Little Offices arose in imitation of the Divine Office, but in a simpler form. They were popular among the laity in the middle ages, who did not have access to the full breviary or time to pray the entire Divine Office, but still wanted a way to sanctify their day according to the canonical hours.

The following Little Office was composed in the style of the medieval Little Offices using texts from the Divine Office for the feast of the Holy Innocents. It is prayed seven times throughout the day. The approximate times given for each hour are traditional, but communities and individuals have flexibility in adjusting the schedule to their days’ work.

Printable PDF version coming soon.


At the start of every hour

Heródes irátus occídit multos púeros in Béthlehem Judæ civitáte David.

Herod was exceeding wroth, and slew many children in Bethlehem of Judah, the city of David.

Ad Matutinam
V. Dómine, + lábia mea apéries.
R. Et os meum annuntiábit laudem tuam.

Ad Completorium
V. Convérte + nos, Deus salutáris noster.
R. Et avérte iram tuam a nobis.

Ad horas omnes
V. Deus, + in adjutórium meum inténde.
R. Dómine, ad adjuvándum me festína.

Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saécula saeculórum. Amen. Alleluia.

A Septuagesima usque ad Pascha, loco Alleluia, dicitur
Laus tibi, Dómine, Rex aetérne glóriae.

At Matins
V. O Lord, + open my lips.
R. And my mouth will announce Thy praise.

At Compline
V. Convert + us, O God our Savior.
R. And turn away Thine anger from us.

At all the hours
V. O God, + come to my assistance.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

From Septuagesima until Easter, in place of Alleluia, say
Praise be to Thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory.

For each hour

Ad Matutinam
Audit tyránnus ánxius
Adésse regum Príncipem,
Qui nomen Israël regat,
Teneátque David régiam.

At Matins (before dawn)
With terror doth the tyrant hear
the King of kings hath come to dwell
where David’s court shall widely rear
A sceptered reign o’er Israel.

Ad Primam
Exclámat amens núntio:
Succéssor instat, péllimur:
Satélles, i, ferrum rape,
Perfúnde cunas sánguine.

At Prime (about 6:00)
Then cries out, raging at the word:
“He comes to stand where we have stood:
Hence, soldier, and with ruthless sword
deluge the cradles deep with blood!”

Ad Tertiam
Quid próficit tantum nefas?
Quid crimen Heródem iuvat?
Unus tot inter fúnera
Impúne Christus tóllitur.

At Terce (about 9:00)
What profiteth a crime so dread?
What hope shall Herod’s bosom sway?
Alone amidst the thronging dead,
The Christ is safely born away!

Ad Sextam
Salvéte, flores Mártyrum,
Quos lucis ipso in límine
Christi insecútor sústulit,
Ceu turbo nascéntes rosas.

At Sext (about noon)
All hail! ye infant Martyr flowers,
Cut off in life’s first dawning hours:
As rosebuds snapt in tempest strife,
When Herod sought your Saviour’s life.

Ad Nonam
Vos prima Christi víctima,
Grex immolatórum tener,
Aram sub ipsam símplices
Palma et corónis lúditis.

At None (about 3:00)
You, tender flock of lambs, we sing,
First victims slain for Christ your King:
Beneath the Altar’s Heav’nly ray
With Martyr-palms and crowns ye play!

Ad Vesperas
Inter coaévi sánguinis
Fluénta, solus integer,
Ferrum, quod orbábat nurus,
Partus feféllit Vírginis.

At Vespers (evening)
Amidst that tide of infant gore
Alone He wins the sheltering shore:
The virgin’s Child survives the stroke,
When every mother’s heart was broke.

Ad Completorium
Jesu, tibi sit glória,
Qui natus es de Vírgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spíritu,
In sempitérna sǽcula. Amen.

At Compline (before retiring)
For their redemption glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee!
With Father, and with Holy Ghost,
For ever, from the Martyr-host! Amen.

At the conclusion of every hour

Innocéntes pro Christo infántes occísi sunt, ab iníquo rege lacténtes interfécti sunt: ipsum sequúntur Agnum sine mácula, et dicunt semper: Glória tibi, Dómine.

V. Sub throno Dei omnes Sancti clamant.
R. Víndica sánguinem nostrum, Deus noster.

Deus, cujus hodiérna die præcónium Innocéntes Mártyres non loquéndo, sed moriéndo conféssi sunt: ómnia in nobis vitiórum mala mortífica; ut fidem tuam, quam lingua nostra lóquitur, étiam móribus vita fateátur. Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum, Fílium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum.
R. Amen.

Innocent babies were slain for Christ, sucklings were killed by a wicked king. Now they follow the Lamb without spot and cry without ceasing, Glory be to thee, O Lord.

V. From beneath the throne of God all the saints cry out.
R. Avenge Thou our blood, O our God.

Let us pray.
O God, whose praise the martyred Innocents on this day confessed, not by speaking, but by dying: destroy all the evils of sin in us; that our life also may proclaim in deeds thy faith, which our tongues profess. Through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Translations of the hymns by R. M. Pope (verse for Vespers) and J. M. Neale (remaining verses). Other texts courtesy of The Divinum Officium Project.