Why pray five times a day? A work in progress

In my quest to unpick religious ritual I am curious to know or work out why Muslims pray five times a days and not, say, seven. I had not progressed far on this journey until visiting Hereford Cathedral today. There I found a panel explaining how services would have been conducted in a long distant past.

I have a secondary quest and that is to understand the meaning of the word noon, which I assume is a derivative of a word meaning nine  – the ninth hour of the day.

The Cathedral poster describes services a 7am terce, sext and nones. suggesting 7am, 10am, 1pm and 4pm. High mass finished at 11am. The day finished with prayers at 5pm. Matins are at midnight.

I had in my mind that nones (noon) would be 3pm so there is a mismatch here. Something is not computing. I searched “terce, sext and nones” and came across Canonical hours , which you see took me to wikepedia. I opened the bookmark “Development” and the subject is starting to become clearer.

Seemingly we need to go back to the Jewish captivity by the Baylonians when Jews no longer had access to their Temple. As far as I can see after a quick read Christians began a prayer cycle based on the business day in a monastery starting at 6am and finishing at 6pm.

Prayers were conducted at the start of the business day and again at its close. In between these two we have prayers at 9am (terce) Midday (sext) and at 3pm (nones) – making five times in total.

Muslim pray five times a day. Coincidence? Probably not.  Much early Islamic culture would have been based on the earlier practices of the Peoples of the Book. Some of those will have been handed down from many centuries earlier.

There’s more work to do here. Somewhere along the line prayers must associate with sacrificial functions of the old Temple but how.

 

 

 

 

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