The Lebar Brecc Tractate on the Canonical Hours
Author: R. I. Best
An electronic edition
1. Wherefore is celebration made at these hours rather than
at other hours? Not hard to say. Terce, for it was then Christ
was delivered up by Pontius Piiate, and therein grace came upon
the apostles. At terce the people of God crossed the river Jordan.
At terce the three young men Ananias, Azarias, Misahel and
Daniel the prophet prayed unto the Lord. At terce the people
of Juda accused Christ. At terce James was beaten with a
leaden club. At terce John was filled with the grace of the
Holy Spirit. At terce the spirit of God came upon the apostles
themselves. At terce the walls of Jerusalem were thrown down.
2. Mid-day, however, for then Adam was formed. At mid-day
also Adam sinned. At mid-day Adam was driven out of
paradise. At mid-day Cain slew Abel. At mid-day the three
youths were cast into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar. At
mid-day Christ was crucified and the seed of Adam redeemed,
and the prophets justified. At mid-day Noah entered into his
ark. At mid-day he went forth again.
3. At none, however, the children of Israel passed through
the Red Sea. At none the walls of Jericho were cast down. At
none Elijah was borne into paradise in his chariot. At none he
will come to do battle with Antichrist. At none Christ cried
aloud upon the cross. At none His body was wounded. At none
He yielded up His spirit. At none He harried hell. At none
the sun became dark, and the rocks rent, and the earth burst
open, and the graves poured forth. At none the veil of the temple
was rent in twain. At none the wells became as the colour of
blood. At none there was a commotion of all the stars and the
world was darkened and there was a quaking of heaven and earth.
4. At vespers the offering up of the lamb by the people
of the law, by the children of Israel. Now the lamb that was
offered up then, it was in figure of Christ who was crucified for
our sakes that its sacrifice was customary among them; and as
that lamb was without fault with the people of the law, so was
our lamb pure and unspotted, namely the Son of the King of
Heaven and earth, and His body and His blood are since upon
every holy altar, healing all people if they but believe.
At the end of the fourteenth (day) the people of Moses were
wont to celebrate the pasch upon Saturday. Since Christ rose from
death the pasch has been held on Sunday, for the magnifying of
5. At compline, for then did Christ celebrate a short while
before being taken captive, when He prayed thrice unto the heavenly
Father, and did sweat greatly.
6. At midnight the earth was made and the angels of heaven
likewise. At midnight the angel came and slew the firstborn of
all Egypt. At midnight Peter denied Christ thrice. At midnight
Paul was delivered from prison.
7. At matins the birth of Christ and His resurrection from
death. At matins will come the Judgement, and sentence will
be passed on everyone according to his merit. At matins Adam’s
seed will rise up to the famous Judgement. At matins Christ
will rise up to meet them with His red cross behind Him to
judge everyone, for the Son of God was judged by men through
their evil hearts. He will judge everyone according to merit
on His throne. At matins will come the shower which will change
the whole world in one hour, and a fierce flame will rise out of
it which will burn up the whole earth in one hour.
8. At prime the manna was given to the children of Israel.
At prime everyone was wont to make his offering according to
the law. At prime Christ was brought with acclamation before
Pontius Pilate. At prime came the three Marys to the sepulchre.
At prime Christ ate honey and fish in the midst of His disciples,
after His resurrection. At prime the Saviour ascended, and sat
upon the right hand of God the Father, ut dixit:
Terce has come, let, us make profit, that we may attain
the royal mansion. Many are the reasons. 0 Christ who loved
us, for which it is meet to reverence terce.
At terce that is seen (?) of old, the fair Helena suffered
on the tree (?). At terce of old, without ill, the people of God passed
over the river Jordan.
At terce the three children and Daniel, without woe, made
prayer. At terce they accused our King, the wicked contentious
people of Juda.
At terce James of old was beaten with a club, it was foul
play. At terce the perfect grace illumined John in the isle of
At terce of yore, without reproach, the Spirit of God came
upon the apostles. At terce the walls about Jerusalem were
At mid-day, pure the disposition, the man Adam was formed,
and at mid-day, it has been heard, he afterwards committed
At mid-day, great the rebuke, the expulsion of Adam from
paradise. At mid-day, great the tale, Cain did slay Abel.
At mid-day, great darkness, the three children were cast
into the fiery furnace by Nebuchadnezzar, everyone has heard it,
horrible the deed.
At mid-day the crucifixion of Christ, by which every heavy
curse was driven out. The hosts of the world were delivered
thereby, the prophecies were fulfilled.
At mid-day on the fourteenth, Noah entered into his ark,
’tis no lie, at mid-day, bright the arrangement, he came forth
from it again.
At none the host of the children of Israel came through the
Red Sea, and at none, what power is greater, the wails of Jericho
were cast down.
At none the chaste Elijah was borne in his chariot from
the lasting world. At none he will come, without curse, to war
At none the cry of the King on the cross. At none His
body was wounded in the side. At none He sent His spirit
forth. At none He harried Hell most cold.
At none the bright sun became dark. At none the rocks
were rent, the earth burst open, without reproach, the graves
At none the veil of the firm-built temple was rent in
twain. At none the pure-surfaced wells became as the colour
At none there was a commotion of the stars, buildings were
overthrown. At none the world became darkened. At none came
Why should not the men of this world here, such as are
merciful, weep with waitings of groans, since strand and lake
At vespers once the people of the kingly law were wont
to offer up the lamb, O men, which signified the victory of lasting
The lamb was offered up of yore by the people of the law,
without error, in figure of Christ, a bright covenant, who for
our sakes was crucified.
As the lamb of the people of the high pure law was without
guilt, so was our Lamb pure, the Son of the King of Heaven
It was at the end of the fourteenth day, ’tis no falsehood,
that the people of Moses were wont to celebrate the pasch, a
good deed, until they followed Sunday.
At vespers Christ washed His apostles’ feet, without curse.
He ordained the pasch, without sparing, for the fulfilment of
the comely law.
Since Christ rose from the dead, let everyone learn it with
animation, the pasch is on Sunday thenceforth, for the magnifying
of the Resurrection.
Let everyone of you celebrate meanwhile the hour which
is named compline. Christ, celebrated it without rule a short
while before His capture,
When He prayed thrice unto the Father through the mystery
of the bountiful living grace, and prostrated Himself, the
pure deed has been heard, so that He did sweat greatly.
At midnight, for glorious reason, the white-surfaced earth
was formed, angels and beasts together were formed at midnight.
At midnight the pure angel passed over the people of God,
without mistake, ’twas a righteous deed, and slew the first-born
At midnight Peter denied the first time, sad was the story.
At midnight for fair piety, the deliverance of Paul from prison.
At matins the birth of Christ the Son of God. At matins
His Resurrection. At matins will come the lasting Judgement.
At matins the great host will rise up.
At matins the King will come, the mark of His wounds on
His comely body, with His red cross, with power, the kingly
Lord will pour out His wrath.
Terrible will be the aspect of my King for the people who
are not in peace. Gentle will be His pure bright countenance
for the people to whom He is gracious.
Hard for us to go to meet Him, but not easy to avoid Him.
We crucified the guiltless Son of stern God with goodly form.
He in mean uncomely form, for our salvation, through the
pure mystery, thus will He come to judgement, the Son of God
the Father, without unreason.
As the Son of my God was judged by men through evil
hearts, the Lord will judge at Doom everyone on his throne.
At matins will come the hard shower which will change
the world in one hour. A fierce flame will arise from every side,
which will bum up the heavy-sided earth.
Gloomy will come the stormy thunder which will shake the
heavy-sided earth. Woe to him who foresees not the shower
which will throw all into alarm.
At prime the manna was given to the Children of Israel.
of old. At prime everyone was wont to make offering according
to the law, without unreason.
At prime Christ who offered Himself, was borne with acclamation
to Pontius Pilate. At prime came the Marys, without
blemish, unto the sepulchre.
At prime the King did eat honey and fish after rising
again. At prime He sat upon the right hand of the glorious
King after His Ascension.
Jesus Christ the head of all, the only son of the Virgin
Mary, let the men of the world he subject to the Son, to help
them He came with might.
[Terce has come, &c.
Eight hours do we go to pray now to my Lord King, seven
hours only of yore the people of the law were wont to go, without
© 2008 Thesaurus Linguae Hibernicae