The Liturgy of the Hours is the means of sanctifying the day, and though primarily practiced by religious communities and clergy, it may be prayed by anyone and has an office appropriate for any part of the day. By the sixth century, the eight offices of the day were established as Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. After the Second Vatican Council, Prime was abolished and Lauds as Morning Prayer and Vespers as Evening Prayer became the primary celebrations of the Liturgy of the Hours.
The structure of the Liturgy of the Hours includes hymns, psalms, canticles and a reading from Scripture. Over the course of four weeks, all 150 psalms will be recited during the celebration of Morning and Evening prayer. In Laudis Canticum, the document that promulgated the revised book of the Liturgy of the Hours, Pope Paul VI remarks, “The very celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, especially when a community is gathered for this purpose, expresses the genuine nature of the praying Church, and stands as a wonderful sign of that Church.”
This Sunday afternoon we have the opportunity to celebrate Evening Prayer here at the Cathedral in a service where most all of the music was composed by Charles Villiers Stanford. Stanford was an Irish composer born in 1852 in Dublin. In 1882 at the age of 29, he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. In 1887, he also became Professor of Music at Cambridge. His students included Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Ireland, and Herbert Howells. Stanford died on March of 1924 and is buried in Westminster Abbey near the graves of Henry Purcell and John Blow.
I hope you will come this afternoon to experience both the music of Charles Stanford and the beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Bulletin Notes for the Cathedral of Mary, Our Queen, April 26, 2015