The Orthodox Pages
the Priest's handbook there are three different types of Vespers and two
for Great Lent. When are Small Vespers and the Daily Vespers without
entrance used and how? The Typikon (Rubrics) do not mention when Small
Vespers should be used instead of the usual Great Vespers.
Answer to Question 3.
With Small Vespers out of the way it remains to see when we use Great Vespers and when we use Daily Vespers without Entrance. Parish Churches serve the Liturgy on Saturdays, Sundays, on the Great feasts and on the feasts of popular Saints. On most of these days we find in the Menaia complete services for the feast or saint. If the saint in question does not have a complete service, it is often supplemented with specially printed pamphlets containing a complete panegyric service. On all these occasions, Great Vespers is sung. On days where the saint of the day does not have a complete service, the Daily Vespers without Entrance is used. If the Parish Priest only serves the Liturgy on the more popular feast-days, he will rarely have use of the Daily Vespers. If again the Parish Priest serves the 40 day liturgies before Christmas then on most of these days he will see that the saint of the day does not have a complete service and Daily Vespers is sung and not Great Vespers.
What needs to be said now is how the two Vespers differ. With Great Vespers, the Priest vests himself with the Epitrakhelion and Phelonion, the curtain and Royal Doors are opened and the Priest conducts the service from within the Sanctuary in front of the Holy Altar. At the singing of the Glory...Now and for ever... he will make the Entrance either with the censer or with the Gospel Book according to the Typikon. After the singing of "O Gladsome light", the Prokhimenon of the day, and prophetic readings if any, he will say the petitions beginning with "Let us all say with our whole soul, and with our whole mind, let us say." The reader will then recite the evening prayer “Vouchsafe O Lord” and the Priest will continue with the petitions "Let us complete our supplication unto the Lord."
Vespers without Entrance has a slightly different structure. Firstly the
Priest only vests with the Epitrakhelion. The curtain is opened, but the
Royal Doors remain shut throughout the service. The Priest does not
conduct the service from the Sanctuary, but stands in a seat outside
preferably by the Chanters. He will give the opening blessing in the usual
way and read silently the 7 evening prayers. After the Great Litany he
will enter the Sanctuary to prepare for the censing during the singing of
“Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense” and after the censing
will return to his place outside of the Sanctuary. At the Glory... Now and
for ever... he will not cense because there is no entrance. After the
singing of the Glory... Now and for ever..., he or the reader will
recite the hymn "O Gladsome light". Then after the Prokhimenon the reader
shall immediately recite the evening prayer “Vouchsafe O Lord”. The priest
then says the petitions "Let us complete our supplication unto the Lord."
and the rest up to the Doxology "Blessed and glorified is the power..."
The Choir continue with the Aposticha and then the Priest shall say the
“Song of Symeon” Lord, now lettest Thy servant depart in peace...Then
folows the Trisagion and the Lord’s Prayer, ending with "For Thine is the
kingdom, the power..." The choir sing the the Apolytikia hymns and
the Theotokion and then the Priest shall say the petitions beginning with
"Have mercy upon us, O God..." which are usually said after the entrance
with Great Vespers, but here have been moved to the end just before the
dismissal. (Notice that the first two petitions have been dropped)