Denise Spencer – Recommendation & Review: The Divine Hours Pocket Edition by Phyllis Tickle

41mx2n6psil_aa240_.jpgOur book reviewer today is my wife, Denise. Read her blog at Denise Day Spencer.

I have, in the past few months, become enamored with the idea of praying at various times during the day–not because I want to be more pious than the next person, but because I need it.

And so Michael recently presented me with a book: The Divine Hours Pocket Edition…on the condition that I would review it. Sounds like a good deal to me! I’m not the one in the family who usually does book reviews, but here goes.

I have not used Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours. Upon reading her “Introduction to This Manual,” however, I quickly saw that the Pocket Edition is just that–a drastically condensed version of The Divine Hours that a person can easily keep in a suitcase or purse when traveling, or on other occasions when it would be too difficult to take along a complete book. She makes it clear that “no pocket edition is an entirely satisfactory substitute for a complete breviary or prayer manual, nor is it intended to be.”

The Divine Hours Pocket Edition is, like its greater companion, a guide to “fixed-hour prayer.” You may have also called it “observing the hours” or “keeping the offices.” There are seven offices in each 24-hour day. Tickle is quick to explain that it’s a rare lay Christian who can or would want to observe all seven, so she recommends selecting the hours that best fit in with an individual’s schedule and lifestyle. (In other words, no guilt trips necessary if you don’t feel like praying at 3:00 a.m. That’s a relief!)

The Pocket Edition contains basically one week’s worth of prayers. Because the book is designed to be used at any time of the year, in the back there is a bonus: “Traditional, Seasonal and Occasional Prayers.” Traditional prayers are intended as extra selections if the reader wants to include one or more as a part of a particular petition or prayer of thanks. Seasonal prayers make the Pocket Edition more flexible by including readings for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany; Lent, Holy Week and Easter; Ascension; Pentecost; All Saints Day and Thanksgiving. Occasional prayers are just that–prayers for special occasions. Examples are readings for weddings, illness, birth and death.

Tickle’s text comes mainly from the Book of Common Prayer and the writings of the Church Fathers. It includes the words of St. Ambrose, Fanny J. Crosby, St. Augustine, and William Cowper, just to name a few.

The Divine Hours Pocket Edition is very straightforward and easy to use. That’s one of the reasons that when we take a four-day trip later this week, it’s going with me. Thank you, Ms. Tickle and Oxford University Press.

The web site with The Divine Hours for each day is a great place to get a look at what these wonderful books hold in store for you.

Before the introduction, the book cites Psalm 119:164: “Seven times each day I praise you for the justice of your decrees.” I don’t know if I’ll ever work up to all seven, but The Divine Hours Pocket Edition has inspired me to make a stab at a beginning.

6 thoughts on “Denise Spencer – Recommendation & Review: The Divine Hours Pocket Edition by Phyllis Tickle

  1. I’ve begun using the Divine Hours, and LOVE the books. It’s really helped me pray more often, and with more structure, less emphasis on me. 🙂 They are really usable, and structure the hours in a way that is compatible with a full-time job. Huzzah!


  2. To both Denise and Michael, my deep appreciation for having given review space to THE POCKET EDITION OF THE DIVINE HOURS. Most particular thanks to Denise for the gentle beauty and affection with which she worded her comments. May grace always attend you and yours….phyllis tickle


  3. I was given a copy of the Divine Office when I was received into the Church a few years ago and it’s become a constant companion. And when I forget it at home, I turn to my two online stand-bys: and The first is less complete (doesn’t have the antiphons, for example), but it is updated every day and includes excerpts from the best Christian writers for the Office of Readings. The latter one has the everything laid out in a good format, but is only available (for free, that is) for Fridays and Sundays.

    This has been a revolution for my faith; I hope you will stick with it.


  4. Even for a priest of the Catholic Church it is only required that they pray the three main offices (Morning Prayer, Office of Readings, Evening Prayer). Religous orders pray all 7 Offices (between 2 and 2.5 hours total) Each office takes about twenty minutes. The prayers are primarily praise and thanksgiving (being mostly psalms and Scripture passages). These are by no means meant to supplant lectio divina and personal prayer.

    Check out the Universalis website for the main hours.

    Highly recommended practice.


  5. I’ve recently begun using The Divine Hours and the Book of Common Prayer to a lesser extent. It is revolutionizing this Baptist’s prayer life. Can’t wait to get the Pocket Edition.


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