Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NLM: Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961: Part 6.3 - The First Liturgical Movement

It has often been remarked that in the particular case of the Second Vatican Council, it is the spirit that killeth, and the letter that giveth life. In their very first document, the constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Council fathers asked that the Divine Office be prayed in common even by those clerics who are not obliged to do so by law, that it be sung when possible, and that “the chief hours, especially Vespers, (be) celebrated in common in church on Sundays and the more solemn feasts.” Like most of Sacrosanctum Concilium, this exhortation has been more or less universally ignored; choral celebration of the Divine Office is far rarer nowadays than it was even in 1962. The “Liturgy of the Hours” promulgated in the wake of the Council is the most thorough-going revision of the Office since it first came into existence. Despite radical abbreviation in virtually every quarter, which ought to have facilitated the singing of the Office, it has all but ceased to be the public prayer of the Church in any meaningful sense.

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