Of the days on which, when supper is provided for the brethren, a Psalm is not said as they assemble for the meals as is usual at dinner.
Lastly, also, on those days,—i.e., on Saturday and Sunday,—and on holy days, on which it is usual for both dinner and supper to be provided for the brethren, a Psalm is not said in the evening, either when they come to supper or when they rise from it, as is usual at their ordinary dinner 756 and the canonical refreshment on fast days, which the customary Psalms usually precede and follow. But they simply make a plain prayer and come to supper, and again, when they rise from it, conclude with prayer alone; because this repast is something special among the monks: nor are they all obliged to come to it, but it is only for strangers who have come to see the brethren, and those whom bodily weakness or their own inclination invites to it.
In sollemnibus prandiis. The phrase must here refer to their dinner on ordinary days (cf. solemnitatem ciborum, “their usual food,” Book IV. c. xxi.). Among the early monks it was the custom ordinarily to have but one meal a day on the fast days (viz., Wednesday and Friday); this was at the ninth hour; on other days, at the sixth (i.e., midday). Cf. the Conferences XXI. c. xxiii. On festivals (viz., Saturday, Sunday, and holy days), beside the midday meal a supper was allowed as well. And on these days, as we learn from the passage before us, the ordinary grace before and after meat was shortened by the omission of the customary Psalms at other times included in it. On the meals of the monks, cf. S. Jeromes Preface to the Rule of Pachomius and the Rule of S. Benedict, cc. xxxix.–xli., the former of which tells us that, except on Wednesday and Friday, dinner was at midday, and a table was also set for labourers, old men, and children, and (apparently) for all, in the height of summer. For the use of Psalms at grace, see Clement of Alexandria, Pœdag. II. iv. 44; Stromateis VII. vii. 49.