- Last Updated: 13 October 2013
Byzantine/Orthodox spirituality makes no distinction between private and public prayer. “There is continuity between the prayers Christians recite in the assembly of the church, and the interior life by which each of them unites in the divine mystery. The Orthodox Liturgy offers to each one the seeds of contemplation he needs. In return the Church expects of each on a close participation in its prayers of praise and thanksgiving.” (E. Lanne, “La priere des Chretiens d’Orient”). The anchorite in his solitude, the monk in his monastery, and the layman in the daily whirlwind of his life participate in the liturgical prayer even when he is not directly involved in it). (Quoted from Raya/DeVinck: Byzantine Daily Worship, 1969)
Byzantine Christians (Catholic and Orthodox) use the Byzantine Rite. Also called the Rite of Constantinople, it is the liturgical rite (ritual) that developed in city of Constantinople (today’s Istanbul). The Byzantine Rite consists not only of the detailed liturgical texts and rubrics (instructions) used for Vespers, Matins, the Hours, and the Divine Liturgies, but also the details of icons and how they are painted, the design of the temple, the vestments, liturgical music and tradition which have evolved since the Holy Spirit first descended upon the Apostles in Jerusalem.
Byzantine liturgical texts and rubrics are reasonably identical across the Byzantine world. There are, however, some small differences that have developed over the centuries (due to the decentralized nature of the Byzantine Churches and the lack of communication in earlier times). Currently, the texts and rubrics of the Byzantine Church are subdivided into Greek, Russian and Ruthenian "recensions". There are also further minor differences as the result of local traditons.
This pages is under constant development and we hope to progress in posting liturgical texts for private study and use. The multi-year project currently underway is to produce study texts of official, normative Ruthenian liturgical books published at Rome beginning in 1942 for Byzantine/Greek Catholics of the Ruthenian Recension. The translations offered here for private study will be in full conformity with both the Liturgical Instruction and Liturgiam Authenticam (meaning they will be complete and literally accurate translations). Links to other sites are for informational purposes. Please check back occasionally to see our progress.
The listing below begins with the texts of the Divine Liturgeis, since they are the most commonly used. In reality, the Byzantine day runs from sunset to sunset, so the liturgical day begins with Vespers and hits its height with the celebration of the Eucharist in the Divine Liturgy. The exception is during the time of the Great Fast, when the liturgical day runs from morning to night.
For a full listing of the Byzantine Liturgical books see: orthodoxwiki.org/Liturgical_books_of_the_Orthodox_Church
The icon is Saint Basil the Great consecrating the Holy Gifts during the Divine Liturgy (icon in the cathedral at Ohrid).
The Divine Liturgy
There are several forms of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy. The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is celebrated throughout most of the year. The Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great is celebrated ten times each year: on the five Sundays during the Great Fast (Lent), joined together with Vespers on the Eves of Christmas (December 25) and Theophany (January 6), joined together with Vespers on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday (or on the day of those feasts when they fall on a Sunday), and on the feast day of Saint Basil (January 1). The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts (which has no consecration but distributes the Holy Mysteries consecrated the previous Sunday) is generally celebrated on Wednesdays and Fridays of the Great Fast and the first three weekdays of Holy Week. The Archiraticon is an editon of the Divine Liturgy with the additional texts and rubrics thyat are used when a bishop celebrates.
- The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (DRAFT) - (see also this Forum Post, and an older Comparison)
- The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great (DRAFT) - (see also this Forum Post)
- The Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts
- The Archiraticon
Vespers - Evening Prayer of the Day (chanted at sunset, which is when the liturgical day begins, following the ancient Jewish tradition)
- Great Vespers as a Vigil
- Great Vespers not as a Vigil
- Daily Vespers on Ordinary Days
- Small Vespers before a Vigil
- Great Vespers followed by the Liturgy
Compline - Night Prayer (the last prayer before sleep)
- Great Compline
- Small Compline
Midnight Office (a monastic office which is chanted in the middle of the night, or early in the morning)
- Midnight Office
Matins (Orthros) - Morning Prayer (the morning office—and the longest of the day—which traditionally ends as the sun is rising)
- Matins at a Vigil on a Feast
- Matins at a Vigil on Sunday
- Matins on an Ordinary Day (not at a Vigil)
The Hours & Typica
- First Hour (chanted at the rising of the sun)
- Third Hour (chanted at the third hour of the day—approximately 9:00 am)
- Sixth Hour (chanted at noon)
- Ninth Hour (chanted at the ninth hour of the day—approximately 3:00 pm)
- The Office at the Parting of the Soul from the Body
- The Funeral (Panachida / Parastas) - The Office for the Burial of the Dead (Laymen) - This edition provides a parochial version of the traditional Byzantine Funeral, abbreviated from the version provided in the Trebnik, including the Small Panachida, the Great Panachida (Church Funeral) and the Internment. The English texts are taken from the 1975 Ruthenian edition of the “Office of Christian Burial according to the Byzantine Rite" published by Byzantine Seminary Press. Several corrections have been made to the texts prayed by the priest and deacon but the people’s texts are unchanged from the earlier editions. This edition does not combine the Great Panachida (Parastas) with the Divine Liturgy. A fuller update is also in progress.
- The Funeral (Panachida / Parastas) - The Office for the Burial of a Child
- The Funeral (Panachida / Parastas) - The Office for the Bural of the Dead (Priests)
- The Requiem Office for the Dead (A General Panachida / Parastas)
Other Texts (all in pdf)
- Divine Litugy Music Book (1964 Translation with the Complete Liturgy)
- Pre-Christmas Vespers
- Pre-Christmas Moleben
- Christmas Carol Book
- Readings for Theophany
- Readings for Great and Holy Week
- Readings for Great and Holy Saturday
- Texts for a Divine Liturgy for Life (Pro-Life Liturgy)
- Tserkovnoe Prostopinije (Boksaj, 1906) - This is the most common source of Church Slavonic Plain Chat as sung in Uzhorod in 1906 (large file - possible long download)
The texts provided on this website are to be considered as study texts for personal use.If you would like a "paper copy" suitable for duplication please contact us.