Thursday, 7 March 2013

Seven times a day do I praise Thee - The Liturgical Cycle made simple(r)

Seven times a day do I praise Thee because of Thy righteous judgments - Ps. 118:164

If you have ever brought a prayer book with you to a Matins/Orthros or Vesper service, you will probably have noticed that following along for more than a few minutes is a near impossibility. Even the most static of services (the Divine Liturgy and the Hours) will have components that vary from day to day, from season to season, and which can throw you off if you're following along in a book. A detailed explanation of the Typikon would require a whole book, and such books have now begun appearing in English. I have yet to read them, but The Typikon Decoded and Protheoria of the Biolakes Typikon look like very good sources for those wishing to get more information. In this post, I simply wish to acquaint the reader with the different daily services in their standard form, their purpose and timing, the main liturgical cycles (daily, weekly, monthly), and the books containing them.

Slavonic Chasoslov/Horologion


An outline of the daily services

Vespers (The Eleventh Hour)
Following Hebrew reckoning - "And there was evening and there was morning, the first day" (Gen. 1) - Vespers, prayed at sunset, is the first service of the liturgical day. Accordingly, it opens with Psalm 103, which praises God as creator. It then continues with the raising of incense and chanting of Psalms 140 (Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice), 141, 128, and 116. The final verses of the Psalms are interspersed with the hymns of the day, taken from the Paraklitiki and Menaion (see below). As the sun sets, we sing the hymn 'O Joyful Light' (Fos Hilaron), remembering that Christ is the true Sun of Righteousness. The service then continues with further evening prayers, hymns, and the Song of Symeon (Now you let your servant depart in peace).

Compline (The Twelfth Hour)
The Greek word for Compline is 'Apodeipnon', which literally means "after dinner". In monasteries, monks will go to the refectory for dinner after Vespers, and then immediately return to church for the reading of Compline before retiring for the evening. Compline is therefore read in the evening before sleep. Being the last service of the waking day, it is penitential in nature. We ask God for forgiveness for our offences (for we might not wake up the next day!), freedom from our spiritual foes, for a peaceful rest free from disturbances, and that we might be granted a new day. We also invoke the help and intercessions of the Mother of God particularly at this time, and it is customary to read the Akathist Hymn when no other canon is appointed.

The full Compline service (Great Compline) is only read during Great Lent. The rest of the year, we read a shorter form (Small Compline).

The Midnight Hour
As the name suggests, this service should begin in the middle of the night - somewhere between 1-4am being the norm in most monasteries. Most laypeople will simply pray it when waking up, the 'Morning Prayers' found in most Orthodox prayer books being an abbreviated form of the Midnight Office. Being the first prayer of the waking day, we begin with prayers of thanksgiving for having risen from sleep and having been granted a new day of life. The essential theme of the rest of the service is wakefulness and anticipation of the second coming of Christ, summed up by the hymn 'Behold, the bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching' - "At midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him" (Mt. 25:6). 

Matins/Orthros
Having looked to the second coming in the Midnight Office, Orthros, which immediately follows it, opens with the reading of the Six Psalms (3,37,62,87,102,142) which call to mind the Day of Judgement. Following this are readings from the Psalter, the chanting of canons (based on the 9 Biblical Odes, which are now only sung during Lent) in honour of the feast or saint of the day, Psalms of praise (148-150), and a final Doxology. Orthros should be held early in the morning, before dawn, the time at which Christ rose from the dead, which is why its a theme probably more prominent at Orthros than any other service - on Sundays the Resurrection Gospel is read and the Troparia of the Resurrection are sung.

The First Hour
The First Hour immediately follows the end of Matins, at sunrise. The Psalms all make reference to the morning, while the concluding prayer, much like the Vesperal hymn, invokes "Christ the true Light that enlighteneth and sanctified every man that comes into the world". Although the practical reasons are obvious, it's a shame that services are so rarely said at their appropriate time outside of monasteries, since the purpose of these prayers is to connect the passing of earthly time and the movement of the heavenly bodies with the theological realities they symbolise.

The Third Hour
We are told in the book of Acts that it was at the third hour (i.e. 9am) that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). This is therefore the central theme of this hour of prayer. This is why we read Psalm 50, for example, and pray "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me". The third hour was also the time of our Lord's crucifixion, as we are told in Mark 15:25.

The Sixth Hour
We are told in the Gospels that, as the Lord was hanging on the Cross, at the sixth hour (noon) there was darkness over all the land until the ninth (Mt. 27:45, Mk. 15:33, Lk. 23:44). For this reason we commemorate the Lord's crucifixion at this hour. 

The Typika
The Typika contains the Psalms and readings of the Divine Liturgy and is read when there is no Liturgy. It, or the Liturgy, is normally followed by the morning meal.

The Ninth Hour
It was at the ninth hour (3pm) that Christ cried out on the Cross and died in the flesh. This is therefore the theme of the ninth hour prayers. We are also told in the book of Acts that "Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour" (3:1). Furthermore, in Acts 10:30, Cornelius attests to the practice of fasting until the ninth hour. On days of strict fasting, we should therefore abstain from food and drink until the ninth hour (although this is rarely observed outside monasteries), connecting our ascetic labours to the Lord's passion. Since it is common practice to pray the ninth hour immediately before Vespers, this generally means fasting until the evening meal mentioned above. This is also why, during Lent, the service of the Typika, which is connected with mealtime, is held after the 9th hour rather than the 6th.


We can see all the hours of prayer mentioned in the parable of the vineyard and the labourers in Matthew 20, where the owner goes out, first in the early morning, then at the third hour, then the sixth and ninth, and finally at the eleventh. Thus, through the daily cycle of prayers, we rush to accept the Lord's calling at each possible moment.



The main liturgical books

The Horologion (Book of Hours) - the daily cycle
This is the primary prayer book of the Church and contains the fixed parts of all the daily services mentioned above. It sometimes called the 'Annotated Psalter' since the fixed parts of the services consist first and foremost of Psalms. You should think of Horologion as the skeletal structure or foundation of the liturgical cycle, on which the other books simply elaborate and adorn. The Horologion normally also includes Apolytikia and Kontakia for every day of the year, meaning that it contains everything you need for all services other than Vespers, Matins and the Sunday Midnight Office.

The Paraklitiki/Octoechos (Book of Eight Tones) - the weekly cycle
This book contains hymns for each day of the week, all of which have different themes. Sunday is, of course, the day of the Resurrection of Christ; Monday is dedicated to the holy angels; Tuesday to St. John the Baptist; Wednesday and Friday to the Cross; Thursday to the Holy Apostles and St. Nicholas; and Saturday, the day of rest, to the memory of the dead who have gone to their rest before us. Thus, if you attend Vespers on a normal Saturday evening (i.e. the beginning of Sunday liturgically) and hear hymns mentioning the resurrection, you will know they come from the Paraklitiki. 

Furthermore, the Byzantine musical system makes use of 8 different modes - that is 8 different scales or tones according to which the hymns are sung. A different mode is used each week: we go from 1-8 and then start at one again. Accordingly, the Paraklitiki has a different set of hymns for each of the 8 tones. In other words, there are 8 sets of Sunday hymns, 8 sets of Monday hymns, 8 sets of Tuesday hymns, etc. So, let's say today is Thursday in Tone 6 (properly called Plagal of the Second mode), you will sing the fixed hymns of the daily services from the Horologion in Tone 6, and then sing the Thursday hymns from the Paraklitiki in the same tone.

The Menaion (Book of Months) - the monthly cycle
The Menaion, which comes in 12 volumes - one for each month - contains the hymns and readings for the feast or saint of each day of the month. Since Christmas, for example, always falls on December 25th, you will find the relevant hymns in the December volume of the Menaion. Since having 8 sets of hymns for each of the 365 days of the year would make things rather difficult, there is only one tone appointed for each hymn, and so we simply sing the hymns of the Menaion in their tones, regardless of which tone is appointed for that week. So while we might sing the stuff from the Octoechos and Paraklitiki in Tone 2, let's say, the hymns from the Menaion could be in Tone 1.

The church year, like Jewish new year, begins in the autumn. September is therefore the first volume of the Menaion, 1st Sept. being the first day of the liturgical year, and August the last. According to the Church calendar, this year (1 Sept 2012 to 31 Aug 13) is the year 7521, although that has no bearing on the services.



Confused yet?
To recap, The Horologion has stuff for each time of day (Matins, 1st Hour, Compline, etc.), the Paraklitiki has stuff for each day of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.) and in each tone, while the Menaion has stuff for each day of the month (1st Jan, 7th March, 15th July, etc.).

The Triodion - Lent
The season of the Triodion lasts from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, two weeks before the start of Lent, until the end of Holy Week, so if you're wondering where to find all of the beautiful hymns you hear during the Bridegroom Services, for example, you'll find them here. Essentially, the Triodion replaces the Paraklitiki (except on Sundays, when the hymns of the Resurrection are also sung), and is used in the same manner, although the structure of the services change a little during Lent. I will therefore not make mention of it below when I outline the structure of each service.

The Pentekostarion - Paschaltide
The season Pentekostarion begins with the Resurrection service on Easter Sunday and lasts until the Sunday of All Saints, two weeks after Pentecost. It is used in the same manner as the Triodion.

The Psalterion (Book of Psalms)
These are simply the 150 Psalms of David you find in any copy of the Bible, but arranged for liturgical use. The Psalms are divided into 20 kathismata, or sittings (yes, you're supposed to sit when they're being read!). Two kathismata are read at Matins, while one kathisma is read at Vespers. That way the whole Psalter is read in its entirety once a week. During Lent, this is doubled and the Psalter is read twice a week. Each kathisma is further subdivided into three stanzas, each separated by a threefold Alleluia, giving the reader a chance to breathe and briefly brings the congregation to their feet to ensure they remain attentive.

Hieratikon
This is the priest's service book, which contains things like the silent prayers and the litanies ('In peace, let us pray to the Lord', etc.), which are normally only indicated in the other service books since those are used by the Readers and Cantors who have no need of the full text of the priestly prayers.

Typikon
The Typikon is not a service book, but a user's guide or manual. Because the exact structure of services and how they're put together will vary depending on things like the rank of a feast, the Typikon is the book that gives you exact rules and guidelines as to how each service should be put together - i.e. which bits to get from which book and at what time.



Basic ordinary structure of each service
(All components are found in the Horologion unless otherwise noted)
Vespers
Introductory prayers
Psalm 103
Great Litany 
Kathisma of the day (Psalterion)
Small Litany (Hieratikon)
Psalms 140, 141, 127, 116 sung in tone of the week with verses from Paraklitiki and Menaion.
Entrance & Fos Hilaron
Prokeimenon of the day
Old Testament readings, if any (Menaion)
Litany (Hieratikon)
Evening doxology
Litany (Hieratikon)
Aposticha verses from Paraklitiki and Menaion
Song of Symeon
Trisagion Prayers
Dismissal Hymns/Apolytikia of the day (Paraklitiki and/or Menaion)
Dismissal (Hieratikon)

Small Compline
Introductory prayers
Psalms 50, 69, 142
Small Doxology
Symbol of Faith
*If desired/appointed: Akathist hymn, or canon of the day from the Menaion, or Canon of Preparation for Holy Communion*
"It is truly meet"
Trisagion
Troparia of the day
40x Kyrie eleison
Prayer of the Hours
Concluding prayers to the Virgin Mary, to Christ, and the Guardian angel
Litany
Hymn to the Virgin Mary
Dismissal (Hieratikon)

Midnight Hour - Monday to Saturday
Introductory prayers
Troparia to the Holy Trinity
Thanksgiving Prayers
Psalm 50
Psalm 118 (On Saturdays, Psalms 64-69)
Symbol of Faith
Trisagion
Troparia (Behold, the Bridegroom)
40x Kyrie eleison
Prayer of the Hours
Prayers
Psalms 120 and 133
Trisagion
Troparia
Prayer for the departed
Litany
Dismissal

Midnight Hour - Sundays
Introductory prayers
Troparia to the Holy Trinity
Thanksgiving Prayers
Psalm 50
Canon to the Holy Trinity in tone of the week from the Paraklitiki
Hymns to the Trinity
Litany
Dismissal

Orthros
Introductory prayers
Royal Psalms (19, 20) - usually omitted
Trisagion
Troparia
Litany and blessing
Six Psalms (3, 37, 62 and 87, 102, 142), while priest reads silent prayers from Hieratikon
Great Litany (Hieratikon)
"God is the Lord" with apolytikia and theotokia (Paraklitiki and/or Menaion)
Kathismata of the day (Psalterion) with Sessional Hymns after each one (Paraklitiki and/or Menaion)
Polyeleos (if there's a vigil)
Evlogitaria of the Resurrection - Sundays only
Small litany (Hieratikon)
Hypako√ę
Hymns of ascent - only if there's a Gospel reading
Gospel reading - only on Sundays and certain feasts
"Let us who have beheld the Resurrection" - Sundays only
Psalm 50
"Save, O God, Thy people" (Hieratikon)
Odes 1-3 of the canon (Paraklitiki and/or Menaion)
Small Litany (Hieratikon)
Sessional hymn (Menaion)
Odes 4-6 of the canon (Paraklitiki and/or Menaion)
Small Litany (Hieratikon)
Kontakion, Oikos, and reading from the Synaxarion of the day (Menaion)
Odes 7-8 of the canon (Paraklitiki and/or Menaion)
Magnificat
Ode 9 of the canon (Paraklitiki and/or Menaion)
"It is truly meet"
Small Litany (Hieratikon)
Exapostilarion (Menaion)
Psalms of praise (148-150) chanted in the tone of the week with verses from Paraklitiki and Menaion.
Doxology (Great or Small depending on day or rank of feast)
Litany (Hieratikon)
Aposticha verses, if appointed (Paraklitiki)
Trisagion
Dismissal hymns and Theotokion of the day (Paraklitiki and/or Menaion)
Dismissal (Hieratikon)

First Hour
Introductory Prayers
Psalms 5, 89, 100
Apolytikion of the day 
Theotokion of the hour
Psalm verses (118:133-5, 70:8)
Trisagion
Kontakion of the day
40x Kyrie eleison
Prayer of the Hours
Concluding prayer
Hymn to the Virgin Mary
Dismissal

Third Hour
Introductory Prayers
Psalms 16, 24, 50
Apolytikion of the day 
Theotokion of the hour
Psalm verses (67:20-21)
Trisagion
Kontakion of the day
40x Kyrie eleison
Prayer of the Hours
Concluding prayer
Dismissal

Sixth Hour
Introductory Prayers
Psalms 53, 54. 90
Apolytikion of the day 
Theotokion of the hour
Psalm verses (78:8-9)
Trisagion
Kontakion of the day
40x Kyrie eleison
Prayer of the Hours
Concluding prayer
Dismissal

Typika
Psalms 102, 145
"Only-begotten Son" (O Monogenis)
Beatitudes
Epistle and Gospel readings of the day
Troparia
Symbol of Faith
Prayer of forgiveness
Lord's Prayer
Kontakia of the day (Menaion)
40x Kyrie eleison
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Psalm 33
Dismissal (Hieratikon)

Ninth Hour
Introductory Prayers
Psalms 83-85
Apolytikion of the day 
Theotokion of the hour
Psalm verses (Song of the Three Youths v.11-12)
Trisagion
Kontakion of the day
40x Kyrie eleison
Prayer of the Hours
Concluding prayer
Dismissal

Please correct me if I've made any errors or omissions 

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