MIDNIGHT OFFICE – (Greek, Mesonyktikon; Slavonic, Polúnoschnitsa) is part of the Daily Cycle of services in the Orthodox Church. The office originated as a purely monastic devotion inspired by Psalm 118:62 (119:62 KJV), “At midnight I arose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness,” and also by the Gospel parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).
The name of the Midnight Office is sometimes translated as “Nocturns,” a term borrowed from the Western liturgical tradition; but it should be noted that in the West “Nocturn” refers to a division within the completely different office of Matins.
Originally, monks would rise in the middle of the night to sing praises to God. St. Symeon the New Theologian mentions Psalm 118, a significant component of the Midnight Office on weekdays, being said privately in the cells before Matins.. In most places where the Daily Cycle is observed at the present time, the Midnight Office is combined with Matins and the First Hour into one of the three daily aggregates called for in the Typikon.