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School Culture Spotlight: What are Matins?

by Jennifer Martin

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

From Gerard Manly Hopkins' “God’s Grandeur”

Over the next few weeks, we will provide specific highlights of our school, including school culture, curriculum, and other components of the school day.

In our mission statement, we say that we desire to cultivate “Christ-centered leaders who know truth, practice goodness, and recognize beauty.” One of the ways in which we desire to do this is by beginning our mornings with Christ and with each other through the form of Matins. This Middle English term, first notably used in the fourteenth century, means “a morning prayer.” In the fourteenth century, monks would congregate together before starting their day to pray, sing, and recite psalms.

We want our students to practice goodness by forming the habit of meeting with God every morning as well as with their fellow men. This places an emphasis not just on one’s relationship with Christ, but with our need for one another to lead a more fulfilling life in Christ. As Christians, there is no better way to instill this in children than by meeting together to be reminded of God’s beauty and His truth to His people. For this reason, our students will gather every morning as part of the school day (whether they are wide-eyed kindergartners or seasoned older students) to pray, sing a hymn, and recite scripture. We will focus on one passage of scripture (generally a psalm) and one hymn a week so students can know God’s truth and hide it in their hearts. For our older students, this provides them with an arsenal of God’s promises to combat creeping sins, doubts, or fears that will frequently come up in their lives. For our younger students, they will develop the habit and its importance while also looking up to our older students as models of Christ.

You may wonder why we do not call our time together “Morning Prayer” instead of Matins, particularly since Matins is not as familiar of a term for us in our modern Christian culture. Not only does the word Matins bring in hundreds of years of Christian historical tradition with which we desire to link ourselves, but it also has an interesting second definition. In literature, Matins usually refers to the morning songs of birds. This more lighthearted definition speaks to a very sweet component of our school. I love the idea of God’s presence brooding over our students’ morning prayers and songs, much like a mother bird broods over her babies until they are ready to leave the nest. Even in our school’s name, Anthem, we see a proclamation of a song. We encourage students to live by Colossians 3:16, which states to “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” This verse is beautifully played out in our “morning songs of birds.”

Parents and grandparents will be welcome to stay and attend Matins every morning with their children if they wish. We desire to develop a community where both our young and old, our wild and wise, can worship together. Matins will only last about ten minutes each morning, once we establish the routine with all of our students.

Pioneer with us so you can watch and hear the joy of God’s word being hidden in your students’ hearts every morning!

St. Benedict delivering his Rule to St. Maurus and other monks of his order

France, Monastery of St. Gilles, Nimes, 1129.

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