PRIME: The first of the so-called "little hours" of the Breviary (q.v.). According to Cassian (De institutis cĉnobiorum, iii. 4 sqq.), it originated at the end of the fourth century in a monastery at Bethlehem, to fill the space between lauds, which closed the night office, and terce. The name prime occurs first in the Rule of St. Benedict (chap. xv.). Prime and compline have special reference to the beginning and ending of the day and its work, and are less affected by the season or feast than the other hours, not even including the collect for the day. The first part of prime resembles the other "little hours" in structure; the psalms are three on feastdays, on Sundays four with the Athanasian Creed. The second part begins with the reading of the section of the martyrology (where this is read), and in monastic communities is recited not in choir but in the chapter-house. This original division is still indicated in the Roman breviary by the short lesson ad absolutionem capituli ("on leaving the chapter") which closes the office.
PRIME, SAMUEL IRENĈUS: Presbyterian; b. at Ballston, N. Y., Nov. 4, 1812; d. at Manchester, Vt., July 15, 1885. He was graduated from Williams College (1829), and studied theology at Princeton Theological Seminary (1832-33). He took charge of the academy at Weston and was pastor at Ballston Spa (1833-35), and at Matteawan, N. J. (1837-40). He became editor of The New York Observer in 1840, and continued to occupy this position till his death, making it one of the most influential religious and family papers in the United States. He was for some time a director of the American Bible Society, corresponding secretary of the Evangelical Alliance, president of Wells College, and a trustee of Williams College. He took a leading part in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church, and in the Christian and philanthropic enterprises of the age. He wrote a number of books which had a large circulation abroad. Among them were the Irenĉus Letters which appeared in the columns of The New York Observer, and show a rare faculty of clothing everyday topics and experiences with a fresh interest, and extracting from them lessons of practical wisdom.
With the Evangelical Alliance of America, founded in 1867 (see EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE, § 2), he was closely identified. He attended the fifth general conference at Amsterdam in 1867, and read the report on religion in America, prepared by Prof. Henry B. Smith. He served as one of the corresponding secretaries of the American Alliance till 1884, and had a prominent share in the preparations for the great New York Conference of 1873. Dr. Prime was a conservative in his theology, a man of sound judgment, quick wit, rich humor, and a ready incisive pen. He was one of the leaders of public opinion, and one of the most untiring and useful writers of his age and country. A memorial service in his honor was held by the Evangelical Alliance Jan. 5, 1886.
The following works issued from his pen: The Old White Meeting-house, or Reminiscences of a Country Congregation (New York, 1845); Life in New York (1845); Annals of the English Bible, Abridged from Anderson, and Continued to the Present Time (1849); Thoughts on the Death of Little Children (1850); Travels in Europe and the East (1855); Power of Prayer (history of the Fulton Street prayer-meeting, New York City; 1859); The Bible in the Levant- or, the Life and Letters of the Rev. C. N. Righter, Agent of the American Bible Society in the Levant (1859); Letters from Switzerland (1860): Memoirs of the Rev. Nicholas Murray, D.D. (Boston, 1882); Five Years of Prayer (in the Fulton Street prayer-meeting) with the Answers (New York, 1884); Walking with God, Life hid with Christ (1872); Songs
of the Soul, gathered out of many Lands and Ages (1873); Alhambra and the Kremlin, journey from Madrid to Moscow (1873); Fifteen Years of Prayer in the Fulton-street Prayer meeting (1873); Under the Trees (1874); Life of Samuel F. B. Morse (1875); Prayer and its Answer illustrated in the first Twenty-five Years of the Fulton-street Prayer-meding (1882); Irenĉus Letters (3 series, 1882; with portrait, 1885; with sketch of Dr. Prime's life, 1888, containing his biography in the form of letters).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: W. Prime, S. I. Prime. Autobiography and Memorials, New York, 1888.
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