(ca. 330-379)


 The Death of Basil,  Byzantine codex, 10th c.

Elder brother of Gregory of Gregory of Nyssa; hermit in Neocaesaria 358-370;
Bishop of Neocaesaria 370-379.

1. PSALMODY and PRAYER ALWAYS APT;    2.HORARIUM in COMMUNITIES [note specific psalms!]

Engl: St. Basil, the Long Rules, tr. M. Wagner, New York, Fathers of the Church Inc., 1950  pp. 306-311.  Greek: Basilius Caesariensis 2040.48 Asceticon magnum sive Quaestiones (regulae fusius tractatae) PG 31 pag 901-1052   The Shorter Rules, tr. W.K.L. Clarke (New York, SPCK, MacMillan, 1925) 229-351 Basil of Caesaria, 2040.51 Asceticon magnum sive Quaestiones (regulae brevius tractatae) PG 31 pag 1052-1305




Q. 37  Whether prayer and psalmody ought to afford a pretext for neglecting our work, what hours are suitable for prayer, and, above all, whether labor is necessary.

ΛΖʹ ·Εἰ δεῖ προφάσει τῶν προσευχῶν καὶ τῆς ψαλμῳδίας ἀμελεῖν τῶν ἔργων, καὶ ποῖοι καιροὶ τῆς προσευχῆς ἐπιτήδειοι, καὶ πρῶτον, εἰ χρὴ ἐργάζεσθαι.

… Moreover, because some use prayer [308] and psalmody as an excuse for neglecting their work, it is necessary to bear in mind that for certain other tasks a particular time is allotted, according to the words of Ecclesiastes: 

̓Επεὶ δέ τινες προφάσει τῶν εὐχῶν καὶ τῆς ψαλμῳδίας παραιτοῦνται τὰ ἔργα, εἰδέναι δεῖ, ὅτι ἐπὶ μὲν ἄλλων τινῶν ἑκάστου καιρός ἐστιν ἴδιος, κατὰ τὸνἘκκλησιαστὴν εἰπόντα·

‘All things have their season.’ (Eccl 3:1) 

Καιρὸς τῷ παντὶ πράγματι·

For prayer and psalmody, however, as also, indeed, for some other duties, every hour is suitable, that, while our hands are busy at their tasks, we may praise God sometimes with the tongue (when this is possible or, rather, when it is conducive to edification); or, if not, with the heart, at least, in psalms, hymns and spiritual canticles, as it is written. (Col 3:16)

  προσευχῆς δὲ καὶ ψαλμῳδίας, ὥσπερ οὖν καὶ ἑτέρων πλειόνων, πᾶς καιρὸς ἐπιτήδειος, ὥστε μεταξὺ τὰς χεῖρας κινοῦντα πρὸς τὰ ἔργα, ποτὲ μὲν καὶ τῇ γλώσσῃ, ὅταν τοῦτο ᾖ δυνατὸν, μᾶλλον δὲ χρήσιμον πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς πίστεως· εἰ δὲ μή γε, τῇ καρδίᾳ ἐν ψαλμοῖς καὶ ὕμνοις καὶ ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς τὸν Θεὸν ἀνυμνεῖν.

        Thus, in the midst of our work can we fulfill the duty of prayer, giving thanks to Him who has granted strength to our hands for performing our tasks and cleverness to our minds for acquiring knowledge, and for having provided the materials, both that which is in the instruments we use and that which forms the matter of the arts in which we may be engaged, praying that the work of our hands may be directed toward its goal, the good pleasure of God.

καθὼς γέγραπται, καὶ τὴν προσευχὴν μεταξὺ τοῦ ἔργου πληροῦν· εὐχαριστοῦντες μὲν τῷ δεδωκότι καὶ δύναμιν χειρῶν πρὸς ἔργα, καὶ σοφίαν διανοίας πρὸς ἀνάληψιν τῆς ἐπιστήμης, καὶ τὴν ὕλην χαρισαμένῳ, τήν τε ἐν τοῖς ἐργαλείοις, καὶ τὴν ὑποκειμένην ταῖς τέχναις, ἅσπερ ἂν τύχωμεν ἐργαζόμενοι· προσευχόμενοι δὲ κατευθυνθῆναι τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν ἡμῶν πρὸς τὸν σκοπὸν τῆς πρὸς Θεὸν εὐαρεστήσεως.

        Thus we acquire a recollected spirit - when in every action we beg from God the success of our labors and satisfy our debt of gratitude to Him who gave us the power to do the work, and when, as has been said, we keep before our minds the aim of pleasing Him. 

Οὕτω καὶ τὸ ἀμετεώρεστον τῇ ψυχῇ κατορθοῦμεν, [31.1013] ὅταν ἐφ' ἑκάστῃ ἐνεργείᾳ τήν τε εὐοδίαν τῆς ἐργασίας παρὰ Θεοῦ αἰτῶμεν, καὶ τὴν εὐχαριστίαν τῷ δεδωκότι τὸ ἐνεργεῖν ἀποπληρῶμεν, καὶ τὸν σκοπὸν τῆς πρὸς αὐτὸν εὐαρεστήσεως φυλάσσωμεν, καθὰ προείρηται.

If this is not the case, how can there be consistency in the words of the Apostle bidding us to ‘pray without ceasing,’(1Th 5:17) with those others, ‘we worked night and day.’(2Th 3:8) 

Ἐπεὶ, εἰ μὴ ταῦτα τοῦτον ἔχει τὸν τρόπον, πῶς δύναται συμβαίνειν ἀλλήλοις τὰ ὑπὸ τοῦἈποστόλου εἰρημένα, τό τε Ἀδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε, καὶ τὸ, Νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν ἐργαζόμενοι;



(note specific psalms and monologistic verses!


Nor, indeed, because thanksgiving at all times has been enjoined even by law and has been proved necessary to our life from both reason and nature, should we therefore be negligent in observing those times for prayer customarily established in communities - times which we have inevitably selected because each period contains a reminder peculiar to [309] itself of blessings received from God.

 Οὐ μὴν ἐπειδὴ ἡ ἐν παντὶ καιρῷ εὐχαριστία καὶ νόμῳ προστέτακται, καὶ ἀναγκαία ἡμῶν τῇ ζωῇ δέδεικται κατά τε φύσιν καὶ λόγον, παρορᾶσθαι δεῖ τοὺς διατετυπωμένους καιροὺς τῶν προσευχῶν ἐν ταῖς ἀδελφότησιν, οὓς ἀναγκαίως ἐξελεξάμεθα, ἑκάστου ἰδίαν τινὰ ὑπόμνησιν τῶν παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀγαθῶν ἔχοντος·

    Prayers are recited early in the morning so that the first movements of the soul and the mind may be consecrated to God

τὸν μὲν ὄρθρον, ὥστε τὰ πρῶτα κινήματα τῆς ψυχῆς, καὶ τοῦ νοῦ, ἀναθήματα εἶναι  Θεοῦ,

 and that we may take up no other consideration before we have been cheered and heartened by the thought of God, as it is written: ‘I remembered God and was delighted,’(Ps 76:4) and that the body may not busy itself with tasks before we have fulfilled the words: ‘To thee will I pray, O Lord; in the morning thou shalt hear my voice. In the morning I will stand before thee and will see.’ (Ps 5:4-5)  

 καὶ μηδὲν ἕτερον ἀναλαμβάνειν εἰς φροντίδα, πρὶν ἢ τῇ παρὰ Θεοῦ ἐννοίᾳ ἐνευφρανθῆναι, καθὼς γέγραπται·Ἐμνήσθην τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ ηὐφράνθην· μηδὲ σῶμα κινῆσαι πρὸς ἐργασίαν, πρὶν ποιῆσαι τὸ εἰρημένον, ὅτι Πρὸς σὲ προσεύξομαι, Κύριε· καὶ τὸ πρωὶ εἰσακούσῃ τῆς φωνῆς μου· τὸ πρωὶ παραστήσομαί σοι, καὶ ἐπόψομαι· 

Again at the third hour the brethren must assemble and betake themselves to prayer, even if they may have dispersed to their various employments.

πάλιν δὲ κατὰ τὴν τρίτην ὥραν εἰς τὴν προσευχὴν ἀνίστασθαι, καὶ ἐπισυνάγειν τὴν ἀδελφότητα, κἂν τύχωσιν ἄλλοι πρὸς ἄλλα ἔργα μεμερισμένοι·

        Recalling to mind the gift of the Spirit bestowed upon the Apostles at this third hour, all should worship together, so that they also may become worthy to receive the gift of sanctity, and they should implore the guidance of the Holy Spirit and His instruction in what is good and useful, according to the words: 

καὶ ὑπομνησθέντας τῆς τοῦ Πνεύματος δωρεᾶς, τῆς κατὰ τὴν τρίτην ὥραν τοῖς ἀποστόλοις δεδομένης, προσκυνῆσαι πάντας ὁμοθυμαδὸν, εἰς τὸ ἀξίους γενέσθαι καὶ αὐτοὺς τῆς ὑποδοχῆς τοῦ ἁγιασμοῦ, καὶ αἰτοῦντας τὴν παρ' αὐτοῦ ὁδηγίαν καὶ διδασκαλίαν πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον, κατὰ τὸν εἰπόντα·

‘Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a right spirit within my bowels.
Cast me not away from thy face;
and take not thy holy Spirit from me. 

Καρδίαν καθαρὰν κτίσον ἐν ἐμοὶ, ὁ Θεὸς, καὶ πνεῦμα εὐθὲς ἐγκαίνισον ἐν τοῖς ἐγκάτοις μου· μὴ ἀποῤῥίψῃς με ἀπὸ τοῦ προσώπου σου, καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμά σου τὸ ἅγιον μὴ ἀντανέλῃς ἀπ' ἐμοῦ·  

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation
and strengthen me with a guiding spirit.’
(Ps 50:12-14) 

ἀπόδος μοι τὴν ἀγαλλίασιν τοῦ σωτηρίου σου, καὶ πνεύματι ἡγεμονικῷ στήριξόν με·

Again, it is said elsewhere, ‘Thy good spirit shall lead me into the right land’; (Ps 142:10)

 καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ· Τὸ Πνεῦμά σου τὸ ἀγαθὸν ὁδηγήσει με ἐν γῇ εὐθείᾳ·  

  and having prayed thus, we should again apply ourselves to our tasks.

καὶ οὕτω πάλιν τῶν ἔργων ἔχεσθαι.  

    But, if some, perhaps, are not in attendance because the nature or place of their work keeps them at too great a distance, they are strictly obliged to carry out wherever they are, with promptitude, all that is prescribed for common observance, for ‘where there are two or three gathered together in my name,’ says the Lord, ‘there am I in the midst of [310] them.’ (Mt 18:20) 

       Κἂν ποῤῥωτέρω δέ που διὰ τὴν τῶν ἔργων ἢ τῶν τόπων φύσιν διάγοντες ἀπολειφθῶσι, πληροῦν ἀναγκαίως ὀφείλουσιν ἐκεῖ ἕκαστα τὰ κοινῇ δόξαντα, μηδὲν διακρινόμενοι· ὅτιὍπου ἂν ὦσι δύο ἢ τρεῖς συνηγμένοι, φησὶν ὁ Κύριος, εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα, ἐκεῖ εἰμι ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν.

   It is also our judgment that prayer is necessary at the sixth hour, in imitation of the saints who say: ‘Evening and morning and at noon I will speak and declare; and he shall hear my voice.’ (Ps 54:18)  And so that we may be saved from invasion and the noonday Devil, (Ps 90.6) at this time, also, the ninetieth Psalm will be recited.

     Ἐν δὲ τῇ ἕκτῃ ὥρᾳ κατὰ μίμησιν τῶν ἁγίων ἀναγκαίαν εἶναι τὴν προσευχὴν ἐκρίναμεν, τῶν λεγόντων·Ἑσπέρας καὶ πρωὶ καὶ μεσημβρίας διηγήσομαι καὶ ἀπαγγελῶ, καὶ εἰσακούσεται τῆς φωνῆς μου· καὶ ὥστε ῥυσθῆναι [31.1016] ἀπὸ συμπτώματος καὶ δαιμονίου μεσημβρινοῦ, ἅμα καὶ τοῦ ψαλμοῦ τοῦ ἐνενηκοστοῦ λεγομένου·

   The ninth hour, however, was appointed as a compulsory time for prayer by the Apostles themselves in the Acts where it is related that ‘Peter and John went up to the temple at the ninth hour of prayer.’ (Act 3:1)

̔Η δὲ ἐννάτη παρ' αὐτῶν ἡμῖν τῶν ἀποστόλων ἐν ταῖς Πράξεσιν ἀναγκαία εἰς προσευχὴν παραδέδοται ἱστορούσαις, ὅτι Πέτρος καὶἸωάννης ἀνέβαινον εἰς τὸ ἱερὸνἘπὶ τὴν ὥραν τῆς προσευχῆς τὴν ἐννάτην.

   When the day’s work is ended, thanksgiving should be offered for what has been granted us or for what we have done rightly therein and confession made of our omissions whether voluntary or involuntary, or of a secret fault, if we chance to have committed any in words or deeds, or in the heart itself; for by prayer we propitiate God for all our misdemeanors. 

      Συμπληρωθείσης δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας, ἡ εὐχαριστία περὶ τῶν ἐν αὐτῇ δεδομένων ἡμῖν ἢ κατωρθωμένων ἡμῖν, καὶ τῶν παρεθέντων ἡ ἐξαγόρευσις, εἴτε ἑκούσιον, εἴτε ἀκούσιον, εἴτε που καὶ λανθάνον πλημμέλημα γέγονεν, ἢ ἐν ῥήμασιν, ἢ ἐν ἔργοις, ἢ κατ' αὐτὴν τὴν καρδίαν, περὶ πάντων ἐξιλεουμένων ἡμῶν διὰ τῆς προσευχῆς τὸν Θεόν.  

The examination of our past actions is a great help toward not falling into like faults again; wherefore the Psalmist says: ‘the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.’ (Ps 4:5)

Μέγα γὰρ ὄφελος ἡ ἐπίσκεψις τῶν παρελθόντων πρὸς τὸ μὴ τοῖς ὁμοίοις αὖθις περιπεσεῖν. Διό φησιν·Ἃ λέγετε ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν, ἐπὶ ταῖς κοίταις ὑμῶν κατανύγητε.

   Again, at nightfall, we must ask that our rest be sinless and untroubled by dreams. At this hour, also, the ninetieth Psalm should be recited. 

Καὶ πάλιν, τῆς νυκτὸς ἀρχομένης, ἡ αἴτησις τοῦ ἀπρόσκοπον ἡμῖν καὶ φαντασιῶν ἐλευθέραν ὑπάρξαι τὴν ἀνάπαυσιν· λεγομένου καὶ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἀναγκαίως τοῦ ἐνενηκοστοῦ ψαλμοῦ.

   Paul and Silas, furthermore, have handed down to us the practice of compulsory prayer at midnight, as the history of the Acts declares: ‘And at midnight Paul and Silas praised God.’ (Act 16:25)  The Psalmist also says: ‘I rose at midnight to give praise to thee for the judgments of thy justifications.’ (Ps 118:62)

  Τὸ δὲ μεσονύκτιον Παῦλος καὶ Σίλας ἡμῖν ἀναγκαῖον εἰς προσευχὴν παραδεδώκασιν, ὡς ἡ τῶν Πράξεων ἱστορία παρίστησι, λέγουσα· Κατὰ δὲ τὸ μεσονύκτιον Παῦλος καὶ Σίλας ὕμνουν τὸν Θεόν· καὶ ὁ Ψαλμῳδὸς λέγων· Μεσονύκτιον ἐξεγειρόμην τοῦ ἐξομολογεῖσθαί σοι ἐπὶ τὰ κρίματα τῆς δικαιοσύνης σου.

   Then, too, we must anticipate the dawn by prayer, so that the day may not find us in slumber and in bed, [311] according to the words: ‘My eyes have prevented the morning; that I might meditate on thy words.’ (Ps 118:148)

  Καὶ πάλιν χρὴ προφθάσαντας τὸν ὄρθρον εἰς τὴν προσευχὴν διανίστασθαι, ὡς μὴ ἐν ὕπνῳ καὶ κοίτῃ ὑπὸ τῆς ἡμέρας καταληφθῆναι, κατὰ τὸν εἰπόντα· Προέφθασαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου πρὸς ὄρθρον τοῦ μελετᾷν τὰ λόγιά σου.

None of these hours for prayer should be unobserved by those who have chosen a life devoted to the glory of God and His Christ.

Ων οὐδένα χρὴ καιρὸν τοῖς ἐπιτετηρημένως εἰς δόξαν Θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ  Χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ προαιρουμένοις ζῇν παρορᾶσθαι.  





Moreover, I think that variety and diversity in the prayers and psalms recited at appointed hours are desirable

Χρησιμεύειν δὲ λογίζομαι τὴν ἐν ταῖς προσευχαῖς καὶ ψαλμῳδίαις κατὰ τὰς ἐπικεκριμένας ὥρας διαφοράν τε καὶ ποικιλίαν,  

for the reason that routine and boredom, somehow often cause distraction in the soul,

καὶ κατ' ἐκεῖνο, ὅτι ἐν μὲν τῇ ὁμαλότητι πολλάκις που καὶ ἀκηδιᾷ ἡ ψυχὴ, καὶ ἀπομετεωρίζεται·  

while by change and variety in the psalmody and prayers said at the stated hours it is refreshed in desire and renewed in sobriety.

ἐν δὲ τῇ ἐναλλαγῇ καὶ τῷ ποικίλῳ τῆς ψαλμῳδίας καὶ τοῦ περὶ ἑκάστης ὥρας λόγου νεαροποιεῖται αὐτῆς ἡ ἐπιθυμία καὶ ἀνακαινίζεται τὸ νηφάλιον.



(perceive the inner spiritual meaning)


from Basil’s  SHORTER RULES


[p335] Q. 279: What Does ‘Sing psalms intelligently[Ps 47:7] mean?

 ΠΓ 31.1280 Τί ἐστι τὸ, < Ψάλατε συνετῶς;

What in foods is the [sense-]perception of the quality of each kind of food,

Οπερ ἐστὶν ἐπὶ τῶν βρωμάτων ἡ αἴσθησις τῆς ποιότητος ἑκάστου βρώματος,

that in the case of the words of Holy Scripture is “intelligence”. 

τοῦτό ἐστιν ἐπὶ τῶν ῥημάτων τῆς ἁγίας Γραφῆς ἡ σύνεσις

‘For the throat tastes foods and the mind discerns [p. 336] words (Job 12:11).  

. Λάρυγξ μὲν γὰρ, φησὶ, σῖτα γεύεται, νοῦς δὲ ῥήματα διακρίνει

If then a person is affected in his soul by the power of each word (dynamis/rema

.Ἐὰν οὖν τις οὕτω συνδιατεθῇ τὴν ψυχὴν τῇ δυνάμει ἑκάστου ῥήματος,

in the same way as he is affected in taste by the quality of each food,

ὡς συνδιατίθεται τὴν γεῦσιν τῇ ποιότητι ἑκάστου βρώματος  

such a person has fulfiled the commandment which says: ‘Sing psalms intelligently.’(Ps 47.7).

ὁ τοιοῦτος ἐπλήρωσε τὴν ἐντολὴν τὴν λέγουσαν· Ψάλατε συνετῶς.


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