Hours

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Horologion, Venice 1535
The Hours are four relatively brief prayer services of the Daily Cycle that mark the various principal hours of the day.
  • First Hour corresponds to daybreak (6:00 a.m.).
  • Third Hour corresponds to mid-morning (9:00 a.m.)
  • Sixth Hour corresponds to mid-day (12:00 noon)
  • Ninth Hour corresponds to mid-afternoon (3:00 p.m.)

These services, together with the other services of the Daily Cycle, are usually contained in a bound collection called the Book of Hours, also known as the Horologion (Greek) or Chasoslov (Slavonic).

Contents

General Structure of the Hours

Each of the services of the Hours shares the same general structure.

  • The service opens with the priest's exclamation Blessed is our God ... and the Trisagion Prayers. (Note: this opening sequence is omitted if the service immediately follows another service.)
  • Three chapters from the Psalter appointed for the particular Hour are read (First Hour: Psalms 5, 89, 100; Third Hour: Psalms 16, 24, 50; Sixth Hour: Psalms 53, 54, 90; Ninth Hour: Psalms 83, 84, 85)
  • The troparion of the day is chanted.
  • The theotokion and Psalm verses of the Hour are chanted.
  • The Trisagion Prayers are prayed.
  • The kontakion appointed for the Hour is chanted.
  • The Prayer of the Hours Thou Who at all times and at every hour ... is prayed.
  • The final prayer appointed for the Hour is prayed.
  • The priest gives the final blessing and offers the Little Dismissal. (Note: this is omitted if another service will immediately follow.)

Variations

Great Lent

  • During Great Lent:
    • the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian is prayed, followed by the Trisagion Prayers. These are inserted immediately before the final prayer.
    • the Sixth Hour includes an Old Testament prophecy reading, which is included during the chanting of the theotokion and its Psalm verses.

Alleluia Seasons

  • During an Alleluia Season:
    • a kathisma may be appointed. If so, it is read following the usual reading from the Psalter.
    • the troparion of the day is replaced with troparia and stichera particular to the Hour.

Mesoria

During the Nativity Fast and the Apostles' Fast, each of the First, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hours is followed by an additional service called a Mesorion (inter-hour). The Mesorion starts immediately after the final prayer.

Royal Hours

On the eves of the feasts of Nativity and Theophany and on Holy Friday, the usual services of the Hours are combined and replaced by the more solemn Royal Hours. The Royal Hours include hymnography, prayers, and scripture readings related to the feasts they anticipate.

Paschal Hours

During Bright Week the Hours (as well as certain other services of the Daily Cycle) are replaced by the festive Paschal Hours. The Paschal Hours are intended to reflect the joy and celebration of Pascha. The hymnography and prayers center on Christ's victory over sin and death and our hope for salvation.

Theological Meaning of the Hours

Online Texts

Sources


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