Hours of special prayer and devotion growing out of the custom of the early ch. based on suggestions in Ps (e.g., 55:17; 119:164) and Acts 3:1; 10:9; 16:25. The Apostolic* Constitutions (VIII iv 34) name morning, 3d, 6th, and 9th hour, evening, and cockcrowing. The rule of Benedict of Nursia included (1) nocturna vigilia (matins*), 2 a.m.; (2) lauds* at daybreak; (3) prime*; (4) terce (tierce; from Lat. for 3d); (5) sext; (6) none*; (7) vespers*; (8) compline.* Lauds, usually sung at dawn, may either be combined with matins or follow as the 2d canonical hour (counting matins as the 1st). Matins may be said at any time of the day.
The Luth. Confessions speak of useless, bothersome babbling of the Seven Hours (LC, Longer Pref. 3; cf. AC XXVIII 41). Seven (based on Ps 119:164) is arrived at variously; the day hours may be listed: 1. matins with lauds; 2. prime; 3. terce; 4. sext; 5. none; 6. vespers; 7. compline. The hours survived in monasteries that became ev.; they provided content for the Luth. form of matins and vespers.
The divine office (officium divinum; daily office for canonical hours) is formal vocal prayer as developed in the W Ch. Its fixed form includes Psalms; hymns; scriptural, patristic, and hagiographic readings; prayers. It is recited in RC and other chs. by those commissioned to do so (e.g., priests, religious) as official prayer of the ch.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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