“At Matins bound; at
Condemned to death at Tierce;
Nailed to the Cross at Sext; at None
His blessed Side they pierce.
They take him down at Vesper-tide;
In grave at Compline lay,
Who thenceforth bids His Church observe
The sevenfold hours alway.”
(Gloss. Cap. I. De Missa)
Thus, this old author connects the seven hours with the scenes of the Passion. Another author finds in the hours a reminder and a warning that we should devote every stage of our lives to God. For the seven canonical hours, he writes, bear a striking resemblance to the seven ages of man.
Matins, the night office, typifies the pre-natal stage of life. Lauds, the office of dawn, seems to resemble the beginnings of childhood. Prime recalls to him youth. Terce, recited when the sun is high in the heavens shedding brilliant light, symbolises early manhood with its strength and glory. Sext typifies mature age. None, recited when the sun is declining, suggests man in his middle age. Vespers reminds all of decrepit age gliding gently down to the grave. Compline, night prayer said before sleep, should remind us of the great night, death.
SHORT HISTORY OF DIVINE PRAISE IN GENERAL AND OF THE BREVIARY IN PARTICULAR.
From all eternity the Godhead was praised with ineffable praise by the Trinity—the three divine Persons. The angels from the first moment of the creation sang God’s praises. Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus, Sabaoth. Plena est omnis terra gloria ejus (Isaias vi. 3).
Cardinal Bona writes that Adam and Eve blessed and praised God, their Creator. For God created the first human beings, and “created in them the knowledge of the Spirit of God that they might praise the name which He has sanctified and glory in His wondrous acts” (Ecclesiasticus xvii. 6-8), Every page of the Old Testament tells how the chosen race worshipped God. We read of the sacrifices of Cain, Abel, Enoch, Noe; of the familiar intercourse which the great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob had with God. Recorded, too, are the solemn songs and prayers of Moses thanking God for His guidance in the freedom from the slavery of Egypt (Exodus xv.). David, under God’s inspiration, composed those noble songs of praise, the Psalms, and organised choirs for their rendering. He sings “Evening and morning and at noon I will speak and declare and He shall hear my voice” (Psalm 54, v. 18); “I rose at midnight to give praise to Thee” (Psalm 118, v. 162); “Seven times a day I have given praise to Thee” (Psalm 118, v. 164).