The Divine Hours : Prayers for Summertime
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Wintertime
Divine Hours : Prayers for Springtime
The Divine Hours trilogy is meant to be a manual for "fixed hour prayer"--an age-old discipline of saying prayers at certain times of the day. (Fixed prayer is also known as "liturgy of hours," "keeping the hours," or "saying the offices.") The psalms contained in the beautiful trilogy (summertime, wintertime, and springtime) read like ancient poems and are made even more meaningful and powerful when sung or chanted, according to Phyllis Tickle, who lovingly gathered and organized these rich volumes. The book is organized by dates ... Upon each date, readers can find complete prayers for "The Morning Office" on through the "Vespers Office" (between 5 and 8 p.m.). The clear organization and elegantly designed pages make this an excellent companion for a time-honored form of private worship and devotion. Newcomers to fixed hour prayer as well as longstanding devotees will find this an appealing and impressive guide. (Amazon.com review)
I always was interested in the idea of praying the liturgy of hours but every time I looked into it I was put off by the complaints of needing many volumes of books, lots of ribbons for place keeping, etc. About that time, these books began being published. I have been using them off and on for about two years now. The discipline needed to practice fixed hour prayer is demanding but when I manage to pull it off regularly it is very rewarding. My guess is that it probably takes less than 30 minutes total time during the day. The discipline is in remembering to do the prayers within the time range ... and when you do remember, in stopping whatever else you are doing to take the time for prayer.
I especially like using the psalms to pray with. It gives the responsorial in Mass a whole new level of meaning when I recognize the psalm as one I have been praying. Even when not practicing fixed hour prayers, I find these books invaluable prayer aids. The one complaint I have is that all the devotions are based on the actual calendar, rather than the liturgical calendar. This meant that I had to do some figuring and make a few notes as I went along so I was roughly in synch with the liturgical year. This is not a huge problem really but more of an annoyance than anything.
I see that now there also are two more volumns, one each for Lent/Easter and Advent/Christmas. However, Amazon reviewers warn that these are covered by the main books. If you are toying with the idea of using this prayer method, one of these briefer volumns might be a good introduction.