I think the matter may be simpler than that.
If you get up early every day, you develope a built in clock: I still often
wake at exactly 5.0 am, even thought that has not been our exact time for
rising since about 1970. And if you join a monastery (as it was in the
beginning, is now, or ever shall be) you spend a good deal of the early
years doing things because everyone else is doing them, and so absorb the
rhythm. Maybe Pachomius had problems when he was inventing the system, but
after that it will have been all right.
Secondly: if you on holiday to the Scottish Highlands, or any remote place,
and take off your watch, you will soon find you are doing things at roughly
the right times (provided your holiday is long enough) without really having
to try: but you could not run a railway like that (sometimes, however, in
the Highlands they do).
Modern humans think there is a problem because we have so many timepieces.
Medieval people hadn't noticed that there was anything to solve, so they
Anselm Cramer OSB
Ampleforth Abbey, York
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From: Phyllis Jestice <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Date: 21 December 1998 18:19
>>At 16:48 20/12/98 -0600, you wrote:
>>>Hello, listmembers. I have a question regarding the canonical hours: How
>>>measured in the middle ages and renaissance, especially at night? I've
>>>something about the existence of candles with marks on them to indicate
>>>that in winter night hours were longer than sixty minutes and day hours
>>>account for twelve hour days and nights.
>Hildemar's 9th-century commentary on the Benedictine Rule shows that, at
>least in the early Middle Ages, time measurements were certainly not
>standardized. In chapter 8, for example, Hildemar tells how December and
>January have 18 night hours and 6 day hours--but he also tells of the 12
>hour day/12 hour night rule.
>In regard to HOW time was measured, that also appears to have been
>inconsistent. There were water clocks, which were sometimes accurate.
>There were candles, but candles don't burn at a steady rate, which could
>cause problems. I think it's also Hildemar who tells of watching the stars
>to gauge the night hours. I've read in a commentary on the Rule or a
>Customary that monks at at least one house knew when to get up for the
>night offices because a monk was set to recite a given number of psalms to
>mark the time; he was to be punished if he'd rattled them off too quickly
>and roused the monks too soon. (I've gone through all my notes, and don't
>seem to have written it down; it must be practice from before c. 1050,
>because I haven't read much after that.)
>Phyllis G. Jestice
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