The Little Hours of Terce, Sext, & None

This pages outlines the structure and ceremony, if any, for the Little Hours of Terce, Sext, and None, all of which follow the same structure. For the purposes of this page, the term “Little Hours” will only apply to these three Offices, even though, in actuality, Prime and Compline are also considered Little Hours, but these latter two have different structures which are treated on their own separate pages.

The Little Hours are prayed without any liturgical ceremony – i.e. no candles lit, no vestments, incense, etc. These Hours are simply chanted or recited by all either in Choir (referring to seating arrangement) or in common. There is one exception to this, and that is that the Office of Terce may be solemnly celebrated when it precedes a Pontifical Mass; the ceremony for Pontifical Terce will be treated separately from what follows below.

The Normal Arrangment of the Little Hours:

Employed on every day except from Holy Thursday until Easter Saturday and on All Souls’ Day.

All stand and make the Sign of the Cross as the Officiant says “Deus in adjutorium…” to which all respond “Domine, ad adjuvandum…” All together then continue, bowing toward the tabernacle, the “Gloria Patri…Alleluia (or Laus tibi…)”.

The Officiant intones the Hymn, as applicable to each respective Office, to which all on his side of the aisle continue the first verse. The opposite side says the second verse. The Officiant’s side begins the third and final verse, at which point, all bow slightly for the first three stanzas. All say the final two stanzas of the third verse together. Per the 1960 revisions, the doxology (i.e. the third verse) is always the “Praesta Pater piissime…”.

During the entire Octave of Pentecost, i.e. from Pentecost Sunday until Ember Saturday in the same Octave, the Hymn “Veni, Creator Spiritus” is prayed in place of the “Nunc, Sancte Spiritus” at Terce. All kneel for the first verse of this Hymn, and stand for the remaining verses; all bow at the first three stanzas of the final verse.

The Officiant intones the antiphon up to asterisk and all continue saying together the rest of the antiphon.

The Cantor intones the first psalm, and all sit following his intonation. His side continues the remainder of the first verse, the opposite side the second verse, and so on. All bow at “Gloria Patri” at the end of each of the three psalms. The Cantor, alone standing, intones the second and third psalms and these proceed in the same way as the first psalm.

Following the “Gloria Patri” at the end of the third psalm, all together repeat the antiphon in its entirety. Then all stand.

The Officiant says the Chapter to which all respond “Deo gratias”.

The Cantor intones each petition of the Short Responsory and all make the appropriate response. All bow at the “Gloria Patri…” which is only said as far as “Spiritui Sancto” to which all respond by repeating the first petition of the Responsory (i.e. the response is NOT “Sicut erat…”). From Passion Sunday until Holy Wednesday, except on Feasts of the First and Second Class, the “Gloria Patri” is omitted and immediately following the second response in the Responsory, all together repeat the entire first petition.

The Cantor then says the Versicle and all make the Response following the Short Responsory.

The Officiant says “Dominus vobiscum” and all respond “Et cum…” If the Officiant is not an ordained cleric, he says “Domine exaudi orationem meam” and all respond “Et clamor meus…”.  The Officiant then says “Oremus”.

All continue standing and the Officiant says the Collect prayer. However, on all Ferial Days, of any rank, during Advent and Lent, Ember Days outside of the Octave of Pentecost, and Second and Third Class Vigils outside of Eastertide, when the Office is of the Season, all, except the Officiant, kneel for the Collect.

All respond “Amen” at the end of the Collect, and stand again if they had been kneeling.

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

The Cantor says “Benedicamus Domino” and all respond “Deo gratias”.

The Officiant says in a low, recto tono “Fidelium animae…” and respond “Amen.” Thus ends the normal arrangement for the Little Hours.