Office of Readings

The Invitatory opens the first Office of the day. If Morning Prayer is the first Office of the day, begin below.

Lord, open my lips.
 - And my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Psalm 95 is the traditional Invitatory Psalm. Psalm 24, 67, or 100 may be substituted.

Antiphon: Come, let us worship the Lord, the Lamb of God proclaimed by John.

Office of Readings

God, come to my assistance.
 - Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
 -  as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.
Amen. Alleluia.

Oh for your spirit, holy John to cleanse us
from all contentious and unholy speaking
that with lips chastened we may sing more fitly
your wondrous story
There by the altar at the hour of incense
God's great archangel came to Zechariah
your birth foretelling, and your name and calling
as Christ's forerunner.
Oh, may the power of your intercession,
all stony hardness from our heart expelling,
smooth the rough places and the crooked straighten
here in the desert.
Thus may our gracious Maker and Redeemer,
seeking a station for his hallowed footsteps,
find, when he comes here, temples unpolluted,
fit to receive him.
Praise to the Father, to the Sole-begotten,
and to the Spirit, with them both co-equal;
so we adore you, one and only Godhead,
through all the ages.  Amen.
Melody: Herzleibster Jesu, Johann Cruger 1662 Text: Holy Cross Monastery


Antiphon 1: The Lord called me before I was born; from my mother's womb he named me.

Psalm 21:2-8,14

O Lord, your strength gives joy to the King;
how your saving help makes him glad!
You have granted him his heart's desire;
you have not refused the prayer of his lips.

You came to meet him with the blessings of success,
you have set on his head a crown of pure gold.
He asked you for life and this you have given,
days that will last from age to age.

Your saving help has given him glory.
You have laid upon him majesty and splendor,
you have granted your blessings to him forever.
You have made him rejoice with the joy of your presence.

The king has put his trust in the Lord:
through the mercy of the Most High he shall stand firm.
O Lord, arise in your strength;
we shall sing and praise your power. Glory...

Antiphon 1 The Lord called me before I was born; from my mother's womb he named me.

Antiphon 2 The Lord made my tongue a sharp sword; he hid me in the shadow of his hand.

Psalm 92

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love in the morning
and your truth in the watches of the night,
on the ten-stringed lyre and the lute,
with the murmuring sound of the harp.

Your deeds, O Lord, have made me glad;
for the work of your hands I shout with joy.
O Lord, how great are your works!
How deep are your designs!
The foolish man cannot know this
and the fool cannot understand.

Though the wicked spring up like grass
and all who do evil thrive,
they are doomed to be eternally destroyed.
But you, Lord, are eternally on high. Glory...

Antiphon 2 The Lord made my tongue a sharp sword; he hid me in the shadow of his hand.

Antiphon 3 John testified: He who is to come after me existed before me.

See how your enemies perish;
all doers of evil are scattered.

To me you give the wild ox's strength;
you anoint me with the purest oil.
My eyes looked in triumph on my foes;
my ears heard gladly of their fall.
The just will flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a Lebanon cedar.

Planted in the house of the Lord
they will flourish in the courts of our God,
still bearing fruit when they are old,
still full of sap, still green,
to proclaim that the Lord is just.
In him, my rock, there is no wrong. Glory....

Antiphon 3 John testified: He who is to come after me existed before me.

He came to bear witness to the light.
- That all might believe through him.


From the book of the prophet Jeremiah           1:4-10,17-19

The call of the prophet

The word of the Lord came to me thus:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
  before you were born I dedicated you,
  a prophet to the nations I appointed you.
"Ah, Lord God!" I said,
  "I know not how to speak; I am too young."

  But the Lord answered me,
Say not, "I am too young."
  To whomever I send you, you shall go;
  whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Have no fear before them,
  because I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.

  Then the Lord extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying,
See, I place my words in your mouth!
  This day I set you
  over nations and over kingdoms,
To root up and to tear down,
  to destroy and to demolish,
  to build and to plant.

But do you gird your loins;
  stand up and tell them
  all that I command you.
Be not crushed on their account,
  as though I would leave you crushed before them;
For it is I this day
  who have made you a fortified city,
A pillar of iron, a wall of brass,
  against the whole land:
Against Judah's kings and princes,
  against its priests and people.
They will fight against you, but not prevail over you,
  for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.

RESPONSORY           Jeremiah 1:5,9,10
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you were born I consecrated you.   
 - and I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
I have placed my words in your mouth;
I have set you over nations and over kingdoms.
 - and I appointed you a prophet to the nations.


From a sermon by St. Augustine, bishop
(Sermo 293,1-3: PL 38, 1327-1328)

The voice of one crying in the wilderness

The Church observes the birth of John as a hallowed event. We have no such commemoration for any other fathers; but it is significant that we celebrate the birthdays of John and of Jesus. This day cannot be passed by. And even if my explanation does not match the dignity of the feast, you may still meditate on it with great depth and profit.
John was born of a woman too old for childbirth; Christ was born of a youthful virgin.  The news of John's birth was met with incredulity, and his father was struck dumb.  Christ's birth was believed, and he was conceived through faith.
Such is the topic, as I have presented it, for our inquiry and discussion.  But as I said before, if I lack either the time or the ability to study the implications of so profound a mystery, the Spirit who speaks within you even when I am not here will teach you better; it is the Spirit whom you contemplate with devotion, whom you have welcomed into your hearts, whose temples you have become.
John, then, appears as the boundary between the two testaments, the old and the new. That he is a sort of boundary the Lord himself bears witness, when he speaks of "the law and the prophets up until John the Baptist." Thus he represents times past and is the herald of the new era to come. As a representative of the past, he is born of aged parents; as a herald of the new era, he is declared to be a prophet while still in his mother's womb. For when yet unborn, he leapt in his mother's womb at the arrival of blessed Mary. In that womb he had already been designated a prophet, even before he was born; it was revealed that he was to be Christ's precursor, before they ever saw one another. These are divine happenings, going beyond the limits of our human frailty. Eventually he is born, he receives his name, his father's tongue is loosened.  See how these events reflect reality.
Zechariah is silent and loses his voice until John, the precursor of the Lord, is born and restores his voice. The silence of Zechariah is nothing but the age of prophecy lying hidden, obscured, as it were, and concealed before the preaching of Christ. At John's arrival Zechariah's voice is released, and it becomes clear at the coming of the one who was foretold.  The release of Zechariah's voice at the birth of John is a parallel to the rending of the veil at Christ's crucifixion.  If John were announcing his own coming, Zechariah's lips would not have been opened. The tongue is loosened because a voice is born.

When John was preaching the Lord's coming he was asked, "Who are you?" And he replied: "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness." The voice is John, but the Lord "in the beginning was the Word." John was a voice that lasted only for a time; Christ, the Word in the beginning, is eternal.

RESPONSORY           Luke 1:76-77
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
 - for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
The give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
 - for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.


You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord; we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
  Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
  heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;
  Father, of majesty unbounded,
  your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
  and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin's womb.
You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God's right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

V.  Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
R.  govern and uphold them, now and always.
V.  Day by day we bless you;
R.  we praise your name for ever.
V.  Keep us today, Lord, from all sin;
R.  have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
V.  Lord, show us your love and mercy;
R.  for we put our trust in you.
V.  In you, Lord, is our hope;
R.  and we shall never hope in vain.

The concluding part of the hymn may be omitted.

O God, who raised up Saint John the Baptist
to make ready a nation fit for Christ the Lord,
give your people, we pray,
the grace of spiritual joys
and direct the hearts of all the faithful
into the way of salvation and peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.

Let us praise the Lord.
- And give him thanks.

The English translation of Psalm Responses, Alleluia Verses, Gospel Verses from Lectionary for Mass 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL); the English translation of Antiphons, Invitatories, Responsories, Intercessions, Psalm 95, the Canticle of the Lamb, Psalm Prayers, Non-Biblical Readings from The Liturgy of the Hours 1973, 1974, 1975, ICEL; excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


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