Office

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The “Office” is a term for fixed hour prayer found in many high churches. Here is some information from Phyllis Tickle’s (an Anglican teacher) web site:

Fixed-hour prayer is the oldest form of Christian spiritual discipline and has its roots in the Judaism out of which Christianity came. When the Psalmist says, “Seven times a day do I praise You,” he is referring to fixed-hour prayer as it existed in ancient Judaism. We do not know the hours that were appointed in the Psalmist’s time for those prayers. By the turn of the era, however, the devout had come to punctuate their work day with prayers on a regimen that followed the flow of Roman commercial life. Forum bells began the work day at six in the morning (prime, or first hour), sounded mid-morning break at nine (terce, or third hour), the noon meal and siesta or break at twelve (sext, or sixth hour), the re-commencing of trade at three (none, or ninth hour), and the close of business at six (vespers). With the addition of evening prayers and early prayers upon arising, the structure of fixed-hour prayer was established in a form that is very close to that which Christians still use today.

Fixed-hour prayer is also commonly referred to as “the divine offices” or “the liturgy of the hours,” and from the time of the Reformation until very recently was held almost exclusively as a part of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican Christian practice. With the re-configurations and re-alignments within Christianity during the last years of the twentieth century, however, there came an increasing push on the part of many Christians from within every sectarian division of the faith to return to the liturgy, or work, of being Church on earth. As the service which was most completely the people’s service in first-century Christianity, the observance of fixed-hour prayer began to emerge once more as the desired discipline for more and more Christians.

In our New Day Monk web site you can find a link to Phyllis Tickle’s daily on-line Fixed Prayers: Click on “Links” on the New Day Monk web site and then click on DIVINE HOURS.