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Numerous references to Christ were observed in the Psalms, including the prefiguration of His Divine Nature (“from the womb before the dawn I begot you”) and His crucifixion (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Eminently suited to prayer, the Psalms had been quoted by Christ more than any other book, with the sole exception of Isaiah. The wide variety of psalms, expressing the whole range of human emotions, provided the early Christians with a collection of prayers satisfying nearly every need and occasion.Psalm 141, for example, became the common prayer for evenings: “Let my prayer arise before you like incense, the raising of my hands like an evening oblation.” These prayers at fixed times were rightly understood to be the prayers of the whole Church as the people of God.
Even earlier, however, the rise of the parish church played a role in the Hours’ decline.
These smaller parochial outposts, staffed by individual priests rather than large cathedral communities, lacked the clerical manpower for public celebrations of the Hours.
Though suitable for monastic life, the resulting Office was among the first things jettisoned when the strictly apostolic religious were born (the Jesuits being one of the first and most notable examples).
Understandably, heavy choral burdens were viewed as too constricting for missionary and activist orders.
Namely, restoring the Hours to their proper place as a liturgical celebration of the Christian faithful.
Homiletic & Pastoral Review Ignatius Press, March 2002 Truly one of the great gems of the Second Vatican Council is the revised Liturgy of the Hours, known also as the Divine Office.
The Hours, however, underwent a complex and highly textured evolution from the end of patristic period up until the Second Vatican Council. J., traces this development in The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West, a truly definitive work on an often overlooked topic.
Clearly, the dominant trend in the Western Church was a corrosive “privatization” of the Hours into a purely clerical prayer.
At the heart of these prayers were the Psalms of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Day by day the faithful probed deeper into their meaning, now made more manifest in the light of Christian revelation.