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It was at first applied to the office Lauds, which, as a matter of fact, was said at dawn (see LAUDS), its liturgical synonym being the word Gallicinium (cock-crow), which also designated this office.The night-office retained its name of Vigils, since, as a rule, Vigils and Matins ( Lauds ) were combined, the latter serving, to a certain extent, as the closing part of Vigils. Benedict (sixth century) in his description of the Divine Office, always refers to Vigils as the Night Office, whilst that of day-break he calls Matins, Lauds being the last three psalms of that office (Regula, cap. The Council of Tours in 567 had already applied the title "Matins" to the Night Office: ad Matutinum sex antiphonae; Laudes Matutinae; Matutini hymni are also found in various ancient authors as synonymous with Lauds. des Conciles", V, III, 188, 189.) The word Vigils, at first applied to the Night Office, also comes from a Latin source, both as to the term and its use, namely the Vigiliae or nocturnal watches or guards of the soldiers.xciv) called the Invitatory, which is chanted or recited in the form of a response, in accordance with the most ancient custom.The hymns, which have been but tardily admitted into the Roman Liturgy, as well as the hymns of the other hours, form part of a very ancient collection which, so far at least as some of them are concerned, may be said to pertain to the seventh or even to the sixth century.Commenced in the evening, they only terminated the following morning, and comprised, in addition to the Eucharistic Supper, homilies, chants, and divers offices.
From the foregoing it is clear that Matins remains the principal Office of the Church, and the one which, in its origin, dates back the farthest, as far as the Apostolic ages, as far even as the very inception of the Church.
tempus ); some of the old authors prefer Matutini Matutinorum , or Matutinae.
In any case the primitive signification of the word under these different forms was Aurora , sunrise.
It was either on account of the secrecy of their meetings, or because of some mystical idea which made the middle of the night the hour par excellence for prayer, in the words of the psalm : media nocte surgebam ad confitendum tibi , that the Christians chose the night time for their synaxes , and of all other nights, preferably the Sabbath.
There is an allusion to it in the Acts of the Apostles (xx, 4), as also in the letter of Pliny the Younger.