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Nocturn

NOCTURN, or NOCTURNE (Lat. nocturnus, of or belonging to the night, nox), in the Roman Church, one of the three divisions of the office of matins, corresponding with the vigils, beginning at 9 P.M. midnight and 3 A.M. respectively. The service consists of psalms, lessons and antiphons (see BREVIARY). The term " nocturne " is applied to a musical composition, answering to the earlier " serenade, " of a quiet, dreamy and romantic character. The name and style are said to have originated with John Field (1782-1837). The best-known compositions of this kind are the pianoforte pieces of Chopin. J. McNeill Whistler also introduced the term into painting by using the name for some of his night-pieces. A " nocturnal " is an instrument for finding the hour of the night by observation of the relative positions of the pole-star and other stars, generally the pointers of Ursa Major. The British Museum contains a fine nocturnal made about 1560 by Humfray Cole (see NAVIGATION).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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