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A nocturn (from Latin nocturnus "night") is a part of the church's nocturnal or early morning prayer hall, the Matutin , also known as vigils . The nocturnes are one of the oldest and most extensive parts of the Christian monastic divine office. The exact sequence of the chants was laid down in writing by Benedict of Nursia in the middle of the 6th century and is still valid today.

Before the first nocturn, there is a short introductory chant, the invitation , combined with Psalm 95 (“Come, let us rejoice before the Lord and shout to the rock of our salvation”). A hymn corresponding to the Directory is followed by three psalms with the associated antiphons and longer readings from the Holy Scriptures and the Church Fathers with subsequent responsories . After the third nocturn, the Te Deum is sung on Sundays and public holidays .


Christians have been coming together regularly since the 1st century to sing hymns and psalms in the tradition of the Old Testament for common prayer. At the time of the persecution of Christians, their meetings can only be held on Sunday night . After the official recognition of the Christian faith by Emperor Constantine the Great in the 4th century, the night vigils called "vigils" were celebrated daily.