LOTH: Setting up your prayer book

Continuing with our series on the Liturgy of the Hours. Episode 2 in the Liturgy of the Hours series on Youtube that I had posted earlier continues on how to set up your Liturgy of the Hours prayer book. The set-up is actually very similar regardless of whether you are using the single-volume Christian Prayer book or the four-volume Liturgy of the Hours set.

If you purchased your prayer book(s) from the Catholic Publishing Company (which is highly likely, considering they are one of the only English publications of the Hours officially sanctioned by the Church), it would have come with a coloured ribbon set that can be placed into the spine of the book for making pages. We’ll go over what I consider to be the best set-up for the ribbons and prayer book before diving in to your first Hour.

First a note on the layout of the prayer book overall. Again, regardless of whether you are using the single-volume Prayer Book or the four-volume Liturgy of the Hours set, each book will be arranged the same. It is best to think of your prayer book as a collection of several books (like the Bible). The first book is the Proper of the Seasons and is pretty self-explanatory– it includes the parts within the Hour that change depending on what season the Church is in. The second book is the Ordinary which is what the prayer ordinarily consists of– it’s structure regardless of the season and feast. The third book is the Psalter which is the largest of the books and contains the four-week cycle of psalms and prayers that are done each day. The fourth book is the Proper of the Saints, and just like the Proper of Seasons, it contains parts that change within the Hours but specifically those related to Solemnities of Our Lord and Mary as well as Feasts and Commendations for Apostles, Saints and Martyrs. The fifth book is part of the Psalter but for setting up your prayer book it is best to think of it as a separate section, and that is the seven-day Night Prayer section.

Be sure to check out:

Setting up your ribbons so that you can easily move back and forth and know your place within the prayer book. This is a matter of assigning ribbons to each book. There should be five ribbons total in your set that are coloured green, purple, blue, yellow and red. When you are learning to pray the Hours you will always start at the Ordinary for the structure (and reference to prayers that are consistent within a particular Hour), move to either the Proper of Seasons or Saints for the antiphons, readings and response, and end up back at the Ordinary for the closing prayers. I’ve developed a clever way of organizing the ribbons from the Catholic Publishing Company that will aid in remember which ribbon is marking which section of the book.

  • Green ribbon – placed in the Proper of Seasons (think green the colour of ordinary time)
  • Purple ribbon – placed in the Ordinary (think of how these prayers rise before the royal throne of Jesus)
  • Blue ribbon – placed in the Psalter (blue for the colour of the sky when you do your day prayers)
  • Yellow ribbon – placed in the Psalter seven-day Night Prayer section (think of the anticipation of the rising sun)
  • Red ribbon – placed in the Proper of the Saints (red is the colour of martyrs)

With this set up and after watch the two videos I have posted from Youtube, you should be off to a great start in praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

Lord God, you have prepared fitting remedies for our weakness:
grant that we may reach out gladly for your healing grace,
and thereby live in accordance with your will.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Featured image by Olivia Snow on Unsplash.

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