Prime

This page outlines the structure and detailed rubrics of the Office of Prime. Said structure can be divided into two categories – 1. The Normal or Usual Arrangement and 2. Unusual Arrangements for the Sacred Triduum, Easter Octave, & All Souls’ Day.

I. The Normal or Usual Arrangement of Prime

All stand and make the Sign of the Cross as the Officiant says “Deus in adjutorium…” to which all reply “Domine, ad adjuvandum…”. All continue the entire “Gloria Patri” together in unison and then say “Alleluia” or “Laus tibi…” (from Septuagesima Sunday until the Wednesday of Holy Week inclusive).

The Officiant intones the Hymn “Jam lucis orto sidere” and his side of the aisle in the church continues the first verse. The opposite said says the second verse, the Officiant’s side the third verse, and so on. At the last verse, all bow slightly for the first three stanzas and all say the final two stanzas together.

The Officiant intones the antiphon (taken from the Psalter for the day of the week or from the Proper on certain days). All continue the antiphon until the end. 

The Cantor intones the first psalm and all then sit. His side finishes the first verse of the psalm, the opposite side the second verse, the Cantor’s side the third verse, and so on. Each psalm ends with a “Gloria Patri” at which point all slightly bow. The Cantor, alone standing, intones the second and third psalms, and then he sits, and these are prayed in the same way as the first psalm.

 On all Sundays which are neither First Class Feasts nor from Septuagesima through Palm Sunday inclusive, the three Sunday Psalms are: Ps. 117, 118.1, and 118.2. On all First Class Feasts, Christmas Eve, and the Sundays from Septuagesima through Palm Sunday inclusive, the three Sunday psalms are: Ps. 53, 118.1, and 118.2. On all other days when the normal arrangement of Prime binds, the weekday psalms according to the respective day are prayed.

At the end of the third psalm, all repeat the antiphon together in unison from its beginning, and then all stand.

The Officiant says the Chapter (always “Regi…”) to which all respond “Deo gratias”.

The Cantor intones each invocation of the Short Responsory “Christe, Fili Dei vivi…” to which all make the appropriate respones. The second invocation, which is usually “Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris” and said by the Cantor, changes according to particular seasons and feasts. The ”Gloria Patri” is said as far as the first half, and the response to this is NOT “Sicut erat…” but the repetition of  ”Christe, Fili Dei vivi…”. The “Gloria Patri” is omitted from the First Sunday of Passiontide until the Wednesday of Holy Week inclusive and immediately all respond “Christe, Fili…” in its place, when the Office is of the Season; when the Office is of a First or Second Class Feast during this time, the “Gloria Patri” is retained. During Advent, the special tone for the Short Responsory is sung daily for the entire season; likewise, during Eastertide, i.e. from Low Sunday until the Saturday in the Octave of Pentecost, the Short Responsory is sung as indicated.

The Cantor says the versicle “Exsurge, Christe…” to which all respond “Et libera nos…”. During Eastertide, an “Alleluia” is added to each invocation.

The Officiant, if he be an ordained cleric, says “Dominus vobiscum” and all respond “Et cum spiritu tuo”. If not an ordained cleric, he says “Domine exaudi…” and all respond “Et clamor meus…”. Then the Officiant says “Oremus”.

On all penitential days when the Office is of the Season (i.e. the weekdays of Advent and Lent, Ember Days outside of the Octave of Pentecost, and Second and Third Class Vigils outside of Eastertide), all except the Officiant now kneel for the Collect. Otherwise, all remain standing for the Collect.

The Officiant says the Collect “Domine Deus…” and all respond “Amen”.

If a penitential day, all now stand again.

The Officiant again says “Dominus vobiscum” or “Domine exaudi…” and all make the applicable response.

The Cantor says “Benedicamus Domino” and all respond “Deo gratias”. The tone for this is always the same, does not change according to the season or feast, nor is “Alleluia” added to it during Eastertide.

Here all sit and the Cantor stands at a lectern in the aisle (or he may remain in his place and stand) and recites the Martyrology (always read for the following day’s entry) in a clear, recto tono voice, making short pauses between each saint’s or groups of saints’ entry. On certain days, the announcement of moveable dates and feasts is made prior to or after the announcement of the month and day as indicated. At the end of the daily Martyrology entry, the Cantor says “Et alibi…” to which all respond “Deo gratias”. Then all stand.

The Martyrology may be omitted if Prime is prayed outside of Choir. In this case, all remain standing and Prime continues.

Following the Martyrology or omission thereof, the Cantor says the verse “Pretiosa…” and all respond “Mors sanctorum ejus”.

The Officiant, without saying “Oremus” immediately says the prayer “Sancta Maria…” and respond “Amen”.

The Cantor says three times “Deus in adjutorium…” and each time all respond “Domine, ad adjuvandum…” Then the Cantor says with all bowing slightly “Gloria Patri…” and all respond “Sicut erat…”

The Cantor says “Kyrie eleison”, everyone else responds “Christe eleison”, and all say together “Kyrie eleison”.

The Officiant says the words “Pater noster” and then all continue the Lord’s Prayer in silence until the Officiant says aloud “Et ne nos…” to which all respond “Sed libera nos…”.

The Cantor says the verse “Respice…” and all respond “Et sit splendor…”.

The Cantor again says and all bowing slightly “Gloria Patri…” to which all respond “Sicut erat…”.

The Officiant then says “Oremus” and the prayer “Dirigere…” which follows and all respond “Amen”. 

The Cantor, bowing to the Officiant, says “Jube, Domne, benedicere” and the Officiant gives the blessing “Dies et actus…”. If the Officiant not be an ordained cleric, the Cantor bowing to the tabernacle says “Domine” instead of “Domne” above so as to invoke Our Lord directly. 

The Cantor then proceeds to a lectern in the aisle (or he may stand in his place) and chants the Short Lesson, which is always that according to the liturgical season. At the end, he alone genuflects and says “Tu autem…” to which all respond “Deo gratias”.

The Officiant says “Adjutorium nostrum…” and all respond “Qui fecit…” The Sign of the Cross is NOT made in this instance.

The Cantor says “Benedicite” and all say “Deus”. The Officiant then gives the blessing “Dominus nos benedicat…” during which all make the Sign of the Cross.

The Officiant then says in a low, recto tono, slowly “Fidelium…” and respond “Amen”. Thus ends Prime according to the normal arrangement.

It is customary to pray the Angelus (or Regina coeli) after the public Offices in the morning (Lauds or Prime), at noon (Sext), and in the evening (Vespers). The Angelus is always prayed kneeling from Monday morning through Saturday noontide, regardless of major feast days; the same is always prayed standing from Saturday’s Vespers through Sunday’s Vespers inclusive, genuflecting at “Et verbum…”. The Regina coeli is always prayed standing daily.