Liturgy of the Hours

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  I’m a married layman, and I’ve been praying the Liturgy of the Hours for about five months; morning and evening.  Sometimes, when I have a moment during the day one of the other.

I’ve noticed at the end of a line of some of the Psalms an asterisk or a cross. What are those symbols for?  I’m using an application on my iPad, but I deduce the same are in the printed versions, although I have not looked at one. it’s not a launchable footnote as in the USCCB website, nor as in a scripture app.

Can you shed some light on this? Thanks,


A:  Those are indicators for reciting or singing the psalms in common. Many groups who pray the Liturgy of the Hours divide into two sides – one starting with a verse, and the other taking over on the next one. Other groups switch sides at paragraph breaks.

Both the asterisk and the cross tell you that if you are reciting or singing that line, you should continue and not yield yet to the other side. The asterisk divides the verse into two parts. In rare instances the verse needs an additional division, so the cross is placed ahead of the asterisk to introduce another soft break.

When singing, those symbols cue you when to change from the reciting tone to the appropriate musical ending of the line.

An option you and your wife have is to alternate sides while praying the psalms, each one reciting through the asterisk into the next line. Then stopping so that the other party can pick up.