Definition of nocturn in English:



  • (in the Roman Catholic Church) a part of matins originally said at night.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Matins on important feasts and Sundays had three nocturns, while less important feasts and weekdays had only two nocturns.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The observance of nocturns in winter is dealt with in the Benedictine Rule, Chapters 8-9.’


Middle English: from Old French nocturne or ecclesiastical Latin nocturnum, neuter of Latin nocturnus of the night.