An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Canonical Hours

In the monastic traditions of the western church, the appointed times for prayer throughout the day. Benedict (c. 480-c. 547) set the basis for this pattern of daily prayer in his Rule for Monasteries. The seven “hours” are: matins and lauds (usually counted as a single hour), in the middle of the night; prime, at sunrise; terce, 9 a.m.; sext, noon; none, 3 p.m.; vespers, sunset; and compline, bedtime. The Christian monastic Daily Office, with prayers or hours at seven times in each day, was based on the Jewish pattern of daily prayer at sunrise and at other times. Thomas Cranmer reduced the Daily Office to services for morning (matins) and evening (evensong or vespers) in the first English Prayer Book (1549). The BCP now includes services for the so-called minor hours: An Order of Service for Noonday (p. 103) and An Order for Compline (p. 127).

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.