from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Any of the three canonical divisions of the office of matins.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The night office of the Christian Liturgy of the Hours, such as is performed in christian monasteries.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. An office of devotion, or act of religious service, by night.
- n. One of the portions into which the Psalter was divided, each consisting of nine psalms, designed to be used at a night service.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Of the night; nightly.
- n. In the early Christian ch., one of several services recited at midnight or between midnight and dawn, and consisting chiefly of psalms and prayers.
- n. The part of the psalter used at nocturns, or the division used at each nocturn.
- n. Same as nocturne, 1.
- To be different in color at night from what it is in the daytime; be a nocturn. Also nocturne.
- n. An organism whose color is different at night from what it is in the daytime. Also nocturne.
It was a snatch from a popular chorus, something he had heard sounding all over the town of Pisa one April night, one of the first bland and summer-like nights of the year, that Flavian had chosen for the refrain of a poem he was then pondering -- the Pervigilium Veneris -- the vigil, or "nocturn," of
The first nocturn has eleven psalms, and a homily of St. Augustine, divided into three readings; following the normal Ambrosian custom, there is a responsory after the first and second, but not the third.
The second nocturn has seven psalms, followed by the Passion of St. Mark, with a responsory, the Passion of Saint Luke, with a responsory, and the Passion of St. John, precede by chapter 13 and the first six verses of chapter 14 of the same Gospel.
The readings of the first nocturn of Tenebrae are from the Lamentations of Jeremiah and have, in our rite, a special and distinctive "funereal" chant.
In the first nocturn, the Church sings lessons from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, with a special melody famous for its solemnity and beauty, and entirely appropriate to the text.
What follows is most of the old second nocturn of the Carmelite breviary which tells his life in the grand old medieval style, full of miracles and wonders.
From the 2d nocturn in the old Carmelite breviary:
Sundays had 18 psalm Mattins divided into three nocturns each containing three lessons. 12 pss in the first nocturn.
Then I acquired very reasonably a 1946 Burns and Oates four volume breviary which has the advantage of including the full second nocturn readings these were mostly chopped to a single reading in the 1961 breviary.
Doubles had 9 psalm Mattins divided into three nocturns whilst ferial days and simples had a single nocturn containing 12 psalms and three lessons.