The Divine Office eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 261 pages of information about The Divine Office.

2.  That ninth hour was the long-wished-for and long-watched-for hour when reconciliation between earth and heaven was complete.

3.  To beg from God light and grace, especially towards the end of life, for the day’s decline in the afternoon is a figure of the waning of spiritual and corporal life.  The hymn for None expresses this:—­

     “O God, unchangeable and true,
      Of all the light and power,
      Dispensing light in silence through
      Each successive hour;
      Lord, brighten our declining day,
      That it may never wane
      Till death, when all things round decay,
      Brings back the morn again. 
      This grace on Thy redeemed confer,
      Father, Co-equal Son,
      And Holy Ghost, the Comforter,
      Eternal Three in One—­Amen.” 
      (St. Ambrose’s hymn, translated by Cardinal


1.  “Come down from the cross” (St. Matthew, c. 27).

2.  “Lord, remember me when Thou shalt come into Thy Kingdom” (St. Matthew, c. 23).

3.  “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me?” (St. Matthew, c. 27).

General Intentions.  All the intentions of the Sacred Heart; the conversion of Britain; the Church in America.

Personal Intentions.  Fervour in preparation for Mass; fervour in thanksgiving after Mass; fidelity to professional duties and studies.

Special Intentions.  The temporal welfare of Ireland; to beg a blessing on her priests; to beg a blessing on her Church students; to beg a blessing on her Catholic laity; to beg a blessing on her elementary schools.



Etymology.  The word vespers comes directly from the Latin Vesper; Vespera or Espera was a name given to the star Venus, which rising in the evening was a call to prayer.  This Hour is recited after None and before Compline.  In structure, it resembles Lauds, Pater Noster, Ave, Gloria, Five Psalms with antiphons, Capitulum, Hymn, Versicle, antiphon, Magnificat, antiphon and collect.

It had several synonymous names.  It was called Duodecima Hora (Antiphonary of Bangor), because it was said at the twelfth hour of the day, six o’clock, or, perhaps, the name came from the twelve psalms which made up the Hour in some churches.  It was known, too, by the names Lucernarium, hora lucernalis, the hour of the candles; because at this hour a number of candles were lighted, not only to shed light but for symbolic purposes.  It was sometimes referred to as hora incensi, from the custom of burning incense at this evening service, and sometimes it is called gratiarum actio (St. Isidore), because it gives thanks to God for the graces given during the day.  It came to mean not the evening Hour, but the sunset Hour.  And in the sixth century it was celebrated before daylight had gone and before there was any need for artificial light.  In the fourth century it was recited by torchlight.

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The Divine Office from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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