One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in the Roman Catholic Church) a part of matins originally said at night.
- ‘Matins on important feasts and Sundays had three nocturns, while less important feasts and weekdays had only two nocturns.’
- ‘The observance of nocturns in winter is dealt with in the Benedictine Rule, Chapters 8-9.’
- ‘In the Roman office the threefold division of Matins was re-introduced even after the vigil service had split into Vespers, Matins, and Lauds, and the divisions came to be known as nightwatches or nocturns.’
- ‘Each of the three nocturns includes three sets of antiphons and psalms; a versicle and response; a time for silent prayer; and three lessons, each followed by a responsory.’
Middle English: from Old French nocturne or ecclesiastical Latin nocturnum, neuter of Latin nocturnus ‘of the night’.
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