Little Office of the
Blessed Virgin

How To Pray the Little Office

This page is a simple guide for praying the little office. For the full set of rubrics, see the Rubrics page here.

What is the Little Office

The Little Office is one of the many liturgical prayers of the church, but one more simple, more suited to the laity and religious communities which are engaged in more active apostolate, due not only to the length, but also the simplicity.

For a time, the little office was obligatory for clerics to say after the Divine Office, this obligation was later removed.

Unlike the Divine Office from the Roman Breviary, which synchronizes itself with the complex liturgical calendar, and must take into account feast day rankings, overlapping octaves, and multiple commemorations, the little office itself maintains a relatively steady cycle, with different offices for Advent, Christmastide, and the rest of the year. Within those seasonal divisons, it is otherwise unchanging, and with only a single day of hours instead of a weekly cycle of hours that the traditional Roman Office has.

This daily repetition not only leads to rubrical simplicity, but also lends itself memorization, and smaller, cheaper volumes, all of which make it even more accessable for lay Catholics as a daily devotion which unites them to the church’s liturgical prayer throughout time and space.

Finally, even partial usage of the Little Office can be meritorious, especially for the busy lay man. If praying the entire little office seems too much, consider only the major hours of Lauds and Vespers, or even begin simply with just compline.

For more information on this topic, consider reading the Introduction section of the 1915 Benziger Brothers edition of the Little Office, which has been transcribed here.

Purchase Books

While we hope this website serves as a useful resource for praying the Little Office, it can also be adventageous to own a phyiscal book dedicated to the purpose. Below are a few listings of locations it can be purchased.

All of the editions listed below are new printings, but additionally, old printings can be found online in places like eBay.

The Three Offices

There are three Offices, incrementally numbered, for time throughout the year.

  • Office 1 begins with Matins on Febuary 3rd.
  • Office 2 begins with First Vespers on the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent.
  • Office 3 begins with First Vespers on Christmas Eve.

Bows and Reverences

During every Glory Be (Gloria Patri), all bow. Additionally, all bow at the name of Jesus, and during the last strophe of the hymn.

Wherever the symbol “✠” is indicated, the sign of the cross is made in the usual way, unless otherwise indicated.

Hours of the Day

In a monastic context, the hours would typically be prayed at their traditional times, beginning with the night and early morning. Outside of a monastic context, there has always been some degree of flexibility in the scheduling of the hours, but the schedule handed on by tradition continues to guide the schedule with which it is incorporated into our lives.

Matins

Matins, would be prayed in the middle of the night, typically about 2am in a monastic context, or for secular clergy and laymen, either just before Lauds or anticipated the evening before after compline.

Lauds

Lauds would typically be prayed at dawn, or shortly after rising. Monastically, this would often be around 5am, depending on the season of the year. Lauds, along with Vespers, form the two major hours which would often be celebrated publicly, even in locations which don’t celebrate the full office in public.

Prime

Prime is the first of the 4 minor hours, and would be prayed around 6am.

Terce

Terce is the second of the 4 minor hours, and would be prayed around 9am.

Sext

Sext is the third of the 4 minor hours, and would be prayed around noon.

None

None is the fourth of the 4 minor hours, and would be prayed around 3pm.

Vespers

Vespers as the major office of the evening, occurs in the afternoon, often around 6pm in a monastic context, but frequently earlier in other contexts. Vespers are also the office most frequently celebrated in public, to commemorate feasts and their vigils in the public life of a parish.

Compline

Finally, compline closes the liturgical day, typically prayed shortly before retiring for the evening, often around 7pm.

 

 

Sources

This page was based on the following original source(s):

Other Little Offices

Little Office of the Sacred Heart

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(except for texts already in the public domain)