The monks’ hourly prayers shape the entire course of their day.
“Seven times a day I praise thee for thy righteous ordinances”, says
the prophet in Psalm 119, 164, and St. Benedict, the founder of
Western monasticism puts it like this in chapter 16 of his monastic
Rule: “this sacred sevenfold number will be fulfilled by us in this
wise if we perform the duties of our service at the time of Lauds,
Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Complin” (RB 16,2, trans.
Rev. Boniface Verheyen, OSB). These seven times of prayer in the
daytime are complemented by the times for prayer at night, the
so–called vigils. Another important life rule for many monks was the
Benedictine watchword ora et labora (pray and work).
The stream of visitors was directed over the threshing floor ramp
through the entire roof space, all in the same direction, to a flight
of steps down on the side. This walk through the timber beam
structures served as an analogy with the monks’ day. The longitudinal
axis was broken down into seven sections by a staggered
projection of the prayer times on to the beams and ceiling of the
threshing floor. Starting with the watchword ora et labora, the side
bays of the threshing floor had imperatives for action written on
them: eat and drink, for example: question and answer, care and
tend, make and do, listen and be amazed, take and give, laugh and
weep, divide and rule.