A Revised Liturgy of the Hours

Date: April 17, 2023
Author: Fr. Edward McNamara, LC

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and sacramental theology and director of the Sacerdos Institute at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum university.
Question: Do you know if a revision of the Liturgy of the Hours is planned or even under way? -- V.S., Mobile, Alabama
Answer: There are several ways to address this question.
From the point of view of the Holy See, for many years now there has been an ongoing project to add another set of biblical and patristic readings. The list of biblical readings has been available for some time and has even been printed in the Latin American version of the Liturgy of the Hours in Spanish.
The preparation of the new cycle of patristic readings seems to have suffered several mishaps and false starts over the years at the Dicastery of Divine Worship. It remains unknown when it will eventually be promulgated.
Currently in English we have several editions of the breviary. That in use in most of the world has not been updated since the 1970s. The most recent English edition appears to be a version issued in Africa in 2009.
Since 2012 the International Commission for English in the Liturgy (ICEL) has been working on a completely new and updated version which will provide a common text for the entire English-speaking world except for particular national calendars.
In the January 2022 edition of its newsletter, the Commission for Divine Worship of the U.S. bishops’ conference issued an update on the progress of this important project in which it ascertains that this new second edition is moving closer to completion.
Antiphons, intercessions, and other ecclesiastical texts (such as making some corrections to the second readings in the office of readings) were submitted for approval to the U.S. bishops in 2022. It was hoped that proper texts for the calendar of the United States would be ready by this year.
With respect to hymns the commission stated:


“Initially, ICEL transmitted to the Conferences translations of hymns section by section, as a part of the fascicles mentioned above, alongside Intercessions and other texts. But later ICEL opted to make further editorial adjustments to the hymns and then compiled all 294 of them into a single fascicle in June 2019. The body of bishops approved that text at the November 2019 plenary meeting, and it was confirmed by the Holy See in May 2020. The USCCB and ICEL are currently working on a hymnal that will contain the entire corpus of hymns of the Divine Office, set to both metrical and plainsong melodies. The publication of the book is expected toward the end of 2022 or sometime in 2023 by USCCB Communications.”
With respect to Scripture:
“Texts from the Bible in the liturgical books are the responsibility of each Conference of Bishops. In the United States, an updated version of the Revised Grail Psalms was approved by the USCCB in November 2014, followed by a translation of Old and New Testament canticles in June 2015. Both were confirmed by the Holy See in May 2018, and subsequently joined together as The Abbey Psalms and Canticles. They were promulgated by USCCB Communications in February 2020 for optional liturgical use upon publication, and this translation will be used for all the psalms and canticles throughout the breviary.”
It is hoped that the other scriptural readings in the Liturgy of the Hours can be completed and approved by the end of 2023.
The report concludes:
“In summary, ICEL has nearly finished its part of the work on the new edition of the Liturgy of the Hours. The USCCB should finalize the remaining non-Scriptural elements of the book in the coming year. The last piece to be completed will be the Scripture, and it is hoped that all the necessary votes of the body of bishops will have taken place by the end of 2023. Afterward, the various texts will be assembled and transmitted to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for confirmation. The publication process can only begin when that confirmation is received. Taking these factors into consideration, the current estimate is that printed books could be available in 2025. Further updates on the progress of the project will continue to be posted at”
A new edition of the Liturgy of the Hours in English would be a fitting gift to celebrate the first regular Holy Year of the new millennium.
* * *
Readers may send questions to Please put the word "Liturgy" in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province, or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

Return to Liturgy

At ePriest, we are dedicated to supporting Catholic priests as they serve their people and build up the Church.

We invite you to explore our resources to help your own ministry flourish!

Sign Up Now