Roman Catholic Church
The Liturgy of the Hours use one Canticle from the Old Testament each day at Lauds, "each weekday of the four-week cycle [has] its own proper canticle and on Sunday the two sections of the Canticle of the Three Children may be alternated". The liturgy previous to the reform after the II Vatican Council used only 7 canticles, having a one-week cycle. At Vespers, a canticle from the New Testament is used. These follow a weekly cycle, with some exceptions.
Additionally, a the following Canticles from the Gospel of Luke occur each day:
- At Lauds, the "Canticle of Zachary" (Luke 1:68-79), commonly referred to as the "Benedictus";
- At Vespers, the "Canticle of Mary" (Luke 1:46-55), commonly known as the "Magnificat".
- At Compline, the "Canticle of Simeon" (Luke 2:29-32), commonly referred to as the "Nunc dimittis".
- At Morning Prayer:
- At Evening Prayer:
The nine Canticles are as follows:
- Canticle One — The (First) Song of Moses (Exodus 15:1-19)
- Canticle Two — The (Second) Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:1-43)
- Canticle Three — The Prayer of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
- Canticle Four — The Prayer of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:1-19)
- Canticle Five — The Prayer of Isaiah (Isaiah 26:9-20)
- Canticle Six — The Prayer of Jonah (Jonah 2:2-9)
- Canticle Seven — The Prayer of the Three Holy Children (Daniel 3:26-56)
- Canticle Eight — The Song of the Three Holy Children (Daniel 3:57-88)
- Canticle Nine — The Song of the Theotokos (the Magnificat: Luke 1:46-55); the Song of Zacharias (the Benedictus Luke 1:68-79)
Originally, these Canticles were chanted in their entirety every day, with a short refrain inserted between each verse. Eventually, short verses (troparia) were composed to replace these refrains, a process traditionally inaugurated by Saint Andrew of Crete. Gradually over the centuries, the verses of the Biblical Canticles were omitted (except for the Magnificat) and only the composed troparia were read, linked to the original canticles by an Irmos. During Great Lent however, the original Biblical Canticles are still read.
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- General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours, No. 136
- Canticle Two is normally only said on Tuesdays of Great Lent.
- In many Protestant versions of the Bible, this is found separately in the Apocrypha.
- Ware, Kallistos (1969). The Festal Menaion. London: Faber and Faber. p. 546.