glgas gave a good summary of the Office Of Readings. It is the equivalent of Matins, and as the General Instructions say, it retains a nocturnal character, though the rubrics permit it to be recited at any time of the appointed day, as appropriate to an individual's schedule. The rubrics of previous brevaries, I believe, allowed Matins to be anticipated beginning the afternoon of the previous day, but it had to be rectided before Lauds (the morning office).
As mentioned, the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours consistes of three psalms (of divisons of long psalms) with antiphones, and two readings, the first one being from scripture, and the second often from the early Church Fathers, plus other prayers. For Memorials the second reading is proper, often from the commorated saint's writings, and the scripture and second reading will be proper for Feasts and Solemnities, as will be the psalms. There is also additional material in the Commons. The Psalter is set up on a four week cycle, so for each cycle one will have recited 12 psalms (or divisons) for each day of the week (three each day, times 4 weeks), as contrasted with typically 9 psalms (or divisions) every day in the earlier brevaries. Part of the idea for a four week cycle was (without commenting on whether it's a good thing or not) was to make it more do-able for more people to recite the complete office every day.
Once can compare the arrangement of the psalms of the various offices here:
St. Pius V and St. Pius X Brevaries:http://www.kellerbook.com/Foursch.htm
Pope Paul VI Breviary (Liturgy of the Hours)http://www.kellerbook.com/Loh-1971.htm
While I don't agree at all that Christian Prayer / Liturgy of the Hours
is dumbed down - think 3rd grade Sunday School
, mike6240 makes an excellent suggestion, for one who prefers the pre VII Breviary, of A Short Breviary for Religious and the Laity
. There are both a regular and complete edition (a 1/2 inch difference in thickness of the volume). The complete edition has additional scriptural readins, and additional psalms for Matins (I believe the regular edition only has the psalms of the first nocturn). In the regular editon psalms 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 20, 27, 30, 34, 37, 38, 39, 43, 48, 49, 51, 54, 55, 57, 58, 59, 60, 63, 67, 68, 72, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 88 (part), 89, 93, 98, 101, 105, 106, 108, 113, 118 (part), 126, 128 are not included. One could use the chart from the kellerbook site above, and recite those psalms from a bible, at the appropriate times, if they did not have a full editon.
There are also three editons of A Short Breviary...
. Both of mine (regular and complete, both from e-bay) are the third editon, 1962, and do not have the thee's and thou's
, but an elegent (IMHO) contemporary English. Some prefer the former, but I find it distracting, a matter of individual taste.
Also, perhaps spend some time with glgas / Laszlo's site, as cited in the posts above.
In my humble opnion, the most important thing is to find a format that one is able to recite consistantly, and make that one's rule of prayer.
As an aside, watch e-bay for awhile for A Short Breviary...
, if you decide that is an appropriate choice. The current auction referenced by mike6240 is higher priced then some I've seen there. Though, it is for a 1954 edition (probable with thee's and thou's
), and most auctions I've seen are for the Third Editon, 1962, but with lower prices.