St. Hippolytus on the Hours

St. Hippolytus of Rome ca. 170-235If at the third hour thou art at home, pray then and give thanks to God; but if thou chance to be abroad at that hour, make thy prayer to God in thy heart. For at that hour Christ was nailed to the tree; therefore in the old [covenant] the law commanded the showbread to be offered continually for a type of the body and blood of Christ, and commanded the sacrifice of the dumb lamb, which was a type of the perfect Lamb; for Christ is the Shepherd, and he is also the Bread that came down from heaven.

At the sixth hour likewise pray also, for, after Christ was nailed to the wood of the cross, the day was divided and there was a great darkness; wherefore let [the faithful] pray at that hour with an effectual prayer, likening themselves to the voice of him who prayed [and] caused all creation to become dark for the unbelieving Jews.

And at the ninth hour let a great prayer and a great thanksgiving be made, such as made by the souls of the righteous ones, blessing the Lord, the God who does not lie, who was mindful of his saints and sent forth his Word to enlighten them. At that hour, therefore, Christ poured forth from His pierced side water and blood, and brought the rest of the time of that day with light to evening; so, when He fell asleep, by making the beginning of another day He completed the pattern of His resurrection.

Pray again before thy body rests on thy bed.

At midnight arise, wash thy hands with water and pray. And if thy wife is with thee, pray ye both together; but if she is not yet a believer, go into another room and pray, and again return to thy bed; be not slothful in prayer. (Apostolic Tradition 36)



  1. Thanks for this encouraging post. Prayer-life is not always easy, and we often need some practical tips for its improvement.

    St. Hippolytus was a Conservative “anti-Pope” (217-235) in Rome. On the strength of the quality of his spirituality and prayer-life (such as we see above) his “Apostolic Succession”, whilst not formally endowed as Bishop, was more legitimate (and probably more valid) than the three Liberal, but Canonically-Official Popes he opposed:
    Callistus (217-222), Urban (222-230), and Pontian (230-235).

    A student of Irenaeus (c180), intransigent, and a strict rigorist in matters of discipline, his own ethical stance not only envisaged the church as a community of saints, but tended to make the functions of its ministers depend for their validity on their personal holiness. In the face of this Conservative moral stance, his three Liberal, but Canonically-Official opponents were forced to fall back on the growing Latin heresy of “ex opere operato” in order to assert the validity of their sacraments.

  2. Hippolytus’ instructions are consistent with the daily prayer cycle of the first century Jews, and a continuation of them. This cycle of prayer is practiced to this day by the faithful of the parish if they desire to grow their communion with God.

  3. Isn’t first century Jew an oxymoron? ;)

  4. To me it is, however, for people who aren’t familiar with early church history it’s probably a radical thought. I certainly have been on the receiving end of agressive attacks on the authencity of Orthodoxy, to which I have not responded in kind, but realize the denial is out there. I find the continuity particularly interesting.

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