Learning the Breviary
Bernard A. Hausmann, S. J.
(Benzinger Brothers, c. 1932, pp. 25-34)
A BRIEF DICTIONARY OF TERMS
"A" office: the solemn office, that is, the office of preferred feasts.
Absolution: a short prayer for pardon and mercy said before the reading of the lessons to obtain that purity of soul which the reading of the word of God demands.
"Announcing" the Antiphon: a technical expression. Antiphons are "announced" before the psalms when they are read merely as far as the asterisk.
Antiphon: a short verse from the Psalms or other parts of Scripture used as an introduction and conclusion to individual psalms and canticles. It usually contains the fundamental thought of the psalm or canticle to which it is added and indicates the point of view from which it is to be understood.
Antiphona Finalis B.M.V.: special prayers in honor of the Blessed Virgin said after Compline and, if the whole office is not said continuously, after Lauds if the recitation is interrupted then; if not, after the last hour that is said.
Aperi, Domine: a prayer given in the Ordinarium, which is said (laudabiliter) before beginning the recitation of the Divine Office.
"B" Office: the ordinary office, that is, the office of ordinary feasts.
Benedictus: the Canticle of Zachary. It is said at Lauds.
Blessing: a short prayer for grace said before each of the lessons of Matins and before the lectio brevis of Prime and of Compline.
Breviary: the book containing the entire canonical office. Together with the missal it may be said to constitute the official prayerbook of the Catholic Church.
Canticle: a song. The breviary employs fourteen canticles from the Old Testament and three from the New Testament. The canticles from the Old Testament are used as psalms.
Capitulum: a short reading from Holy Scripture accommodated to the office of the day. Such capitula are found in all hours except Matins.
Change Third Verse (Mutatur tertius versus; abbreviated, m.t.v.): a technical expression which applies only to the hymn Iste Confessor. It means that the first rendition of the third line of the first stanza is to be omitted and in its stead the second rendition used. This note will always occur when the feast of a confessor is not celebrated on the anniversary of his death.
Commemoratio de Cruce: a commemoration of the cross which replaces the suffragium de omnibus sanctis during the Paschal season.
Commemoration: a prayer added to the office at Lauds and Vespers in honor of some saint whose office cannot be said because impeded.
Commemoration of the Following: a technical expression which means that a commemoration of the feast to be celebrated on the following day is to be made at Vespers.
Commemoration of the Preceding: a technical expression which occurs in conjunction with "Vespers of the following." It means that the feast being celebrated will be merely commemorated in the hour of Vespers, since this Vespers is First Vespers, that is, the Vespers of the feast to be celebrated on the following day.
Commune Sanctorum: the fifth section of each volume of the breviary. It contains complete offices for the various classes of saints.
Compline: the seventh and last of the canonical hours of the Divine Office.
Conclusion of Orations: final invocation of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity at the end of the prayers of the office. As at Mass, the form varies with the Person to whom the prayer is addressed. The long conclusions are always used. Exceptions are noted in the breviary.
Concurrence of offices: the partial overlapping of two offices. The reason for this is that all feasts of semidouble or higher rank have two Vespers, First Vespers to be said the day before the feast and Second Vespers to be said on the day of the feast. Since Vespers is said only once a day, there will naturally be a conflict in Vespers when two such offices follow one upon the other. The ordo will indicate the method of procedure in individual cases.
Confiteor: a general confession of sins. The same formula is used as at Mass. However, in the private recitation of the office the words et vobis, fratres–et vos, fratres are omitted. It occurs in Compline and in the preces dominicales and feriales of Prime.
Double: an abbreviation for double minor.
Double Major: a feast which ranks third in the order of importance.
Double Minor: a feast which ranks fourth in the order of importance.
Double of the First Class: a feast of the highest possible rank.
Double of the Second Class: a feast which ranks second in the order of importance.
Double Simplified: a feast of double rank which has been simplified. Cf. Simplified feast.
"Doubling" the Antiphon: a technical expression. Antiphons are "doubled" when they are read in full both before and after the psalms or canticles.
Doxology: a short verse praising God, usually addressed to the three Persons of the Trinity. All hymns in the breviary end with a doxology.
Doxology, Proper: a technical expression which means that all the hymns of the office of the same meter will have a special concluding stanza or doxology. This applies also to the invariable hymns of the Small Hours and of Compline.
Feria: any day of the week with the exception of Sunday and Saturday.
Ferial: a day on which no feast of a saint is celebrated.
Ferial Office: the office said on ferial days.
Festal Office: the office said on feast days. It may be either a solemn, an ordinary, or a simple office.
First Vespers: the name given to Vespers when its variable parts are taken from the office of the feast to be celebrated on the following day.
Hymn: a religious lyric. Hymns are used in all hours of the Divine Office.
Hymnus Ambrosianus: the Te Deum. It is said after the last lesson of Matins.
Indulgentiam: a prayer for mercy and pardon. It begins with the word Indulgentiam. It is always said after the Confiteor; hence in Compline and in the preces dominicales and feriales of Prime.
Invitatory: the antiphon to the psalm Venite said as part of the introduction of the hour of Matins. It is usually an invitation to praise God.
Lauds: the second part of the first canonical hour of the Divine Office. The first part is called Matins.
Lectio Brevis: a lesson like those of Matins but much shorter. It occurs in Prime and Compline.
Lesson: a reading either from Holy Scripture, or the Fathers, or from the lives of the saints. Lessons are read at Matins.
Lessons of the First Nocturn Proper: a technical expression which means that the office, through an ordinary office, will have special first nocturn lessons. Such special lessons are given in the Proprium Sanctorum.
Magnificat: the Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is recited daily at Vespers.
Major Privileged Ferial: a day on which a feast may not be celebrated. There are four such ferials: Ash-Wednesday and the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week.
Matins: the first part of the first canonical hour of the Divine Office. The second part is called Lauds.
Misereatur: a prayer for mercy and pardon. It begins with the word Misereatur. It is always said immediately after the Confiteor; hence in Compline and in the preces dominicales and feriales of Prime.
M. T. V.: see Change Third Verse.
Ninth Lesson: a technical expression which means that the ordinary ninth lesson of Matins is to be replaced by a special lesson.
Nocturn: one of the major divisions of the hour of Matins. It consists chiefly of three psalms and three lessons.
None: the fifth of the canonical hours of the Divine Office.
Nunc Dimittis: the Canticle of Simeon. It begins with the words Nunc dimittis, and is recited daily in Compline.
Occurrence of Feasts: the incidence of two (or more) feasts on the same day. Naturally the offices of both feasts will not be said, but while one is said the other will be either transferred to another day or commemorated or dropped entirely. The ordo will indicate what is to be done.
Octave: the lengthening of a festival so as to include a period of eight days.
Octave Day: the eighth day after a feast which has an octave.
Office, Divine: official prayers of the Church contained in the breviary. The Divine Office consists of seven canonical hours, Matins and Lauds (counted as one hour), Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline.
Ordinarium: the first section of each volume of the breviary. It contains an outline of the individual hours and the prayers of these hours, which vary but rarely.
Ordinary Feast: one that has an ordinary office, sometimes called a "B" office.
Ordinary Office: the office of ordinary feasts. It has fewer parts that are proper than a solemn office, that is, fewer parts especially composed for the office in question and not shared with other offices.
Ordo: an official calendar indicating the office and Mass for each day of the year.
Pars Aestiva: the third volume of the breviary. It contains the offices for the summer months.
Pars Autumnalis: the fourth and last volume of the breviary. It contains the offices for the months of autumn.
Pars Hiemalis: the first volume of the breviary. It contains the offices for the winter months.
Pars Verna: the second volume of the breviary. It contains the offices for the months of spring.
Prayer of the office: the oration proper to the office. It is said at Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and at Matins if Lauds is separated from Matins.
Preces dominicales: a special set of prayers which must sometimes be said at Prime and Compline.
Preces feriales: prayers of a penitential character which must sometimes be said in all hours except Matins before the oratio diei.
Prime: the second of the canonical hours of the Divine Office.
Proprium de Tempore: the third section of each volume of the breviary. It contains the variable parts of the Sunday office and the first nocturn lessons of week-days.
Proprium Sanctorum: the fourth section of each volume of the breviary. It contains the variable parts that are proper to the offices of individual saints and feasts.
Psalm: a sacred Hebrew lyric.
Psalterium: the second section of each volume of the breviary. It contains the psalms for each day of the week.
Quicumque: the creed ascribed to St. Athanasius. It must sometimes be said at Prime on Sundays.
Rank of a Feast: its relative importance.
Response: a short passage, usually from Holy Scripture, sometimes preceded and sometimes followed by a verse. It is used in various parts of the individual hours to excite devotion and to link together the various parts.
Responsorium Breve: a short response, always coupled with a verse and said in a special way. Responsoria brevia occur in Prime, Terce, Sext, None, and Compline.
Rite of an Office: the rank the office occupies in the liturgical hierarchy; its relative importance.
Rubric: a liturgical rule (printed in red; hence the name) legislating either the parts of the Divine Office to be said or the manner of saying them.
Sacrosanctae: a prayer found in the Ordinarium which begins with the word Sacrosanctæ. It is said (laudabiliter) after concluding the Divine Office to obtain pardon for the faults committed in its recitation.
Scheme II of Lauds: the second set of psalms given in the breviary for Lauds. It is used in offices of a penitential character if the ordo so directs.
Scheme II of the Third Nocturn: a second set of psalms for the third nocturn given only on Wednesdays. It is used in offices of a penitential character if the ordo so directs.
"Scripture Occurring" Lessons: the ordinary first nocturn lessons given in the Proprium de Tempore. They consist of a reading from the Sacred Scriptures so arranged that portions at least of all the books of the Old and New Testaments will be read in the course of the year.
Second Vespers: the name given to Vespers when its variable parts are taken from the office of the feast which is being celebrated that day.
Semidouble: a feast which ranks fifth in the order of importance.
Sext: the fourth of the canonical hours of the Divine Office.
"Simple B" Office: the same as a simple office.
Simplified Feast: a feast whose office, because impeded by an office of a feast of higher rank, has been reduced to a mere commemoration to be made usually in both Vespers and in Lauds. At Matins the ninth lesson will then be a summary of the historical lessons of the second nocturn of the simplified feast unless a rubric forbids such a quasicommemoration.
Solemn Feast: a preferred feast; one that has a solemn office.
Solemn Office: the office of preferred feasts, also called an "A" office. Most of its parts are proper, that is, composed or arranged specifically for the office and hence not shared with other offices.
Suffragium de Omnibus Sanctis: a special commemoration of all the saints which must sometimes be made at Lauds and Vespers.
Sunday Office: the office recited on Sundays. Like the solemn office, the Sunday office is composed of parts which are for the most part proper. They are given in the Psalterium and in the Proprium de Tempore.
Symbolum Athanasianum: the creed ascribed to St. Athanasius. It begins with the word Quicumque and is sometimes said in Prime on Sundays.
Te Deum: an abbreviated title of a hymn in rhythmical prose, of which the opening words are, Te Deum laudamus. It is ascribed to St. Ambrose and is called the Hymnus Ambrosianus in the breviary.
Terce: the third of the canonical hours of the Divine Office.
Translation of a Feast: the transference of a feast to another day. Only feasts of the first and second class are thus transferred when impeded on their own proper day.
Verse: a phrase usually from Holy Scripture used to unite the various parts of the individual hours and to promote devotion. It is either preceded or followed by a response.
Verse of Prime Proper: a technical expression which means that the ordinary verse in the responsorium breve at Prime must be changed. This is always the case when there is a proper doxology.
Versicle: a short verse.
Vespers: the sixth of the canonical hours of the Divine Office.
Vespers from the Capitulum of the following: a technical expression which means that First and Second Vespers must be combined. The antiphons and psalms are taken from Second Vespers of the feast being celebrated, everything else from First Vespers of the feast to be celebrated on the following day.
Vespers of the Feast: a technical expression which means that Second Vespers of the feast being celebrated are to be said.
Vespers of the Ferial: the Vespers said on ferial days and on feast days which have no Second Vespers, when these are followed by a day whose office has no First Vespers.
Vespers of the Following: a technical expression which means that the First Vespers of the feast to be celebrated on the following day is to be said.
Vigil: a day of penitential character observed as a preparation for the greater feasts.
Vigil Office: an office of a penitential character recited on vigil days. The vigil office differs but little from the ferial office.