PRIME: The first of the so-called "little hours" of the Breviary (q.v.). According to Cassian (De institutis cnobiorum, iii. 4 sqq.), it originated at the end of the fourth century in a monastery at Bethlehem, to fill the space between lauds, which closed the night office, and terce. The name prime occurs first in the Rule of St. Benedict (chap. xv.). Prime and compline have special reference to the beginning and ending of the day and its work, and are less affected by the season or feast than the other hours, not even including the collect for the day. The first part of prime resembles the other "little hours" in structure; the psalms are three on feastdays, on Sundays four with the Athanasian Creed. The second part begins with the reading of the section of the martyrology (where this is read), and in monastic communities is recited not in choir, but in the chapter-house. This original division is still indicated in the Roman breviary by the short lesson ad absolutionem capituli ("on leaving the chapter") which closes the office.