Learn to say the Office


Before you actually try to start saying the Benedictine Office, there are some things you need to know about it.  So read these posts to get the essentials before you start.

1.  Seven things you should know about the Benedictine Office

If you are thinking about saying the Benedictine Office, it is worth knowing a little it about it. 

2.  Books for the Benedictine Office

The notes in this series are primarily based around the Monastic Diurnal and Antiphonale Monasticum, but this post takes you though the options.

3. Finding you way around the Monastic Diurnal

So your new Monastic Diurnal has just arrived.  Here's how to navigate it...

4. Singing the Office - and finding you way around the Antiphonale Monasticum

The Divine Office - and especially the Benedictine Office - is meant to be sung.  This post gives some suggestions on how to get started, and introduces the key book of chants for the day hours, the Antiphonale Monasticum.

5.  What changes and what doesn't in the Office

What prayers you say in the Office depend on several different cycles that impact on it - the particular hour of the day or night being said; the day of the week; the liturgical season and week; and feasts attached to fixed dates.  This post provides an overview.

6. Preparatory Prayers

Before you actually say the hours, you need to prepare yourself mentally, and aks for God's help to pray well.  


If you are already familiar with a traditional version of the Divine Office (for example because you have said the Roman version), you may not need detailed notes on each of the hours.

The Diurnal doesn't always write out texts in full though, so you may find it worth reading through this quick guide to its shortcuts and quirks.

Diurnal traps and shortcuts - a summary guide 

A guide to some of the shortcuts in the Diurnal, focusing on the opening of the hours.  The Diurnal rarely writes out the opening prayers for each hour in full, so this section provides a guide to the cue words it does include.

The opening and closing prayers of the Office  

The Diurnal doesn't write out the concluding prayers for each day very often, so this section goes through the standard conclusions in full, as well as how to make a commemoration (ie celebrate the memorial of a saint, or remembrance of a day of Advent or Lent etc that is displaced by a feast).

Hymns, chapters, versicles and responsories 

Filling out the Diurnal  cues for the texts of the Office.


Each of the components of the Office have specific rules attached to them that generally apply across each of the hours where they are used.  Although the particular texts used changes, the general principles don't.  The posts in this series provide some context on the various parts of the hours, as well as explanations of how to say them.

The opening prayers of the Office

The hymns

The psalms Pt 1 - general rubrics and psalms without antiphon
The psalms pt 2 - psalms with antiphons
The psalms pt 3 - Using the Antiphonale to sing the psalms

The short lesson (at Compline)

The chapter (verse)

Collects - where to find them, which ones to use



The closing prayers of the Office Pt 1 - Structure and key elements
The closing prayers Pt 2 - the collect and its concluding formulas

The closing prayers Pt 3 - Commemorations


Arranged in the order I suggest you learn them.

1.  Compline

Compline  - in one post

The last Office of the day before the start of the great silence in a monastery, this is the easiest of the hours to learn, as the psalms are the same every day.


Traditionally said an hour after dawn, the hour is geared towards helping us start the workday.

Terce, Sext and None 

Said mid-morning,noon and mid-afternoon, these short hours help sanctify the day.


Traditionally said as the sun is setting.


St Benedict wanted Lauds to start at daybreak, so that as we celebrate the rising of the sun, we also celebrate the risen Son.

Lauds - the quick guide

For more detail: 

Introduction to Lauds 

Lauds for Sundays and Feasts

 Lauds during the week


Aka Vigils - prayer in the night.

 The Office of Our Lady on Saturday

Office of the Dead


Calendars and Ordos - Ordos help you know what feasts and/or seasons you need to take account of when you say the Office each day.

Liturgical seasons  - The Farnborough Diurnal is based on the 1963 calendar.  A quick guide to some differences to the modern calendar that you may not be familiar with.

The feasts of saints in the Office - The sanctorale cycle in the Office

Customising the Ordo - On adding in local feasts, and aligning with the Roman EF calendar.

Using the novus ordo calendar, other ordos - On saying the Benedictine Office with the new calendar, or pre-1962 calendars.

Feasts - what changes, what doesn't


How the Office is performed - When to stand, bow etc; roles when the Office is sung in choir.

Tackling the Latin

Singing the Office pt 1

Singing the Office Pt 2









You can also find these in PDF form over at the BenOffice Help Group.


Terminology - key words you need to know
Glossary of terms

When are the hours properly said?


Andrew Tillcock said...

Just a quick question refresher. We say the glory be after each psalm and canticle unless otherwise noted. Also what about after the chapter readings?

Kate Edwards said...

I have answered this elsewhere, but see this post for a summary: http://saintsshallarise.blogspot.com.au/2009/04/learning-office-part-5b-diverse-parts.html