The Divine Liturgy

with Notes for Serving

Compiled by Bishop Tikhon





I compiled the following material for use by clergy serving in the Diocese of the West, Orthodox Church in America. I pray it will be found useful by both newly ordained and experienced Priests and Deacons. Perhaps only a few would want to read the material straight through, and I did not write it with such reading in mind, but as a reference. Some of it may be useful to Readers, Psalmists, Choir Directors as well.

Some may feel such materials encourge an unhealthy professionalism; some may be chagrined to find a favorite practice questioned; and others  might prefer a more scholarly or more pious approach to the Holy and Divine Liturgy. Those great and liturgical Fathers and scholars of the past that have given us pious and scholarly commentaries, such as Nicholas Cabasilas, St. Germanus, Archbishop Benjamin (author of “The New Tables”), Ivan Dmitrievsky, Michael Skaballanovich, and even as brilliant a teacher as Father Alexander Schmemann, wrote in environments where matters set out here were a given, a context for their magnificent and spiritually uplifting works. This given does not exist today. Why, even after more than two hundred years of Orthodoxy on the North American continent, one is unable to find in English even the basis of such a context (in its essential Palestinian form), i.e., The Typikon, i.e., Ordo, of the Church Services of the Holy Lavra in Jerusalem of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Sabbas!

In English there are no comprehensive guides for serving Divine Liturgy. Neither nor do such exist for the other services of the Orthodox Church They exist aplenty in Russian. One work, known as (actually, the name of its author) “Bulgakov,”[1] is very close to being ubiquitous in the libraries of Russian Priests in emigration: it is followed in popularity very closely by a work called  Nikol’sky,”[2] also the name of its author.  In 1977, the Moscow Patriarchate began publishing a new multi-volume-guide, called Desk Manual[3], for its Sacred Servers. The first volume of Desk Manual contains detailed instructions for serving all services, but without the extensive footnotes and comments found in “Bulgakov.”  As for something in English, an early and valiant attempt to provide a guide for serving the Divine Liturgy was made in a 1961 publication by the late Mitered Archpriest Michael Gelsinger and Albert George Fadell.[4]  This rather detailed guide for serving Divine Liturgy was marred by the use of a Creole-like terminology too abstruse for many readers. (Terms like “Meteoric,” “Despotic,” and “Proheortic,” for feasts of the Theotokos, the Lord, and Pre-feasts, respectively, seem now to be somewhat self-indulgent and, taken together with a willingness to digress at length on this or that fine point of translation of the text of the services, defeated the purported aim of clarifying the services for the clergy.)

Some clergy come to us as seminary graduates; others have some seminary education; some have no seminary education, but have grown up worshipping in an Orthodox parish that enjoys liturgical continuity with the Church of history; finally, even some with seminary education have had no substantial experience of Orthodox parish liturgical life at all. It is as hard to characterize the quality of liturgical teaching as it is to characterize other aspects of Priestly formation in our seminaries: one may only remark that it is varied and inconsistent, especially in comprehensiveness.

This present work uses the method of approach found in “Bulgakov;” however, in “Bulgakov” comments and directions are placed in endnotes following an abbreviated text of the Liturgy. I’ve chosen to place my comments and directions as footnotes along the way. Only general comments are in the endnotes. As my outline text, I am using the PRIEST’S SERVICE BOOK, published by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America in 1973, an accurate translation of the Russian Church’s Sluzhebnik, emended where appropriate by texts from the Hieratikon of the Greek Church, and I refer as well to “The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom,” or “The Divine Liturgy according to St. John Chrysostom with appendices:” two editions of the “American Metropolia Translation,” a rendition into English, with alterations, of a combination of the Russian and Greek Service Books with some additions and alterations. The texts differ little also from the texts of the “Liturgikon” published by the Antiochian Archdiocese. I’m including as many of “Bulgakov’s” notes as possible, supplemented when appropriate by  pertinent directions from “Nikol’sky.” Other directions or pointers I have accumulated personally since becoming Orthodox in 1960. For certain Diaconal niceties (as well as for my deep respect for the Russian Orthodox Diaconate) I am indebted to the late, ever-memorable Protodeacon Vladimir Malash(kovich) of St. Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC.[5]

I follow Bulgakov’s system to indicate who does what. In the text of the Liturgy, words or actions to be done, or customarily done, by the Deacon are identified by one asterisk. Words or actions to be done, or customarily done, by the Reader or Choir are identified by two asterisks. Words or actions to be done, or customarily done, by the Priest are not marked in any way. (One of the general Endnotes discusses what “Diaconal” parts may or may not be performed by a Priest in the absence of a Deacon.)

Finally, in all these instructions I presuppose that the given service is taking place in a temple constructed and furnished according to Orthodox monumental Tradition. This means, e.g., that no instructions can be found here for censing a structure with pews or extensive rows of wall-to-wall chairs. Those who have to serve in such structures will have to devise a way of imposing an Orthodox way of serving onto an architectural design opposed to Orthodox worship, service, and piety.




The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom[6]




I  Preliminaries.

(Before the Holy Gates[7])

The Priest and Deacon[8] make three reverences.

*“Bless, Master.

 “Blessed is our God.”  *“Amen.”  *“Glory to Thee.”  *“O Heavenly King.”  *Trisagion. *“Our Father.”  For Thine are the Kingdom  *“Amen.”

Likewise, they recite the

Troparia[9]  *“Have mercy on us.”  *“Glory.”  *“Lord, have mercy.(3)”  *“Both now.”  *“Open unto us the doors of thy tenderheartedness.”

Approaching the Savior’s Icon, they make a reverence (ref. Arkhieratikon) and recite:

*“Thine immaculate Icon,” after which they kiss the Savior’s Icon.

Approaching the Icon of God’s Mother, they recite(making a prostration and kissing the Icons.[10]):

*“A fountain of tenderness art thou, O Theotokos.”  Bowing their heads (in front of the Holy Gates), the Priest reads the prayer, “Stretch forth Thy hand.”[11]

Reverences to the choirs (one to each)

Entrance into the Altar, with the recitation of “I will enter.”

Triple reverences  before the Altar Table and kissing of the Gospels and Altar Table.[12]

Vesting of the clergy.[13]

Each one takes his Sticharion in his (left) hand and makes three reverences toward the east, saying within himself each time:

O God, cleanse Thou me a sinner and have mercy on me.”

Then the Deacon approaches the Priest, holding his Sticharion and his Orarion[14] in his right hand and, bowing his head before the Priest, says:

*“Bless, Master, the Sticharion and the Orarion.”[15]  The Priest, blessing, says:

Blessed is our God, always, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.”

The Deacon then withdraws to one side of the sanctuary, kisses the Sticharion[16] and dons it, praying thus:

*“Amen. My soul rejoices in the Lord...”

Next, he kisses the Orarion and fastens it on his left shoulder. Then, he takes the Cuffs and says, as he puts on the right one:

*“Thy right hand, O Lord..”

And the left one:

*“Thy hands have made...”

Then, going to the Prothesis, he prepares[17] the sacred items, i.e., he arranges the sacred vessels,[18] likewise the star-cover, spear, sponge, covers and aer.[19]

The Priest vests himself thus:

Taking his Sticharion in his left hand, and making three reverences, as stated above, toward the east, he signs it with the sign of the cross, saying:

Blessed is our God, always...Amen”

Then he takes the Epitrakhelion, and, having signed it, vests himself in it, saying:[20]

Blessed is God Who...”

Then he takes the Belt and, girding himself, says:

Blessed is God Who girdeth...”

When donning the Cuffs, he says the same prayers as the Deacon.

Then he takes the Nabedrennik, if it has been awarded him, and, kissing it, says:

Gird thy sword upon thy thigh...””[21]

Then he takes the Phelonion and, after blessing it, kisses it while saying this:

Thy Priests, O Lord, shall clothe...”

Then they go to the Prothesis and to the washing of hands, saying:

*“I will wash my hands...”


End of Preliminaries




II Proskomedia [22]



After examining the articles[23] for the celebration of the Mystery, begins the
preparation of the Lamb:

In front of the Table of Oblation the servers make three reverences, with the words: “O God cleanse me, a sinner...” and say
the Troparion: “Thou hast redeemed us

*“Bless, Master.”

Blessed is our God..” *“Amen.”

Triple sign of the Cross with the spear over the Prosphora from which the Lamb is to be taken away with the words:

In Remembrance of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ (3-times)[25]

Cutting of the Prosphora[26] while pronouncing, as the Priest slices with the Spear away from the right[27] side of the seal, the words:

As a sheep he was led to the slaughter”
on the left:
And as a blameless lamb before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth
above the seal:
“In his humility his judgment was taken away
below the seal
“And who shall declare his generation?”

The Deacon holding his Orarion says at each cutting:

*“Let us pray to the Lord.” (andLord, have mercy.”)

And after the afore-stated cuttings the Deacon says:

*“Take away, Master.”

The Priest thrusts the spear into the right side of the lower portion of the Prosphora, removes the cut-out portion (which looks like a cube) and says:

“For His life is taken away from the earth.”

Then he places it on the Diskos upside down, with the seal below.

*“Sacrifice, Master.”

Slicing into the cut-out portion crosswise[28], the Priest says:

“Sacrificed is the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world, for the life and salvation of the world.” Then he stands the Lamb right side up, with the seal on top.

*“Pierce, Master.”

The Priest pierces[29] into the right side with the spear (the left side in relation to the Priest), saying

“One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear..”

The Deacon, presenting wine and water in their vessels, utters:

*“Bless, Master, the holy union,” and upon receiving the blessing[30] pours wine and water into the chalice.

There follows the taking out of a particle from the second Prosphora[31] with the words:

“In honor and memory of our most blessed, glorious Lady..” and, taking out a particle, he places it at the right side of the Lamb, close to the center[32], with the words:

“On thy right hand stood the Queen...”

There follows the taking out of nine particles, with the pronunciation of names at each particle, from the third Prosphora in honor of the various orders of saints[33] and their placement on the left side of the Lamb in three rows[34]:


1st row                         2nd row                                     3rd row








Monks and nuns

Chrysostom or Basil


There follows the taking out, with accompanying text, of particles from the fourth Prosphora[35] for the living (the Episcopate, the Metropolitan, the Holy Synod, the local Bishop, Patriarchs, Priests, Deacons, all the clerical estate, the head of state, and all the living as a group and as individuals) saying at each cutting, “Remember, O Lord,______(name)” and the placing of these particles below the Lamb[36], followed by taking out particles from the fifth Prosphora[37] with appropriate language for the departed (patriarchs, emperors, empresses, church founders, etc., “at will”, saying: “Remember, O Lord,________(name), and all those who have fallen asleep in hope of the resurrection, eternal life..”, and the placing of these particles below the particles for the living.[38] The taking out of a particle by the Priest for himself, with the words: “Remember also, O Lord, my unworthiness...” (The taking out of particles for Prosphora offered[39] by the worshippers with the words: “Remember, O Lord, name.)”

And the Priest, taking the sponge, gathers together the particles on the Diskos, below the holy bread, so that they are secure and not in danger of spilling.


Concluding actions of the Proskomedia



Taking the Censer and placing incense in it, the Deacon says to the Priest:

*“Bless, Master the Censer.”

*“Let us pray to the Lord.” (Lord, have mercy)

Prayer of the Incense[40]: “Incense do we offer unto Thee...”

*“Let us pray to the Lord. (Lord, have mercy)” After censing the star-cover[41], the Priest places it on the Diskos over the Lamb, with the words,

“And the star came and stood over where the young child was.”

*“Let us pray to the Lord (Lord, have mercy)”

After censing the small cover[42] the Priest covers the bread and Diskos, saying,

“The Lord hath become king...”

*“Let us pray to the Lord. Cover, Master.”

After censing the second small cover[43] the Priest covering the holy chalice, says,

“Thy virtue hath covered the heavens...”

*“Let us pray to the Lord. Cover, Master.”

After censing the aer[44] the Priest covers the discos and the chalice, saying,

“Shelter us under the shelter of thy wings...”

The censing of the Table of Oblation by the Priest with the words:

“Blessed art Thou, our God, Who art thus well-pleased, glory to Thee” (Three times)

*“Always, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.” (Three times)

Triple reverences by the sacred servers

The Deacon, taking the Censer from the Priest, censes, saying:

*“For the precious Gifts now offered, let us pray to the Lord. (Lord, have mercy”)

The Prayer of the Proskomedia (or “of the Setting-forth.”):

“O God, our God, the heavenly Bread...”

“Glory to Thee, O Christ, God, our hope, glory to Thee.”

*“Glory...both now....” *“Lord, have mercy.” (three times)

*“(Master) Bless.”


Dismissal of the Proskomedia



III Liturgy of the Catechumens



Opening of the curtain (Typikon, ch. 23) and

Censing by the Deacon of the Table of Oblation, the Altar Table, the Altar, the Temple, then the Altar Table again, and the Priest[45] During the Censing of the Altar Table, the Deacon reads: *“In the Grave with the body...” and, during the rest of the Censing, Psalm 50 (51):*“Have mercy on me, O God...”

Three reverences[46] by the Sacred Servers before the Altar Table while uttering the prayers:

“O Heavenly King...”[47]“Glory to God in the Highest...” (twice)“O Lord, open Thou my lips...”

Kissing of the Gospel by the Priest and of the Altar Table by the Deacon.[48] With his head bowed to the Priest and holding his Orarion with three fingers of his right hand, the Deacon says:

*“It is time to serve the Lord, Master, bless.”

The Priest, signing the Deacon[49], says:

“Blessed is our God..”.

*“Pray for me, Master.”

“May the Lord direct thy steps.

*“Remember me, Master.”

“May the Lord God remember thee..” *“Amen.”

After making a reverence, the Deacon exits[50] via the North Door to go and stand in the center of the Soleas before the Holy Gates and after three reverences with three repetitions of the words, “O Lord, open Thou my lips.” he exclaims:

*“Bless, master.”[51]

“Blessed is the Kingdom...”[52]


The Great Litany:

*“In peace let us pray to the Lord...[53]

“For to Thee belong all... **”Amen.

The Deacon, after bowing, leaves his place[54] and goes to stand before Christ’s Icon, holding on to his Orarion with three fingers of his right hand.

**The First Antiphon (see it and the two following below)

Prayer of the First Antiphon[55]:

O Lord our God, Whose might is...”

When the First Antiphon is completed, the Deacon comes and stands at his usual place and, after bowing, intones the:

Little Litany: *“Again and again...” and the

Exclamation: “For Thine is the strength...”

**”Amen.”. and the

**Second Antiphon

The Deacon does exactly as he did at the First Antiphon.

Prayer of the Second Antiphon:

“O Lord our God, save Thy people and bless...

**“Glory, both now..”

**“Only begotten Son...”

Little Litany;: *“Again and again...”

Exclamation:  “For Thou art a good and...” **“Amen.”.

**Third Antiphon

Prayer of the Third Antiphon:

“O Thou Who hast promised that...”


The First Antiphon





Psalm 9, vs. 2-3: It is a good thing to confess, with refrains to each verse: Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Savior, save us.

From Psalm 103: Bless the Lord, O my soul..Glory, both now.

Various verses from Psalms and the Prophets appropriate to the event with the refrain: Through the prayers of the Theotokos...


The Second Antiphon





Psalm 22, vs. 2-3: The Lord hath become King, with beauty, with the refrain: Through the prayers of Thy saints, O Savior, save us.

From Psalm 145, Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Verses with refrains: Save us O Son of God, born of the Virgin or transfigured on the mount, etc. (See the Feast),—who are praying to Thee, Alleluia.


The Third Antiphon





Psalm 94, vs. 1-3: Come, let us rejoice in the Lord, with the refrain: Save us, O Son of God, Marvelous in Thy saints...

The Beatitudes, with troparia from the Oktoechos, or the Menaion, or the Triodion[59].

Psalm verses, and, added to them, the Festal Troparion



*Opening of the Royal Gates[60].

Threefold reverence by the Sacred Servers before the Holy Table. Then, taking the Gospel, the Priest hands it to the Deacon,[61] and they go to the right side and on around, exiting from the north side, preceded by Lamps, making the


Little Entrance (with the Gospels).[62]

Coming to stand before the Royal Gates, they both bow their heads and the Deacon utters:

*“Let us pray to the Lord.”[63] (“Lord, have mercy”)

Prayer of the Entrance (quietly): “O Lord God...”

The Deacon says (quietly) to the Priest, pointing to the East with his right hand, while holding on his Orarion with three fingers:

*“Bless, Master, the Holy Entrance.

The Priest, blessing, says (quietly): “Blessed is the Entrance...”and kisses the Gospels.

After turning to the East, standing in front of the Priest, the Deacon raises his arms a little and holding the Gospel up to view (he makes the small sign of the Cross with it [see Arkhieratikon]), he intones powerfully:

*“Wisdom, Attend!”

Making a bow, the Deacon, and behind him the Priest, enters the Altar (the latter kisses the Royal Doors to the right and the left—(See the Chinovnik)[64]; The Deacon places the Gospels on the Altar Table. The singers sing the




Entrance Hymn

 Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ[65], Save us, O Son of God,

(On weekdays)

(On Sundays and during Paschaltide)

(On Feasts)

Wondrous in Thy saints

Who didst rise from the dead

See the Feast

 singing to Thee ‘Alleluia.”


Troparia and Kontakia[66]

The Deacon says (quietly) to the Priest, bowing together with him and holding his Orarion with three fingers:

*“Bless, Master, the time of the trisagion.”

The Priest, signing him[67], says the exclamation:

“For Holy art Thou, O our and ever.

When the Troparion[68] is concluded, the Deacon comes up to the Holy Doors and, at first pointing to the Icon of Christ, intones:

“O Lord, save the pious and hear us.”[69]

Thereupon he indicates (encompasses) with his Orarion (indicating the people[70]—See the Arkhieratikon) proclaiming full voice to those standing without:

*“And unto ages of ages.” **“Amen.”[71]




Reading by the Priest of the Prayer of the Trisagion:

“O holy God, Who restest in the Saints..”

Three-fold saying of the Trisagion by the clergy with three reverences before the Altar Table.[73]

*“Command, Master.”

The clergy move to the upper (high) place, while the Priest says:

“Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

*“Bless, Master the Upper (High) Throne.”

“Blessed art Thou on the Throne of Thy glory..”

At the conclusion of the Trisagion, the Deacon, having come before the Holy Doors, says:

*“Let us attend.” “Peace be to all.”

**And to thy spirit.” *“Wisdom.”


*“Wisdom.” **The title of the Apostolic Reading (Epistle or Acts)[74]

*“Let us attend.”

**Reading of the Apostolic Reading

“Peace be to thee (that readest)”[75] **“Alleluia[76].”


Censing by the Deacon[77] (After receiving the Priest’s blessing during the time of the Alleluia and Alleluiarion) of the Altar, Iconostasis, Priest, and all present, while the Priest reads the Prayer before the Gospel

“Make shine in our hearts...”

Then the Deacon, after putting the Censer in its customary place, approaches the Priest and bows his head before him, holding his Orarion with the tips of his fingers and pointing to Book of the Holy Gospels:[78]

*“Bless, Master, him that proclaimeth the Gospel of the holy Apostle and Evangelist, (name).” Signing him, the Priest says,

“May God,  through the prayers of the holy, glorious Apostle and Evangelist, (name)...”


And after reverencing the Holy Gospel, he takes (receives) it and, exiting via the Holy Doors, preceded by Lamps, comes and stands on the Soleas or other designated place.

The Priest, standing before Holy Table and turning to the West, exclaims,

“Wisdom. Attend. Let us hear the Holy Gospel. Peace be to all.”

**“And to thy spirit.”

*“(A) Reading from the holy Gospel of (name)...”

**“Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee.”

“Let us attend.”


Reading of the Gospel


            “Peace be thee that proclaimest the Gospel.”[79]

**“Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee.”

And the Deacon coming up to the Holy Doors gives the Book of the Holy Gospels to the Priest (who kisses it as he receives it and[80] places it on the Holy Table at the upper (far) side, above the Antimension—See the Arkhieratikon)

Closing of the Royal Gates[81]

*Fervent Litany:

*“Let us all say with all our soul...”

Reading by the Priest, after the petition for the civil authorities, of the

Prayer of Fervent Supplication: “O Lord our God...”[82]

“For Thou art a merciful God Who lovest mankind...”


 [If there is to be commemoration of the Departed, then the Deacon intones:

Litany for Those Fallen Asleep:[83] *“Have mercy on us, O God...”

After the reading of the secret prayer: “O God of spirits and of all flesh...”

Exclamation: “For Thou art the Resurrection, the life...” 


*Litany for the Catechumens

*“Pray ye unto the Lord, ye Catechumens...”

Prayer for the Catechumens:

“O Lord our God...”


“That with us they also...”

And the Priest opens up the Antimension.


*“As many as are Catechumens, depart.”


IV. Liturgy of the Faithful


*Litany: “As many as are of the Faithful, again and again...

Prayer (First) of the Faithful, said when the Antimension is spread open:

We thank Thee, O Lord..”


After saying in secret the first Prayer, the Priest exclaims:

“For to Thee belong..” **”Amen.”.”

*Litany: “Again and again..”

Prayer (Second) of the Faithful: “Again and many times...”

*“Wisdom.” After uttering this, the Deacon enters the Altar via the South Door

Exclamation: “That being kept always...”


Opening of the Holy Gates

**“Let us who represent...”

Reading of the Prayer in secret by the Priest: “None is worthy who is bound...”

The Deacon receives the Censer and, after having put incense into it, approaches the Priest and, receiving his blessing, censes the Altar Table crosswise, the Altar and the Priest.

Three-fold reading by the clergy of “Let us who represent...” with reverences. The Deacon also says Psalm 50 and the Penitential Troparia, as desired, together with the Priest, and they both go to the Prothesis, the Deacon leading, and he censes the Holy, praying to himself:

O God cleanse me, a sinner” (Three times). To the Priest he says:

Lift up, Master.” The Priest taking the Aer lays it on the Deacon’s left shoulder, saying,

Lift up your hands...”

Likewise taking up the Paten, he places it on the Deacon’s head. The Deacon is at the same time also holding the Censer with one of his fingers. The Priest carries the Holy Chalice.


The Great Entrance


The Deacon and the Priest, Deacon first, exit via the North Door, preceded by lamps and they make a circuit of the Temple, praying,

*“Our Lord, Most Blessed...”

Closing of the Holy Doors and Curtain

**“That we may receive...Alleluia (3 times).”

 The Deacon going inside the Holy Doors stand at the right side, and when the Priest is about to enter the Deacon says to him:

*“May the Lord God remember thy Priesthood in His Kingdom.”

The Priest answers:

*“May the Lord God remember your Hiero-(i.e., “Priestly”)Diaconate in His Kingdom, always, now and ever and unto ages of ages.”

And the Priest places the Holy Chalice on the Holy Table; he also takes the Paten from the Deacon’s head and places it on the Holy Table, saying, “Noble Joseph...” “In the grave bodily..” “As life-bearing...” Then, taking the covers from Discos and Chalice, he lays them to one side of the Holy Table, while, taking the Aer from the Deacon’s shoulder, he places it, after censing it, over the Holies, saying: “Noble Joseph...”

Then, taking the Censer from the Deacon’s hand, he censes three times, saying: “Do good, O Lord, in Thy good pleasure...”

Then, after giving up      the Censer, the Priest bows his head and says to the Deacon:

“Remember me, brother and concelebrant.” The Deacon: *“May the Lord God remember thy Priesthood in His Kingdom.”

The Deacon also, after bowing his own head, while holding his Orarion with three finger of his right hand, says to the Priest:  

*“Pray for me, holy Master.”

“May the Holy Spirit come upon thee and the power of the Highest overshadow thee.

*“May the same Spirit minister together with us all the days of our life.”

*“Remember me, holy Master.”

“May the Lord God remember thee in His Kingdom always, now and ever,            and unto ages of ages.

*“Amen.” Then, after kissing the Priest’s right hand, the exits via the North Door. Standing on his usual place, he says the


*“Let us complete our prayer...”

Prayer of the Proskomedia (In secret): “O Lord God Almighty...”

After reading the prayer, the Exclamation:

“Through the compassions...”


“Peace be to all.” **“And to thy spirit.”

*“Let us love one another...”

**“Father, Son, and Holy Spirit...”

Triple reading (in secret) by the Priest of: “I will love Thee, O Lord...” and he kisses the Holies (on the Aer): first the top of the Paten, then the top of the Chalice, then the edge of the Holy Table before him.

And the Deacon, at the place where he is standing, bows with the Priest and kisses his Orarion on the spot where the Sign of the Cross is and then exclaims:

*“The Doors, the Doors, in Wisdom, let us attend.”

Opening of the Curtain

**“I believe in one God...”

The Priest says the Symbol in secret while waving the Aer over the Holy Gifts.

*“Let us stand aright. Let us stand with fear...”

**“A mercy of peace, a sacrifice of praise.”

The Priest then, having taken the Aer off the Holy Gifts, and kissing it, lays it to one side, saying:

“The Grace of our Lord...”

(He turns to face the people and blesses with his hand.) The Deacon makes a reverence and enters the Holy Altar. And, taking a Ripida, fans the Holies piously.

**“And with thy spirit.”

“Let us lift up our hearts.”

**“We lift them up unto the Lord.”

“Let us give thanks unto the Lord.”

**“It is meet and right...”

Reading in secret of the prayer of thanksgiving:

“It is meet and right to hymn...”


“Singing the hymn of victory...”

**“Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Sabaoth...” 

And here the Deacon, taking the holy Star from the holy Diskos, makes the sign of the Cross above it, and, kissing it, lays it aside where the covers are (see the Arkhieratikon). Then he goes and stands on the right side, and, taking a Ripida waves it gently above the Holy Gifts with all attentiveness and fear, lest flies or some other insects might settle on Them. If there are no Ripidas, he does this with one of the Covers.

“With these blessed powers...”


“Take, eat, this is My Body which is broken for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

While this is being said, the Deacon points out the holy Diskos to the Priest, holding his Orarion with three fingers of his right hand. Likewise, when the Priest says: “Drink ye all of this,” he points out the holy Chalice.

“And likewise the cup after supper, saying:


“Drink ye all of this, this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many; for the forgiveness of sins.”


The priest prays (in secret):“Remembering this saving commandment...”


“Thine Own of Thine Own we offer unto Thee, on behalf of all and for all.”

While this is being said the Deacon puts aside the fan, having formed a cross with his arms, and having lifted up the holy Diskos and the holy Chalice, he bows with compunction.

**“We hymn Thee, we bless Thee...”

And the Priest prays: “Again we offer unto Thee this rational..”

And the Deacon then puts aside the Ripida and draws near to the Priest and they both bow three times before the Holy Table, praying in themselves and saying:

“O Lord, Who didst send down Thine All-Holy Spirit...”
Verse: *“Create in me a clean heart...” Again:

“O Lord, Who didst send down Thine All-Holy Spirit...”

Verse: *“Cast me not away from Thy face...” And again:

“O Lord, Who didst send down Thine All-Holy Spirit...”

Then, bowing his head and pointing with his Orarion at the Holy Bread, the Deacon says in secret:
*“Bless, Master, the holy Bread.”

And the Priest, rising, makes the sign of the Cross the holy Gifts three times, saying:

“And make this Bread the precious Body of Thy Christ.” Deacon:

*“Amen.” And again the Deacon:

*“Bless, Master, the holy Cup.”

And the Priest, blessing, says:

“And that which is within this Cup the precious Blood of Thy Christ.” The Deacon:

*“Amen.”  And again the Deacon, pointing to both the Holies, says:

*“Bless both, Master.” And the Priest, blessing both Holies, says:

“Changing them by Thy Holy Spirit.” Deacon:

*“Amen, amen, amen.”

The full reverence (to the ground) of the Sacred Servers.

And the Deacon, bowing his head to the Priest, says:

*“Remember me, holy Master.”

The Priest says:

“May the Lord God remember thee in His kingdom always, now and ever and unto ages of ages. The Deacon: *“Amen.” And he goes to the place where he first stood, and, taking a Ripida, fans the Holies, as before.

The Priest prays: “That to those who shall partake thereof...Again we offer unto Thee...”

Exclamation (at the end of the secret prayer):

“Especially our All-Holy, Immaculate...”

While pronouncing this, the Priest, taking the Censer,  censes the front of the Holy Table (see the Arkhieratikon). And the Deacon censes the Holy Table crosswise.

**“It is truly meet...”

The Deacon reads the Diptychs.

The Priest prays:

“For the Holy Prophet...Again we pray Thee...Again we offer unto Thee..”


“Among the first, remember, O Lord, ..

**“And all mankind.”

And the Deacon commemorates the list of the living.

The Priest prays:

“Remember, O Lord, this city...”


“And grant us, with one mouth...”


The Priest exclaims (turning to the West and blessing with his hand):

“And the mercies of our great God and Savior..”

**“And with thy spirit.”

The Deacon, having taken the time from Priest (having received his blessing), and having gone out and stood at the customary place, says (the litany):

*“Having remembered all the saints...”

The Priest prays:

“Unto Thee we offer our whole life...”

Exclamation (after saying the prayer in secret):

“And vouchsafe, O Master, that...”

**“Our Father...”

“For Thine are the Kingdom...”


“Peace be to all.”

**“And to thy spirit.”

*“Bow your heads unto the Lord.”

**“To Thee, O Lord.”

The Priest prays:

“We give thanks to Thee, O King invisible...”

Exclamation (after saying the prayer in secret)

“Through the Grace, and compassion...”


The Priest prays:

“Look down, O Lord Jesus Christ...” While this prayer is being said, the Deacon, standing before the Holy Doors, binds his Orarion crosswise about himself. Then they bow, the Priest as likewise the Deacon, each on the place where he stands, saying three times in secret:

“O God, cleanse me, a sinner, and have mercy on me.” And when the Deacon sees the Priest stretch forth his hand to touch the Holy Bread in order to effect the holy Elevation, says:

*”Let us attend.”

Closing of the Curtain

The Priest (after saying the prayer in secret) exclaims, lifting up the Holy Bread:

“Holy Things are for the Holy.”

**“One is Holy, One is Lord...”


The Communion Verse


And the Deacon enters the Holy Altar.

Breaking of the Lamb and Communion of the Sacred Servers

*The drawing back of the Curtain and opening of the Holy Doors

The Deacon, bowing once, receives the Chalice reverently and goes up the Doors and, lifting up the Holy Chalice while showing it to the People, says:

*“In the fear of God, and with Faith, draw near.”

**“Blessed is He that cometh...”

Communion of the Laity

The Priest places the Holy Chalice on the Holy Throne and then (blessing the People) exclaims:

“O God, save Thy people...”

And the Deacon and Priest turn back to the Holy Table, and the Priest censes three times, saying to himself:

Be Thou exalted above the heavens, O God...”

**“We have seen the true Light...”

The Priest takes the holy Diskos, places in on the Deacon’s head, and the Deacon receives it reverently, looks out through the Doors, saying nothing, and goes to the Prothesis and places it (on the Table of Oblation). The Priest, after bowing, takes the holy Chalice, and turns toward the Doors, saying in secret: “Blessed is our God—”


“Always, now and ever...”

Transfer by the Priest of the Gifts unto the Table of Oblation and their Censing by the Deacon


**“Let our mouths be filled with Thy praise...”

And the Deacon goes out via the North Door to stand at his customary place and says:

*“Attend! Having received the Divine...”

And the Priest, holding the Gospels upright, after folding up the Antimension, makes the sign of the Cross over it. He exclaims:

“For Thou art our Sanctification...”


“Let us depart in Peace.”

**“In the name of the Lord.”

*“Let us pray to the Lord.”

**“Lord, have mercy.”

Prayer before the Ambo

“Blessing those that bless Thee...”

While the prayer is being said the Deacon stands on the right stand before the image of the Lord Christ, holding his Orarion, head bowed, until the completion of the prayer.


**“Blessed be the name of the Lord..” (3 times)

**“I will bless the Lord at all times...” (Psalm 33)

At the conclusion of the Prayer before the Ambo, the Priest enters via the Holy Doors and, going to the Prothesis, says the Prayer at the Consumption of the Holy Gifts:

“Thou Who art the fulfillment of the Law...”

The Deacon goes himself through the North Door, consumes the Gifts fearfully and with all thoroughness.

Distribution of the Antidoron by the Priest.

“The blessing of the Lord be upon you..” (He blesses the people with his hand.)


“Glory to Thee, O Christ, God, our Hope

**“Glory, both now...”

**“Lord, have mercy.” (3 times)


Great Dismissal


*Closing of the Holy Doors and Curtain.

Unvesting of the Sacred Servers with the saying of:

“Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant...” Trisagion. Our Father. Troparion and Kontakion of St. John Chrysostom and the Theotokion: “Constant Protectress of Christians,” Troparion of the Day, as desired, “Lord, have mercy” (12 times), “More honorable than.. Glory, both now..” The Dismissal.

[1]NASTOL'NAYA KNIGA dl'a Sv'ashchenno-Tserkovno-Sluzhiteley, S.V. Bulgakov. Second Edition, Kharkov, 1900.

[2]Posobie k izucheniyu USTAVA BOGOSLUZHENIYA Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, Konstantin Nikol’sky. Sixth Edition. Saint Petersburg, 1900

[3]NASTOL'NAYA KNIGA Sv'ashchenno-Sluzhitel'a. Moskovskoy Patrarkhii. Moscow, 1900—.

[4]"Orthodox Catholic Prayer and Ritual," Mitered Archpriest Michael Gelsinger and Albert George Fadell. Buffalo, 1961. (Mimeograph)

[5] The Antiochene Archdiocese’s LITURGIKON is the best existing translation of the Divine Liturgy and the Offices of the Church; however, its rubrical directions conflict in some cases with our own and it is not always clear whose rubrical directions are more consistent with the Typikon which both traditions use.

[6] Most rubrical directions given here apply in serving the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, which differs from St. John’s Liturgy, for the purposes of the present work, mainly in the length of its prayers. What rubrical differences do exist will be cited in footnotes.

[7]There are many good reasons for the clergy to go into the altar upon arriving at the Church and to make preparations for serving before praying the Entrance Prayers in front of the Holy Gates. Nevertheless, in such cases the clergy still must pray these prayers in front of the Gates

                —The Riassa (Rason) or outer cassock, is the ordinary garment of the Orthodox clergy, and under it is worn a Podriassnik (Anteri), or inner cassock. In parishes in the Russian tradition, the Riassa is reserved to Deacons, Priests, Bishops, and Monks, while in Greek Orthodox parishes, Psalmists or Readers may be observed to wear a Rason. In dioceses observing Russian practice, at the end of the Divine Liturgy at which a Deacon has been ordained, that Deacon, after consuming the Gifts and praying, with the Priest, the conclusion of the Thanksgiving Prayers after Holy Communion, approaches the Hierarch that ordained him to receive appropriate special counsel and a blessing to wear the Riassa. Whatever the custom of an individual Deacon or Priest outside the Temple, within the Temple the Riassa is always worn except when the Deacon’s or Priest’s Sticharion must be worn.

                —Clergy who have the privilege of wearing a skufia or kamilavka during Divine Services enter the church wearing this headgear, and when they come into the altar, they take it off in order to kiss the Holy Table, then they put it back on again and go out in front of the Holy Doors to read the Entrance Prayers. And they stand with covered heads until the reading of the troparion, "Thine immaculate Icon...” whereupon they must take off their skufias and kamilavkas in order to kiss the Icons of the Savior and of His Mother and to recite the prayer, "Stretch forth Thy hand...” It’s best to leave the headgear off then until they have kissed the Holy Table, especially since some kiss St. Michael’s Icon on the south door as they enter.

                —No sacred vestments at all are worn during the reading of the Entrance Prayers, since none of the appropriate prayers for donning them has been read. (Bulgakov, p. 80l and p.575.) Also see the Endnotes.

                —At a collective celebration (more than one Priest and/or Deacon) the clergy gather in the altar and station themselves about it according the prescribed order. They kiss the altar, then exit it to begin the prayers: those on the right side going out the south door and those on the left going out the north door after the one presiding.

[8] As for the question whether a Deacon may read the Entrance Prayers by himself when he is, for example, late, Bulgakov states, correctly, that it is the Deacon's responsibility to be subordinate to the Priest, to be at the latter's disposal upon his arrival at the church, and the Deacon is obligated to read the prayers together with the Priest, as prescribed in the service books.

[9] Bulgakov, following the precedent of the Arkhieratikon, which apportions the troparia to the hierarch, here apportions them to the Priest; however, nowadays, in most places, everything save the initial blessing, the exclamation of the Lord’s Prayer, Stretch forth Thine hand, and Forgive, pardon and remit, is said by the Deacon.

[10]At a collective celebration, all the clergy, after the recitation of A fountain of tenderness art thou, O Theotokos, make three prostrations together and venerate the Icons in order. Then all the Priests read with bowed heads the prayer, Stretch forth Thy hand. After reading this, they bow to each other. Those on the left bow to those on the right and vice versa, then all bow to the people.

[11]The Deacon first intones: “Let us pray to the Lord.”

--In contemporary practice the Priest (or Bishop) also reads the prayer, Forgive, pardon, and remit, O Lord, right after Stretch forth Thy hand, then makes three reverences from the waist and only after that turns to the people.

[12]The Priest kisses the Holy Gospels, then the Altar Table: the Deacon kisses the hand-cross that lies on the Altar Table, then the Altar Table.

                —At a collective celebration, all first come in and stand at their places, according to seniority, then they do these reverences and the kissing. After doing this they go to vest themselves. In some places they all kiss hands mutually with the Rector, or other presiding Priest, before going to vest.

                The order of standing according to seniority at a collective celebration is as follows:  The most senior (i.e., the one who is presiding) stands in front of the Holy Table, alone,  and the rest stand on the right and left sides of the Table (or analogion, if they are standing at one during e.g., Vigil) facing it. The second in rank (i.e., first after the presiding Priest) stands first on the right hand side (south). The third in rank stands first on the left-hand side (north). The fourth in rank stands on the right hand side, east of the second in rank, and so they alternate back and forth. Seniority is determined is various ways; however, no matter how it is determined, the general principle holds that only one stands before the Altar Table or analogion—the  presiding Priest. The rest stand on the right and left sides, facing the Altar Table or analogion, except when they must cross themselves and bow to the East (known as "praying to God") or to the presiding Priest.


[13]Vesting before the Divine Liturgy is more solemn than at other services. Ordinarily, the Priest simply blesses each article, crosses himself and kisses the cross sewn on the vestment before donning it (usually it is the Epitrakhelion, Phelonion and Cuffs), without pronouncing any special prayers at all (and the Service Books for other services do not refer to any such special vesting prayers). (See also the Endnote: “Tips on Vesting”) Before Divine Liturgy, however, the Priest vests in every vestment belonging to his rank and pronounces a verse from Holy Scriptures over it before putting it on. The only other times a Priest vests in all his sacred vestments are these: a) for the Paschal Nocturnes/Matins aggregate (Russian: "Zautren'a"), b) for Paschal Vespers, c) at Vespers of Great Friday before bringing out the Epitaphion, and c) at three Matins services during the course of the year (1st of August, 14th of September, and Cross-Veneration Sunday) before bringing out the Precious Cross. But on all these occasions the prayers are not read, unless the Divine Liturgy follows immediately after the Matins.

[14]The Deacon, as likewise all church servitors blessed to wear a Sticharion, has, even prior to the Entrance Prayers (see above, note #7 and End-notes) folded the Sticharion neatly into a square with the back of the vestment on top. It must be held then, folded on his outstretched forearms so that the neck is closest to the Deacon, thus enabling the Priest to make the sign of the cross upon the vestment right side up. (See also the Endnote: “Tips on Vesting”) It may be noted here that some Sticharia have the holy cross embroidered within the borders of the framed area on the upper part of the vestment, especially Sticharia used only by church servitors (see glossary), while the Sticharia worn by Deacons have, properly, the holy cross embroidered below the framed area.

[15]If the Rector is in the church, then, even if the Rector is not serving, Deacons, psalmists, etc., ask his blessing for vesting in the sacred vestments.

[16]The Typikon says (chs. 7 & 9), explaining this, "(kissing) on top, where the cross is," and "(kissing the) cross which is on top of them."  In general, at vesting, the cross on each vestment is kissed, and this is done by every Servitor as each vests in each sacred garment. While this is not mentioned in the Service Book, most follow the pious custom of kissing the Priest's hand when he places it atop the vestment(s) upon blessing it (them).

[17]Nowadays the accepted practice is for the Deacon to prepare the Prothesis (Table of Oblation) while awaiting the arrival of the Priest at the Temple  by fetching the covers and the aer, placing the vessels in order, and placing the spear at the plate for the Priest. However the Service Books prescribe that all this would be done by the Deacon after Entrance Prayers and vesting, i.e., in full vestments.

                —Further, in some places, e.g., Jerusalem, the Service Books in use prescribe that the Deacon would recite the troparion of the Pre-feast of Christ's Nativity, Prepare, O Bethlehem, while setting the vessels in order for the Proskomedia.

[18]The chalice should be placed to the right of the diskos (i.e., from the aspect of the servers). It should be placed so that the side on which the face of Our Lord Jesus Christ is depicted faces the servers. That side is called the face of the chalice. The sides are the sides of the chalice where the faces of God's Mother and of St. John the Theologian (or Forerunner) are depicted, while the back is the side with the image of the Precious Cross on it.

[19]Bulgakov expressed an official opinion that since only ordained clergy, i.e., Deacons and above, may dare to touch sacred items, altar servitors may not touch the covers and the aer. Whether or not covers and aer are to be included amongst "sacred items," the proscription should not extend to the Subdiaconate in any case, since these are allowed to remove from and place on the very Altar Table the dikiri and trikiri, as well as open and close the Holy Gates.

[20]There are no differences in the vesting prayers between Russian, Greek, or other traditions; however in Jerusalem the phrases, Let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy, are prescribed to be uttered by the Deacon before each vesting verse, not only in the hierarchical, but also the Priestly order of serving Divine Liturgy.

[21]The Nabedrennik is usually worn under the Belt and over the right thigh, unless the Priest also has been awarded the Palitza. In this latter case, the Palitza goes on the right and the Nabedrennik on the left. These garments, as all awards, should be worn every time full vestments are prescribed, making no distinction between "every-day" and festal days. Certainly, the Priest who saves the "best" vestments for Great Feasts while wearing an "ordinary" vestment for the Sunday/Resurrection celebration would seem to have a poor understanding of liturgical priorities.

                —The prayer, Gird thy sword...  is the Prayer of the Palitza, but it is used for the Nabedrennik as well, there being no special prayer on record for the Nabedrennik, which was introduced into the Russian Church, but no other Orthodox Church, in the 19th century, according to Archimandrite Cyprian (Kern).

[22]Doing the Proskomedia in less than full vestments is not acceptable, for it contradicts both the letter and spirit of the Orthodox liturgical (service) books. There is one qualification, however, and that is that awarded skufiyas and kamilavkas are not donned yet. Awarded headgear represents a certain authority that is not required in doing the Proskomedia. Even a hierarch, according to the Arkhieratikon’s rubrics, takes off his episcopal miter before completing the Proskomedia at the time of the Great Entrance.

—After the Proskomedia, before the beginning of the Liturgy of the Catechumens, skufiyas and kamilavkas are put on, and they are kept on, except during the reading of the Holy Gospel, until the Cherubicon.

—For the censing which concludes the Proskomedia, a Deacon who has been awarded the kamilavka, or one who wears one in virtue of being a monk, would put it on.

—For a collective service, one Priest does the Proskomedia: he is the youngest or the one whose turn it might be according to a cathedral's roster. According to the traditional service books, only that one Priest may take out particles "in remembrance of..." or "for the health and salvation of..." while co-serving Priests should supply the names to him of any whom they wish to be commemorated. The practice of co-serving Priests being provided each his own Prosphora with which to make his personal and permanent remembrances, in the manner of a Hierarch, however, is quite widespread.

—The Deacon, fully vested, takes part with the Priest in the Proskomedia, as the Service Book assumes. In Russia the Deacon who did not take part in the Proskomedia by reason of laziness or aversion would be denied Holy Communion at the given Liturgy. ("Church Tidings," 1890. pp. 26, 42.)

—It is completely unacceptable for the Proskomedia to be accomplished at another time: for example, during the First Hour on the eve. Not only is this disorderly, relative to the order of the Service Book, but it also entails, in fact, beginning Divine Liturgy without Entrance Prayers and not in full vestments.

[23]  While it is true, demonstrably, that at different times and places, a varying number of prosphora has been used (even up to seven of them) the Service Books authorized for use by clergy of the Diocese of the West, Orthodox Church in America, clearly require the use of five Prosphoras for Divine Liturgy, a usage mandated by Nomocanon 213. (The Archpriest, Basil Rhodes, and others has informed me that multiple loaves, i.e., five, are used in the Greek monasteries on the Holy Mountain Athos, as well.)  Nevertheless, only one of the five is set forth and prepared for the Mystery Itself, and the Mystery is not served even on all of that Prosphora, but only on that part of it which is called the "Lamb". And we commune from only one bread, the Lamb (I Corinthians X: 17). There are cases where five Prosphora could not be obtained for the Liturgy, as when a Priest would have to give Communion to a dying person and there was no "Reserved Sacrament" (and Divine Liturgy had not already been celebrated), and five Prosphora were not available. If there would be only, in this case, one Prosphora, then particles could be taken out of the sides remaining after the taking out of the Lamb. It would be wise for the parish Priest to keep several Prosphora in the church every week for such emergencies, to prevent this difficult situation.

       —An experienced Priest will usually have more than five Prosphora at hand before starting any Divine Liturgy, probably seven, to allow for the unexpected.

       —If it happens that a Priest has only five Prosphoras, and he fails in his first try to cut out the Lamb, or the first Prosphora is found to be defective, and then the Priest has to take a second Prosphora for the Lamb, then he would take the Theotokos particle out of the third, the nine ranks out of the fourth, and both living and dead from the fifth. If like circumstances find him with only three Prosphoras, then, after taking the Lamb out of one, he takes both the Theotokos and the nine ranks from the other, and the particles for living and dead from the third, or, after taking the Theotokos particle out of the second, take out the nine ranks from the third, and then take the particles for the living and dead out of the sides of whichever Prosphora is more convenient. In an emergency, breads prepared for Litiya may be used, since these are made according to the Prosphora recipe. Since these are not imprinted as required, a Priest using them would have to at least inscribe the cross on them with spear.

       —Prosphoras to be used as Lambs must consist of two different round components, reflecting the two natures of Christ. Each little two-part loaf is separately formed and separately baked. Prosphora are not to be baked like “Parkerhouse” rolls, with no crust on the sides. And all must be imprinted by means of the traditional wooden stamp with a four-ended cross, and the letters IHC XC NI KA. Moreover, the Prosphora loaf to be used for the Lamb must be a little firmer than would be the case if it had been taken right out of the oven: it is easier to cut and retains its shape better on the Diskos. If it happens that the Prosphora is too fresh—hot from the oven—then the Priest may turn the Lamb over on the Diskos (after the piercing), bottom up, until "Singing the triumphant hymn, shouting, crying...” In general, the Priest must supervise and look after the baking of Prosphora conscientiously and zealously, especially in new parishes and missions.

[24]At the Table of Oblation the Priest, when he says the words: "Thou hast redeemed us from the curse of the law," kisses the Diskos; "by Thy precious the blood," kisses the rim of the chalice; "nailed to the cross," kisses star-cover; "pierced with the spear," kisses the spear; "Thou hast poured forth immortality upon man as from a fountain," kisses the spoon; "O our Savior, glory to Thee," kisses the cutting plate. Another practice is to kiss the plate with the image of the cross on it instead of the star-cover at the words, "nailed to the cross," and to kiss the second, "Theotokos", plate instead of the cutting plate at the end. This is done according to an unwritten rule, and it is motivated by pious feelings toward the Eucharistic vessels.

       —The Priest does not speak in a loud voice when uttering the prayers of the Proskomedia, in order not to disrupt the reading of the Hours which takes place at the same time; on the other hand, he must read loud enough to be heard by the Deacon.

[25]While the Service Books direct the Priest to take the Prosphora in his left hand, most Priests interpret this to mean, when applied to the loaf from which the Lamb will be cut, that the Priest grasps the loaf with his left hand, steadying it, but actually cuts the Lamb while it remains on the cutting plate. This applies to the Theotokos and Nine-rank loaves as well. Many Priests do, on the other hand, find it convenient to hold the loaves for commemorating the Faithful in hand while removing the particle(s).

[26]This cutting is done on a slant on each side, so that the bottom of the Lamb will be slightly larger & wider than the top; moreover, each side is cut off completely—all the way down. If a square border marks off the seal, the cuts are started either on the border or outside it. On days when many communicants are expected, then one cuts out a larger Lamb: this is effected by starting with a larger (higher) prosphora and starting the downward slicing further outside the borders of the seal.

         —The pieces remaining from the cutting of the Lamb are the actual Antidoron. In earlier times there was some danger that pious but unlearned people would consider these as being the body of Christ. It had to be emphasized that these portions are not left on the Diskos during the holy Change of the Bread into the Body of Christ. Nowadays, one may hear an even stranger opinion: that all the particles on the Diskos are changed into the Body of Christ! This opinion is used to justify a practice of placing all the particles into the chalice before the people's communion, even using words such as: “It is not for us to say that the Lord is only changing the Lamb!” However, even if this dubious rationale would be conceded, we must still commune from only ONE BREAD, THE LAMB, as the Apostle states so clearly. And the particles must be placed into the Chalice not as Communion but after Communion, as commemoration of those they represent and while praying for the washing away of their sins in Christ's Blood. (Remembering, as will be repeated below, that the Theotokos particle is, by holy custom, placed separately into the chalice, before the enunciation of those words, "Wash away...")

[27]"Right" here means from the aspect of the seal, in other words, the priest's left side: down the side of NI.


[28] The Priest must take care to make these cuts deep enough so the Lamb may be neatly divided at the time of the fraction, while, at the same time, being careful not to cut all the way through. If he should do this latter, then he must start over, in order to have one bread.

         —-The remainder of the loaf left after taking out the Lamb goes together with the remainder from the other loaves of Prosphora.



[29]  The Priest must actually pierce the Lamb, not just make a pointing gesture at it. Here, again, the right side is the right side of the Lamb—the left side of the Priest. Most Priests anchor the Lamb with one finger of the left hand while crossing over the left hand with the right hand that holds the spear and then piercing downward into the side of the portion labeled NI.

[30]In other words, the Priest blesses the uniting right after piercing the Lamb in the Lamb's right side.

        —Certain older editions of our Priest's Service Book (13th-15th centuries) and some Greek editions prescribe that while blessing the union the Priest would pronounce the words, "The uniting of the Holy Spirit, always, now and ever..."

Our present day service books do not prescribe this or any other phrase ("Blessed is our God...", "In the Name of the Father and..."). Bulgakov, citing this and other printed instructions of the day, clearly states that nothing should be pronounced by the Priest here: the blessing itself is sufficient to permit the Deacon to pour into the chalice the wine and water.

        —In some places the Deacon pours from two cruets into the chalice while the Priest blesses. In other places the Deacon pours some wine and water into a separate cup before asking the blessing: the Priest blesses the already mixed wine and water as the Deacon pours from this cup into the chalice.

[31] There is a custom, observed mostly in southwestern Russia, of taking the Theotokos particle out of a specially made "Theotokos Prosphora" (i.e., a Prosphora imprinted with an image of the Mother of God and with the letter "M" for "Maria" on it.). This does not mean, even in the indicated area, that one cannot take the Theotokos particle from a Prosphora not having that imprint, because this is strictly a local usage: the rule which applies everywhere in the Russian Church actually demands that all the Prosphoras used at the Proskomedia would have the same imprint—the cross with four arms or points, and the inscription: IHC.XC.NI.KA, and Bulgakov writes that this is therefore always the case in northeastern Russia. He points out the decision of the 1667 Moscow Council on the same topic and the same prescription in the “Novaya Skrizhal" (“The New Tablet” by Archbishop Benjamin). He also, however, remarks that, at the time he was writing, the practice of using a special Theotokos Prosphora was creeping in with great force throughout Russia—in Lavras and the Cathedrals they were not only using Theotokos Prosphoras but special "Saints" and "Feast" Prosphoras as well!


[32]For the disposition of the particles, see the diagram in the Service Book.

[33] The Priest doing the Proskomedia may, while taking particles from the "nine-ranks Prosphora", along with the prophets, hierarchs, etc., commemorate another saint or other saints not cited in the Service Book; for example, the saint whose name the Priest bears or an especially or locally venerated saint (in Novgorod, for example, Saint Anthony the Roman, etc.). Such a saint would be mentioned along with the other saints of his or her rank—a prophet with the prophets, a hierarch with the hierarchs, etc. If one reads the Service Book published in Kiev, one finds in the prayer "O God, save Thy people..." at Litiya and at Matins and in the printed dismissals that the holy hierarchs, princes, monks and nuns venerated in Kiev are printed, each in his place, with other saints of the same rank. See also below, at the Dismissal and during the Anaphora.

[34]The particles are placed to the left of the Lamb (on the Priest's right and in order vertically, not horizontally, according to the diagram in the Service Book.

        —The Service Books in use in the Greek Churches (and the newly published and excellent “Liturgikon” of the Antiochene brethren) commemorate not only sanctified human beings in the Proskomedia, but the Holy Angels as well! The Angels are remembered with the first particle (rank) taken from the Nine-rank Prosphora, using this formula:  "In honor and memory of the colossal commanding Michael and Gabriel, and all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven." St. John the Baptist is then not commemorated alone, but (first) in the second particle with the other named Prophets. I consider the practice of the Russian Church to be better. After all, the reason the Orthodox take out nine particles at all and consequently divide the Saints into nine ranks is because of the nine ranks of Holy Angels! What does it mean to “commemorate” all nine ranks of Angels on only one of nine particles?

       Bulgakov warns that there is no justification for designating the nine-rank Prosphora as being a material compensation for the Deacon and adds that the remainders from any Prosphora at all may only be distributed with the blessing of the Priest.

[35] Two larger particles are taken from the Prosphora for the living, and they are taken from the top layer of the Prosphora, in the center, just beneath the seal: the first is for the Metropolitan and the local Bishop and the Bishop who ordained the Priest, if living, and any other members of the hierarchy. The second may be taken out for the head of state, i.e., the President, but this is usually done only when the head of state is Orthodox. The second may also be taken out for the founders and benefactors of the temple or monastery. By taking two large particles out of the 4th Prosphora and one large particle out the 5th (see below), one can always distinguish these Prosphoras, if additional commemorations are to be made later. Small particles for the living are cut out going around to the left in a circle on the upper section of the Prosphora.

     —The practice of commemorating the civil authority (ies) is not fixed. Some are commemorating the President of the United States by (first) name. Some are commemorating only the function. Some are commemorating only "those holding the power", “the powers that be,  or "the civil authority of our land", etc. Historically, only an Orthodox was mentioned by name in any audible or secret prayer composed by the Church. Here, as elsewhere, the local ruling Bishop determines the proper practice for all the parishes under his omophorion.

[36]See footnote #31


[37] One large particle is cut out from the center of the area just below the seal. Little particles for the departed are taken out just as were those for the living. See above.

         —The particles offered for the saints, as also the living and the departed, do not have the same sanctifying and cleansing effectiveness as has, exclusively, Christ's sacrifice. They are, therefore, not consecrated into the Body of Christ and may not be given to the Faithful for Communion. At the same time, they have a great significance for those on whose behalf they are offered in showing the prayerful care of the Church for them and in their lying next to the Lamb and then being infused with the Blood of Christ they share in the giving of Grace. According to Augustine, in the case of the virtuous, they serve as a thanksgiving,; for the not completely bad they serve as a cleansing of sin; and even in the case of the completely lost, for whom because they are stubborn in their persistence they have no benefit, they nevertheless serve as a comfort for the living.

[38]  According to the strictest practice, other Priests, serving or not serving, do not take out particles for the living or departed, but only the Priest appointed, or whose turn it is, to do the Proskomedia. The participation of other Priests is, according to this practice, limited to their reading of names, while the Priest doing the Proskomedia takes out the particles. Even a lax practice does not permit a Deacon to take out particles. The Deacon reads the names and the Priest repeats "Remember O Lord" while taking out each particle.

        —-(Tonsured) readers/servers may also read names aloud.

        —-When there are a lot of names, the particles may be taken out from the bottom as well as the top of the Prosphora.

        —The direction to take out one particle for each name should be interpreted to mean "only one particle." One may refer to the case of the nine-rank Prosphora, where one particle is taken out for a whole class of saints, many of them named. From time to time, bad practices have arisen, such as taking out 40 particles for one departed soul, as a substitute for remembering it at daily Divine Liturgy for 40 days! That is the reason for the stricture: "one particle" for each name, not in order to insure that every name has a corresponding particle removed from the Prosphora.

        —-Nothing prohibits a Priest from taking particles for both the living and the departed from one and the same Prosphora offered by a member of the Faithful.

        —-When at the Proskomedia a Memorial booklet is sent into the altar without bread, the Priest takes the particles from the "Service" Prosphoras for the living and departed.

        —-In those places where for the most part the Memorial booklets are sent in without Prosphoras [whether through ignorance or because the offering of bread with the booklet does not accord with parish usage (as, especially, in formerly Uniate parishes)], then the Prosphora-maker must be careful to make the Service Prosphoras which will be used for the living and departed of a larger size on memorial days.



[39]It is allowed to take particles from Prosphoras for the living and the departed right up to the Great Entrance—In the Hierarchs' Service Book ("Chinovnik") it is stated that before the Great Entrance the hierarch remembers the Lord Emperor and the whole Reigning House, the Holy Synod, and the other Orthodox...Thereupon the rest of the those serving approach the hierarch... “and they make memory of whomsoever they will of the living, saying only the name.”

     —-A Priest should not allow someone to read the names from a memorial booklet or paper when he himself is not there at the table of Oblation to take out particles from the Prosphora offered with the booklet or paper.

     —-Since after the Communion of the Faithful all the particles must be submerged in the chalice the Priest must take care that on days when there are an extraordinarily large amount of commemorations either more wine is placed in the chalice in the service of the Proskomedia or that he takes out extremely small particles.

[40] If the Proskomedia is being accomplished at a Hierarchical celebration, then all the text following is omitted. The Hierarch will read the prayer, “O God the heavenly Bread..” during the Great Litany. He will read the remaining prayers at the time of the Great Entrance after he takes out particles, and the Deacon will assist him as he covers the gifts according to the rite through “Blessed art Thou, O our God, Who art thus well pleased, glory to Thee.” Here, then, at an Hierarchical celebration,  the Priest will simply, with censing, cover the gifts with the Star-Cover, the small Covers and the Aer, saying nothing at all. In some places these actions are done now without even censing.

[41]Kissing the star-cover when it is censed before placing it over the Diskos, and kissing the small covers and the aer before covering with them the Diskos and chalice, is the practice of many Priests, and there is nothing wrong with it, since on them all is the image of, at least, the cross.

     —-The Deacon should, for the censing of the star-cover and the two small covers, as well as for the blessing of the Censer, hold the Censer this way: after pulling up the chain which is attached to the cover of the Censer, so that the cover is raised above the cup of the Censer three or four inches, he reaches down and grasps the cup of the Censer on its bottom and tilts it, open, toward the Priest, displaying the coal and burning incense to the gaze of the Priest, and so that the Priest may hold the star-cover, and small covers, over the smoke, retaining some in these items as he places them over Diskos and chalice.

[42]See note 40.

[43]See note 40.

[44]See note 40.

[45]While it is clear from the Typikon that the Altar Curtain is opened for the first time at Divine Liturgy only at the moment the Deacon or the Priest (when there is no Deacon) who accomplished the Proskomedia begins the censing, many have adopted the custom of opening the curtain at the blessing for the beginning of the Hours. That is a mistake: the opening of the curtain, like the censing, has nothing to do with the reading of the Hours, both actions are preliminaries of the Divine Liturgy; indeed, whenever the Hours are otherwise read, it is quite clear that the service of the Hours not being an Altar Service, is a service of the Narthex, and when the Curtain and Doors are opened during the Hours, that is so the Celebrant may bear forth the Book of the Gospels, as at the Imperial Hours at the Nativity and Theophany and the Hours of the Great Friday.

     —The blessing for the beginning of the Hours should be given by the Priest performing the Proskomedia so that the conclusion of their reading will coincide with the time of the beginning of the Liturgy of the Catechumens. In most places this reading takes about twenty minutes; therefore, if the scheduled time for the beginning of the Liturgy of the Catechumens on Sunday were to be at, say, the canonically prescribed time of 9:00 am, then the Priest would pronounce the Blessing at approximately 8:40 am. Since some Priests are able to perform the entire Proskomedia in about twenty minutes, they pronounce the initial blessing of the Proskomedia aloud, thus simultaneouslyblessing the beginning of the Hours as well. This would be, of course, impossible in those places where most or all of the Faithful are offering Prosphora and Commemorations and/or or where there are a large number of "permanent" commemorations, since the Service of the Proskomedia would take longer than twenty minutes, perhaps an hour or so.

     —Here a full censing of the Temple is prescribed, and this is described in the above-cited chapter of the Typikon and in greater detail as an Endnote (which see below) to this document.

[46]In the Priest's Service Book there are no directions to raise up the hands at the very beginning of Liturgy, at the Cherubim Hymn, and before the Consecration of the Gifts. But this is a universal practice. Some, with the words, "O God, cleanse me..." make three waist reverences and three elevations of the hands. Some lift their hands at each separate prayer: "O Heavenly King," (1), "Glory to God..."(2), and "Glory to God..."(3). Others lift their hands thus:  "O Heavenly King..."(1), "Glory to God" (twice)(2), and "O Lord, open Thou my lips..." (3), although Bulgakov clearly states, "The exclamation, 'O Lord, open Thou lips’ said without lifting the hands." Most, according to my personal observation, in the Diocese of the West, make three reverences from the waist with the threefold repetition of "O God, cleanse me...", and only lift up their hands at "O Heavenly King.." and the rest as above. Four liftings of the hands is not received.

     —At Pascha and during Paschal-tide, the rubric must be observed which requires that all Services begin with the threefold repetition of "Christ is risen from..." as also the other rubric that "O Heavenly King" is not read at all, at the beginning or elsewhere, until Pentecost. Some, with little justification, interpret these two separate rubrics as one rubric, that "Christ is risen..." replaces, or is a substitute for e.g., "O Heavenly King" or " O Come, let us worship.."  That’s not true. The best way to observe the two rubrics at this point is, at Pascha and during Paschal-tide, to read on the place of “O heavenly King,” at the first elevation of the hands, "Christ is risen from..." three times, then at the second raising of the hands to read the first "Glory to God in the highest..." and continue as usual.

[47]The repetition of the Troparion: “Christ is risen” is discussed in the previous footnote. What is read between the Dismissal of Pascha and the Feast of the Trinity?

— At the Liturgy on the Feast of the Ascension, the Troparion of the Ascension is read, followed by “Glory to God...” The Dismissal of the Ascension falls on the Friday before Trinity.

— On Saturday, which is Trinity Memorial Saturday, the Troparion of the Departed, “O Thou Who with wisdom profound...” then, “Glory to God...” (The same Troparia are sung in place of “We have seen the True Light.”) (see below)

[48] “The Deacon, recognizing his lower station, is satisfied to kiss the trapeza only; the Priest, however, gives the glory to Christ Himself by kissing the Gospel, which signifies Christ the King, sitting on the Throne”. (From the "New Tablet" and from the "Church Tidings" of 1890, page 42)

     —At a collective service, after the Proskomedia and the reading of the Hours, all the Priests stand around the Altar Table by seniority. The prayers with raised hands before the beginning of the Liturgy are read audibly only by the one that is presiding, and only he lifts up his hands, while the other Priests only make three prayerful reverences to the Table in expectation of the sending down of the Grace of the Holy Spirit and assistance with the Liturgy. Usually, the presiding Priest kisses the Gospel and all the rest of the Priests and the Deacon kiss the altar table. After that all bow to the one presiding and then to each other.

[49]The Priest makes the sign of the Cross, blessing the Deacon, whereupon the Deacon kisses his hand.

[50]Here is the pattern Deacons follow when leaving their place at the southwest corner of the Altar Table to exit the Altar. They make the sign of the cross, bow, kiss the Altar Table, stride to the High Place and, just before crossing over the North side, make the sign of the Cross again, bow to the High Place (East), an action frequently described as “praying to God,” turn and bow (of course, without another sign of the Cross) to the Celebrant and then go out the North door. The preceding word, “stride,” is deliberately chosen. The Orthodox Deacon does not tip-toe, take “baby-steps,’ shuffle, stoop while walking, or make any other exaggerated gestures or motions of individual piety or submissiveness so beloved in the individualistic Western liturgical world. The Deacon remembers he is a servant, to be sure, but of the All Highest.

[51]Here, as elsewhere, while the Deacon makes his exclamation he raises his right hand, holding the Orarion with three fingers. In his left hand he hold his Service Book. He, like the Priest, does not, except in extraordinary or difficult circumstances, intone from memory. He does not point with his Orarion at anybody or anything unless specifically directed to do so by the Service Book (as at the Words of Institution).

[52]At this time the Priest makes the sign of the cross with ("lifts up a little") the lower edge of theGospel upon the Altar Table, east west, north and south and then lays the Gospel on the Altar Table. This action is prescribed in the Chinovnik, but in practice it has become "received practice" at a Priest's Service.

The sign of the Cross must be made large enough and high enough so that those praying in the Church may detect it. This holds true for all signs of the Cross by Priests: they must be described in the air so that the People are able to observe them. A good rule would be to always make the sign at least as large as if one were standing facing an adult and placing the tips of one’s fingers on the person’s forehead, stomach, and both shoulders. Under no circumstances should an Orthodox sacred server be concerned with such trifles as whether or not he appears to be humble or proud. The humble sacred server is marked by obedience. Any injunctions to make the sign of the Cross as small as possible come from sources outside Orthodox liturgical Tradition.

—The Priest, like the Deacon, does not read or pray or intone from memory, but reads from his Service Book. To underline this, the Priest is given a Service Book with the other essentials of liturgizing at his ordination. See Hapgood (and elsewhere): “This they do also...with the Service Book, which is given to him as his guide in the holy ministry; for he saith not from memory the Prayers, but readeth them.”

—Since the Priest must read from his Service Book and since both hands are not always free to hold the book, a fully appointed Altar will have an analogion at (but not on) the Northwest corner of the Holy Table on which to place the Service Book. This analogion usually also has a device attached to it enabling the Paschal Triple Candlestick to be kept at hand during Paschaltide. The tradition we have received does not permit placing anything at all on the Holy Table save what is prescribed; hence, the Service Book is not placed on the Table, neither is a Roman Catholic-style reading stand placed on it. The Holy Table is clearly set aside at its consecration to be “glorified above the Mercy Seat” and to be the “abode of the Lord of Glory.” At the conclusion of the liturgical blessing of any object, icon, sacred vestment, etc., the Priest touches it or lays it upon the Holy Table, and this is the conclusion of that blessing; hence, anything placed upon the Altar Table is presumed to be sanctified thereby and holy. A Service Book placed upon the Altar would thus become an object for veneration.

[53] The Deacon makes the sign of the Cross and then a reverence from the waist after every petition. He holds his Orarion up high with the three fingers of his right hand while pronouncing each petition. He pronounces the petition loudly, clearly, and without rushing, in the hearing of all. The Deacon must remember that he is leading God's people in prayer, not dominating their prayers. He must avoid, therefore, expressing anything by way of personal idiosyncrasies, such as original and florid melodies, dramatic increases and decreases in volume and tempo or ostentatious displays of humility of posture. (No matter how hard a given Deacon might attempt to serve "exactly like everyone else", the personal characteristics given him by God will be apparent to all, just as the Iconographer who is most faithful to the lineaments prescribed in the canonical books will be unable to prevent his own characteristics from appearing.)  At the same time, no Deacon should serve in such a colorless, aristocratic, and condescending monotone as to dull the sensibilities of the Faithful and thereby tempt them into daydreaming. And no church server at all should be indifferent to the esthetic of corporate Eucharistic worship. One must give thanks to God when the Deacon has a beautiful voice and is sensitive to melody—"has an ear." Neither would one, analogously, find it appropriate for a person blind from birth to make holy Icons. The clergy not only chant the petitions of the litanies and make exclamations or chant the Scriptures: they are expected to sing according to the canonical melodies as well: Magnification at Matins, the refrain (Deacon's refrain) before the ninth canticle of the canon at a Great Feast, the "Come, let us worship..." at the All-Night Vigil, the Ikos at the sixth ode of the canon at funerals and panikhidas, "O come let us worship..." at a Hierarchical Service, "O Gladsome Light" at a Hierarchical Presanctified Liturgy, etc. If a Deacon is "tone deaf", this means he cannot carry out an important part of his service adequately. Those who call themselves to Church Service or experience an “Inner Call” like that claimed by the divines of Enlightenment Germany or Pietistic Europe, a la Meister Eckhardt or Johann Arndt without humbly waiting the carefully considered call from the Church might consider such things.

—Bulgakov expresses the opinion that the basis of the phrase: “the Diaconate in Christ,” namely, “en Cristw” is a variant on “eucrhstou” i.e., useful, beneficial.

—See also an Endnote on additions to the Great Litany “on occasion.”

[54]While during the portion of an Hierarchical celebration where the Hierarch has not entered the Altar Deacons do not go to stand on the Deacon’s customary, designated place in the center before the open or closed Holy Gates, so as not to block the Hierarch’s visual access to the East, but intone the Litanies before either the Savior’s or the Theotokos’ Icon on the Iconostasis, no such restriction applies or need apply elsewhere: neither at a “Priestly” celebration nor at a Hierarchical celebration when the Hierarch or Priest is in the Altar, facing the East. In all the Orthodox Service Books the rubric directing the Deacon to leave his place and go stand before the Icon of Christ or of the Theotokos is placed after the Exclamation. Further, the diaconal petitions, the secret prayer, the responses of the Choir (People), and the Exclamation constitute one unity, one entity of Prayer. There can be no question of “taking turns.” The Exclamation simultaneously concludes both the Litany petitions and the Secret Prayer. It constitutes a similar mistake when a Deacon continues to make his intonations before the Icon and not before the Holy Doors after the Hierarch has entered the Altar

[55]This prayer is not titled: Prayer of the Great Litany at Liturgy, for it is not. A frequently expressed opinion has it that the exclamation of the Great Litany is the conclusion of this Prayer and that the prayer should be read before the exclamation, moreover aloud. This is dubious, since every Great Litany ends with the same exclamation, just as the exclamation of and Litany occupying the second place, e.g., the First Little Litany after the Great Litany, is always “For Thine is the strength (might)..” and, after the Third, “For Thou art a Good God...” Thus the character of the litany and its place in the service determines the exclamation, not the content of any prayers occurring in proximity. A more likely proposition would be that these prayers, named, respectively, Prayers of the First, Second, and Third Antiphon, were always read during the singing of the Antiphons, or in connection with this singing (and the Litanies were inserted much later) as was the custom throughout the Orthodox Church, until very recent times, everywhere.

—See also an Endnote on prayers “in secret.”

[56]Daily antiphons are to be found printed in a traditional Service Book, the Irmologion, and at the end of  the Book of Apostolic Readings (“Apostol”). These antiphons are sung on those (week) days when, according to the Ordo for the Liturgy of the Saint or other commemoration of the Day, there is no direction to sing troparia from the Canon at the Beatitudes (Typikon, ch. 21). The widespread practice of ignoring this rule and always singing Typical Antiphons is to be deplored. On days when according to the Orthodox Typikon Daily Antiphons are prescribed, they must be sung.

[57]The Typical Antiphons are printed in the Irmologion. They are sung on weekdays when there is no direction to sing selections from the Menaion or Triodion Canon; on Sundays; on Feasts with Great Doxology, Polyeleos and Vigil; on Pre-feasts, Post-feasts, and Dismissals of Feasts; and for all the period of the Pentecostarion.

[58]Festal Antiphons are sung on: January 6, August 6, September 14, December 25, Palm Sunday, all Bright Week, on the Lord’s Ascension, and on the Day of Pentecost.

[59] “Beatitudes” (or our Lord’s teachings on blessedness augmented with troparia from a Canon) make up the Third Typical Antiphon. In the Oktoechos, there are specially composed and printed troparia “on the Beatitudes.” The troparia prescribed to be sung “on the Beatitudes” in the Menaion or Triodion are troparia from the matins Canon(s). If we read, in the Typikon or other Liturgical prescription, “Beatitudes of the tone,” or “Beatitudes of the Eight-tone System," that refers to the troparia “on the Beatitudes” in the Oktoechos. If we read “Beatitudes from the 3rd (or 6th, or 3rd and 6th) Ode of the Saint,” that refers to the Canon in the Menaion. If we read “Beatitudes of the Feast,” that refers to troparia from the Festal Canon. If we read “Beatitudes of the Triodion,” that refers to troparia from the Triodion Canon. “On 4,” “on 6,” etc., indicates how many troparia are to combined with Beatitude verses. If the directions in the Menaion only indicate singing from the 3rd Ode, then (on weekdays except Saturday), four selections are to be sung from the Oktoechos and four troparia from the 3rd Ode of the Saint’s Canon in the Menaion. (On Saturdays the Menaion selections are sung before those from the Oktoechos.) If the directions in the Menaion indicate singing from the 3rd and 6th Odes “(on 8”), then the Oktoechos selections are to be omitted.

—See “Skaballanovich on the Beatitude Verses,” in an Endnote.

[60]The Holy Doors are opened for the Little Entrance with the Book of Gospels after the Little Litany and its Exclamation, “For Thou art a good God...” And they stay open for the reading of the Apostolic Selection and the Gospel (Priest’s Service Book). —At Liturgies of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom that begin with Vespers the Holy Doors are opened for the Little Entrance at Vespers and are closed after “O Gladsome Light” and the Prokeimenon. After the last Parable, however, they are opened during the Little Litany at the Exclamation, “For holy art Thou...” and remain open likewise for the Apostolic and Gospel readings.


[61]Even though now, according to accepted practice and usage, the Priest, after a triple reverence before the Altar Table, and then handing the Gospel to the Deacon before the Little Entrance, kisses it and the Altar Table and also after the Little Entrance, no such direction is to be found in writing in either the Priest’s Service Book or the Arkhieratikon. However, in the Arkhieratikon there is a direction for the Hierarch to kiss the Altar Table at the Little Entrance: “Entering the Altar, he kisses the Throne.”

–In some places, the Priest makes two waist reverences with the sign of the Cross (and while he is making two reverences, the Deacon is making three) before kissing the edge of the Altar Table together with the Deacon, picking up the Gospel, and handing it to the Deacon who, kissing the Priest’s right hand as he does so, takes the Gospel and, after the Priest has made his third reverence and sign of the Cross, precedes the Priest to the High Place, saying on the way, “Let us pray to the Lord.” The Priest prays the prayer of the Entrance at the High Place, both bow to it, then Deacon and Priest bow to each other before going out the North Door to stand before the Holy Gates.

[62]At a hierarchical Divine Liturgy, Priests do the Little Entrance with covered heads; therefore, says Bulgakov, “the usage of some, to take off their skufiyas and kamilavkas for the Little Entrance at a presbyterial Divine Liturgy, has no justification.”

—The Gospel should be supported by the Deacon’s hands alone: the only time he rests the top of it against his breast while holding it just with his left hand is at the time he exclaims, “Bless, Master, the Holy Entrance.” Then he has to point with his right hand. When he is holding it with both hands, however, he should not carry it too high, i.e., no higher than so that the bottom edge of the Gospel is as high as his shoulders. When he makes the sign of the Cross with it, intoning, “Wisdom. Attend” (see the Service Book and the Chinovnik), then he can raise the Gospel up somewhat. As for a Priest serving without a Deacon, he should carry it “upon his breast,” i.e., so that it leans upon his chest (Typikon, ch. 2) in just the way he is supposed to hold it for its kissing (by the Brethren/Faithful) at Matins. Of course, when he must make the sign of the Cross with it, he elevates it with both hands.

— When the singers get to the next-to-last Troparion of the Third Antiphon (i.e., when the Typical Antiphons are being sung with their prescribed Beatitude troparia, at the “Glory.” When festal antiphons are being sung, this would mean the next to last singing of the Festal Troparion.), this is the order to follow when more than one Priest is serving: the Rector (or other presiding Priest) makes three reverences (see preceding footnote) before the Altar Table, kisses the Gospel and gives it to the Deacon. At this time the Second Ranking Priest comes all the way around the Altar Table to the left of the Rector and they make a reverence before the Altar Table and kiss it, then go around the right side of the Altar Table behind the Deacon. After them the Third and Fourth Priests come before the Altar Table, reverence it, kiss it, and go behind the Rector, and so forth. And so they come out of the Altar, one after the other in order of seniority (while the Deacons go just the reverse, if there are more than one, the youngest first). And the Priests who stood on the right side of the Altar Table stand on the right outside the Altar: those on the left on the left, while the Rector stands in the center opposite the Holy Doors. The hand blessing towards the East, the uttering of the prescribed words and the kissing of the Gospel is done only by the Rector. Likewise only he, going into the Altar behind the Deacon, kisses the icons on both sides of the Holy Doors. The Rector also blesses the Taper-bearer. After that he kisses the Altar Table, makes a reverence and stands at his place. The other Priests do not bless, do not kiss the Gospel, and, as they go in the Altar behind the Rector, those who stood on the right kiss only the small icon of the Savior, those on the left that of the Theotokos, as they enter the Altar. In the Altar, when all are at their places, they all make a reverence to the Altar Table, kiss it, and then bow to the Rector.

— Bulgakov notes here that “The custom in women’s monasteries at the time of the Little Entrance at Liturgy to carry the Gospel over for the Hegumeness to kiss it, as likewise the custom of magnifying her by mentioning her in litanies as “All-honorable”has no justification whatsoever.”

--- It should be emphasized that the blessing given with the hand at the Little Entrance at Liturgy and a Vespers is imparted to the Candle-bearer(s), and not to the congregation. In the unlikely event of there being no candle bearer at all, then the Priest does not turn to the West at all.

[63] Deacons who travel to other dioceses and lands should keep in mind that, until rather recently, Deacons were trained to intone this “Let us pray to the Lord” aloud, interrupting the Beatitudes just before the last one: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad...” and the Choir would respond “Lord, have mercy.” This is not our custom.

[64] Going into the Altar at the Little Entrance of Liturgy as well as Vespers, the Priest, according to received practice, kisses the small icons hanging on the door-posts of the Holy Doors and blesses the Ponomar/Taper-bearer. First he kisses the icon on the South side, then turning to the West he makes the prescribed blessing, and finally kisses the icon on the North side (but if he is serving without a Deacon it is better to place the Gospel on the Altar before kissing the icons and blessing the Taper-bearer.) After placing the Gospel on the Altar Table, both Priest and Deacon make a reverence and kiss the latter.

[65] “Come let us worship…” is sometimes called “The Entrance Verse.” But the term “Entrance Verse” is more usually applied to those verses prescribed for Feasts of our Lord that the Deacon exclaims immediately after “Wisdom! Attend!” These sometimes represent an additional verse of the Third Antiphon

[66] Establishing the order of singing Troparia and Kontakia at the Divine Liturgy is not always simple, depending on the occasion and number of commemorations. Special rules apply, for example, to Pre-feasts and Post-feasts, and these or the Church’s annual edition of rubrics must be consulted. There is however a general rule that may be used in most cases: The Troparia are sung collectively before the Kontakia. Further, if there is a Troparion and Kontakion of our Lord or of one of His Feasts that is to be sung, then the Troparion and Kontakion of our Lord  will be sung first in both groups. If there is a Troparion of the Theotokos or of one of her Feasts, then it will be sung after the Lord’s Troparion, and before any Saint’s Troparion. A Saint’s Troparion would be sung in the third place, given three Troparia. On a typical Sunday, as well, even if there is no special commemoration of the Theotokos that day (and even if the Temple is not dedicated to her), a standard Theotokion/Kontakion concludes the singing of the Troparia and Kontakia. In a Temple of our Lord or of a Saint, it is the Kontakion: “Protrectress of Christians,” while in a Temple named after the Theotokos, it is the Kontakion of the Temple that comes in that place. There is an idiom that this Theotokion “covers” the rest.

[67] Here are the steps the Deacon takes, coming to this point: he leaves his place at the right of the celebrant, walks up to the High Place, prays, then turns and, after kissing the side of the Altar Table, leans over, hands extended, and says: “Bless, Master...etc.” After the Priest blesses him, the Deacon kisses his hand, as he also always does when a Priest hands him anything at all.

[68]I.e., here, the last of the Kontakia

[69] In America, Priests do not exclaim “O Lord, save the pious and hear us,” if they are serving without Deacons; however, it is correct for them to do so. The Holy Synod of the Church of Russia clearly stated this in 1997, detailing the procedures. Moreover, according to Bulgakov, the Russian pilgrim, A.N. Muraviev, who was in Constantinople on 12 March 1850 at the Divine Liturgy on Orthodoxy Sunday, celebrated by the Patriarch, observed that the Patriach himself exclaimed “O Lord, save the pious and hear us,” from the high cathedra, raising his gaze and arms upward.

[70] The Deacon has come out of the Holy Altar after kissing the Priest’s hand, and has pronounced, “O God, save the pious and hear us” while facing, from the center of the soleas, the Lord’s Icon. After the Priest has pronounced the Exclamation, ending with “now and ever,” the Deacon turns, facing the people. He lifts up the end of his Orarion, first towards the Right (south) Cleros, as he intones “And unto ages of ages,” and continuing across in an arc over the whole Church from south to north as he does so, prolonging the last “ages” until he has re-entered the Altar and gone up to the High Place, whereupon he crosses himself and bows to the Priest as the Choir sings “Amen,” and returns to his place next the Priest.

[71]According to the received procedures, when the choir sings “Amen” here, that is the signal for the Reader to leave his place (assumed in a monastery to be amongst the brethren on the kleros) and go into the Altar. There he makes a reverence to the East, then turns and bows to the celebrant as a request to be blessed for the ensuing Reading. The celebrant blesses the Reader and places his hand on the top of the Book of Apostolic Readings, and the Reader kisses it. He goes to the High Place, and, preparatory to passing across the High Place, makes the sign of the cross, bows to the High Place, turns and bows to the celebrant, then goes across the High Place and proceeds out the North Door to stand in the center of the nave, awaiting the “Peace.” The Reader when carrying this book carries it grasping it by the lower edge with his left hand, while the top of the book rests on his left shoulder, leaving his right hand free to make the sign of the Cross. He does not open the book until the end of his announcement of the title of the reading itself. This practice assumes he knows the Prokeimenon by heart. (The Prokeimena and Alleluiaria are printed in the rear of the “Apostol” (Orthodox book of Apostolic readings). It would be assumed that the Reader was skilled in the musical aspects of chanting and would be aware of the proper melodies (“tones”) of Prokeimena and Alleluias so that his responses would not only harmonize with the responses of the choir/people, but even “give them the pitch” for the proper execution of the prescribed melody. In practice, however, it was the Deacon upon whom this responsibility came to rest, and he would “give the pitch” according to the prescribed melody, with his first “Let us attend,” even before the Peace. A Deacon would have learned all the melodies when he was a Reader; moreover, he would be maintaining more frequent contact/liaison with the leader of the singers than most other Servitors.       

[72] In place of Holy God... on January 6th, December 25th, Lazarus Saturday, and Great Saturday, at every Liturgy from Pascha to the Dismissal of Pascha, and at Pentecost, “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ, alleluia,” and on the 3rd Sunday of the Great Fast and on September 14th “Before Thy cross...”

                ---The prescribed “Prayer of the Trisagion” is read in the very same way even when the Trisagion is replaced by “As many as have been” or “Before Thy cross.” In those cases, the Priest, mentioning “the thrice-holy hymn must think of the hymn that is replacing the Trisagion, and also read himself three times “As many,” or “Before Thy cross.”

[73] Our Orthodox Church in America’s Service Books are not clear here. Both the Liturgikon of the Antiochenes and the Slubzhebnik of the Moscow Patriarchate state clearly that the celebrant(s) make(s) three bows saying the Trisagion him(them)self(ves).Please see the Endnote: “Trisagion”, that shows how the quantity of utterances by the clergy are the same at both Priestly and Hierarchical Services. It must be emphasized that this is done separately from the Choir: the total number of times the phase is repeated will thus be the same as at a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy

—The celebrants quietly make three reverences, repeating each time, “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.” They do not repeat the Glory and the rest.

—Usually before going to the High Place the Priest kisses the Altar, but not the Gospel, and after him the Deacon serving with him (kisses the Altar). Then the Priest goes to the High Place and blesses it.

—At a conciliar celebration, after the Rector all the Priests, having kissed the Altar, stand on either side of the High Place according to seniority, i.e., the most senior closest to the Rector.

—It is not appropriate for a Priest to go to stand at the High Place itself, nor to sit there, but he should sit  or stand on the south side of it. According to the decisions of the Great Moscow Council of 1666-7, if any of the Priests permits himself to sit on the High Place (where the Hierarch’s place and seat is), then for this “disorder” and “transgression”, “he will be alienated from the Priesthood.”

[74] There is some diversity in the wording announcing the reading. The following examples are in order or precedence, the first being the most preferable, the last the least preferable: 1) “Reading from the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Galatians.” 2) “A reading from the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Galatians.” 3)  “The Reading from the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Galatians.”  The use of the word “The” makes a false implication that there is just one reading from that Epistle in existence.

---Commonly, our Readers read the Epistle reading(s) in an ascending tone, going up by half (sometimes quarter) steps, appropriately apportioned into about one octave (13 half-steps). If a Reader cannot make such distinctions, cannot tell the size of an interval,he should not attempt this, but attempt to read in a sustained straight tone, without wavering up or down for any emphasis except at the conclusion. Any reading that is to be followed by another such reading should end on a slight descending cadence. The last (or an only) Reading concludes on a rising cadence.

[75] This “Peace be to thee that readest”, or “Peace be to thee” is not spoken to the entire congregation assembled, but only individually to the reader that has here concluded the Apostolic reading and is about to continue by reading the Alleuiarion; therefore, it (and the reply, “And to thy Spirit”) are said in a low voice, un-intoned.

[76] The Reader should just announce the Alleluia and its tone, not himself sing it. The custom of the Reader saying straightaway after “Wisdom:” “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!” arose when the Alleluia verses had fallen into desuetude. If there are three verses prescribed, then the Reader announces the Alleluia and Tone followed immediately by the first verse. Then the Choir begins to sing Alleluia. Otherwise, the Choir responds by singing Alleluia three times as soon as the Reader has announced the Tone.

[77] If the Deacon does indeed only begin his pre-Gospel censing at this point, then he need cense only within the Altar as usual, including the Clergy and Servitors, and then, outside the Altar, towards the Icon over the Holy Doors, then the Icon of the Lord, the Icon of the Theotokos, before returning to cense the front of the Altar Table, the High Place, the Priest standing in first place, and then giving up the Censer.

[78] The accepted practice differs here. The Deacon receives the Gospel from the Priest, goes out onto the Soleas turns to face the East and places his Orarion over the top of an Analoy there, standing the Gospel upright upon it, bows his head on to the top edge of the Gospel and intones: “Bless, Master….” When the Priest has concluded the Prayer, “May God…” the Deacon stands upright and intones “Amen.” Another Deacon or the Priest (but not the Deacon who is about to read the Gospel) should intone “Wisdom! Attend! let us hear (NOT “listen to”) the Holy Gospel.”

[79] This “Peace”, like that to the Reader after the Apostolic reading, is private and not intoned aloud.

[80] Customarily the Priest blesses the Faithful by raising and making the sign of the Cross with the Gospel before placing it on the Altar Table.

[81] Although the Gates should be closed here, it is very usual to leave them open until the “Amen” of this Fervent Litany (and the Litany for the Departed, if one ensues).

[82] When the petition for the Hierarchy is intoned, the Priest opens the lower third of the Antimension, where the name of the Diocesan Hierarch is signed.