Service Books of the Orthodox Church
- Since we are always talking about how the services of the Church speak to
her theology (lex orandi est lex credendi) I thought it might be useful to
provide a few resources on the services of the Orthodox Church. Of course,
nothing replaces actually attending the services and understanding the
actions that take place with and alongside these texts (Byzantine liturgical
rubrics are, as would be expected, byzantine and notoriously difficult to
comprehend; so the bare texts aren't all that helpful in understanding how a
service is to be structured apart from experience in the services and what
basically amounts to an apprenticeship in the choir or with a priest - and
even they get confused when things depart from the normal week to week
Here is a one stop shop representing the practice of the Russian Orthodox
churches in the US around the turn of the 20th Century produced with the
approval of St. Tikhon, later Patriarch of Moscow and martyr:
*Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic (Greco-Russian) Church
Translated and Compiled by Isabel Florence Hapgood
Published by Houghton, Mifflin and company, 1906
Here is a fuller, modern translation of most of the regular liturgical texts
of the Orthodox Church - more generally representing Greek practice -
translated by Archimandrite Ephrem Lash of Manchester, UK and posted to his
>The Horologion is the basic outline of the services from the POV of the
> Paraklitiki <http://anastasis.org.uk/oktoich.htm>
> Triodion <http://anastasis.org.uk/triodion.htm>
> Pentecostarion <http://anastasis.org.uk/pentecos.htm>
> Menaion <http://anastasis.org.uk/menaion.htm>
> Horologion <http://anastasis.org.uk/horologion.htm>
> Euchologion <http://anastasis.org.uk/eucholog.htm>
> Lectionary <http://anastasis.org.uk/lectionary.htm>
laity and choir (excluded the more detailed instructions and prayers for
priests and bishops) ans is likely the most useful for understanding the
services. An explanation of a couple of these books:
The Horologion is the book which serves as the basic guide for readers and
> chanters in the cliros. The Horologion contains the unchanging parts of alland,
> the daily services, except for the Liturgy. The Book of Needs is the book
> which includes the order of services for the various Mysteries, except for
> the Mysteries of Holy Communion and Ordination. Other services included in
> the Book of Needs are the Order of Burial of the Reposed, the Order of
> Blessing of Water, the Prayers for the Birth of a Child, the Naming of a
> Child and his "Churching," as well as blessings for other occasions.
> The Octoechos, or Book of the Eight Tones [*Paraklitiki*], contains all
> the hymns in the form of verses, troparia, kontakia, canons, and so forth.
> They are divided into eight groups of melodies, or "tones." Each tone
> contains the hymnody for an entire week, so that the complete Octoechos is
> repeated every eight weeks throughout most of the year. The arrangement of
> ecclesiastical chanting into tones was entirely the work of the famous
> hymnographer of the Byzantine Church, St. John of Damascus (eighth century).
> The text of the Octoechos is ascribed to him, although one should note that
> many parts of it are the work of St. Metrophanes, bishop of Smyrna, St.
> Joseph the Hymnographer, and others over the centuries.
> The Monthly Menaion contains the prayers and hymns in honor of the saints
> for each day of the year, as well as the solemn festival services for the
> feasts of the Lord and the Theotokos which fall on fixed calendar dates.
> Following the number of months, it is divided into twelve volumes.
> The General Menaion contains the hymnography common to an entire category
> of saints, for example, in honor of prophets, or apostles, or martyrs, or
> monastics. It is used when a special service to a particular saint is not
> The Festal Menaion contains all the services for the immovable great
> feasts, as extracted from the Monthly Menaion.
> The Lenten Triodion contains all the special parts of the services for the
> course of the Great Fast prior to Pascha. It also contains the Sunday
> services before Pascha, beginning with the Sunday of the Publican and the
> Pharisee. The Lenten Triodion derives its name from the Greek word "triod,"
> which means tri-hymned. This is because in the usual services, there are
> nine odes, based on nine great hymns from the Old and New Testament.
> However, for each day of the Fast the canons chanted do not comprise the
> usual nine, but only three.
> The Pentecostarion contains the hymnography used from the feast of Holy
> Pascha through the first Sunday after Pentecost, the Sunday of All Saints.
> The Greek word ���������� literally means "book of prayers." The Slavonic
> word *Trebnik* literally means "book of needs." This type of service book
> varies widely in contents and arrangements. The most comprehensive edition
> is the ���������� �� ���� or *Great Euchologion* contains the prayers of
> the priest <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Priest>, deacon<http://orthodoxwiki.org/Deacon>,
> and reader <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Reader> for Vespers<http://orthodoxwiki.org/Vespers>,
> Orthros <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Orthros>, and the Divine Liturgy; the six
> remaining sacraments, and other services of blessings (which in the west are
> often referred to as *sacramentals*).
> The Slavonic Great Book of Needs consists of two parts:
> 1. The sacraments and other sacred rites, which accompany a man from
> birth and counsels him at his departure into eternity.
> 2. Short prayers for various needs. There is also a calendar and the
> "Alphabetic Classification of Names," the latter being a list of Christian
> There are also a variety of more concise editions, that contain only the
> most commonly done of these services. These texts are often called the *Small
> Euchologion* (*mikron euchologion*), and usually contains the forms for
> the mysteries (sacraments <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Sacraments>) other than
> the Eucharist <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Eucharist> and ordination<http://orthodoxwiki.org/Ordination>,
> and other common services.
> The Small Book of Needs is excerpted from the Great Book of Needs for the
> purpose of convenience, in order to have a small book for the performance of
> needs, especially those needs which must be served outside the temple.
> There is also a Supplemental Book of Needs in Slavonic, which contains
> within services such as the orders for the consecration of a temple and the
> consecration of things pertaining to the temple, such as the church
> utensils <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Liturgical_objects>, vestments<http://orthodoxwiki.org/Vestments>,
> icons <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Icons>, and so forth. This Supplemental
> Book of Needs is often combined into one book with the Small Book of Needs.
> What distinguishes the services found in the Euchologion is that they are
> generally services that are not appointed to be done at any given time
> according to the Church calendar, but are done as the need arises (e.g.,
> funerals, weddings, baptisms, the consecration of a new church, etc.). Some
> services are associated with the liturgical calendar, however, such as the
> blessing of candles on the Feast of the Presentation<http://orthodoxwiki.org/Presentation>,
> the blessing of Palms on Palm Sunday <http://orthodoxwiki.org/Palm_Sunday>,
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