I keep hearing about this Cathedral Rite...why was it stopped or supressed? I tried looking online but I couldn't find much. Anybody know some informative links or recommend books specifically on the topic?
What was the major difference between our monastic rite and the Cathedral Rite?
It's tough to find much information online. Here's a paper I wrote a few years ago. I'd certainly write it differently today, based on far more research, but it'll give you a starting-point.The Byzantine Liturgy: From Constantine to Today
The history of the Byzantine Rite is, as Fr. Alkiviadis Calivas points out, largely coterminous with the history of the Typikon, in so far as the Typikon flows naturally from the already-existing Liturgy and "presupposes its existence." (1) Accordingly, no history of the Typikon could divorce rubrics from theology, form from meaning, or ritual from its fullest context. This paper will therefore present the Typikon in this light, with special attention to its four main stages of development: the 4th century Patristic Liturgy, the Asmatike Akolouthia
of the Constantinopolitan Cathedral Rite, the monastic tradition, and, finally, the Byzantine synthesis, which combined certain elements of the Cathedral structure with the ethos and rich hymnography of the monastic tradition.Patristic Worship: Liturgy in Context
Despite obvious development in form and content, the Christian liturgy evinces a remarkable sense of continuity in all ages of its history. Christian worship is and always has been eucharistic
in focus: believers have always assembled to give thanks, break bread and receive Christ's body and blood; the anaphora
has always been the theological and spiritual backbone of the Church's liturgical life; and the ethos of the divine services have accordingly been characterized by the joyful proclamation and experience of eschatological victory in Christ.
While these theological and spiritual realities remained constant, the liturgical life of the Church experienced a profound flowering in the Patristic period post pacem
. By the end of the fourth century, the Church had the complete financial, juridical and military support of the state. This striking change in Christianity's worldly status redefined the parameter of the Church's experience, including the experience of liturgy. Instead of small Christian communities in house churches, huge crowds began to flood massive and sometimes elaborate basilicas (often built by the state), wherein believers would receive catechism, Baptism, Eucharist and, ultimately, participate in all aspects of the burgeoning Church's life. It is therefore essential to understand the places
in which Christians began to worship post pacem
in order to understand the new liturgical practices of the fourth century. Form and environment necessarily influence ritual. A liturgical action must take place in a liturgical space, and the liturgical space conforms to the liturgical action.(2) While this paper does not allow for a detailed discussion, some things are worthy of special attention (since they have a direct bearing on the patristic liturgy). Chief among these is the importance of movement in the Patristic liturgy: the nave itself and the altar area were not used for every service, as they are today. They were reserved for the Eucharistic celebration proper. Each part of the Church structure Ã¢â‚¬â€œ from atrium, to baptistry, to narthex, to nave Ã¢â‚¬â€œ had a specific function and was used accordingly.
A brief example will serve to illustrate the deep meaning implicit in these spatially-bound traditions. The Sunday service would begin in the atrium, an open-air courtyard, and/or in the narthex.(3) Once it was time for the actual Liturgy to begin, the Bishop would walk into the nave, through the ambo
and into the altar and up the synthronon
, an amphitheatrical set of stairs in the apse of most churches of the time. There were liturgical prayers and gestures for each action and place: Orthros for the narthex; litanies, sacerdotal prayers and blessings for the ambo
; and, finally, the Scripture readings while on the synthronon
.(4) The Asiatic synthrona
went up very high, and since the Bishop and presbyters sat or stood thereupon during the Scripture readings, the faithful could see the Bishop above the pillars that separated the nave from the altar. These liturgical niceties were not mere decorations, nor are they historical points of trivia. The ascent of the presbytery from the ambo
to the synthronon
represented Christ's ascension; and the Bishop's descent after the readings to dismiss the catechumens symbolized the Last Judgment. These various actions of the Patristic liturgy, related as they are to the physical layout of the basilica church, emphasized the eschatological nature of liturgical experience. The fourth century Christians were thinking about their actions and worship in terms of the things to come, not as a celebration of the past Ã¢â‚¬â€œ herein we see theological continuity with the early Church, despite all the room and reason for change in form and style. History and Sources
If such then is the tenor and theology of the Patristic liturgy, what of its sources? From the time of the fourth century, there have been three valid liturgies in the Byzantine tradition: one based on St. Basil the Great's anaphora
, another called St. James' Liturgy, and, finally, the Liturgy contained in the Apostolic Constitutions
(which later came to be associated with the pen of St. John Chrysostom). It should come as no surprise that these three prevail, since they represent the three most important centers of the early Christian Church: St. Basil's moved quickly from Cappadocia to Constantinople; St James' came from Jerusalem; and the Apostolic Constitutions
came from Antioch. Scholars have said that St. John's liturgy is clearly a liturgy of the 3rd century, which received a very hesitant elaboration in the 4th century. How then did an Antiochian liturgy of such vintage come to dominate the current Byzantine Typikon? In the 8th century or later it made its way to Constantinople and, after a few centuries, established itself as the normal Byzantine eucharistic celebration. However, it is clear that such a practice was not standard in the earlier years of the Church, since the Ecumenical Councils mention the liturgies of St. Basil, St. James and the Apostolic Constitutions
Ã¢â‚¬â€œ but not St. John's. Furthermore, the anaphora
does not use the word homoousios
when it speaks of Christ, an oversight unacceptable to a post-Nicene Christian during the period of the Councils.
In addition to these liturgies, which constitute the core of the Byzantine Typikon, there are a number of euchologia
that offer us important information. Most of these sources, which are full of sacerdotal prayers (a key part of all major services, especially in the Cathedral Rite), date from the 7th or 8th centuries at the earliest, but there is an earlier, much-celebrated euchologium
written by St. Serapion, a 4th century bishop of the Church and a close friend of St. Athanasios the Great.(5) All of these sources point to the variety of liturgical expression in the earliest years of the Byzantine Rite, but Ã¢â‚¬â€œ again Ã¢â‚¬â€œ despite their obvious differences of authorship and structure, the ethos and content are strikingly similar to the current Typikon.The Cathedral Rite
This measured diversity Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to coin a phrase intended to maintain some equilibrium between the dynamism and continuity evident in the 4th century Ã¢â‚¬â€œ took even more definite form in the 6th century. Under the influence of Justinian I (527-565), codifier of law, supporter of orthodoxy, conqueror of Italy, the city of Constantinople began to develop a distinctly "Byzantine" flavor, full of lavish ritual splendor and imperial pomp. The so-called Cathedral Rite was born (in its particular Byzantine manifestation), with its emphasis on beauty, song and, because of the city-wide character of life in the capital, a solid stational liturgical tradition. It should come as no surprise that the practices of the Great Church exerted a great influence on the rest of the Orthodox world. Although there was no formal promulgation, other churches were naturally wont to follow the lead of Constantinople. This meant that the overall grandeur of liturgical ceremony was greatly increased in this period (but we should note that the celebration of the Eucharist was always a solemn event). The solemnity and beauty usually reserved for the Eucharist, which was not celebrated every day outside of the monasteries, naturally began to exert an influence on the daily office of the Constantinopolitan church, graced as it was with the presence of the imperial court and impressive Church infrastructure. In fact, Robert Taft has pointed out that JustinianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reconstruction of Hagia Sophia made setting and decoration even more of an integral part of the Byzantine Rite, a trend which continues to this day and has had a profound impact on all Orthodox liturgy and mystagogy.(6) The rite itself, however, is little more than an elaboration on the normal patterns already established for parochial worship. As Fr. Calivas notes, the rite included everything one would expect, including "Eucharistic liturgies, sacramental rites, a lectionary system, a calendar, and a daily office, which consisted of four services: Vespers, Pannychis...Orthros and Tritheke."(7) The earliest manuscripts of the Cathedral Rite's Typikon of the Great Church
date from the ninth and tenth centuries, and these make it clear that the Constantinopolitan tradition was most marked by antiphons, responses and hymns, especially in its daily office, which included a large number of sung psalms, petitions and sacerdotal prayers.
The intricacies of the various services of the rite are too complex to detail here, but it is clear that the modern Byzantine Rite has inherited a good number of its characteristics, including antiphons and sacerdotal prayers, even though these elements have shifted location and meaning. A ready example can be found in the current Divine Liturgy. The short antiphonal hymns in the beginning of the Liturgy (e.g. "Through the prayers of the Theotokos") actually come from the daily office of the Cathedral Rite, which structured itself around such congregational responses. Also, the current practice of chanting Psalm 140/41 at the beginning of Vespers has its roots in the vesperal service of Constantinople, which began with 8 antiphons, all connected by a sacerdotal prayer. The second through seventh antiphon were variable, chosen according to the nature of the feast, but the last one was always Psalm 140/41.The Monastic Tradition
Although the Cathedral Rite deserves extensive analysis, its ethos and preoccupation becomes more evident in comparing it to the so-called monastic tradition. While the Sung Office was focused on grandeur and easy-to-remember responses, the monastic tradition was more contemplative, individual and far less ornate. It was also far more concerned with composition and dogmatic hymns. The Great Lavra of St. Savas had been home to a number of famous hymnographers Ã¢â‚¬â€œ including St. John the Damascene Ã¢â‚¬â€œ all of whom had spent considerable effort to expound and honor the ChurchÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s teachings, feasts, and even saints in poetic song. Their work had founded a liturgical rite focused around what would become the Triodion, Pentecostarian
, and Menaia
. Perhaps most importantly, the monastic tradition had a more full daily office, since it was designed to facilitate constant prayer (cf. the Horologion
of today).The Studion Synthesis
These two traditions, which are by no means antithetical to each other, found an advocate who would see them wed in the person of St. Theodore the Studite, a tremendously influential monastic reformer. Starting during his own life in the late 8th century, St. Theodore and his monastery began a project of monastic and liturgical reform that would set the stage for the course of Byzantine worship. Since he was in Constantinople, he was obviously aware of the Sung Office, but, as a monk and theologian, he was also keenly desirous of using the dogmatic and spiritual power of the Middle Eastern hymns in heresy-torn Constantinople. As Fr. Calivas says, "At Studios, St. Theodore created a new order of services...he grafted the prayers and litanies of the Euchologion of the Great Church Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Hagia Sophia Ã¢â‚¬â€œ to the Palestinian Daily Office with its hymns and psalmody."(8 ) In chosing some of the most powerful and important parts of each rite, the monks of Studion created an usual balance between accessibility and rigor. Nevertheless, their reforms were not pervasive in influence Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not even in the city itself Ã¢â‚¬â€œ until after the Latin occupation ended. It was at this point, perhaps because of the monks' spiritual and moral authority as those who had stood against the Westerners and also because the normal Cathedral Rite had been hampered by Latin interference, that the Great Church switched its Typikon to the Studion-inspired practice. The rest of the Byzantine-influenced world was bound to follow suit, even as it had before.
Although there would be little major revision of the rite after this, it did not cease to change according to circumstances, nor did it completely surpress other rites immediately. St. Symeon of Thessalonike, for example, tells us about the worship in his cathedral church, which, less hampered by the Latins, had maintained its parochial traditions even up into the 15th century.(9) The greatest changes in the Byzantine Typikon after its Studite synthesis involve the service of the proskomedi
, the structure of the church building, its iconographic program (including a higher iconostasion
) and various influences from Slavic sources. Throughout all of these later-Byzantine and post-Byzantine changes, the only clear departure from earlier trends is a certain rigidness Ã¢â‚¬â€œ even to the point of denying any possibility that the rite can continue to evolve. Lastly, some of the changes we have outlined in the liturgical services have prompted the Church to drift away from a robust understanding of the eschatological nature of liturgical life(10) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and that is an ecclesial consciousness worth recovering. Endnotes
(1) Calivas, Alkiviadis. Essays in Theology and Liturgy
, Vol 3. Brookline: Hellenic College Press, 2003, p. 63.
(2) Cf. Taft, Robert. The Byzantine Rite: A Short History
. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1992: "Byzantine liturgy and its theology -- within the native context of Byzantine church architecture, church decoration, and liturgical disposition which enfold the ritual like its natural womb -- join to forge what H.-J. Schulz has felicitously called a peculiar Symbolgestalt
or symbolic matrix," (p. 17).
(3) Early Byzantine churches had an atrium (a special inclosed courtyard) that was as large as the nave. There are still a number of churches surviving with such. In the middle of the atrium, there was a fountain. This is where the people would gather before the services. On Pascha they would accept the newly baptized from the baptistry out in the atrium, greet them, light candles and sing Christ is risen. This is why we still go outside on major feasts. It is a vestige of having an outdoor liturgical space (the atrium). In certain traditions (e.g. Greek), the blessing of the water is done outside (another vestige of the fountain).
(4) In general there was a lot of movement in the church (even more than today). There were more places, rooms and partitions in the Church building, all of which had certain rites and celebrations associated with them. Prayers would begin in the atrium, with psalms or the hours, Orthros would be in the narthex, the liturgy of Word would take place around the ambo (the pulpit, which would have been in the very middle of the nave -- no pews -- and the people would have gathered around it), and finally the Eucharist would take place around the altar, with the people crowding around but separated by a low partition.
This dynamism and movement survives in the monastery: there is still a fountain right outside of the Church where the blessing of the water takes place on the beginning of every month and on Epiphany. The monks still do certain services only in the narthex or exo-narthex (parishes do the exorcisms et al. before a Baptism in the narthex -- another vestige -- and the betrothal service was held in the narthex until recently). Further, like the early Church, there are monasteries that still use the fountain on a regular basis.
(5) As should be obvious, these euchologia and the Liturgies themselves represent the most obvious antecedents of the Cathedral Rite. In so far as they reflect the traditions of parishes in the world, they are a Cathedral Rite. The sung service of the Great Church relied heavily on these sources.
, pp. 29-31.
(7) Calivas, p. 71.
(8 ) Ibid
., p. 85.
(9) See Symeon of Thessalonike. Treatise on Prayer: An Explanation of the Services Conducted in the Orthodox Church
. Simmon, Harry, trans. Brookline: Hellenic College Press, 1984.
(10) Cf., for example, the 3rd and 4th century liturgy to Theodore of Mopsuestia to St. Maximos the Confessor to St. Germanos of Constantinople to St. Nicholas Cabasilas Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a steady growth away from eschatology to typology and spiritual symbolism.