The Psalms through Three Thousand Years: Prayerbook of a Cloud of Witnesses

By William L. Holladay | Go to book overview

Appendix 1
Psalms in the
Divine Office in the
Roman Catholic Church
Just before the Reformation

There were eight times of prayer: (1) Vigils at midnight, often called “Matins” or “Nocturns”; (2) Lauds at daybreak; (3) Prime at roughly seven o’clock; (4) Terce at roughly nine o’clock; (5) Sext at roughly noon; (6) None at roughly three o’clock; (7) Vespers in the evening; and (8) Compline on retiring. Sunday Vigils consisted of three “nocturns” (divisions of recitation), the first (here marked “I”) containing twelve psalms, the second and third (here marked “II” and “III”) consisting of three psalms each. Vigils on the weekdays consisted of the first nocturn only.

Beyond the Psalms, Lauds contained seven canticles from the Old Testament, one each day. All of these are part of the Hebrew and Protestant canon except the Song of the Three Young Men in the furnace (Dan. 3:35-66; versification sometimes given as 57-88), which was an addition in the Septuagint and is therefore Deuterocanonical. In addition, the three canticles from Luke are included: the Benedictus to close Lauds, the Magnificat to close Vespers, and the Nunc Dimittis to close Compline. All other biblical references in the table are from the Psalms, and all numeration of the Psalms is regularized to the Hebrew (and Protestant) numeration (see the Introduction).

It should also be noted that for Lauds on the Sundays from the third Sunday before Lent (Septuagesima Sunday) through Palm Sunday, Psalm 51 was substituted for Psalm 93 and Psalm 118 was substituted for Psalm 100; for Prime on those same Sundays, Psalm 93 was substituted for Psalm 118.1

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