In the middle ages the nocturnal vigilia were, except in the monasteries, gradually discontinued, matins and vespers on the preceding day, with fasting, taking their place.
In addition to the enactment of canons (strictly so-called) the English provincial synods since the Henrician changes have legislated - in 1570 by the enactment of the Thirty-Nine Articles, in 1661 by approving the present Book of Common Prayer, and in 1873 by approving shorter forms of matins and evensong.
Between the lessons the ass was solemnly fed, and at the conclusion of the service was led by the precentor out into the square before the church (conductus ad ludos); water was poured on the precentor's head, and the ass became the centre of burlesque ceremonies, dancing and buffoonery being carried on far into the night, while the clergy and the serious-minded retired to matins and bed.
In the Church of England since the Reformation matins is used for the order of public morning prayer.
At matins is said the Venice (Ps.
The lessons are read at Matins (which is subdivided into three nocturns).