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iPhone App Review: Divine Office – Liturgy of the Hours

iPhone App Review: Divine Office – Liturgy of the Hours

November 22nd, 2010 by

Let me start off this review by telling you that if you don’t know what the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours are, then you almost definitely don’t need this app.

I guess there are those who would say that if you don’t know what those things are then you absolutely positively need this app. It depends on your point of view, I guess.

From the Office of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship:

“From ancient times the Church has had the custom of celebrating each day the liturgy of the hours. In this way the Church fulfills the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing, at once offering its praise to God the Father and interceding for the salvation of the world.”

The Divine Office iOS app is the official set of daily prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours of the Roman Catholic Church.

How It Works

The default view for Divine Office is the the daily calendar view, which presents you with your daily prayers and hymns. When you start up the app it downloads several days worth of prayers at a time, which you can flick through and see at a glance. It also gives you access to the prior day’s prayers.

For most of the daily prayers it also includes audio. This includes audio of the prayers and response, as well as a musically accompanied choir singing hymns.

There is also the option to share each prayer through Facebook or email, as well as an animated 3D globe (!) that shows others around the world that are praying at the same time.

My Review

The app itself is gorgeously presented, and since it’s universal it looks even more amazing on the iPad. A lot of care was invested in creating an app that befits its subject matter.

The interface is simple and clean. It starts on the current day, and you can swipe through to others (up to three days in advance). Tapping on a prayer loads the text quickly, and if you would like the audio you simply tap the page and the player controls slide gracefully into place.

The voices and singing in the audio files are professionally recorded, though my only complaint about the app comes under this category. The prayer response sounds as if only a half dozen or so people are in the congregation, and comes off as stilted and robotic. Having closer to dozens or even hundreds of voices (achievable digitally, without the need to re-record) would create a greater effect.

The app also has configurable fonts sizes and colors, allowing you to create a high-contrast large-type style reading experience; or to keep the default small sepia theme.


Although the app is pricey at $14.99, it is currently on sale for half-price.

To give the developers credit, they fully disclose within the app’s description that all of the content is available at their website free of charge. I think it’s fair to charge a premium price for an app so well executed that caters to such a relatively small set of iOS users.

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