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Question 102.



Dear Fr. Christopher,

The Orthodox Church, in which we live, is missionary and didn't get its start from a historical Orthodox church, thus we have questions about some liturgical procedures.
Here is the first question:
1 - Vestment of the priest in public or daily Vespers.
We have an indication, which is not confirmed in any Typikon we found on the internet, that the celebrant use only epitrachelion throughout the office. But we also have the indication that he should wear the Phelonion for "Joyous Light ...". What is the correct practice?
In Christ,
Fr. B.


 

Answer to Question 102.

 

Dear Fr. B,
Christ is in our midst!

I did not understand what you meant by public or daily Vespers. In parish churches we serve two kinds of Vespers: Great Vespers which we sing on Saturday evenings for the Resurrection, on Great feasts and on Saint Days when that saint is celebrated with a full service. The other Vespers is called Daily Vespers without Entrance and is sung on days when the saint doesn't have a full service. This I will explain further down.
Great Vespers:
The majority of 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. If the Parish Priest only serves the Liturgy on the more popular feast-days, he will rarely have use of the Daily Vespers without Entrance and in fact there are very many Priests who have no idea of how to serve the Daily Vespers without Entrance.
In monasteries the priest begins with only the Epitrakhelion and wears the Phelonion when he will cense at the "Lord I have cried unto thee" and keep it on until the end of the service. In Parish Churches the Priest vests himself with the Epitrakhelion and Phelonion from the very beginning until the end.

Daily Vespers without Entrance:
This Vespers is served on days when there is not a full service written for the saint of the day. An easy way to identify if the saint has a full service or not is to see if after the Stichera of "Lord I have cried unto thee" there is a separate Glory... dedicated to the saint. If there is just a Glory...now and forever... dedicated to the Theotokon then the saint does not have a full service, also he will not have Aposticha verses and no Praises at Matins so Daily Vespers without Entrance is served and accordingly Matins on Weekdays.
Daily Vespers without Entrance has a slightly different structure from Great Vespers. Firstly the Priest only vests with the Rasson and Epitrakhelion and will at no time wear the Phelonion. The curtain is opened, but the Royal Doors remain shut throughout the service. The Priest can conduct the service from the Sanctuary, but usually 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 (and not sing) the hymn "O Gladsome light (Joyous 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 continues with the Aposticha and then the Priest shall say the “Song of Symeon” Lord, now lettest Thy servant depart in peace...Then follows the Trisagion and the Lord’s Prayer, ending with "For Thine is the kingdom, the power..." The choir sing 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. (Note that the first two petitions are dropped.)

With brotherly love in Christ
Fr. Christopher