The Daily Round of Prayer

The order of the daily services begins with Vespers on the previous night. This is followed by Compline (or 'After Dinner'), then the Midnight Office, Matins, the First, Third, Sixth Hours and the Divine Liturgy. Then the Ninth Hour immediately before the next Vespers completes the cycle. The services are now usually grouped; common Russian practice is to serve Ninth Hour, Vespers, Little Compline, Matins and the First Hour in the evening, and then Midnight, Third and Sixth Hours and Divine Liturgy in the morning. An early-twentieth-century book recommended a time between 4 and 5 a.m. for the morning offices, with early Liturgy at 6 or 6.30, late Liturgy at 9 a.m. Vespers were between 3.30 and 5 p.m. depending on the time of year, but the festal All-Night Vigil would start at 6 p.m. Russian parishes that do not have a daily Liturgy will have at least the 'All-Night Vigil' of Vespers, Matins and First Hour on Saturday evening and the eves of feasts; with Liturgy following the Third and Sixth Hours in the morning. (See also Mother Mary 1969.)

In Greek, Middle Eastern and Balkan churches, daily liturgy is rare, but it is not uncommon for Vespers and Matins to be celebrated each evening and morning. On Mount Athos, Midnight, Matins and the First Hour start around 3.30 a.m., followed in turn by Hours and Liturgy (on weekdays, the Liturgy may be in a subsidiary church). The main meal is now served if not a fasting day, and then in the evening, Ninth Hour and Vespers precede dinner, Compline follows it.

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