Matins is a service with many parts, but the heart of any Matins is the Canon. Sung shortly after the reading of the Matins gospel, the canon consists of 8 hymns or canticles, and associated with each canticle is a set of additional hymns that are chanted by the reader.
The Canon is a prolonged, poetic meditation on the deep meaning of the Feast. During the Canon, the faithful come forward to venerate the Gospel book. Each person is anointed by the priest with the blessed oil, and each receives a portion of the blessed loaves and wine. It's the feast inside the Vigil of the Feast!
The 8 Canticles and their additional hymns are long, but so is the Feast -- it lasts up to 8 days! So each day, honor the Feast and reflect on a different Canticle!