LAUDS. (TITLE XIV)
Etymology, Definition, Symbolism. The word "Lauds" is derived from the Latin laus, praise. It is applied to this Hour, as it is par excellence,
the hour in which God's praises are chanted by His Church. This Hour
succeeds Matins and precedes Prime. The name is said to have been given
to this Hour on account of the last three Psalms, which formerly formed
part of the Office. In these Psalms, 148, 149, 150, the word Laudate
recurs several times. Before the eighth century the Hour was called
"Matutinum," or morning Office, and sometimes it was called Gallicinum or Galli cantus
from being recited at cock-crow. This is the Office of daybreak and
hence its symbolism is of Christ's resurrection. "Christ, the light of
the world, rose from the tomb on Easter morning, like a radiant sun,
trampling over darkness and shedding His brightness upon the earth. The
hymns, psalms, antiphons and versicles of Lauds, all proclaim the
mystery of Christ's Resurrection, and the light which enlightens our
souls. The reform of the Psalter in 1911 has not always preserved this
liturgical idea; nevertheless, the character of the Office has not been
altered. Lauds remains the true morning prayer, which hails in the
rising sun, the image of Christ triumphant—consecrates to Him the
opening day. No other morning prayer is comparable to this" (Dom. F.
Cabrol, The Day Hours of the Church, London, 1910).
The Christians, in their night vigils, followed the pious practices of
the Jews, as to prayers at dead of night and at dawn, Hence, the Hour,
Lauds is of great antiquity, coming, perhaps, from Apostolic times. It
is found well established in the very earliest accounts of Christian
The old writers on liturgy loved to dwell on
pious congruities and parallelisms. They ask the questions, why did the
early Christians pray at dawn and why is the practice continued? They
answer at great length, I will try to summarise their holy themes. The
early Christians prayed at dawn, 1. that in the New Law the figures of
the Old may be fulfilled; 2. to honour the risen Saviour and to remind
us of our resurrection; 3. to glorify Jesus typified by the physical
light. "I am the Light of the world" (St. John, viii. 12); 4. because
at dawn, after rest, body and soul are refreshed and ready to devote
all their powers to God, free from distractions and noise. Each dawn,
revealing God's wondrous work, should hear God's praises in the most
sublime words ever uttered, the Psalms (e.g., Dominus regnavit, Jubilate Deo,
etc., etc.); 5. because God seems more disposed to hear prayers made at
that hour. For, He has said, "Yet if thou wilt arise early to God and
wilt beseech the Almighty... He will presently awake unto thee and make
the dwelling of thy justice peaceable" (Job, viii. 5-6). "I love them
that love me; and they that in the morning early watch for me shall
find me" (Proverbs viii. 17).
Structure. If Lauds succeeds Matins immediately, Pater Noster and Ave Maria are omitted, and the Hour begins with Deus in adjutorium. At these words it is a practice but not an obligation to make the sign of the cross from head to breast (see Vespers, infra).
Then the Gloria Patri, Sicut erat, Amen, Alleluia are said before the
antiphons and psalms. But if a notable delay—say, of ten minutes'
duration—be made between the end of Matins and the start of Lauds, the Pater Noster and Ave Maria begin Lauds. After the psalms, comes the Capitulum, the Hymn, Versicle and Response, antiphon to Benedictus, Canticle Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel, Gloria Patri, Sicut erat, Antiphon to Benedictus repeated, Dominus vobiscum, Et cum spiritu tuo, Oremus, collect, commemorations preceded by versicle, response and Oremus before each. Then Dominus vobiscum, Et cum spiritu tuo, Benedicamus Domino, Deo Gratias, Fidelium animae, Amen. If another Hour do not succeed immediately, Pater Noster (said silently), Dominus det nobis (with a sign of the cross) suam pacem, Et vitam aeternam. Amen.
Then is said the antiphon of the Blessed Virgin, Alma Redemptoris or
Ave Regina, or Regina Coeli, or Salve Regina, according to the part of
the ecclesiastical year for which each is assigned, with versicle, response, oremus, collect, Divinum auxilium.... Amen.
Rubrics. In the paragraphs dealing with the structure of this hour is given the rule for saying Pater Noster and Ave, The Psalms for Lauds in the new Breviary follow these rules:–
General Rule: Psalms of the current day.
Exception: Sunday Psalms on the excepted Feasts.
In applying the general rule to Sundays and week days, it will be seen
that the Psalter contains two sets of Psalms for Lauds. The use of the
two sets is as follows:–
Sundays: (i) Throughout the year: first set of Psalms.
(ii) Sundays from Septuagesima to Easter: second set of Psalms.
Ferias: The first set of Psalms is to be used on:–
(i) Ferias throughout the year, not including those in Advent, Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima weeks.
(ii) Ferias in Paschal time.
(iii) Feasts at any season of the year.
(iv) Vigils of Christmas and Epiphany.
The second set of Psalms is to be used on:–
(i) Ferias of Advent.
(ii) Ferias from Septuagesima to Wednesday in Holy Week, inclusive.
(iii) Vigils (common) outside Paschal time, when the Office of Vigil is said (New Psalter and Its Uses, p. 188).
On Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the Psalms of the
Feria are to be said. But the Canticle of Moses (Deut, 33) is not said
on Holy Saturday.
Antiphons. As a general rule antiphons of the current day of the week are to be said.
(1) On excepted Feasts, (2) non-excepted Feasts which have proper
antiphons, (3) Holy Week has special antiphons, (4) Six ferias before
Christmas have special antiphons.
In Paschal time, all psalms and the canticles are recited under one antiphon.
Antiphon of Benedictus (1) Sunday antiphons are proper. (2) Ferias
throughout the year have antiphons of current feria. But Ferias in
Advent, and in Lent, in Passiontide, Paschal time and September Ember
days have proper antiphons. (3) Feasts have antiphons from proper or
Capitulum (Title XXIX.). Etymology, meaning and synonyms.
The word capitulum
comes from the Latin, and means a little chapter, a heading, a
beginning, an abridgment, because this little chapter is a little
lesson, a brief extract from Sacred Scripture, the head or the
beginning of the Epistle of the Mass of the Feast (Gavantus, Bona). It
is found in every Hour, except Matins. It is known by other names, the
summarium, collectio, collatio, lectio brevis, epistoletto,
lectiuncula, Versiculus brevis.
authors hold that this usage of reading a brief extract from Sacred
Scripture is of Jewish origin. For, the Jews were accustomed to
interpose brief readings from Scripture prose in their psalm chanting
service. The capitulum is found in Christian services of the fourth century; and St. Ambrose (340-397) is said to have instituted the capitula
of Terce, Sext and None. This new practice spread quickly and several
councils recommended or ordered the usage—e.g., the Council of Agde In
Remarks. The Capitulum is
said always except from Holy Thursday to the Vespers of Saturday
preceding Low Sunday, and in Requiem Offices. In Compline it is said
after the Hymn.
The Capitulum of Lauds is
ordinarily taken from the beginning of the Epistle of the Mass of the
day of the feast. Sext and None generally have their capitula drawn from the middle and end of the same Epistle extract. Terce has generally the same words for the Capitulum, as Vespers and Lauds, because it is the grandest and most sublime of the little Hours. The Capitulum
is said without a blessing being sought, because it is (in choir) read
by the Hebdomadarius, who there represents the person of Christ, just
as the Capitulum does too, and for Whom it would not be consonant to ask a blessing. It concludes without Tu autem, because these words are correlative of Jube.
And since it is such a short lesson it is easy to recite it without
fault or sin, the more so as it is read by the Hebdomadarius, who
should be advanced in perfection. It is short, whilst the lessons of
Matins, the night Office, are long, because the day is specially given
to toil and the night to contemplation. During the recital of this
little lesson all turn to the altar through respect for Christ, figured
by the Capitulum. Sometimes the words of the Capitulum are from the Itala version and not from the Vulgate.
Psalms and Canticles of Lauds.
The Office of Lauds now consists of four Psalms and a canticle,
followed by a little chapter, a hymn, versicle, antiphon, of
Benedictus, the canticle, Benedictus and prayer. One of the
characteristics of Lauds is the canticle taken from the Old Testament.
Fourteen canticles taken from the Old Testament now find a place in our
Breviaries. Formerly, only seven canticles from the Old Testament were
given in the Psaltery (cf. supra, p. 149).
"If, according to the new distribution of the Psalter, the Psalms for
Lauds do not refer so directly to the symbolism of sunrise, they are
nevertheless more varied and are generally well chosen. The canticles
inserted among the Psalms have also been changed. The whole selection
is worthy of note. It contains, besides those given in the former
arrangement of the Psalter, others which are very beautiful and
"The hymns for Lauds, all ancient
and varying with the seasons, form a fine collection. Their theme is
one: the rising of the sun as a symbol of Christ's resurrection, and
the crowing of the cock, which arouses the sluggish and calls all to
work. Some of these hymns are of considerable poetical merit: that for
Sunday, Aeterne Rerum conditor, is a little masterpiece.
"The 'Benedictus' corresponds with the Magnificat
of Vespers. Both are sung with the same solemnity and are of the same
importance; they form as it were the culminating point of their
respective Hours, and for feast days the altar is incensed while they
"The 'Benedictus' or Canticle of Zachary
recalls the Precursor's mission of proclaiming the Messiah and the new
alliance. It is altogether appropriate to the Office of daybreak, as
ushering in the dawn of a new era. The closing verse speaks of the
light which the announcement of the Messiah shed upon the nations
'sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death'" (Dom Cabrol,
Introduction to Day Hours of the Church). "This Canticle of
Zachary (St. Luke i. 68-79) naturally falls into two parts. The first
(verses 68 to 75, 'Benedictus Dominus ... diebus nostris') is a song of
thanksgiving for the fulfilment of the Messianic hopes of the Jews, to
which is given a Christian sentiment. The power, which was of old in
the family of David for the defence of the nation, is being restored,
and in a higher and more spiritual sense. The Jews mourning under the
Roman yoke prayed for deliverance through the house of David. The
'deliverance,' a powerful salvation ('cornu salutis nobis') was at hand
so that the Jews were seeing the fulfilment of God's promise made to
Abraham, and this deliverance, this salvation was such that 'we may
serve Him without fear in holiness and justice, all our days' (St. Luke
"The second part of the canticle (verses 76-80,
'Et tu puer ... ad dirigendos pedes nostros') is an address by Zachary
to his own son, who was to take an important part in the scheme of the
powerful salvation and deliverance by the Messiah. This canticle is
known as the canticle of joyous hope, hence its use at funerals at the
moment of interment, when words of thanksgiving for the Redemption are
specially in place as an expression of Christian hope" (Catholic Encyclopedia, art. "Benedictus").
Oratio (Title XXX.). The word oratio
has various meanings. In the liturgy it is translated by the word
"collect." The word "collect" means either that the priest who
celebrates Mass collects in a short form the needs, the thanksgivings
and the praises of the people, to offer them up to God; or most
probably "the original meaning seems to have been this: it was used for
the service held at a certain church on the days when there was a
station held somewhere else. The people gathered together and became a
collection at the first church; after certain prayers had been said
they went in procession to the station church. Just before they
started, the celebrant said a prayer, the oratio ad collectam (ad collectionem populi), the name would then be the same as oratio super populum,
a title that still remains in our Missal, in Lent, for instance, after
the Post-Communion. This prayer, the collect, would be repeated at the
beginning of Mass at the station itself. Later writers find other
meanings for the name. Innocent III. says that in this prayer the
priest collects all the prayers of the faithful" (De Sacr. Altar. Mystic. ii., 2). See also Benedict XIV. (De SS. Missae Sacr. ii., 5,–Dr. A. Fortescue, Cath. Encyl., art. "collect").
Antiquity of collects.
No one can say with certainty who the composers of the collects were.
All admit the antiquity of these compositions. In the fourth century
certain collects were believed to come from apostolic times; indeed,
the collects read in the Mass on Good Friday, for Gentiles, Jews,
heretics, schismatics, catechumens and infidels bear intrinsic notes of
their antiquity. Other liturgical collects show that they were composed
in the days of persecution. Others show their ages by their accurate
expression of Catholic doctrine against, and their supplications for,
heretics, Manicheans, Sabbelians, Arians, Pelagians and Nestorians. St,
Jerome in his Life of St. Hilarion (291-371) writes, "Sacras Scriptures
memoriter tenens, post orationes et psalmos quasi Deo praesente
recitabat." It is said that St. Gelasius (d. 496), St. Ambrose (d.
397), St, Gregory the Great (d. 604) composed collects and corrected
existing ones. The authorship and the period of composition of many of
the Breviary collects are matters of doubt and difficulty. Even the
date of the introduction of collects into the Divine Office is
doubtful. In the early Christian Church there seems to have been one
and only one prayer, the Pater Noster, in liturgical use. St.
Benedict laid it down in his rule that there should be none other. It
is generally held by students of liturgy that the collects were
originally used in Mass only and were introduced into the Office at a
time much later than their introduction into the Mass books.
In the Masses for Holy Week we see the collects in their oldest
existing form. The rite of the Mass has been shortened at all other
seasons, and there remains now only the greeting, Oremus, and the collect itself. The Oremus
did not refer immediately to the collect, but rather to the silent
prayer that went before it. This also explains the shortness of the
older collects. They are not the prayer itself, but its conclusion. One
short sentence summed up the petitions of the people. It is only since
the original meaning of the collect has been forgotten that it has
become itself a long petition with various references and clauses
(compare the collects for the Sundays after Pentecost with those of
modern feasts)–(Cath. Encyl., art. "Collects").
The following examples which are not extreme, may help to make clear
and emphatic the matter of the shortness of the old and the length of
the new collects.
"Protector in te sperantium, Deus,
sine quo nihil est validum, nihil est sanctum: multiplica super nos
misericordiam tuam; ut te rectore, te duce, sic transeamus per bona
temporalia, ut non amittamus aeterna. Per Dominum."
God, the Protector of all that hope in Thee, without Whom nothing is
sure, nothing is holy, bountifully bestow on us, Thy mercy, that Thou
being our ruler and our guide, we may so pass through temporal
blessings that we lose not the eternal. Through our Lord ..." (Collect
for third Sunday after Pentecost.)
misericors Deus qui beatam Joannam Franciscam tuo amore succensam
admirabili spiritus fortitudine per omnes vitae semitas in via
perfectionis donasti, quique per illam illustrare Ecclesiam tuam nova
prole voluisti: ejus meritis et precibus concede ut qui infirmitatis
nostrae conscii de tua virtute confidimus coelestis gratiae auxilio,
cuncta nobis adversantia vicamus. Per Dominum ..."
and merciful God Who inflaming blessed Jane Frances with love, didst
endow her with a marvellous fortitude of spirit to pursue the way of
perfection In all the paths of life, and wast pleased through her to
enrich Thy Church with a new offspring, grant by her merits and
intercession that we, who, knowing our own weakness, trust in Thy
strength, may by the help of Thy heavenly grace overcome all things
that oppose us. Through our Lord" (Collect of St. Jane Frances Fremiot
De Chantal, August 21).
Rubrics. In Vespers and Lauds the collect is said after the antiphons of the Magnificat and Benedictus, unless the Preces (q.v.) are to be said in these hours. Then the Preces
are said after the antiphons, and the collects follow after them
immediately. The collect of a ferial Office is found in Office of the
previous Sunday, except in ferias of Lent and Rogation days which have
special and proper collects.
At Prime and the other Hours the collect is said after the little respond, unless the Preces be recited. They precede the collect. At Compline the collect is said after the antiphon Salva nos if the Preces be not recited.
At Prime and Compline the collects of the Psalter are never changed
except during the last three days of Holy Week. In this triduum, in all
hours up to and including None on Holy Saturday the collect is said
after the Psalm Miserere.
Before reciting the collect in the Office, everyone in deacon's orders or in priesthood says Dominus vobiscum, Et cum spiritu tuo, and this is said even if the Office be said privately. All others reciting the Office say Domine exaudi orationem meam. Et clamor meus ad te veniat. Then the word Oremus is prefixed to the recitation of the collect, and at the end, Amen is said. If there be only one collect, the Dominus vobiscum or the Domine exaudi with the responses Et cum spiritu tuo; Et clamor meus ad te veniat is repeated after the Amen. But if there be more than one collect, before each is said its corresponding antiphon and versicle and also the word, Oremus. After the last collect is said, the Dominus vobiscum and Et cum spiritu tuo are repeated. Then we add Benedicamus Domino; Deo Gratias, Fidelium animae.... This latter verse is not a constant sequel to the Benedicamus, as we see in Prime, where the verse Pretiosa succeeds it; and again in Compline it is succeeded by Benedicat et custodiet. The concluding words of the prayers or collects vary. If the prayer is addressed to God the Father, the concluding words are Per Dominum (see the collects given above). If the prayer be addressed to God the Son, the concluding words are Qui vivis et regnas–e.g.,
Deus qui in tuae caritatis exemplum ad fidelium redemptionem .... Qui
vivis et regnas (Collect for St. Peter Nolasco's feast, 3ist January).
If in the beginning of the prayer mention is made of God the Son, the
ending should be Per eundem, e.g., Domine Deus noster? qui,
beatae Brigittae per Filium tuurn unigenitum secreta coelestia
revelasti; ... Per eundem Dominum (collect for feast, 8th October). But
if the mention of God the Son is made near the end of the collect, the
ending is Qui tecum vivit et regnal, e.g., "Famulorum tuorum,
quaesumus, Domine.... Genitricis Filii tui Domini nostri intercessione
salvemur: Qui tecum vivit et regnat" (collect of Assumption, 15th
August). If the name of the Holy Ghost occur in the prayer, the
conclusion is, In unitate ejusdem Spiritus sancti, e.g., "Deus, qui hodierna die corda ... in eodem spiritu recta ... in imitate ejusdem Spiritus" (collect: for Pentecost Sunday).
The following lines, giving the rules for terminations, are well known and are useful, as a help to the memory:–
Per Dominum dicas, si Patrem quilibet oras Si Christum memores, Per eundem, dicere debes Si loqueris Christo, Qui vivis scire memento; Qui tecum, si sit collectae finisin ipso Si Flamen memores ejusdem die prope finem
When there are several collects an ending or conclusion is added to the first and last only. Dominus vobiscum is said before the first collect only, but each collect is preceded by the word Oremus, unless in the Office for the Dead.
Explanation of the Rubric. Where a feast is transferred either occasionally or always and its collect contains words such as Hanc diem, hodiernom diem, it is not allowed to change the wording, without permission of the Congregation of Rites (S.R.C., 7th September, 1916).
If the collect of a commemoration be of the same form as the prayer of
the feast, the former is taken from the common of saints, in proper
Dominus vobiscum. This salutation is of
great antiquity. It was the greeting of Booz to his harvestmen (Ruth,
ii. 4). The prophet used the selfsame salutation to Azas. And the Angel
Gabriel expressed the same idea, Dominns tecum, to the
Blessed Virgin. It was blessed and honoured by our Lord Himself, when
to His apostles he said "Ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus" (St.
Matt. 28. 20). This beautiful salutation passed into Church liturgy at
an early date, probably in apostolic times. Its use in liturgy was
mentioned at the Council of Braga (563), and it is found in the
Sacramentarium Gelasianum (sixth century). These words are called the
divine salutation. They mean that the priest who utters them is at
peace with all clergy and people and thus wishes God to remain with
them—the highest and holiest of wishes. For the presence of God, Who is
the source of every good and the author of every best gift, is a
certain pledge of divine protection and of that peace and consolation
which the world cannot give. This formula is used even in private
recitation of the Office, as the priest prays in union with and in the
name of the Church.
The words Et cum spiritu tuo
add a new and further significance to the salutation; for it is the
spirit, the human soul, that prays, and when the spirit prays in the
name of the Church for her children, its work is a work of high
spiritual order, demanding the use of all the soul's powers,
This exhortation is of very great antiquity, and in this form is found
in the liturgies of St. James and of St. Mark. In those days it was
said by the priest in a loud voice. The priest, the mediator, following
the example of the great Mediator, Christ, calls others to join with
him in prayer. St. Augustine tells us, that sometimes after pronouncing
the word Oremus, the priest paused for a while and the people
prayed in silence, and then the priest "collected" the united prayers
of the congregation and offered them to God, hence the name collect (St. Augustine, Epistle 107), (cf. Probst., Abendl Messe, p. 126).
Invocation and Conclusion.
Prayer is addressed generally to God the Father. This practice is in
accordance with the example and doctrine of Christ, "Father, I give
Thee thanks" (St. John, xi, 41); "Amen, amen, I say to you; if you ask
the Father anything in My name, he will give it to you" (St. John, xvi.
23). "And He taught us to say 'Our Father.'" In the early ages of the
Church, seldom was prayer addressed to God, the Son. Innocent III.
tells us that the reason for the practice was a fear that such prayer
might lead the catechumens, the Jews or the Pagans converted to
Christianity, to allege or to believe that Christians worshipped
several Gods. However, with the advent of the early heresies, it became
necessary to formulate prayers witnessing the divinity of Christ and
His equality in all things to the Father and the Holy Ghost. In some of
the great prayers of the liturgy, the three Persons of the Holy Trinity
are named to show their equality and unity of nature and substance.
Nearly all the prayers of this kind are the products of the Church
during the storms of early heresy against the divinity, nature or
personality of Christ.
The conclusions of the prayers generally contain the words Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum,
because all graces come through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Who
pleads, as Mediator between God and Man, as He Himself has said, "No
man cometh to the Father but by Me" (St. John, xiv. 6).
Hence, in every collect, we may distinguish five parts: the invocation, the motive, the petition, the purpose, the conclusion.
(1) The Invocation takes some form such as Deus, Domine.
(2) The motive is commonly introduced by the relative qui; e.g., Deus, qui corda fidelium sancti spiritus illustratione docuisti.
(3) The petition, the body or centre or substance of the prayer, is
always noted for the solemn simplicity of language, which marks
liturgical prayer, e.g., Multiplica super nos misericordiam tuam.
(4) The purpose is an enforcement of the petition. It has reference,
generally, to the need of the petitions and is marked usually with the
word ut. "Multiplica super nos misericordiam tuam, ut quae, nobis agendis praecipis, te miserante adimplere possimus" (prayer for feast of St. Patrick).
(5) The conclusion varies, e.g., "Per Dominum nostrum," "Per eundem Dominum," etc.
"Those who pay intelligent attention to the liturgical chant at High
Mass, and in particular to the chant of the celebrant, will be able to
discover for themselves that the intonations used in the singing of the
collect and the Post-Communion serve, as a rule, to mark off two at
least of the main divisions indicated. Two inflections, a greater and a
lesser, occur in the body of the prayer, the greater for the most part
coming at the close of the 'motive,' while the lessor concludes the
'petition' and produces the purpose of the prayer. When the prayers are
correctly printed, as in the authentic 'Missale Romanum,' the place of
the inflexions is indicated by a colon, 'punctum principals,' and a
semicolon, 'semi-punctum,' respectively. These steps, it will he
observed, indicate, not precisely 'breaks in the sense' (as Haberl
incorrectly says) but rather the logical divisions of the sentence,
which is not quite the same thing" (Father Lucas, S.J., Holy Mass, chap, vi.).
The question is often asked, why Dominus vobiscum
is said after the collect, or prayer. Writers on liturgy reply that it
is so placed because Christ frequently used the salutation Pax vobis,
and the priest in public prayer holds the place of Christ, and as he,
the priest, used this formula of salvation before the collect to obtain
the spirit of prayer and the grace of God, he repeats it so that these
gifts may be retained.
In the collects, the fatherland
of the saints is rarely found, because the saints' true home and
fatherland is heaven, where they were born again to life eternal, and
their fatherland is not this valley of exile where they spent their
temporal life. Nor are their surnames given in the collects (see the
collect of St. Jane Frances Fremiot de Chantel given on p. 180). But it
is not infrequent in the collects to find certain appellations
characterising a saint or noting some special prerogative or wonderful
gift of grace. The Church's collects record the wonderful gifts of St.
John Chrysostom ("the golden-mouthed"), St. Peter Chrysologus ("qui ob
auream ejus eloquentiam Chrysologi cognomen adeptus est") (Rom. Brev.).
Sometimes the nation or earthly home of a saint is given in a collect
to distinguish one saint from another. This is seen in the case of
saints bearing the name of Mary, which if used absolutely or
unqualifiedly refers to the Mother of God. See the collects for St.
Mary Magdalen, St. Mary of Egypt, etc.
The collect or
prayer is placed at the end of the Hours to collect or gather up the
fruits of all the prayers that precede; to beg from God that His grace
may follow our actions as it precedes them; that the prayer may be a
shield and buckler against all temptations which may be encountered.
The prayers at Prime and at Compline never vary, to remind us, the old
writers tell us, that all our acts should be invariably referred to
God. In the early ages of the Church, all public prayers, both in Mass
and in Office were offered up by both priests and people with
outstretched arms. This practice is observed still, in a certain way,
Benedicamus is the prayer to thank God for all His graces.
This prayer is said after every Hour, unless where the hour is said in
choir and followed immediately by Mass. It Is omitted, too, before the
De Precibus (Title XXXIV.). These are prayers
which are said at some of canonical Hours, before the collect or
oratio. They commence with Kyrie eleison or Pater Noster. They consist
of versicles and responses and these differ from other versicles and
responses, which are generally historic, e.g., In omnem terram exivit
sonus eorum, Amavit eum Dominus et laudavit eum. But the versicles and
responses of the preces are always a call to God or an
exhortation to praise God (e.g., Fiat misericordia tua, Domine), super
nos, Quemadmodum speravimus in te (see Prime, infra, page 193). These
prayers are of great antiquity, mention of them being found in the
works of Amalare (ninth century).
They are said in some
Offices in Vespers, Compline, Lauds, Prime and Little Hours. Before the
reform of the Breviary by Pope Pius X,, the Preces at Vespers contained
six short prayers and the Psalm, Miserere. In the new Breviary nine
short prayers are given in the Preces—the six former prayers being
retained and three new ones, Pro Papa; Pro antistite; Pro
benefactoribus, being added. The Miserere is omitted. The same
additions were made in Lauds and the Psalm, De Profundis omitted.
In Prime and the Little Hours, the preces are unchanged standing in the new Breviary as in the old.
Rubrics. The Preces are recited in the Office of–
(1) Prime and Compline on certain days;
(2) Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline of certain feasts.
The preces feriales at Lauds and Vespers are the same in structure.
They have the same structure in Terce, Sext, None, but differ in
character. The preces dominicales at Prime and Compline have a form of
their own, additions being made in the preces of Prime when said on a
1. The Preces Feriales are said at Lauds on
Ferias of Lent, Advent and Passiontide, Ember days, except Ember day at
Pentecost and on Vigils (except on Vigil of Christmas, Epiphany,
Ascension, Friday after Ascension and Vigil of Pentecost)–when the
Office on those days is of the current feria.
2. At Prime (i) Preces Dominicales are said in all semi-doubles, simples, Ferial Offices.
(i) They are said at Little Hours if said at Lauds.
(ii) At Prime, Preces Feriales are said if they have been said at Lauds.
3. At Vespers Preces Feriales are said (1) on ferias of Advent and Lent when office is of feria.
4. At Compline, Preces Dominicales are said on all (i) semi-doubles, (ii) simples, (iii) all Ferias, unless at Vespers a double or an octave was celebrated.
SOME TEXTS AND INTENTIONS WHICH MAY HELP TOWARDS THE DEVOUT RECITATION OF LAUDS.
1. "And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they come
to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen." They said to one another,
"Who shall roll us back the stone from the door of the sepulchre?" (St.
2. "And looking, they saw the stone rolled
back.... And entering the sepulchre they saw a young man sitting on the
right side, clothed with a white robe; and they were astonished. Who
sayeth to them, Be not affrighted; you seek Jesus of Nazareth Who was
crucified. He is risen, He is not here" (St. Mark, xv.).
3. "Behold Jesus sayeth to her (Magdalen) 'Woman, why weepest thou?'"
4. "Behold Jesus met them (the women) saying to them 'All hail.'"
(5) "See my hands and feet, that it is I myself, handle and see" (St. Luke, xxiv.).
6. "Bring hither thy hand and put it into My side and be not faithless."
7. "My Lord and my God" (St, John, xx.).
General Intentions. The wants of the Church, peace among nations—vocations to the priesthood—Church students—souls in Purgatory.
A glorious resurrection; fervour in saying the Office; fervour in
saying Mass; fervour in priestly work; forgiveness of all sin.
Special Intentions. For Catholic Ireland; for the conversion of America; for peace throughout the world.
SECTION: Prime (Title XV)
Chapter I. Matins. (Title XIII)