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As a rule they suggest the symbolic signification of this Hour (see No. This principal form of the Office should be distinguished from the Office of Sunday, of Feasts, and the ferial or week day Office. The same Liturgy has also preserved Vigils of long psalmody.The Sunday Office is made up of the invitatory, hymn, three nocturns, the first of which comprises twelve psalms, and the second and third three psalms each; nine lessons, three to each nocturn, each lesson except the ninth being followed by a response; and finally, the canticle Te Deum , which is recited or sung after the ninth lesson instead of a response. This Nocturnal Office adapted itself at a later period to a more modern form, approaching more and more closely to the Roman Liturgy.
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.
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.
The Office of Feasts is similar to that of Sunday, except that there are only three psalms to the first nocturn instead of twelve. Here too are found the three Nocturns, with Antiphon, Psalms, Lessons, and Responses, the ordinary elements of the Roman Matins, and with a few special features quite Ambrosian.
The week-day or ferial office and that of simple feasts are composed of one nocturn only, with twelve psalms and three lessons. 8, sq.; Paul Lejay; Ambrosien (rit.) in "Dictionnaire d'Archeol. In the Benedictine Office, Matins, like the text of the Office, follows the Roman Liturgy quite closely. twelve, is always the same, there being three or two Nocturns according to the degree of solemnity of the particular Office celebrated.
The "De Virginitate", a fourth-century treatise, gives them as immediately following Lauds.