Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Canonical
CANONICAL, as an adjective, is found associated with many substantives, and always implies dependence, real or supposed, upon the canons of the church. Thus we read of " canonical obedience," as signifying the obedience recog nized as due to a superior officer of the church from an inferior, as that due to a bishop from a presbyter. Per haps the best known and most widely spread use of the term occurs in the case of Canonical Hours, otherwise called Hours of Prayer, which are certain stated times of the day, consigned in the East, and in the West before the Reformation, more especially by the Church of Rome, to offices of prayer and devotion. These were at first three only, and were supposed to be inherited from the Jewish Church (see Psalm Iv. 17, Dan. vi. 10, and Acts iii. 1), namely, the third, sixth, and ninth hours, corresponding to 9 A.M., noon, and 3 P.M. with us. They were increased to five, and subsequently to seven (see Psalm cxix. 164), and in time made obligatory on monastic and clerical bodies. The full list, recognized almost universally through out Europe before 700 A.D., stands thus : Matins (called also Matin Lauds, or simply Lauds), Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Evensong, Compline ; in the Saxon canons of ^Elfric, Uhtsang, Primsang, Undersong, Midday sang, Non- sung, JEfensang, Nihtsang. (See Du Gauge, Glossarium, s. v. " Hone Canonicae;" Durandus, De Off. Divin., lib. v. , Smith and Cheetham s Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, art. " Hours of Prayer.") Bishop Cosin, in the reign of Charles I., put forth an edition of the Hours (as books of devotion for the canonical hours are often called) for the use of such individuals or bodies of the English Church as might like to use them.