Liturgy of the Hours

Since 2012, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) has been diligently working on creating a new English-language edition of the Liturgy of the Hours. This new translation aims to closely correspond to the official Latin text, while also incorporating revisions to the texts and liturgical calendar that have been made since the current English-language edition was published. One exciting aspect of this new edition is the inclusion of Latin and English versions of the original ancient hymns for the Liturgy of the Hours, written by renowned figures such as St. Ambrose and St. Gregory the Great.

At the recent plenary assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Bishop Steven J. Lopes, the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, provided an update on this highly anticipated project. Here are the main points from his presentation:

Progress of the Re-Translation

Bishop Steven J. Lopes presented the progress made in the re-translation of the Liturgy of the Hours during the plenary assembly.

Approval of Liturgical Texts for St. Faustina Kowalska

The liturgical texts for the memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska were approved by exactly two-thirds of the Latin-rite bishops, which is the minimum requirement for the vote to pass.

Regularizing the Doxology

ICEL recommends regularizing the text of the doxology to match the familiar version used in the rosary, which states, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.” This change aims to eliminate the awkward stumbling that new pray-ers often experience with the current breviary translation.

Adoption of Official Latin Names for the Hours

The USCCB Committee for Divine Worship proposes using the official Latin names for the hours, such as Lauds, Vespers, and Compline. This development is seen as an excellent way to reinforce the idea that the Liturgy of the Hours is not just a generic “Morning Prayer” but the prayer of the Church.

Inclusion of Latin Canticles

The USCCB committee intends to include the Latin texts of the Benedictus, Magnificat, and Nunc Dimittis within the text, especially to facilitate the chanting of these canticles.

Publication Plans

The forthcoming edition is planned to be published in four volumes, contrary to the mistaken belief that it would be five volumes. Bishop Timothy Doherty of Lafayette-in-Indiana suggested that the publishers ensure the text is not too small, and that the new edition includes beautiful artwork instead of the current statues that some find unappealing.

Availability of New Hymnal

The new hymnal for the Liturgy of the Hours, published by GIA (Gregorian Institute of America), will be available for sale starting next month, July 2023.

Proper Readings for New Saints

Proper readings for new saints, particularly for the second reading of the Office of Readings, have been compiled through collaboration between the Holy See and the postulators for various causes. Bishop Lopes promises that these readings will be a beautiful addition to the breviary, including letters from saints such as St. Damien describing his experience among lepers on Molokai and Blessed Miguel Pro discussing his aspiration to become a martyr.

In summary, the process of re-translating the Liturgy of the Hours is finally nearing its conclusion. Over the past decade, the bishops have been approving sections of the translations as ICEL systematically produces them. If all goes well, all component texts will have been voted on and hopefully approved by the USCCB by June 2024. After that, they will be sent to the Vatican for approval, and the new breviaries may be available by 2026.

Opinions expressed by blog authors do not necessarily reflect the views of Corpus Christi Watershed.