Greeting with the
journey of Great Lent!
Father, I have a persistent question that begs to be asked, and now
during Great Lent, it is even more pressing:
During Great Lent, on the Third Hour, we say the troparion: "Blessed art
Thou, O Christ our God, who hast made the fishermen wise by sending down
upon them the Holy Spirit.......". And on the Sixth Hour we say the
troparion : "Thou O Christ God has worked salvation in the midst of the
earth, Thou hast stretched out Thou Most pure hands upon the Cross..."
Now, these troparia bring to mind the saving events of our Saviour's
sojourning on earth; the Third Hour indicates the descent of the Holy
spirit on the Apostles, likewise the Sixth Hour commemorated the
Crucifixion, how come these troparia were removed from these canonical
hours outside of Lent? When did this happen?
It is interesting that the troparion of the Ninth hour was left
untampered with during Great Lent and outside of it!
Any help is appreciated.
Asking for your prayer
During Great Lent it is forbidden to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on
weekdays. The rubrics say clearly that under no circumstances can the
Divine Liturgy be celebrated in Lent Monday through Friday, with only
one exception – the Feast of the Annunciation. This is because of Great
Lent's character and atmosphere which calls for a period of deep
mourning and fasting, a period of sadness. In Orthodox tradition, the
celebration of the Eucharist has always preserved its festal and joyful
character. Is it the sacrament of Christ’s coming and presence among his
disciples and therefore a celebration of the Resurrection. But it is
also the celebration of the Wedding banquet of the New Kingdom, the
feast that we will partake of at the Second Coming of Christ. Every time
the Church celebrates the Eucharist she transcends to the heavenly
kingdom and we find ourselves standing with Christ after the General
Resurrection. If we are with Christ then how can we fast? Did he not say
that the “Children of the Kingdom cannot fast while the Bridegroom is
with them.” One understands then why the Eucharist is incompatible with
Great Lent, incompatible with fasting. Great lent is the period of our
pilgrimage: we are on our way to return to the heavenly kingdom, we
haven’t reach there yet, let alone celebrate as though we are sitting
around the Great Table laden with the fatted calf.
In spite of this understanding, Holy Communion is still distributed to
the faithful during the fasting days at the Liturgy of the Presanctified
Gifts. This is not a Liturgy in the normal sense where the bread and
wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Basically all
that we do is distribute to the faithful, the holy Gifts which have been
consecrated on the previous Saturday or Sunday. That is why the service
is called the Presanctified. On the previous Saturday or Sunday the
Priest takes out an extra Lamb from a different prosphoron (bread) than
the one used for the day. After the consecration of the Gifts he takes
this extra Lamb and dips it into the Blood and then places it in a
special container to be saved for its use on the Wednesday or Friday
during the service of the Presanctified.
Because we do not celebrate the Liturgy during weekdays of Great Lent we
do not celebrate saints whose feasts fall on the weekdays. Thus, because
we do not celebrate saint's feasts during these days, the Apolytikion
and Kontakion hymns of the saint of each day are replaced with hymns
appropriate with the character of Lent.
With the services of the Hours there are two places in each Hour where
the hymns to the saint of the day is to be read outside of Lent, but
because of the reason already mentioned these are replaced with Lenten
hymns. This applies for all the Hours even the Ninth hour which you say
was left untampered with.
Let's see where these changes are made. After the reading of the Psalms
of each Hour the rubrics (the words in small print often in red) assign
that the Apolytikion Hymn of the saint is to be read. From what I've
seen of translations of the Hours in English online the rubrics are not
written in which would account for you thinking that certain Troparia
have been removed. The first rubrics of the First Hour after the psalms
say that if we sing "God is the Lord and hath appeared unto us" which is
sung at Matins after the Six Psalms and indicates that a (saints) feast
can be celebrated then we sing "Glory" followed by the Apolytikion Hymn
of the day (Saint) then "Now and forever" and "What shall we call thee,
O full of grace". But if we sing "Alleluia" meaning that we are in a
period when a feast cannot be celebrated like the weekdays of Great Lent
then we sing instead of the hymn of the day the following: "Hear my
voice in the morning, O my King and my God" sung three times with the
appropriate verses then "Glory...Now and forever... ""What shall we call
thee, O full of grace". Again after the "Trisagion and the Lord's
prayer" the rubrics say that: if we do not sing "Alleluia" then the
Kontakion Hymn of the saint or the feast is read. but if Alleluia is
sung then the following: On Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: "The Most
glorious Mother of God..." On Wednesday and Friday: "Hasten to our aid
before we be enslaved..."
The same applies to all the Hours.
At the Third Hour after the psalms the hymn of the saint or feast is
sung outside of lent followed by the Theotokion " O Theotokos; thou art
the true vine..." or during Lent the following: "O Lord, who didst send
down Thy Most-holy Spirit at the third hour upon Thine apostles..." with
the appropriate verses followed by the Theotokion "O Theotokos; thou art
the true vine..." and "Blessed is the Lord God, blessed is the Lord day
by day...". After the Trisagion the Kontakion hymn of the feast, but in
Lent we say " Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God..."
At the Sixth Hour after the psalms the hymn of the saint or feast is
sung outside of lent then the Trisagion followed by the Kontakion hymn
of the feast, but in Lent after the psalms we say: "O Thou Who on the
sixth day and in the sixth hour..." with the appropriate verses followed
by "Glory...Now and forever" and the Theotokion "Seeing that we have no
boldness on account of our many sins..." and "Let Thy compassions
quickly go before us, O Lord". After the Trisagion "Thou hast wrought
salvation in the midst of the earth..."
At the Ninth Hour the hymn of the saint or feast is sung outside of lent
then the Trisagion followed by the Kontakion hymn of the feast, but in
Lent after the psalms we say: " O Thou Who at the ninth hour for our
sake didst taste of death in the flesh..." with the appropriate verses
followed by "Glory...Now and forever" and the Theotokion: "O Good One,
Who for our sake wast born of a Virgin..." and "Deliver us not up
utterly, for Thy holy name's sake...". After the Trisagion "Seeing the
author of life hanging on the Cross..." "Glory... In the midst of two
thieves..." "Now and forever... When she who bare the Lamb and Shepherd
and Saviour of the world beheld Him on the Cross..."
Thus without the guidance of the rubrics it is indeed confusing which
hymns are to be read. I don't have the Hours on my website other than
the Ninth Hour so I suppose my next project is to translate these into
English with the appropriate rubrics.
Hope I have been of help.
With love in Christ