The name is derived from the three last psalms of the psalter (148, 149, 150), the Laudate psalms, which in former versions of the Lauds of the Roman Rite occurred every day, and in all of which the word laudate is repeated frequently. At first, the word Lauds designated only the end, that is to say, these three psalms. Little by little the Lauds was applied to the whole office.
Lauds, or the Morning Office or Office of Aurora, is one of the most ancient Offices and can be traced back to Apostolic times. The earliest evidence of Lauds appears in the second and third centuries in the Canons of Hippolytus and in writings by St. Cyprian, and the Apostolic Fathers. Descriptions during the fourth and fifth centuries appear in writings by John Cassian, St. Melania the Younger, St. Hilary, Eusebius, and in the Peregrinatio Ætheriae by St. John Chrysostom. During the 6th century St. Benedict gave a detailed description of them in his Rule. Gregory of Tours also made several allusions to this office, which he calls Matutini hymni.
According to John T. Hedrick, in Introduction to the Roman Breviary, Lauds were not originally a distinct canonical hour but Matins and Lauds formed a single office, the Night Office terminating only at dawn. The monks prayed Matins during the night and said Lauds in the early dawn. In the 5th and 6th century the Lauds were called Matutinum. By the Middle Ages, the midnight office was referred to as Nocturns, and the morning office as Matins. The lengthy night office later became the liturgical our of Matins and was divided into two or three nocturns; the morning office became Lauds.
After St. Pius X’s reform, Lauds was reduced to four psalms or portions of psalms and an Old Testament canticle, putting an end to the custom of adding the last three psalms of the Psalter (148-150) at the end of Lauds every day.
Symbolism and significance
This is the Office of daybreak and hence its symbolism is of Christ's resurrection. According to Dom Cabrol, "Lauds remains the true morning prayer, which hails in the rising sun, the image of Christ triumphant—consecrates to Him the opening day." The Office of Lauds reminds the Christian that the first act of the day should be praise, and that one's thoughts should be of God before facing the cares of the day.
Liturgia horarum (1970)
In the edition of the Roman breviary of 1970 which was revised according to the mandate of the Second Vatican Council, Lauds (Latin Laudes matutinae, pl.) has the following structure:
- The liturgical opening "Lord, open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise" (unless Lauds are being prayed immediately after Matins)
- The hymn, which is optional when combining with Matins
- A morning psalm, an Old Testament canticle, and a psalm of praise. These are opened and closed by antiphons.
- A short reading with a responsorial verse
- The Benedictus, with its antiphon
- The Lord's Prayer
- Concluding prayer
- Blessing and dismissal (if prayed in community)
All psalms and canticles are concluded with the doxology, "Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen." (The current translation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, given here, differs from the traditional English translation used in other countries.) The psalms and readings are distributed in a four-week cycle, which forms the heart of the prayer.
On feasts of saints the various parts of the hour may be taken from the office of the saint being celebrated or from common texts for the saints. If the feast has the rank of "memorial", any parts specifically provided for the saint (the "proper" parts) are used, while the other parts come from the weekday, with exception of the hymn (which may be optionally taken from the common texts), the antiphon for the Benedictus (which must be taken from the proper or the common), the intercession (which may be optionally taken from the common texts), and the closing prayer (which should be proper, or if missing, common).
For a solemnity all texts are taken from the proper, or if some part is missing, from the common. On these days, the morning psalm is always Psalm 63, verses 2-9, the canticle is the "Song of the Three Holy Children" (Daniel 3:57-88 and 56), and the psalm of praise is Psalm 149. On Corpus Christi, the hymn O Salutaris Hostia is sung.
In the important seasons of the Church year, such as Lent or Easter, many of the prayers are proper for each day of the season. In Holy Week, the octaves of Christmas and Easter, and the last eight days of Advent, celebration of feast days is somewhat restricted. On some of these days, a memorial may be celebrated as a commemoration, adding an extra prayer at the end of the hour, while on others the memorial is completely removed from the calendar.
Other rites of the Western Church
In the Ambrosian Office, and also in the Mozarabic, Lauds retained a few of the principal elements of the Roman Lauds: the Benedictus, canticles from the Old Testament, and the laudate psalms, arranged, however, in a different order (cf. Germain Morin, op. cit. in bibliography). In the Benedictine Liturgy, the Office of Lauds resembles the Roman Lauds very closely, not only in its use of the canticles but also in its general construction.
The Armenian Morning (or Early) Hour (Armenian: Առաւաւտեան Ժամ aṛawotean zham) corresponds to the office of Lauds in the Roman Liturgy, both in its position in the daily cycle and in its importance. This is the most complex of all Armenian church services in terms of the variations in the order and text of the service depending on the day of the week, liturgical tone, commemoration of the day, and liturgical season.
Many manuscripts and printed editions of the Armenian Book of Hours (Armenian: Ժամագիրք Zhamagirk`) state that the Morning Hour commemorates the Son of God, with some manuscripts adding, "at the time he was seized by the Jews." This is in reference to the story of the arrest and interrogation of Jesus found in the New Testament Gospels.
Outline of the Morning Service
In the Morning Hour for Sundays and Festal Days there are seven slots into which hymnody may be inserted which reflects the theme of the day. Each of these seven slots is associated with a Psalm or Canticle from the Old or New Testaments.
Among the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, the office comparable to the Lauds of the Roman Rite is the Orthros. It also contains the three Laudate psalms (148-150), with which it traditionally closes.
Lutheran and Anglican traditions
Like the other canonical hours, Lauds is observed by Christians in other denominations, notably those of the Lutheran Churches. In the Anglican Communion, elements of the office have been folded into the service of Morning Prayer as celebrated according to the Book of Common Prayer, and the hour itself is observed by many Anglican religious orders.
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cabrol, Fernand (1910). "Lauds". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
- Parsch, Pius. "The Canonical Hours", Commentaries on the Breviary
- Billett, Jesse D., The Divine Office in Anglo-Saxon England, 597-C.1000, Boydell & Brewer Ltd, 2014 ISBN 9781907497285
- Cabrol, Fernand. The Day Hours of the Church, London, 1910
- "Universalis: Morning Prayer (Lauds)". www.universalis.com. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
- Giewald, Arne (2011). The Lutheran High Church Movement in Germany and its liturgical work: an introduction. p. 36. ISBN 9781470973780.
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