ARTICLE V.—PRONUNCIATION OF THE WORDS.
What kind of pronunciation is to be attended to in the recitation of
the Divine Office? The pronunciation should be vocal—that is, there
should be some sound, aliquis sonitus verborum, as St.
Alphonsus writes (n. 162). Hence, to read the Breviary merely mentally
or with the eyes only, does not satisfy the obligation.[A] Although the
reader may not hear the sound produced, he must be careful to form with
his lips every syllable. This must be done, not necessarily in a
throaty way. The formation of the words clearly with the lips suffices.
But writers on this point emphasise the importance of audible
recitation as a preventive of slurred, mutilated Latinity, which often
leads to careless, or even invalid recitation. They note, too, that the
reading with the eye merely, is a habit which readers bring from the
reading of other books to their reading of the Breviary. German authors
dwell at length on the fact that many priests, very early in their
career, contract the habit of faulty vocalisation of liturgy, and that
they never seem to notice their fault, or at least never seem to
attempt an amendment. These authors attribute the defect to sub-voce
recitation and recommend audible recitation, long and frequent audible
recitation, to all priests reading their hours.
[Footnote A: The privilege of mental recitation was granted to the
Friar Minor by Pope Leo X. and Pius V., but it is probable that the
privilege was withdrawn by Pope Gregory XV. in 1622, in his letter Romanus Pontifex; and Urban VIII., 1635, withdrew all privileges granted vivae vocis oraculo.
The text of the document granting the privilege is obscurely worded.
Still, several theologians of repute maintain that the privilege still
exists and extends to the whole office. This is taught by the
Salaraenticenses, De hor. can. cap. 3, n. 55; Tamburini, Rodriguez, etc., others opposed this view of the privilege existing after Pope Urban's letter Alias. This privilege extends to secular priests who are Franciscan tertiaries, if it exists at all.]
Can a priest fulfil his obligation by reciting the office with a
companion? Yes, he can, for such recitation is the Church's ideal; and
the priest who says his part (alternate verses, etc.), as in choir,
fulfils his obligation, even when his companion is a layman or an
inattentive person. In such recitation a priest should be careful (1)
that his recitation be of alternate verses, (2) that the verse
recitation be successive and not simultaneous, (3) that the verses,
etc., chanted by one companion (or by one choir) be heard by the other
companion or choir. There is no necessity for a priest at such
recitation to say one verse in a loud voice and to say his companion's
verses in a low, inaudible voice. Some priests do this with distressing
results. Imperfect vocal recitation often leads to doubts and scruples
in old age when remedies either cannot be applied or prove useless.
Those who recite the office in choir are bound by the rubrics
concerning kneeling, sitting, standing, etc. Secondly, they are bound
to observe the rules of the liturgy, especially the rule as to the stop
in each verse at the asterisk mark. Thirdly, they are bound to recite
clearly and distinctly; but even if they cannot hear distinctly the
alternate choir, or even if they recite in a low voice, they fulfil the
obligation of recitation; and canons are bound at Cathedral offices to
sing and chant or to lose their manual distributions and the fruits of
their prebends. If a person reciting his office with a companion or in
a choir does not understand the words recited by his companion or by
the choir, he is not bound at the end to repeat the part which he did
not understand, because such a person has the intention of offering
prayer and praise to God, and that intention suffices. Moreover, the
Church's precept of reciting the office should he interpreted benignly,
otherwise it must give rise to many scruples; for, companions in
recitation, then, always, should be anxious as to the duty of
repetition or the non-fulfilled duty of complete recitation.
Pronunciation of the words of the office should be integral.
That is, the words and syllables are to be repeated fully without
mutilation or abbreviation. Hence, if mutilation of the words occur to
such an extent that the sense or meaning of the words is notably
changed, mortal sin may be committed. But if the mutilation be small in
quantity there is only a venial sin committed, and often no sin at all
may be committed, as the mutilation of words or syllables may be quite
involuntary, or may be done inadvertently, or may arise from an
inveterate habit very difficult to correct, and in the attempt to cure
it time and patience may have been spent (St. Alph., 164-165). This bad
habit, if it extend over a large portion of the recitation and destroy
notably the sense of the words, may bind sub gravi to
repetition, as this fault or habit affects the very substance of
recitation. Priests seldom are bound to such a repetition, as the
mutilation is not destructive to the sense of a notable part of the
office and hence does not affect the substance of the obligation to
vocal recital. St. Alphonsus holds (n. 165), that the obligation is
fulfilled as long as the meaning is not destroyed, quando servatur aliqua significatio verborum.
Pronunciation should be continuous.
That is, the recitation of each hour should be continuous,
non-interrupted, and every notable stoppage or break in the recitation
of a canonical hour is a venial sin, if there be no excusing cause for
such an interruption. Any reasonable cause for interruption (e.g., to
obey a bell call, to see a parishioner who calls, to hear a confession)
excuses from all fault (St. Alph., n. 168).
recital of the office for any canonical hour be interrupted, should the
whole hour be repeated? Some theologians say that it should be
repeated. But the more probable opinion denies that there is any such
obligation; it holds that the union of the prayers prescribed by the
Church is not broken, as each psalm, each lesson, each prayer, has a
complete signification and they are united sufficiently in one round of
prayer by the intention formed of continuing the Hour, or even by the
actual continuation. Gury states that a priest interrupting the office
between the verses of a psalm is not bound to repeat the entire psalm
on resuming the recitation, as he says each verse has its own
May Matins be said separately from Lauds
without any excusing cause? Yes, for it was the practice of the early
Church to say these parts of the liturgy at times separated by
intervals. But if Matins be said separately, without Lauds following
immediately. Pater Noster with Dominus Vobiscum and the prayer of the day should be said at the end of the Te Deum, If Lauds follow Matins immediately the Pater and Ave should not be said, for the Congregation (same decree) says "Laudes incohandas ut in Psalterio," but in the Psalter the Pater and Ave are not assigned for the beginning of Lauds.
A notable time may elapse between the nocturns of Matins without any
excusing cause. In the early Church intervals occurred between each
nocturn. Some authors state that an interval of three hours between two
nocturns is quite lawful, even when there be no cause for the delay.
With a reasonable cause the interval may last as long as the excusing
SECTION: Article VI.—Intention And Attentio…
Article IV.—Of The Place Of Recita…