Friday, September 20, 2013

The Hymns at the Lesser Hours: Terce

The following are the hymns listed for Tierce (Terce), in  Hymn melodies for the whole year, from the Sarum service-books:
Daily throughout the year except on Whitsun Day & the three days following 
Nunc sancte nobis Spiritus
(1) On all Double Feasts throughout the year ... ... 5
(2) On Thursday, Friday, & Saturday in Whitsun Week ... ... 8
(3) On the Vigil of Epiphany, & on all Sundays & Simple Feasts throughout the year ... ... ... ... ... 6
(4) On all Ferias throughout the year ... ... ... 7
On Whitsun Day and the three days following :
Veni, Creator Spiritus ... ... ... 8
[At Cbristmas-tide (York) : Maria ventre concipit ... ... ... 55]

Terce is the third hour of the day: 9 a.m.   Apparently hymns to the Holy Spirit figure prominently at this Office because the Spirit appeared to the Apostles at this hour on the Day of  Pentecost.  Follow along with the office here, at Breviary Offices, from Lauds to Compline Inclusive (Society of St. Margaret, Boston, 1885).    I'll link-in via iFrame at the bottom of the post too.

Here's TPL on Nunc sancte nobis Spiritus:
Attributed to St. Ambrose (340-397), this hymn is for the office of Terce (mid-morning prayer, about 9:00 AM) from the Liturgy of the Hours. It is particularly appropriate for Terce, for it was at that hour the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles on Pentecost (Acts 2:15).  From the Liturgia Horarum;  Translation by Cardinal Newman (1801-1890).
NUNC, Sancte, nobis Spiritus,
unum Patri cum Filio,
dignare promptus ingeri
nostro refusus pectori.    

Os, lingua, mens, sensus, vigor
confessionem personent,
flammescat igne caritas,
accendat ardor proximos.    

Per te sciamus da Patrem,
noscamus atque Filium,
te utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore. Amen.   

COME, Holy Ghost, who ever One
art with the Father and the Son,
it is the hour, our souls possess
with Thy full flood of holiness.

Let flesh, and heart, and lips, and mind,
sound forth our witness to mankind;
and love light up our mortal frame,
till others catch the living flame.

Grant this, O Father, ever One
with Christ, Thy sole-begotten Son,
and Holy Ghost, whom all adore,
reigning and blest forevermore.  Amen.

The melodies are these:

This is an mp3 of melody #7 from the Liber Hymnarius Wiki; this tune is used at Terce on all ferias throughout the year.  It's a plain and simple song, as you can see; often the ferial hymns for the Little Hours are just as simple as this.  Unfortunately, I haven't found sound files for either melody #5 or #6.

But Liber Hymnarius Wiki offers sound files for seven different melodies used for this hymn!   I've pasted them all in below, just for fun; you can always use the LH system instead of the Sarum melodies, until I find audio files for those.

For instance, use  the third melody below, labeled "in festis," in place of melody #5 "On the Vigil of Epiphany, & on all Sundays & Simple Feasts throughout the year."    And maybe use the fifth melody, labeled "in sollemnitatibus," in place of melody #6 "On all Double Feasts throughout the year."   Click the arrow in each case to play the mp3.  (The first melody, labeled "in feriis per annum," is #7 above.):
Nunc, Sancte, nobis, Spiritus (Ambrosius?)

Melody: a a a a a a g g
 Download in feriis per annum, H.D, p. 192 
 Download in memoriis, H.VIII, p. 192 
 Download in festis, H.VIII, p. 192

Melody: d c d f e d d c :
 Download in dominicis per annum, H.II, p. 185
Download in sollemnitatibus, H.VIII, p. 186
 Download in Adventu, H.IV, p. 7
 Download in Nativitate, H.II, p. 24

Here's one more; this is none of those tunes as far as I can tell, but it's another pretty version of the hymn:

 This is from the YouTube page, in Italian with a Google Translate rendering:
Invocando lo Spirito Santo e sapendo bene che noi non possiamo in questo momento realizzare quanto c'è da fare per la Chiesa e per il mondo: solo nella forza dello Spirito Santo possiamo trovare quanto è retto e poi attuarlo. E tutti i giorni inizieremo il nostro lavoro invocando lo Spirito Santo con la preghiera dell'Ora Terza. 

Invoking the Holy Spirit, knowing full well that we can not at this moment do what needs to be done to the Church and for the world, only in the power of the Holy Spirit we can discover what is right and then implement it. And every day we will start our work invoking the Holy Spirit through prayer of the Third Hour.

Melody #8 is used  "On Thursday, Friday, & Saturday in Whitsun Week" for Nunc sancte nobis Spiritus, above, and on the day of Pentecost and the three days following, for the well-known Veni Creator Spiritus.    That takes care of the whole week; during that week, you'll sing these two hymns to the beautiful tune in the video below.  That TPL link notes that:
One of the most widely used hymns in the Church, Veni, Creator Spiritus, is attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856). It is used at Vespers, Pentecost, Dedication of a Church, Confirmation, and Holy Orders and whenever the Holy Spirit is solemnly invoked. A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite it. A plenary indulgence is granted if it is recited on January 1st or on the feast of Pentecost.

Here's a video of the hymn, sung by the Schola Cantorum of Amsterdam Students; the text in Latin and English is below:

Here are the words in Latin and English from the page at the above link:

VENI, Creator Spiritus,
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia
quae tu creasti pectora.
COME, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
Qui diceris Paraclitus,
altissimi donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
et spiritalis unctio.
O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.
Tu, septiformis munere,
digitus paternae dexterae,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
sermone ditans guttura.
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God's hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father, Thou
Who dost the tongue with power imbue.
Accende lumen sensibus:
infunde amorem cordibus:
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.
Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o'erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.
Hostem repellas longius,
pacemque dones protinus:
ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.
Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.
Per te sciamus da Patrem,
noscamus atque Filium;
Teque utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.
Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio, qui a mortuis
surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.
Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven.

It's noted above that York used melody #55  as the tune for the hymn Maria ventre concipit at Terce only in Christmastide.

I found some words to a hymn in this book about the Christmas season by Dom GueringerMaria ventre concipit is the first phrase of the third verse of this Fortunatus hymn; that is of course a very common phrase - but this does seem to be the same hymn.  And there is some Holy Ghost action in it, too.

This hymn, according to Gueringer, was set for the 6th day following the Epiphany; the Cantus links describe its use at other times, almost always at Terce.  It seems to have been used right up through and including Candelmas.  It's quite beautiful, so I thought I'd include all the words here (along with the nonmetrical translation, I assume from Gueringer) - even though I'm not sure of the hymn's format in the York use for Terce:
Agnoscat omne saeculum
Vemsse vitae praemium;
Post  hostis asperi jugum
Apparuit redemptio

Esaias quae cecinit
Complete sunt in Virgine
Annuntiavit Angelus
Sanctus replevit Spiritus.

Maria ventre concipit
Verbi fidelis semine:
Quem totus orbis non capit
Portant puellae viscera.

Radix Jesse floruit,
Et Virga fructum edidit;
Foecunda partum protulit,
Et Virgo mater permanet.

Praesepo poni pertulit
Qui lucis auctor exstitit,
am Patre coelos condidit,
Sub Matre pannos induit.

Legem dedit qui saeculo,
Cujus decem praecepta sunt,
Dignando factus est homo
Sub Legis esse vinculo.

Adam vetus quod polluit
Adam novus hoc abluit:
Tumens quod ille dejicit
Humiliimus hie erigit,

Jam nata lux est et salus,
Fugnta nox et victa mora,
Venite gentes, credite,
Deum Maria protulit. Amen.

Let all ages acknowledge  that he is come,
Who is the reward of life.
After mankind had carried the yoke of its cruel enemy
Our Redemption appeared.

What Isaias foretold,
has been fulfilled in the Virgin;
an Angel announced the mystery to her,
and the Holy Ghost filled her by his power.

Mary conceived in her womb,
for she believed in the word that was spoken to her:
the womb of a youthful maid holds Him,
whom the whole earth cannot contain.

The Root of Jesse has given its flower,
and the Branch has borne its fruit:
Mary has given birth to Jesus,
and the Mother is still the spotless Virgin.

He that created the light
suffers himself to be laid in a manger;
He that, with the Father, made the heavens,
is now wrapt by his Mother's hand in swaddling-clothes.

He that gave to the world the ten
commandments of the law, deigns,
by becoming Man, to be
Under the bond of the law.

What the old Adam defiled,
that the new Adam has purified;
and what the first cast down by his pride,
the second raised up again by his humility.

Light and salvation are now born to us,
night is driven away, and death is vanquished:
oh! come, all ye people, believe;
God is born of Mary. Amen.

Here's a peek-in to the SSM Breviary entry for Terce (again, spelled "Tierce" here):

Here's the Wikipedia entry on Terce
, via the Catholic Encyclopedia (1917, it says):
Terce, or Third Hour, is a fixed time of prayer of the Divine Office of almost all the Christian liturgies. It consists mainly of psalms and is said at 9 a.m. Its name comes from Latin and refers to the third hour of the day after dawn.

Much of this article is adapted from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917. Note that it describes the office before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The psalm numbers are given first according to the Septuagint (followed by the Masoretic or "King James" numbering in parentheses).


The origin of Terce, like that of Sext and None, to which it bears a close relationship, dates back to Apostolic times.[1] As has already been stated (see None) according to an ancient custom of the Romans and Greeks, the day and night respectively were divided into four parts of about three hours each. The second division of the day contained the hours from about the modern nine o'clock until about midday; using the Roman numbering the hour just preceding this division was called hora tertia (the third hour) from which the word terce is derived. Since the Roman day was divided into twelve hours from sunrise to sunset regardless of day length, the timing for hora tertia depended on the latitude and day of year. At Rome's latitude hora tertia was in modern terms 09:02 to 09:46 solar time at the winter solstice, but at the summer solstice it was 06:58 to 08:13.[2]

These divisions of the day were also in vogue among the Jews at the time of Christ. In the New Testament we find mention of the sixth hour in Matthew 20:5; Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; John 19:14; of the ninth hour, in Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:25; the Holy Ghost descends upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost at the third hour, Acts 2:15. Some of these texts prove that these three hours were, in preference to others, chosen for prayer by the Christians, and probably also by the Jews, from whom the Christians appear to have borrowed the custom.


We find frequent mention in the Fathers of the Church and the ecclesiastical writers of the third century of Terce, Sext, and None as hours for daily prayers. For example, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria,[3] and the Canons of Hippolytus. Tertullian says expressly that we should always pray, and that there is no prescribed time for prayer, but adds: "As regards the time, there should be no lax observation of certain hours—I mean, of those common hours which have long marked the divisions of the day, the third, the sixth, and the ninth—and which we may observe in Scripture to be more solemn than the rest"[4]

Clement and Tertullian in these passages refer only to private prayer at these three hours. The Canons of Hippolytus also speak of these three hours as suitable for private prayer. However, on the days called "days of station", that is to say Wednesday and Friday, which were set apart as especially consecrated to prayer, and Sunday, these hours were recited in public[5] St. Cyprian remarked that these three hours had been observed in the Old Testament, and that Christians should also observe them[6] In the fourth century the custom of praying at these hours became more frequent, and even obligatory, at least for monks.[7] Our texts say nothing as to what were the elements of the prayer of Terce, Sext, or None before the fourth century. Doubtless, like all prayers at that time, they were composed of psalms, canticles, hymns, and litanies. It is from the fourth century onwards that we can gather a more precise idea as to the composition of the hour of Terce. In the fourth century, as we have said, the custom of prayer at Terce spread, and tended to become obligatory, at least for monks. There is no mention in the "Peregrinatio ad Loca Sancta" of an office of Terce on ordinary days. Some authors have misunderstood the text here, but there is no mention of a meeting at this hour, except on Sunday and during Lent. The hour of Terce is also mentioned in St. Jerome, "Ep. ad Lætam."; "Ep. ad Eustoch."; in the Life of St. Melania the Younger, "Analecta Bollandiana", VIII; in Cassian, "De institut. coenob.", etc.

At this period it is composed of the same elements as the hours of Sext and None; the distribution is the same, and it is clear that the three "Little Hours" were composed at the same time and that they have the same origin. The psalms of Terce are different from those of the other two hours. There were also certain varieties of composition. Thus, in certain countries, three psalms were assigned to Terce, six to Sext, nine to None, in virtue of the symbolism.


The Fathers of the Church and the liturgists of the Middle Ages considered the hour of Terce as corresponding to the hour of Christ's condemnation to death. They also often point out on this occasion the mysteries of the number three, which in ecclesiastical symbolism is a sacred number. What gives it its especial dignity, however, is its association with the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles on the day of Pentecost at this very hour ("seeing it is but the third hour of the day" (Acts 2:15). In several liturgies, and particularly in the Roman, this connection is brought to mind by one or other of the formulæ. Again, this is the reason why, from the earliest times, the hour of Terce was chosen as that of the Eucharist on feast days. Sometimes, also, this hour is called in liturgical language hora aurea or hora sacra (the "golden hour" or "holy hour")[8]

Comparison to other Rites

The composition varies also in the various liturgies. (See Neale and Littledale, "Commentary on the Psalms", I, p. 34.) In the Benedictine Rite, Terce comprises, on week days, the Gradual Psalms, 119 (120), 120 (121), and 121 (122), with a capitulum, verse, Kyrie, Pater, and prayer.

On Sundays and Mondays the Gradual Psalms are replaced by three octonaries (i.e. three sections of eight verses each) of Psalm 118 (119). In the Mozarabic Rite, three octonaries of Ps. 118 (119) are also recited, the composition otherwise differing very little. In the main, the recitation of three psalms at Terce, as at the other two "Little Hours" of the day, is founded on a universal and very ancient tradition. Divergencies on this point are only exceptional. The practice of the Roman Liturgy, which at first sight appears to be somewhat different, may be traced to this tradition also. In this rite a part of Ps. 118 (119) is recited at Terce as well as at the other "little hours", the psalm being divided into three double octonaries. In the Psalter arrangement of 1911-12, the psalms are: on Sunday, Psalm 118 (119) (three divisions); on Monday, Psalm 26 (27) (two divisions); on Tuesday, Psalm 39 (40) (three divisions); on Wednesday, Psalm 53 (54) (two divisions); on Thursday, Psalm 72 (73) (three divisions); on Friday, Psalm 39 (40) (two divisions); on Saturday, Psalm 101 (102) (three divisions). The number three is therefore preserved in each case.

The hymn Nunc Sancte nobis Spiritus recalls the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles. The other elements are the same as for Sext and None.

Eastern Christian Office

In the Eastern Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches the office of the Third Hour is normally read by a single Reader and has very little variation in it. Three fixed psalms are read at the Third Hour: Psalms 16, 24, and 50 (LXX). The only variable portions for most of the year are the Troparia (either one or two) and Kontakion of the Day.

During Great Lent a number of changes in the office take place. On Monday through Friday, after the three fixed psalms, the Reader says a kathisma from the Psalter. The Troparion of the Day is replaced by special Lenten hymns that are chanted with prostrations. Then a portion of the Ladder of Divine Ascent may be read. The Kontakion of the Day is replaced by special Lenten troparia. Near the end of the Hour, the Prayer of St. Ephraim is said, with prostrations.

During Holy Week, on Great Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the services are similar to those during Great Lent (including the reading of a kathisma), but instead of the normal Lenten hymns which replace the Kontakion, the Kontakion of the day (i.e., that day of Holy Week) is chanted. On Great Thursday and Saturday, the Little Hours are more like normal. On Great Friday, the Royal Hours are chanted.

During the Lesser Lenten seasons (Nativity Fast, Apostles' Fast and Dormition Fast) the Little Hours undergo changes similar to those during Great Lent, except the Lenten hymns are usually read instead of chanted, and there are no kathismata. In addition, on weekdays of the Lesser Fasts, an Inter-Hour (Greek: Mesorion) may be read immediately after each Hour (at least on the first day of the Fast).[9] The Inter-Hours follow the same general outline as the Little Hours, except they are shorter.

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