Adapting the Divine Office to a Changing World

Adapting the Divine Office to a Changing World

In the second half of the twentieth century, many churches, Catholic and Protestant, felt the need to reform and renew their liturgy, bringing it up to date with the needs of a modern world that had been devastated by two world wars. The renewal in the Roman Catholic Church took place under Pope John XXIII, who convened the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). Observers from Protestant denominations were invited to witness the events that took place.

As part of the overall renewal of the Catholic liturgy, the Divine Office underwent reforms in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Much reflection went into the question of what material is needed to form an office. The council concluded that four elements were essential: a hymn, psalmody, a reading, and prayers. Under this wide umbrella, there is room to fit the particular needs of every community.

Excerpted from The Song of Prayer: A Practical Guide to Learning Gregorian Chant

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