These screens use images, anecdotes and
also music to provide an insight into monastic devotion in the
church. Information about the appearance of the church – the layout
and decoration – can
be found in the Cistercian church.
The monks’ day was structured around
the eight Offices, known as the Canonical
Hours, which they celebrated in their choir. The monks also entered
the church to attend a daily Mass,
to receive Communion, and
for special occasions such as dedication ceremonies, funerals and
the unction of
the sick. A large proportion of the monk’s day was therefore spent
in church, and even part of the night for the community assembled
in the choir
stalls c. 2 am to celebrate the night office of Vigils.
Whereas the Black monks of Cluny celebrated
up to 210 psalms a day, the Cistercians celebrated the psalmody
of 150 psalms over the course of the week, as prescribed in
the Rule of St Benedict.
[L. Lekai, The Cistercians: Ideals and Reality (Ohio, 1977),
Simplicity and uniformity stood
at the heart of Cistercian ideology. They considered complicated
and lengthy services excessive, and
also a potential cause of boredom and sloppiness. Quality, not
quantity was the decisive
factor, and devotions were therefore to be kept as simple as
possible. The Cistercians reduced the number of masses and
processions, as well as
length of the psalmody, and ordered that the monks should sing
devoutly, like men, without shrills, trills or musical instruments.
To ensure that
the form of worship was the same in every Cistercian abbey, in
other words, that there was uniformity of practice, the General
Chapter ordered that
the same prescribed liturgical texts should be used by each community.
This meant that if a Cistercian monk visited another abbey of
the Order he would
be able to take his place with the host community and follow
the services there, just as if he were in his own abbey.