Daily Office

What is the Daily Office?

 

The Daily Office evolved from the Roman Catholic canonical hours which mark the divisions of the day in terms of fixed times of prayer at regular intervals. A book of hours, chiefly a breviary, normally contains a version of, or selection of these types of prayers. In the Roman Rite, canonical hours are also called offices, since they refer to the official set of prayers of the Church, which is known variously as the officium divinum ("divine office" or "divine service"). This practice derived from the earliest centuries of Christianity, and ultimately from the pre-Christian Jewish practice of reciting the Shema prayer in the morning and evening as well as a remembrance of the daily sacrifices in the Temple, and has been present in monastic communities since their earliest days.

The Anglican practice of saying daily morning and evening prayer derives from the pre-Reformation canonical hours, of which eight were required to be said in churches and by clergy daily: Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline.

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A page from a Book of Hours, Matins (15th century)

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The first Book of Common Prayer (1549)

The first Book of Common Prayer (1549), which first presented the modern Anglican Daily Office services in essentially the same form as present, radically simplified this arrangement, combining the first three services of the day into a single service called Mattins and the latter two into a single service called Evensong (which, before the Reformation, was the English name for Vespers). The rest were abolished. The second edition of the Book of Common Prayer (1552) renamed these services to Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, respectively, and also made some minor alterations, setting the pattern of daily Anglican worship which has been essentially unchanged in most cathedrals and other large churches ever since, continuing to the current edition of the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer of 1662.

Each day, the members of the Community of the Mother of Jesus pray at least three hours of the Divine Office: Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline. We start each hour with the words: “May Jesus and His Dear Mother be with us on our journey.” This is followed by a period of silence before we begin the Office in the usual format. We do this so we can think of the other members of the CMJ as we start our prayer, as well as any neighbor who is in need whom we want to hold in our heart as we pray. We also observe periods of silence at the end of each psalm, and after the reading from Sacred Scripture. At the conclusion of each hour we add: “May the needy not be forgotten, or the hope of the poor be in vain.”  In their private praying of the Divine Office members may select the version of the Office that best meets their life of prayer.​

Daily Office and Divine Office Resources

 

There are some wonderful online tools for praying the daily office. Below is a sample of some of our favorite online resources.