Brush up your rubrics: Terce, Sext and None


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Today's rubric refresher notes relate to the three 'little hours', Terce, Sext and None.

Many people tend to skip the three little hours, and a lot of modern monasteries only say one of them, but that seems to me a great shame, not least because these three hours are actually probably the most ancient.

And as with Prime, St Benedict has, I think, crafted these hours very carefully to link up, teach and reinforce the spiritual theology of the Rule.

They are in addition, very short, so very possible to fit into a morning/afternoon tea and/or lunch break, and relatively easy to memorise.

History and associations of the little hours

Many of the early Fathers pointed to the references to prayer three times a day in the book of Daniel (6:10), as well as to the references in Acts to prayer at these times, as the rationale for these hours.

The Fathers also saw these hours as having an overall Trinitiarian association, due to their threefold nature (which St Benedict reinforces by assigning three psalms to each of them).  But they also pointed to particular associations with each of them:
  • Terce: Christ condemned by Pilate; the hour of the coming of the Holy Ghost on the disciples who were praying at the third hour at Pentecost (Acts 2), ;
  • Sext: Christ ascends the cross and darkness covers the world (Mark 15:33), St Peter praying (Acts 10), angelic visitors to Abraham (Gen 18), against the noonday devil (Ps 90);
  • None: Christ's death on the cross, SS Peter and John go to the Temple at the hour of prayer (Acts 3), Cornelius' vision while praying (Acts 10).
St Benedict's Office, I think, builds on a number of these themes in his selection of psalms (the first nine Gradual psalms, and Psalm 118).  In these hours, I think, St Benedict particularly invites us to imitate Christ, pick up our cross, and make the ascent to heaven through growth in humility and with the help of the grace flowing from his wounded side.

The structure of the little hours

The table below summarises the structure of Terce, Sext and None.  In essence, the structure of these hours is identical to that of Prime.  

As with Prime, the hymn assigned to each of these hours is the same each day, and does not change for feasts (with a few rare exceptions such as Pentecost for Terce).

As with Prime, the antiphon is usually set for the particular day or days of the week, but can change to reflect the season, special days, or feast.

The key differences to Prime are that:
  • rather than a daily set of psalms, there are only three sets, for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to Saturday;
  • the chapter and versicle can change to reflect the season or feast; and
  •  the collect is that of the previous Sunday, day or feast.
Structure and rubrics for the little hours

PART OF THE HOUR
COMMENT/RUBRICS

Opening prayers (Deus in adjutorium/Gloria Patri/Alleluia)

Same as for all of the day hours (MD 1); stand, make sign of cross
Hymn
Same each day for that hour; said standing, bow for last verse

Antiphon
Can change according to season, day of week, feasts etc

Psalm+Gloria Patri
Psalm+Gloria Patri
Psalm+Gloria Patri

Of the day(s) of the week; sit for psalm, stand for Gloria Patri
Antiphon
Repeat earlier antiphon

Chapter
For the hour, can change according to day of week, season, feasts etc.  Said standing

Versicle
For the hour, can change according to day of week, season, feasts etc.  Said standing

Closing Prayers (Kyrie/Pater noster/…Benedicamus Domino…Fidelium animae)

Basic structure as for all day hours, said standing, bow for Our Father
-          Collect
Of the week, day or feast


Finding the pages in the Diurnal


The key thing to remember about these hours is that they appear in the Diurnal after Lauds and before Vespers.

Page numbers for Terce
 

            TERCE
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday to Saturday

Opening prayers
                            MD 1

Hymn (Nunc Sancte)
MD 151
MD 162
MD 183

Antiphon
Of the season, day, date or feast

Psalms
MD 152
MD 164
MD 184

Antiphon
 Of the season, day, date or feast

Chapter
Versicle 

Closing prayers
 MD 154-5 plus collect of the season, day, date or feast (see weekly Ordo)


Page numbers for Sext

            SEXT
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday to Saturday

Opening prayers
                            MD 1

Hymn (Rector Potens)
MD 155
MD 169
MD 183

Antiphon
Of the season, day, date or feast

Psalms
MD 156
MD 171
MD 191

Antiphon
 Of the season, day, date or feast

Chapter
Versicle 

Closing prayers
 MD 154-5 plus collect of the season, day, date or feast



Page numbers for None

            NONE
Sunday
Monday
Tuesday to Saturday

Opening prayers
                            MD 1

Hymn (Rerum Deus)
MD 159
MD 176
MD 196

Antiphon
Of the season, day, date or feast

Psalms
MD 160
MD 178
MD 198

Antiphon
 Of the season, day, date or feast

Chapter
Versicle 

Closing prayers
 MD 154-5 plus collect of the season, day, date or feast


Questions/follow up?

I should let those interested know that I am making word files of these tables in this series available for download through the Traditional Benedictine Office Facebook group.

And if there are any particular questions you would like me to cover off in this brush up your rubrics series, please do let me know.

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