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Lesson Ten: The Day Hours of Terce, Sext and None

Reciting the "diurnal," or day office, of Terce, Sext and None may be one of the easiest ways for a modern individual to sanctify his or her work-day.  The three day Hours, identical in structure, are each much simpler and shorter than any of the Major Hours or Compline.  They can easily be recited at their appointed times -- 9 a.m., 12 noon, and 3 p.m. -- aggregated during the lunch hour, or said alone as time permits.

The day office has several particular "quirks" that prevent it from effectively being learned prior to the Major Hours.  With a thorough knowledge of Lauds and Vespers, though, the Little Hours may quickly be tackled.

Structure of Terce, Sext or None

Because the day Hours are identical in structure, Terce may be used as an example of how they are structured.

        -   [Prayer Before the Office (A Section), if first office recited that day];
        -   The Dual Prayer (Our Father and Hail Mary) (A Section);
        -   The Opening Versicles (A Section);
        -   The Hymn (e.g., A33);
        -   The Psalms (e.g., from weekly Psalter);
        -   The Little Chapter and Brief Respond (e.g., A33);
        -   [The Preces (e.g., A35), if the Preces were recited at Lauds];
        -   The Salutation, Bidding, and Collect of the Day;
        -   The Closing Versicles (A Section);
        -   Final Our Father


The Hymn

The Hymn at Terce, Sext, and None is almost always taken from the Ordinary (A Section).  On and during the Octave of Pentecost, the Hymn at Terce is given in the Proper.

However, the doxological ending of the diurnal Hymns may be changed for certain feasts and seasons as given on A5.

The Psalms

The three Psalms at Terce, Sext and None are taken from the appropriate day in the weekly Psalter on Sundays, feriae and most feasts, with the antiphon there given.  During certain seasons, the antiphon for the three Psalms is given in the Ordinary (A33-A34).  For example, after the I Sunday in Lent, on feriae the antiphon is, "The days of penance," etc. on A34.  Of course, if the Proper of the Season gives particular Psalms and/or antiphons, e.g. "Psalms from Common 8," those Psalms should be used.

On some saints' days, the antiphon will be taken from those used for Lauds, as explained below. 

The Little Chapter and Brief Respond

On Sundays and feriae, the Chapter and Brief Respond are taken from the Ordinary (A33-A34) according to the season.  When no specific Chapter is given, it is taken from Lauds.  Of course, if at any time the Proper should provide a proper Little Chapter and Brief Respond, those should be used.

The Chapter and Brief Respond are, as explained in Lesson Four, "accidental" parts of the Office.  Accordingly, on feasts, they should be taken from the Proper or, if none are given there, from the appropriate Common.

The Preces

If and only if the Preces have been said at Lauds of the same day, the Preces are then said (A35).


Anglican Breviary Terce
Anglican Breviary Sext
Anglican Breviary None

The Salutation, Bidding and Collect

Following the Preces or, if they have been omitted, the Brief Respond, the Salutation ("The Lord be with you," etc. or "Lord, hear my prayer," etc.) is said, followed by the Bidding ("Let us pray") and the Collect of the Day, found in the Proper (i.e., the principal Collect used at Lauds).

No commemorations of any kind are made in the diurnal Hours.

The Closing Versicles and Final Our Father

Terce, Sext and None are each ended with the Closing Versicles (A7) and a final Our Father said silently.

Peculiarities of the Day Office

There are fewer changeable elements at Terce, Sext and None than, for instance, at Matins.  The Psalms with their antiphon are variable, but usually come from the weekly Psalter.  The Chapter and Brief Respond usually come from the Ordinary on feriae and Sundays, and from the Proper or appropriate Common on feasts.

Nevertheless, the day Hours have several unique aspects.  First, the three Psalms are buttressed about by one antiphon as a group, instead of each Psalm having an antiphon.  This antiphon is never "doubled," i.e. it is always said up to the dagger before the Psalms and in full after them.  This phenomenon is similar to that in Compline.

Second, the antiphon for their Psalms is sometimes taken from those used at Lauds.  When this occurs, either through an explicit rubric or, when using the appropriate Common for a feast it becomes clear that specific antiphons for the day Hours are not given, Terce uses the second antiphon of Lauds, Sext the third, and None the fifth (the fourth antiphon at Lauds is omitted).  For example, when using Common 9 on the feast of a Confessor (F95), the Common does not provide proper antiphons for Terce.  However, the antiphons in the weekly Psalter cannot be used because of the day's festal character.  In such a case, the second antiphon of Lauds (F94) is used.

Similarly, when no Little Chapter is given for Terce, the Chapter from Lauds is used.  Again, see F95 for an example.  Since Common 9 does not give a proper Little Chapter at Terce, when the Office of a Confessor is said, the Chapter from Lauds (F94) is used at Terce.

Concluding Thoughts

With some practice, the diurnal Hours will be found to be easier and simpler in structure than the Major Hours, or Compline.  They can serve as a way of briefly recollecting ourselves in God at various points throughout our work-day.  Even if only one day Hour is recited, such as Sext, their importance in the scheme of the Divine Office and in our daily sanctification should not be overlooked.

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