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.)
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.)
- During Great Lent:
- During an Alleluia Season:
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.
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.
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
- The Liturgikon: The Book of Divine Services for the Priest and Deacon, Bishop Basil (Essey) of Wichita (ISBN 0962419001)
- Website of the St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America
- The Festal Menaion, tr. by Mother Mary and Archimandrite (now Bishop) Kallistos (St. Tikhon's Seminary Press) (ISBN 1878997009)
- The Pentecostarion, tr. Holy Transfiguration Monastery (ISBN 0943405025)
- The Great Horologion, Holy Transfiguration Monastery (ISBN 0943405084)