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Chapter II.

Of the difference of the number of Psalms appointed to be sung in all the provinces.

For we have found that many in different countries, according to the fancy of their mind (having, indeed, as the Apostle says, “a zeal, for God but not according to knowledge” 674 ), have made for themselves different rules and arrangements in this matter. For some have appointed that each night twenty or thirty Psalms should be said, and that these should be prolonged by the music of antiphonal singing 675 , and by the addition of some modulations as well. Others have even tried to go beyond this number. Some use eighteen. And in this way we have found different rules appointed in different places, and the system and regulations that we have seen are almost as many in number as the monasteries and cells which we have visited. There are some, too, to whom it has seemed good that in the day offices of prayer, viz., Tierce, Sext, and Nones, 676 the number of Psalms and prayers should be made to correspond exactly to the number of the hours at which the services are offered up to the Lord. 677 Some have thought fit that six Psalms should be assigned to each service of the day. And so I think it best to set forth the most ancient system of the fathers which is still observed by the servants of God throughout the whole of Egypt, so that your new monastery in its untrained infancy in Christ 678 may be instructed in the most ancient institutions of the earliest fathers.



Rom. x. 2.


Antiphona. In this passage the word appears to mean the actual Psalms sung antiphonally, rather than what is generally meant in later writings by the term. Cf. the Rule of Aurelian, “Dicite matutinarios, i.e., primo canticum in antiphona, deinde directaneum, judica me Deus…in antiphona dicite hymnum, splendor patudæ gloriæ.” And see the use of the word later on by Cassian himself, c. vii.


The third, sixth, and ninth hours were observed as hours of prayer from the earliest days. Cf. Tertullian De Oratione, c. 25; Clem. Alex. Stromata, VII., c. 7, § 40.


I.e., that at Tierce there should be three Psalms, at Sext six, and at Nones nine.


Castor had founded a monastery about the year 420.

Next: Chapter III. Of the observance of one uniform rule throughout the whole of Egypt, and of the election of those who are set over the brethren.