Radio Show

What is the Liturgy of the Hours?


A listener named Pam calls into the show and asks, “What is the Liturgy of the Hours, and why is it important?” She explains that she knows that it’s prayed during specific hours of the day, but she’s not sure why.



“It began in monastic communities,” Father Dave explains. “We are marking the hours of the day with prayer so that all of our day is offered back to God. St. Paul said that we should be praying and giving thanks at every moment. … Centuries ago, in a monastic community where the life and work and prayer revolved around a fairly rigorous schedule, it was every moment of the day.”

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“Essentially, what we are praying is parts of the Psalms,” Father Dave continues. “In monastic communities, they would pray them together as a group, and often times what we call antiphonally. A psalm is essentially a poem, and it’s like a song, so you’ve got stanzas. You’d pray them back and forth. So, one side would take one stanza and the other side would follow with the next one, and we go back and forth … and part of the theory of that is that we are praying to one another. We are preaching the Word of God to one another. … The way this originated was from the monastic communities of the early centuries of the Church. And it was an easy thing to lock into because the psalms are so poetic and musical, and in fact, even until today, they are very often chanted.”

“Really the whole point of the Liturgy of the Hours is that we are carving out different times of the day,” Father Dave says. “Anybody can do it. If it is something that seems attractive to you, you can buy it. Just go on Amazon and look for Christian Prayer or you can download the app iBreviary.” (Original Air 11-07-18)