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Notwithstanding this, however, the Vigils, in their strictest sense of Divine Office of the Night, were maintained and developed.Among writers from the fourth to the sixth century we find several descriptions of them.
From the liturgical point of view and in its origin, the use of the term was very vague and elastic.The liturgical services of these synaxes was composed of almost the same elements as that of the Jewish Synagogue : readings from the Books of the Law, singing of psalms, divers prayers.What gave them a Christian character was the fact that they were followed by the Eucharistic service, and that to the reading from the Law, the apostles and the Acts of the Apostles was very soon added, as well as the Gospels and sometimes other books which were non-canonical, as, for example, the Epistles of Saint Clement, that of Saint Barnabas, the Apocalypse of Saint Peter, etc.The number of psalms, which at first varied, was subsequently fixed at twelve, with the addition of a lesson from the Old and another from the New Testament . Jerome defended the Vigils against the attacks of Vigilantius, but it is principally concerning the watches at the Tombs of the Martyrs that he speaks in his treatise, "Contra Vigilantium". 79, 122, 139, 186, 208, 246, etc.) Other allusions are to be found in Caesaurius of Arles, Nicetiuis or Nicetae of Treves, and Gregory of Tours (see Baumer-Biron, loc. In all the authors we have quoted, the form of Night Prayers would appear to have varied a great deal.Of all the descriptions the most complete is that in the "Peregrinatio Ætheriae", the author of which assisted at Matins in the Churches of Jerusalem, where great solemnity was displayed. Nevertheless in these descriptions, and in spite of certain differences, we find the same elements repeated: the psalms generally chanted in the form of responses, that is to say by one or more cantors, the choir repeating one verse, which served as a response, alternately with the verses of psalms which were sung by the cantors ; readings taken from the Old and the New Testament , and later on, from the works of the Fathers and doctors ; litanies or supplications; prayer for the divers members of the Church, clergy, faithful, neophytes, and catechumens ; for emperors; travellers; the sick; and generally for all the necessities of the Church, and even prayer for Jews and for heretics. Missal, in "Studien des Benediktinerordens", II (Raigern, 1886), 287, 289.] It is quite easy to find these essential elements in our modern Matins.Generally it designated the nightly meetings, synaxes , of the Christians.
Under this form, the watch (Vigil) might be said to date back as early as the beginning of Christianity.
Commenced in the evening, they only terminated the following morning, and comprised, in addition to the Eucharistic Supper, homilies, chants, and divers offices.
These last Vigils it was that gave rise to certain abuses, and they were finally abolished in the Church (see VIGILS).
The word "Matins" ( Latin Matutinum or Matutinae ), comes from Matuta , the Latin name for the Greek goddess Leucothae or Leucothea , white goddess, or goddess of the morning ( Aurora ): Leucothee graius, Matuta vocabere nostris , Ovid, V, 545.
Hence Matutine, Matutinus, Matutinum tempus , or simply Matutinum (i.e.
It was at first applied to the office Lauds, which, as a matter of fact, was said at dawn (see LAUDS), its liturgical synonym being the word Gallicinium (cock-crow), which also designated this office.