but it is just as expensive as the hardback.
Experience has shown that the best edition to use for a general audience that is not use to the Office is the Daughters of St. Paul One Volume Edition. It is easier to use than the 4 vol set or the Catholic Book Publishers One Volume edition.
This volume can be ordered from our online bookstore (thus giving us a commission) at: Click here
The cost is 27.95 per book.
However, since you are wanting multiple copies for your Church, the Daughters of St. Paul might give you a discount.
Their Order Department is:
Order Entry Department 50 Saint Paul's Ave. Boston, MA 02130 phone: 1-800-876-4463 fax: 617-524-8035 Customer Service: 1-800-836-9723
On Question #2:
No 178 of the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours makes reference that conferences of Bishops may introduce new hymns for vernacular recitation, but these new compositions are to be in COMPLETE harmony with the Spirit of the Hour, season, or feast. It states, Great care must be taken not to allow popular songs which have no artistic merit and are not in true conformity with the dignity of liturgy.
I read that to mean OBVIOUSLY, that Kumbaya is not a song for the Divine Office :-)
In the Daughters of St. Paul edition, beginning at page 1742, is a complete Guide for Hymns. (In the 4 vol edition, there is a Index of Hymns in the Indices; and in the Catholic Book Publishing edition the Index of Hymns begins around page 1502).
There are many Hymns to choose from. One does not necessarily have to use the hymn that is marked on the particular Hour (the Daughters of St. Paul edition will print a hymn for each Hour on the page of that Hour).
But whatever Hymn you use, it needs to be on the approved list for that Hour, season, or Feast.
On Question #3:
The Psalm-Prayers are purely optional. They were inserted in the English version to help English readers understand the message of the psalms better. The psalms were written in the pre-Christian era and thus its images may not always be recognized or understood as being applicable to us as Christians especially in the modern era. The Psalm-Prayers help to bring those Psalms to a Christian and modern applicability.
How I use them is that after the singing of the Psalm, followed by the Glory be, followed by the Antiphon, there is suppose to be a period of silence. I have our people read the Psalm-Prayer to themselves silently during that period.
God Bless and I am excited to see that you are wanting to do this for your parish.
The Council Fathers specifically said that pastors are to see to it (that is their exact words) that the corporate recitation of some part of the Divine Office is made available to the people especially Sunday Vespers.
The way I see it when papa says see to it or I highly recommend it means -- DO IT. :-)
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