For a long time, monks have prayed at all important times of the day and even at night. When they wake at night, at daybreak, in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, in the early evening, when dusk falls, and at the start of the night.
These prayer times are still called by their old names, respectively: vigil, lauds, terce, sext, nones, vespers and compline. These also refer to the old method of timekeeping: the first hour of the day was what is now six o’clock in the morning. Nones for example is the prayer at the ninth hour of the day and is around three o’clock in the afternoon. It is where our word ‘noon’ comes from. The word ‘lauds’ for example refers to the psalms of praise that are sung at daybreak, and the word ‘vespers’ usually refers to the evening. ‘Compline’ relates to the word ‘complete’: the day is at an end and praying is concluded.
However, Saint Benedict states in his Rule that these times should be brought forward or moved back so that there are useful periods in between for work or reading and personal prayer.