About the Little Office

The Canonical Hours

Illustrations: Tres Riches du Duc de Berry

The Rubrics of the Little Office

The Sabbatine Privilege

The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin is here provided in the ordinary form which begins with Matins the day after the Purification until Advent and conforms with the revisions of Pope St. Pius X in 1910. For anyone not familiar with this devotion, following a printed copy of this work can prove a daunting task, especially when trying to discern between seasonal texts. In order to eliminate any confusion, we have only included the specific Antiphons, Little Chapters, Anthems etc. for Ordinary cycle, presenting them in an easy to follow format intended primarily for private devotion. Additional clarification is also provided throughout the hours with special notes "Following the Rubrics."

The faithful who find it difficult to pray at the appointed canonical hours should not be discouraged from practicing this devotion to Our Lady. While it is true that the Church designates specific times of day for the public recitation of each of the Hours of the Little Office, the faithful who participate privately will still derive great spiritual benefits (see the Sabbatine Privilege) . One should, however make every effort to say at least the morning hours in the morning and the evening hours at night.

Prayer Before the Office

O Lord, open Thou my mouth, that it may bless Thy holy name; cleanse my heart, too, from all vain, evil, or wandering thoughts. Enlighten mine understanding, kindle mine affections, that I may be able to say this Office meetly with attention and devotion and may deserve to be heard before the presence of Thy divine Majesty. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

O Lord, in union with that divine intention wherewith Thou Thyself, while on earth, didst offer praises unto God, I offer these Hours unto Thee.

Following the Rubrics:
As a rule, in the recitation of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Antiphons of the Psalms are announced in the manner that is proper to an Office of simple rite, i.e. only the first words (preceding the asterisk *) of the Antiphons are said before the Psalms, but the entire Antiphon is recited after the Psalms. When exceptions are made and Antiphons are recited as of double rite, all the Antiphons to the Psalms and Canticles have to be said in full before and after.

To Begin the Little Office, select from among the 7 Canonical Hours by clicking on one of the links below:
(Matins with Lauds is only one Canonical Hour)

                Evening Prayer (generally at 6 p.m.)
The Flight into Egypt

                Night Prayer
(before retiring, generally at 9 p.m.)
The Coronation of the Virgin

                During the night
(at midnight with some)
The Annunciation
                Dawn Prayer (at Dawn, or 3 a.m.)
The Visitation

                Early Morning Prayer
(First Hour: approximately 6 a.m.)
The Nativity

                Mid-Morning Prayer
(Third Hour: approximately 9 a.m.)
The Annunciation of the Shepherds

                Midday Prayer
(Sixth Hour: approximately 12 noon)
The Adoration of the Magi

                Mid-Afternoon Prayer
(Ninth Hour: approximately 3 p.m.)
The Presentation in the Temple

Gregorian Chant provides the background for the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Anthem Alma Redemptoris Mater, Magnificat Canticle, Hymn Ave Maris Stella and Ave Maria are all found in the Little Office during the Season of Advent.

Prayer After the Office

To the most holy and undivided Trinity, to the manhood of our crucified Lord Jesus Christ, to the fruitful virginity of the most blessed and glorious Mary, ever a virgin, to the entire assembly of the saints, be ascribed everlasting praise, honor, power, and glory, by every creature; and to us be granted the remission of all our sins, world without end. Amen.

V. Blessed is the Virgin Mary's womb,
which bore the Son of the everlasting Father.

R. And blessed are the breasts
which nourished Christ our Lord.

Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.