divine office


divine office
(sometimes caps.) Eccles.
office (def. 12c).
[1350-1400; ME]

* * *

▪ Christian service
also called  canonical hours,  liturgy of the hours , or  liturgical hours 

      in various Christian churches, the public service of praise and worship consisting of psalms, hymns, prayers, readings from the Fathers of the early church, and other writings. Recurring at various times during the day and night, it is intended to sanctify the life of the Christian community.

      The history of the office, and of its various forms, is difficult to trace, as a result of its antiquity and the revisions created during the numerous attempts to reform it. The practice of public morning and evening prayer is very ancient, and early writings attest to the tradition of prayer at the third, sixth, and ninth hours of the day (9:00 AM, 12:00 noon, and 3:00 PM). The practice of midnight prayer, especially before a great feast, also was common. Two institutions greatly responsible for the evolution of the forms of the office, in both Eastern and Western Christianity, were the monasteries and the choirs associated first with the churches known as basilicas and later with cathedrals.

      In the Roman Catholic Church (Roman Catholicism), there are seven canonical hours. Matins, the lengthiest, originally said at a night hour, is now appropriately said at any hour of the day. Lauds and vespers are the solemn morning and evening prayers of the church. Terce, Sext, and None correspond to the mid-morning, noon, and mid-afternoon hours. Compline, a night prayer, is of monastic origin, as was Prime, recited in the early morning before being suppressed in 1964. The office has for centuries been primarily the responsibility of monks, who sang it in choir, and priests, who often recited it privately. The second Vatican Council (Vatican Council, Second) encouraged the celebration of Lauds and Vespers in parish churches and initiated significant changes in structure and texts to facilitate the recitation of the office by those involved in active pursuits.

      In the liturgical tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church (Eastern Orthodoxy), the day is considered to begin at sunset with Vespers. Compline is read after the evening meal. The midnight office, which has no exact equivalent in the West, is in practice normally recited before Matins, which in principle should conclude with sunrise. The lesser hours are celebrated at the first, third, sixth, and ninth hours. There is no separate office of Lauds. The daily cycle is celebrated in full only in large monasteries. Matins and Vespers, however, are celebrated in many parish churches. Because it is viewed as a corporate activity, the private recitation of the office has not been a custom in the East.

      The Anglican (Anglicanism) Church has a morning prayer containing elements of the Matins, Lauds, and Prime of the medieval church and has an evening prayer with elements from Vespers and Compline. Both services have the same structure. Lutheran churches have forms for Matins and Vespers services for congregational celebration mainly on Sundays. Although encouraged by Martin Luther, the practice has not been consistently observed. There has been, however, a revival of interest in recent years. See also breviary.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Divine Office — • Brief essay on the historical development of the Liturgy of the Hours Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Divine Office     Divine Office      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Divine Office — may refer to: Liturgy of the Hours, the recitation of certain Christian prayers at fixed hours according to the discipline of the Roman Catholic Church Canonical hours, the recitation of such prayers in Christianity more generally This… …   Wikipedia

  • Divine Office — n. the Psalms, readings, prayers, etc. used at the canonical hours …   English World dictionary

  • Divine Office —    Cycle of monastic liturgies sung at particular times each day. In the Benedictine rule there are eight, called hours, thus the common expression liturgy of the hours. The four major hours are matins (sometimes called vigils) during the night,… …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • Divine Office — Divine Of|fice, the the daily prayers and ceremonies used by ↑Roman Catholic priests …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Divine Office — Divine′ Of′fice n. rel the psalms, readings, and prayers used at the canonical hours • Etymology: 1350–1400 …   From formal English to slang

  • Divine Office — noun Date: 15th century the office for the canonical hours of prayer that priests and religious say daily …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • divine office — /dəˌvaɪn ˈɒfəs/ (say duh.vuyn ofuhs) noun (sometimes upper case) → office (def. 12b) …   Australian English dictionary

  • Divine Office — noun canonical prayers recited daily by priests (e.g. the breviary of the Roman Catholic Church) • Topics: ↑Roman Catholic, ↑Western Church, ↑Roman Catholic Church, ↑Church of Rome, ↑Roman Church, ↑church service, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Divine Office — (Evening and Morning Incense or Vesper and Matins) These are prayers, hymns and thanksgiving that are presented in the evening preceding the Eucharistic Liturgy and in the early morning before the Eucharistic Liturgy …   Dictionary of church terms


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.