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Posted By: jjp Matins 12 Passion Gospels - Holy Thurs or Fri? - 04/02/12 04:56 PM
The schedule of my Ruthenian Church has "Chanting of the 12 Passion Gospels" at noon on Friday. When looking at the Holy Week schedule, it seemed out of place to me, so I did some looking around.

It seems, while not completely uniform by any means, that most Orthodox churches I randomly sampled had this matins service late in the day on Holy Thursday. Most of the Eastern Catholic churches I sampled seem to have this service on Holy Friday.

My gut tells me the matins service was moved to Friday mid-day in the EC churches to cater to Roman or ex-Roman Catholics looking for a Stations of the Cross-type service.

Thoughts?
My Ruthenian parish doesn't have this service, but the Ukrainian Catholic church in town has it on Holy Thursday at 6pm. The local Antiochian church will offer it next week, on their Holy Thursday, at 6pm.
Some prefer the practice of doing Vespers in the morning and Matins in the evening during Holy Week and others prefer keeping Vespers in the evening and Matins in the morning. We do Holy Friday Matins 8am Friday morning. Holy Thursday we have Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil at 7pm.
Our ACROD parish, and most that I know of, still retain the 12 Passion Gospels in the evening of holy Thursday. My dad told me that was the way it was when he grew up in the Greek Catholic Church prior to 1937. So I will assume that any transfer to the midday of Good Friday occurred after that point in time.

Fewer and fewer attend this venerable service and some Typicons do say that the Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Thursday may be celebrated late afternoon, early evening. We tried that one year and all 'he....l' broke loose - even though attendance was not impacted - same people came either way but....

We do Vesperal Liturgy on Thursday in the morning and Royal Hours in the morning of Good Friday and the Great Friday Vespers with procession at 7 p.m. in my parish. When Iwas a boy in Freeland, PA the Vespers was at 4 pm.

I guess there is no consistent answer.

And my father did tell me that growing up at SS. Peter and Paul Greek Catholic in Elizabeth, NJ during his childhood, they did Stations of the Cross so I don't think that transfering Matins to Friday was a substitute. Maybe others have a similar recollection. (That didn't cross with them to Orthodoxy - one of the few things that were 'left behind' in 1938....)

Well, David, in *my* ACROD parish, I've inherited the practice of having the Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Thursday evening. I know of a number of other parishes in our Diocese that do the same.

I remember my first year at seminary, we had a marathon of services with Metropolitan Nicholas on Holy Thursday: at about 4:00 PM, he consecrated antimensia, then we had the Vesperal Liturgy at 5:00 PM, then the Washing of the Feet service at 6:30 PM, and Matins of Great Friday at 7:00 PM. Wow!

I think that the shift to having the Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Thursday evening is motivated by a desire to restore this Liturgy to its proper chronological time--truly having the "Mystical Supper" and not the "Mystical Breakfast." This restoration is helped by the fact that most parishes have experienced a serious decline in attendance at "Strasti".

Fr. David
I think in general most folks, even the devout, are only coming to one service a day and that in the evening, aside from Sundays. So the evening service is going to be the better attened one no matter what it is in my experience.
I don't disagree, my dad often talked of that before he retired, but never got around to it. When we tried the Vesperal Liturgy a few years back, it was hoped that there would be a better crowd but I suspect that folks got out of the habit of attending - particularly with the popularity of the Unction service on Wednesday of Holy Week and since the same people attended and complained about the switch, we went back the next year to the Strasti. No one comes to the Vesperal Liturgy in the morning so it is a losing battle. That is nothing new, I never remember much of a 'crowd' for that Liturgy although I always enjoyed singing the special tones for the day.
Just to clarify, since it doesn't seem to have been mentioned. The twelve Gospels service is the Matins of Great Friday, so there is (in my opinion) nothing wrong with doing it on Great Friday - even noon, but obviously earlier would be better.

The fact that it is mostly done on Thursday probably has more to do with the general anticipation of Matins as a matter of course by the Slavs and the influence of the Slavic typikon on many eastern churches than anything else.
As has been mentioned, you are generally only going to get people there for one evening service Thursday evening. While some may take off Great and Holy Friday other than the retirees you won't get many during the day on Thursday for the Vesperal Liturgy. Consistent with Ned's observations in the UGCC by far most parishes celebrate Strasti on Thursday evening, although there are a few that celebrate it on Friday morning.
Thanks for the great answers.

The reason I brought it up is because my in-laws have begun to attend church with us, and from a Roman background they typically have attended the Stations on Good Friday. Seeing "Chanting of the 12 Passion Gospels" listed on Friday at noon led to the obvious question, "Oh is this kind of like Stations of the Cross?"

After some looking around, it seemed that mostly EC churches had it on Friday, and mostly OC churches on Thurs, so I wondered if those two dots connected the way they seemed.

Happily this forum is such a great resource for questions like this, thanks all for the perspective.
It is the Greek tradition -- which therefore includes the Antiochian Orthodox and Melkites -- to anticipate the services of Great and Holy Week by about half a day (i.e., by about 12 hours).

This means that the Orthros services are usually celebrated the evening of the day before. The Twelve Gospels as mentioned above are part of the Orthros of Great & Holy Friday; but celebrated by the Greeks and Antiochians (Orthodox and Melkite) on Thursday evening.

Friday morning the Descent from the Cross is celebrated, which is actually the Vespers of Great & Holy Saturday.

You will find this mentioned even in the Typika.
Originally Posted by Matta
It is the Greek tradition -- which therefore includes the Antiochian Orthodox and Melkites -- to anticipate the services of Great and Holy Week by about half a day (i.e., by about 12 hours).

This means that the Orthros services are usually celebrated the evening of the day before. The Twelve Gospels as mentioned above are part of the Orthros of Great & Holy Friday; but celebrated by the Greeks and Antiochians (Orthodox and Melkite) on Thursday evening.

Friday morning the Descent from the Cross is celebrated, which is actually the Vespers of Great & Holy Saturday.

You will find this mentioned even in the Typika.

This is also the tradition, which follows the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for these services smile
Slava Isusu Khrestu

I have enjoyed these entries!
This reminds me of what our priest said one day concerning this very topic. "We sing and pray the orthros service in anticipation of the time". I like very much this term, "in anticipation"

I remember, when younger, celebrating birthdays and other family events both happy and sad, not on the day, but whenever because the individual was there and in the course of events would not be there on the specific day. Made sense then and does now.

Unworthy
Kolya
The popularity of the Violakis Typikon is largely responsible for the current shape of the anticipated timing of Holy Week services in the "Greek tradition".
While just slightly off topic, this thread does touch on the difficulties of Holy Week Liturgical Reform in the Byzantine tradition.

It is clear that Vespers is an evening service, and that Matins is a morning service. The content of those services in the Byzantine rite does fit with the chronological sequence of events as recorded in the Gospels. This is also helped by the fact that, when served in full, each of the services can span several hours.

Yet, the difficulty with simply moving these services to their proper chronological times is their popular association with a given day and time. I've attended the 12 Gospels on Friday morning in one parish, and while I could academically accept it as being proper, I missed the "darkness" that I always associated with this service.

I suppose a shift in piety is not impossible. Tenebrae was big in RC parishes; now it is all but consigned to oblivion. Carpatho-Russians have no real excitement about "Bridegroom" Matins or "Jerusalem" Matins, but to a Greek, those services are essential parts of Holy Week.

Fr. David
Indeed so, Father, one of the real problems in coming to grips with Orthodox 'unity' in the Americas can be found in that very diversity of regional practice. The 'my Orthodoxy is more Orthodox than your Orthodoxy' has vexed us for generations.

BTW, it isn't just the CR's that have that lack of excitement, I think we share it with other Slavs, including the Ukrainians.
Bless, Father David,

Excellent points. As one old enough to remember Tenebrae, and having served it as a young altar boy, it was a particularly moving service.

At the moment when the church was ultimately plunged into darkness and absolute silence reigned, the senior acolyte had the responsibility of striking the crotalus or clapper - remembering the quaking of the earth at Christ's death - the effect was profound.

(I can still remember training successive senior acolytes to do it to its fullest effect. Never easy. The wooden hammer was very short-handled and tethered to the base. The tendency was to try and use it as a handheld hammer, a not very effective technique. The proper method was to hold the handle below the base and flick the wrist in a way that caused the hammer to swing suddenly and strike fiercely against the upper face of the wooden base, producing a fiercely resonant sound.)

Many years,

Neil
Originally Posted by DMD
Indeed so, Father, one of the real problems in coming to grips with Orthodox 'unity' in the Americas can be found in that very diversity of regional practice. The 'my Orthodoxy is more Orthodox than your Orthodoxy' has vexed us for generations.

The same infection can be found among American Lutherans and American Anglicans.

Its name is Pharisaism and its antidote is the second petition of the Prayer of St. Ephrem.
Originally Posted by Matta
It is the Greek tradition -- which therefore includes the Antiochian Orthodox and Melkites -- to anticipate the services of Great and Holy Week by about half a day (i.e., by about 12 hours).

This means that the Orthros services are usually celebrated the evening of the day before. The Twelve Gospels as mentioned above are part of the Orthros of Great & Holy Friday; but celebrated by the Greeks and Antiochians (Orthodox and Melkite) on Thursday evening.

Friday morning the Descent from the Cross is celebrated, which is actually the Vespers of Great & Holy Saturday.

You will find this mentioned even in the Typika.

Why did they want to anticipate the services?
Quote
Why did they want to anticipate the services?

For a number of reasons. The short answer is that you have several very long services on the same day.

Secondly, the Sabbaitic typikon was intended for monastic communities where the vigils could be held at the proper time since the monastic community was already residing within walking distance of the catholicon (monastery church).

For example Jerusalem Matins on Great and Holy Saturday is appointed at about 1 a.m. by the Sabbaitic Typikon, and most parishes simply can't celebrate the service at that time, especially if they are celebrating a midnight Paschal Vigil with Graveside/Midnight Office, Paschal Matins and Divine Liturgy at midnight of Holy Saturday which is less than 24 hours away with a Vesperal Divine Liturgy for Great and Holy Saturday in between.

In most cases a parish will take Jerusalem Matins after Vespers on Holy Friday evening (as is often the Ukrainian practice) or take it Saturday morning before 10 a.m., which is actually later, not anticipated, from the Sabbaitic Typikon.

In some parishes sadly the Vesperal Divine Liturgies get neglected with everything else going on. It becomes especially tricky with these Vesperal Divine Liturgies appointed for Great and Holy Thursday and Great and Holy Saturday, which should ideally be celebrated in late afternoon or early evening, along with other longer services. These Vesperal Liturgies are frequently anticipated earlier if they are taken at all.
Originally Posted by Chtec
Carpatho-Russians have no real excitement about "Bridegroom" Matins or "Jerusalem" Matins, but to a Greek, those services are essential parts of Holy Week.

Father bless!

Respectfully, it is hard to be excited about that to which one has not been properly exposed or even introduced.

After being a member of a Cathedral parish for many years, I moved to the Midwest for a brief tour of duty (work). It was during my brief but joyful years there in a parish of the Eparchy of Parma that I was first exposed to Jerusalem Matins. Gladly, now that I am back on the East Coast, our current parish priest is also a fan and we have conducted this beautiful service the past two years. I cannot imagine Holy Week concluding without Jerusalem Matins now. We also did Bridegroom Matins on one day (Tuesday) this year, and it was a very enriching experience for all who attended.

It took 38 and 46 years for this cradle Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic to ever have a chance to experience Jerusalem Matins and Bridegroom Matins, respectively. It surely wasn't for lack of interest.

Christ is risen!
With the Gregorian and Julian calendars out of synch I was able to experience the final days of Holy Thursday through Bright Monday in all their fulness for the first time this year.

It did seem [strike]a bit[/strike] very odd to be singing "O Gladsome light..." at 9:00 AM, particularly since my own personal and parish practice is to link a solemn vespers to astronomical sunset. Yes, we begin as early as 4:15 in November and December and as late as 8:15 in July.

Yet, as others have explained, there are few other options because rolling seamlessly from the Vesperal Divine Liturgy to the 12 Gospels would be at least a five hour service...certainly testing the endurance and limits of most congregations.

One other brief observation regarding Holy Thursday: I very much missed the stripping of the altar (accompanied by Psalm 22) from the Western rites; but found that the "stripping of the priest" to wash the feet of twelve men of the parish was a partial, albeit imperfect substitute.

I'll post more thoughts later on in other discussions, but the experience simultaneously introduced me to new treasures while causing a deeper appreciation for some of the ones I have long known.
Originally Posted by Curious Joe
Father bless!

Respectfully, it is hard to be excited about that to which one has not been properly exposed or even introduced.

Indeed, He is risen!

I don't think we disagree here. I was describing what IS, you are describing what CAN BE or SHOULD BE.

God bless!

Fr. David
If the rites are followed fully, the altar should have been stripped and cleaned in the Byzantine rite as well, although not on Thursday. It is a lovely service, rarely served in public though, because, i.a., all action takes place within the sanctuary.
The Russian Orthodox Triod Postnaya (in the post-Nikonian synodal Moscow recenssion) specifically states that this service is to take place at the second hour of the night, or in other words two hours after sunset (roughly corresponding to 8pm) And as per Orthodox Byzantine understanding, a "day" is reckoned "from sunset to sunset", this service takes place "by anticipation" on Holy Thursday night. Understandably, though, some parishes may choose to have this service before sunset eg 5pm, or whatever their current times are for night services. Nevertheless, liturgically speaking, we are all within the same "liturgical time"
:) according to the Russian Orthodox Triod Postnaya (in the post-Nikonian Moscow Synodal recension) this service is to take place "vo vtoryy chas nosci" or at the second hour of the night, which roughly corresponds to 8pm. Keeping in mind, that according to traditional Byzantine reckoning, a day starts from sunset and lasts until following sunset, this service takes place 'by anticipation" on Holy Thursday Night, well after a normal compline would have been said. And it is Matins, not compline;) This whole "by anticipation" business is rather confusing to some people, and I can perfectly sympathize, although that is how it is done in all monasteries throughout the world:
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