World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Midnight Office

Article Id: WHEBN0009469602
Reproduction Date:

Title: Midnight Office  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Easter, Matins, Prayer rope, Little Hours, Divine Service (Eastern Orthodoxy)
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Midnight Office

The Midnight Office (}

}}: Μεσονύκτικον, Mesonýtikon; Slavonic: Полунощница, Polúnoshnitsa; }

}}: Miezonoptică) is one of the Canonical Hours that compose the cycle of daily worship in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The office originated as a purely monastic devotion inspired by Psalm 118:62, At midnight I arose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness (LXX),[1] and also by the Gospel Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).

The name of the Midnight Office is sometimes erroneously translated as "Nocturns"; but this is misleading, as in the West "Nocturn" refers to a division within the completely different office of Matins.

Originally, monks would rise in the middle of the night to sing praises to God. Saint Symeon the New Theologian mentions Psalm 118, a significant component of the Midnight Office on weekdays, being said privately in the cells before Matins.[2] Today, in most places where the Daily Cycle is observed, the Midnight Office is combined with Matins and the First Hour into one of the three daily aggregates called for in the Typikon.[3]

Concerning the Midnight Office, Saint Mark of Ephesus says: "The beginning of all the hymns and prayers to God is the time (kairos) of the midnight prayer. For, rising from sleep for it, we signify the transportation from the life of the deceit of darkness to the life which is, according to Christ, free and bright, with which we begin to worship God. For it is written, The people who sat in darkness saw a great light" (Isaiah 9:2 and Matthew 4:16).[4] The general tone of the office is one of penitence, tempered by an attitude of hopeful expectation.

In the Russian tradition the Midnight Office often begins with the reading of the Morning Prayers in common, which otherwise would be said privately by the brethren in their cells. At the conclusion of the Midnight Office, just as at the end of Compline, it is traditional in many places for everyone present to venerate the icons and relics of the saints that are present in the temple (church building).

In Greek Prayer Books, a modified form of the Midnight Office is used for Morning Prayers for laymen, while a modified form of Small Compline is used for evening prayers.

Structure of the Service

The Midnight Office can be divided into four parts:[5]

  1. Opening—The usual beginning prayers that open most Orthodox offices: a blessing by the priest and prayers by the reader, including the Trisagion and the Lord's Prayer, ending with the call to worship, "O come, let us worship God our King...."
  2. First PartPsalm 50 and a Kathisma from the Psalter (differing according to the day of the week—see below), Nicene Creed, Trisagion and Lord's Prayer followed by the Troparia and prayers, concluding with a blessing by the Priest. During Lenten services there follows the Prayer of Saint Ephrem.[6]
  3. Second Part—"O come, let us worship..." and Psalms 120 and 133, followed by the Trisagion, Troparia of Repentance, an intercession and a blessing by the priest.
  4. Conclusion—Next follows a mutual asking of forgiveness between the priest and all the brethren. Then the priest says a litany during which everyone slowly and quietly chants "Lord, have mercy," concluding with a final blessing by the Priest.

At the present time, the Midnight Office will take one of four forms, depending upon the particular day: (a) Weekdays, (b) Saturday, (c) Sunday, and (d) a unique form which is observed only on Holy Saturday as part of the Paschal Vigil.

Weekdays

The distinguishing feature of the Midnight Office on weekdays is the reading of the Seventeenth Kathisma comprising Psalm 118, the longest Psalm in the Bible, in the First Part of the office. The troparia chanted in the First Part are the Troparia of the Bridegroom: "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh at midnight...", recalling the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. The first of these troparia is also solemnly chanted at Matins during Holy Week, from which the Matins service on these days derives its name of "Bridegroom Prayer."

Saturday

On Saturday, Psalm 118 is always read at Matins as kathisma,[7] so here it is replaced by the Ninth Kathisma, comprising Psalms 64-69. The troparia in the First Part are different from those used on weekdays. Before the Second Part, a special Prayer of Saint Eustratius is read.

Sunday

On Sunday, Psalm 118 is often (though not always) read at Matins, so it is not read at the Midnight Office. The psalm is normally replaced by a Canon to the Holy Trinity, composed by St. Theophanes, according to the tone of the week in the Octoechos. Since the Sunday services, which celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, are normally longer than the weekday services, the Midnight Office is shortened. The Nicene Creed, Troparia and prayers from the First Part, as well as the entire Second Part of the service are omitted. Instead, after the canon, special hymns to the Trinity by Saint Gregory of Sinai are chanted, followed by the Trisagion, the Lord’s Prayer and resurrectional hymn called the Ypakoë in the tone of the week. The Prayer to the Most Holy Trinity by Mark the Monk is read and then the mutual asking of forgiveness, Litany and dismissal.

In the Russian tradition, an All-Night Vigil is celebrated every Sunday (commencing in the evening on Saturday), and so the Midnight Office and Compline are usually omitted. In some places the Midnight Office is read on Sunday morning before the Little Hours and Divine Liturgy. The Greeks do not normally celebrate an All-Night Vigil on Sunday, so they read the Midnight Office in its usual place before Matins on Sunday morning.

Holy Saturday

On Great and Holy Saturday, the Midnight Office takes a very particular form in which it is celebrated on only this one night of the year. Holy Saturday is often the only time that the Midnight Office will be read in parishes. It is the last office found in the liturgical book that contains the services of Great Lent, the Lenten Triodion. The Office is read around the epitaphios, a shroud embroidered with the image of Christ prepared for burial in the Tomb, which has been placed on a catafalque in the center of the church. After the Opening and Psalm 50, the Canon of Great Saturday is chanted (repeated from the Matins service the night before) as a reflection upon the meaning of Christ’s death and His Harrowing of Hell. During the last Ode of the Canon, the priest and deacon carry the epitaphios into the sanctuary and lay it upon the Altar, where it will remain throughout the Paschal season as a reminder of the burial cloth left in the Empty Tomb ( John 20:5). Then a brief litany is read and the priest says the dismissal. All lights in the church are extinguished, and everyone waits in silence and darkness for the stroke of midnight, when the Resurrection of Christ is to be proclaimed.

Due to the all-importance of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ, the Midnight Office is not read in church from Thursday in Holy Week until after Thomas Sunday (The Sunday after Easter), except for the Paschal Vigil. If the Office is chanted during this time, it is done so privately. If one reads the Midnight Office privately during Bright Week the format used is that of the Paschal Hours.

Notes


-- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- Module:Hatnote -- -- -- -- This module produces hatnote links and links to related articles. It -- -- implements the and meta-templates and includes -- -- helper functions for other Lua hatnote modules. --


local libraryUtil = require('libraryUtil') local checkType = libraryUtil.checkType local mArguments -- lazily initialise Module:Arguments local yesno -- lazily initialise Module:Yesno

local p = {}


-- Helper functions


local function getArgs(frame) -- Fetches the arguments from the parent frame. Whitespace is trimmed and -- blanks are removed. mArguments = require('Module:Arguments') return mArguments.getArgs(frame, {parentOnly = true}) end

local function removeInitialColon(s) -- Removes the initial colon from a string, if present. return s:match('^:?(.*)') end

function p.findNamespaceId(link, removeColon) -- Finds the namespace id (namespace number) of a link or a pagename. This -- function will not work if the link is enclosed in double brackets. Colons -- are trimmed from the start of the link by default. To skip colon -- trimming, set the removeColon parameter to true. checkType('findNamespaceId', 1, link, 'string') checkType('findNamespaceId', 2, removeColon, 'boolean', true) if removeColon ~= false then link = removeInitialColon(link) end local namespace = link:match('^(.-):') if namespace then local nsTable = mw.site.namespaces[namespace] if nsTable then return nsTable.id end end return 0 end

function p.formatPages(...) -- Formats a list of pages using formatLink and returns it as an array. Nil -- values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local ret = {} for i, page in ipairs(pages) do ret[i] = p._formatLink(page) end return ret end

function p.formatPageTables(...) -- Takes a list of page/display tables and returns it as a list of -- formatted links. Nil values are not allowed. local pages = {...} local links = {} for i, t in ipairs(pages) do checkType('formatPageTables', i, t, 'table') local link = t[1] local display = t[2] links[i] = p._formatLink(link, display) end return links end

function p.makeWikitextError(msg, helpLink, addTrackingCategory) -- Formats an error message to be returned to wikitext. If -- addTrackingCategory is not false after being returned from -- Module:Yesno, and if we are not on a talk page, a tracking category -- is added. checkType('makeWikitextError', 1, msg, 'string') checkType('makeWikitextError', 2, helpLink, 'string', true) yesno = require('Module:Yesno') local title = mw.title.getCurrentTitle() -- Make the help link text. local helpText if helpLink then helpText = ' (help)' else helpText = end -- Make the category text. local category if not title.isTalkPage and yesno(addTrackingCategory) ~= false then category = 'Hatnote templates with errors' category = string.format( '%s:%s', mw.site.namespaces[14].name, category ) else category = end return string.format( '%s', msg, helpText, category ) end


-- Format link -- -- Makes a wikilink from the given link and display values. Links are escaped -- with colons if necessary, and links to sections are detected and displayed -- with " § " as a separator rather than the standard MediaWiki "#". Used in -- the template.


function p.formatLink(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local link = args[1] local display = args[2] if not link then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no link specified', 'Template:Format hatnote link#Errors', args.category ) end return p._formatLink(link, display) end

function p._formatLink(link, display) -- Find whether we need to use the colon trick or not. We need to use the -- colon trick for categories and files, as otherwise category links -- categorise the page and file links display the file. checkType('_formatLink', 1, link, 'string') checkType('_formatLink', 2, display, 'string', true) link = removeInitialColon(link) local namespace = p.findNamespaceId(link, false) local colon if namespace == 6 or namespace == 14 then colon = ':' else colon = end -- Find whether a faux display value has been added with the | magic -- word. if not display then local prePipe, postPipe = link:match('^(.-)|(.*)$') link = prePipe or link display = postPipe end -- Find the display value. if not display then local page, section = link:match('^(.-)#(.*)$') if page then display = page .. ' § ' .. section end end -- Assemble the link. if display then return string.format('%s', colon, link, display) else return string.format('%s%s', colon, link) end end


-- Hatnote -- -- Produces standard hatnote text. Implements the template.


function p.hatnote(frame) local args = getArgs(frame) local s = args[1] local options = {} if not s then return p.makeWikitextError( 'no text specified', 'Template:Hatnote#Errors', args.category ) end options.extraclasses = args.extraclasses options.selfref = args.selfref return p._hatnote(s, options) end

function p._hatnote(s, options) checkType('_hatnote', 1, s, 'string') checkType('_hatnote', 2, options, 'table', true) local classes = {'hatnote'} local extraclasses = options.extraclasses local selfref = options.selfref if type(extraclasses) == 'string' then classes[#classes + 1] = extraclasses end if selfref then classes[#classes + 1] = 'selfref' end return string.format( '
%s
', table.concat(classes, ' '), s )

end

return p
  1. ^ Throughout this article, the Septuagint numbering of the Psalms is used. To see the difference between the two numbering systems, see the relevant table in the article, Kathisma.
  2. ^ Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, St. Symeon the New Theologian and Orthodox Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 79.
  3. ^ Kovalchuk, Feodor S., Abridged Typicon, 2nd ed. (St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, South Canaan, PA, 1985), pp 17-19.
  4. ^ George Dion. Dragas, On the Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist (Orthodox Research Institute, Rollinsford, NH, 2004) p. 48].
  5. ^ The Festal Menaion (Tr. Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, Faber and Faber, London, 1984), p. 74.
  6. ^ Normally, the Prayer of Saint Ephrem is said once, with three prostrations; but on the first day of Great Lent (Clean Monday) it is said twice, with four prostrations and twelve bows.
  7. ^ Except during Bright Week (Easter Week), when no psalms at all are read.

External links

  • The Midnight Office in Word Format
  • The Midnight Office for Weekdays (Reader Service)
  • The Midnight Office for Saturdays (Reader Service)
  • The Midnight Office for Sundays (Reader Service)
  • The Midnight Office on Pascha in Word Format
  • Photo of monks reading the Divine Office at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.