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THE HOUSE OF GOD AND THE CHURCH SERVICES - from the Sherpherd - April issue

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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    THE HOUSE OF GOD AND THE CHURCH SERVICES”, 1 http://www.saintedwardbrotherhood.org/ By the Priest N. R. Antonov Continuation § 107. Great Lenten Mattins.
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2005
      By the Priest N. R. Antonov Continuation

      § 107. Great Lenten Mattins. In Great Lent Mattins may be joined to Great
      Compline in the same way that during the rest of the year Vespers and
      Mattins are linked to form a Vigil Service. The Great Lenten version of
      Mattins is more akin to the daily Mattins, and differs from a festal
      Mattins in the following respects:-
      1) We do not chant “God is the Lord,” but instead intone other verses with
      the response: Alleluia; 2) three kathismata from the Psalter are appointed
      instead of two; 3) except on the greatest of celebrations, the polyeleos is
      not chanted, nor the accompanying hymns or the Gospel reading; 5) the canon
      from the Lenten Triodion is based on the usual nine ode form, but only has
      three odes (always the eighth and ninth and an earlier one depending on the
      day of the week: first on Monday, and so on). The canons from the Menaion
      have the usual form. The fact that the lenten canon is considerably shorter
      is made up for by the practice of chanting and reading either the whole or
      portions of the Old Testament songs on which the canons are based. On
      Monday we read the first ode completely, on Tuesday the second and so on.
      6) the doxology is read and not chanted, and during this the Royal Gates
      are closed; 7) after this the supplicatory litany is intoned, followed
      first by the aposticha and then the exclamation “It is good to give praise
      unto the Lord.” This verse is the equivalent of the NuncDimittis in
      Vespers; 8) at the end of Mattins we do not have the threefold litany,
      except on days when the polyeleos is sung) but we have the Prayer of St

      § 108. Hours in Great Lent. The Hours in Great Lent have the following
      particularities: 1) after the usual three psalms, a kathisma from the
      Psalter may be appointed; 2) the troparions are replaced by lenten verses,
      which the priest intones before the Royal Gates, making three full
      prostrations and then a bow as he does so. The choir chants the first as a
      response; 3) at the end of each Hour, the Prayer of St Ephraim is appointed
      after the blessing and before the concluding prayer; 4) on the Sixth Hour
      an Old Testament reading is inserted.

      § 109. The Typica and Vespers in the Great Lenten Cycle. After the Ninth
      Hour, we have the Typica (see § 88). The first two psalms are, however,
      omitted, and we begin with the chanting (sometimes just the reading) of the

      Vespers: After the Typika, we have Vespers according to the appointed
      order, which again is more akin to daily Vespers than the festal or Sunday
      one. The proemial psalm is read rather than chanted, as it sometimes is in
      the Russian practice. There is no entrance, and after the prokeimenon we
      have Old Testament readings. At the end of the service, the following
      troparia are chanted. On the first three we make a full prostration and on
      the last we bow to the ground:-

      “O Theotokos and Virgin, rejoice, O Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with
      thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb;
      for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.”
      “O Baptist of Christ, keep us all in remembrance that we may be delivered
      from our iniquities; for to thee was given grace to intercede in our
      “Glory. Plead in our behalf, O holy Apostles and all Saints, that we may be
      delivered from perils and afflictions; for we have you as fervent
      suppliants before the Saviour.”
      “Both now. Under thy compassion do we flee, O Theotokos; disdain not our
      prayers in times of affliction; but do thou rescue us from perils, O only
      pure one, O only blessed one.”

      The prayers and hymns of the Great Lenten services and the appointed order
      of the services are to be found in a special book, called the “Lenten
      Triodion,” which is indispensable for the ordering of the services in this
      period of the year. It begins at the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee
      and ends on the day before Pascha.
      § 110. Teaching on the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. On Wednesdays
      and Fridays and certain other days in the fast, after the Hours and the
      Typica, we celebrate the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, which is the
      third most common Liturgy served by the Orthodox. The Liturgy is so-called
      because in it the Holy Gifts consecrated on the previous full Liturgy, and
      thereafter kept in a tabernacle on the Holy Table, are offered and imparted
      to communicants. The origins of this Liturgy stretch back to the very first
      ages of Christianity, and particularly in those regions where the custom
      persisted of having a brotherly meal after the Liturgy. The faithful had a
      flaming desire to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ more often, but
      at the same time they considered that it was inappropriate to have the
      celebration of a full Liturgy, a festive service linked to a meal, during a
      period of fasting and sorrowing over one’s sins, and so the Liturgy of the
      Presanctified Gifts came to be used then instead of the full Liturgy.
      Linked to this there was another ancient custom which perhaps contributed
      to the idea: that of keeping the Holy Gifts (sometimes even in the home)
      for the communion of the sick and for other people, who were unable to
      attend church. Because keeping the Gifts at home was not always
      circumspect, in the course of time it was resolved to reserved Them only in
      church, and the Christians would commune from Them at Vespers having kept
      the whole day strictly fasting. It is for this reason that, as we will see
      below (§ 111), the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is served within the
      context of Vespers. The ordering and composition of the service is linked
      to the names of two great church writers: Saint Athanasius the Great, the
      Archbishop of Alexandria (+ 373 A.D.), who composed several of the prayers
      and laboured to spread the celebration of the service in the
      Egyptian-Alexandrian regions; and St Gregory the Great, the Dialogist (+
      604 A.D), who is especially attributed with the formation of the service,
      not as it was served in the Greek Church but in the Roman, although this
      latter harked back to an earlier Greek one. The Sixth Œcumenical Council
      appointed that the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts should be celebrated
      during the Forty Holy Days (Lent). And so, this usage was established both
      to safeguard the strictness of the fast and to ensure that the faithful
      could partake of the Body and Blood of the Lord daily.

      § 111. An Overview of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. Fundamentally
      this Liturgy is served within the context of Vespers, as is particularly
      clear from its beginning, although the first exclamation is that which
      begins a full Liturgy, “Blessed is the Kingdom.” Generally it follows the
      order of Vespers until the Entrance and the “O Joyous Light.” We have the
      proemial psalm, the litany, kathisma, little litany and “Lord, I have
      cried,” with appointed verses. The kathisma is, however, read as three
      separate stases with little litanies between them. During this, the priest
      takes the Presanctified Gifts from the tabernacle and places them upon the
      discos (paten) which is placed on the opened antimension. Then he censes
      round the Holy Table three times, and then holding the discos above his
      head, he transfers it to the prothesis table. Then he pours wine into the
      chalice and covers the Gifts with the veils.

      The entrance is either with the censer or, if there is to be a reading from
      the Gospel, with the Gospel Book. After the entrance the prokeimenon, and
      then a reading from Genesis or Exodus followed after a second prokeimenon
      by a second reading from the Proverbs of Solomon or from the Book of Job.
      Immediately before this second reading, the deacon exclaims “Command.” The
      priest then takes the censer and a lighted candle in his hands, and
      standing before the Holy Table, exclaims “Wisdom. Upright!” Then, turning
      to face the people, he exclaims “The Light of Christ illuminateth all!”
      This exclamation is an indication that the service was from its beginning
      an evening service, because it links to the time when at the onset of dusk
      the lamps were lit in church. The exclamation also tells us that the Divine
      light also lighted the Old Testament prophecies, which prefigured and
      prepared for Jesus Christ. When the priest makes this exclamation, the
      faithful fall prostrate to the ground, indicating their lowliness before
      the Eternal Light, the Lord Jesus Christ.

      After the second Old Testament reading, that we might be made to feel more
      repentant, compunctionate verses are chanted from Psalm 140. In the Russian
      practice, this is often done by three chanters who come forth from the
      choir to the middle of the church. “Let my prayer be set forth as incense
      before Thee, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice,” “Lord, I
      have cried unto Thee, hearken unto me, attend to the voice of my
      supplication when I cry unto Thee,” and these other verses:

      “Set, O Lord, a watch before my mouth and a door of enclosure round about
      my lips.”
      “Incline not my heart unto words of evil to make excuse with excuses in

      After each of these verses, the choir chants “Let my prayer be set forth as
      incense before Thee, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.”
      During these responses the faithful prostrate themselves. And during these
      verses the priest censes the Holy Table (in some practices from all four
      sides), and in the last response himself prostrates before the Holy Table.
      The deacon in this last verse, censes the prothesis [thus Fr Antonov has
      it, although there seem to be variations of practice - ed.]. After this,
      the Prayer of Saint Ephraim is read with three prostrations, and thereafter
      the form of the service is more akin to the full Liturgy.

      It may be that an Epistle and Gospel sequence is inserted here, if the
      service of the day is of polyeleos rank. Otherwise, here we begin those
      parts of the Liturgy which are familiar to the faithful from the Liturgy of
      St John Chrysostom: the threefold litany, that for the catechumens, their
      expulsion from the church, and the two short litanies which begin the
      Liturgy of the Faithful. Then we have the Great Entrance during which the
      Gifts are ceremoniously taken from the table of oblation to the Holy Table,
      but in place of the usual Cherubicon, we have another one which refers more
      expressly to the transfer of the Gifts:-

      “Now the hosts of Heaven invisibly do minister with us, for, behold, the
      King of Glory doth enter; behold the Mystic Sacrifice, all-accomplished, is
      escorted in. Let us with faith and love draw nigh, that we may become
      communicants of life eternal. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.”

      The words in this hymn, “behold the Mystic Sacrifice, all-accomplished, is
      escorted in,” indicate very clearly that in the Liturgy of the
      Presanctified Gifts, the bread and the wine have been already consecrated.
      As a sign of their reverence before the Holy Gifts, the Great Mystery of
      the Body and Blood of Christ, the faithful fall to the ground and remain
      prostrate as the Gifts are transferred in silence. After the Entrance, the
      Royal Gates are closed and the veil is drawn half-way across. Then the
      Liturgy continues, although the Creed, the Mercy of Peace, and the
      Eucharistic Prayers are all omitted. Thus, in effect, after the Great
      Entrance we have the Litany which prepares the faithful for Communion,
      ending with the Lord’s Prayer. The rest of the service is very much like
      the Liturgy of St John, with the Communion of the faithful and the
      thanksgiving prayers, however there are some distinguishing points. 1)In
      place of “The Holies are for the holy,” the priest says: “The Presanctified
      Holies are for the holy”; 2) Instead of “Blessed is he that cometh in the
      name of the Lord” when the Gifts are presented to the faithful, we sing “I
      will bless the Lord at all times”; 3) Instead of the usual Prayer Beyond
      the Ambon, another is read, in which on behalf of all the faithful the
      priest asks God to lead us through the honourable days of the fast, for the
      cleansing of our souls and bodies, that we might complete the course of the
      fast in struggling well, that we might crush the heads of the invisible
      serpents, and that we might reach and worship the Holy Resurrection.

      § 112. The Order of the Presanctified Liturgy - in this section Fr Antonov
      simply lists the parts he has described above.

      § 113. Differences Between Vespers and the Liturgy of the Presanctified
      Gifts and Normal Vespers and Liturgy - in this section also Fr Antonov
      simply re-iterates what he has told us in the preceding sections.

      … to be continued in the next issue with
      “The services for the Sundays of the Great Lent”
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