Author Topic: Small Vespers vs Great Vespers  (Read 3152 times)

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Offline scamandrius

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Small Vespers vs Great Vespers
« on: December 05, 2007, 12:00:56 AM »
For certain commemorations of saints and also for certain feasts, there are two sets of Vespers:  Small and Great.  The texts differ as do the number of stichera at both "Lord I have Cried" and the Aposticha.  Why is this?  Is one celebrated earlier in the day as opposed to the other?  Are great Vespers used as part of a vigil-rank feast/commemoration?  I'd appreciate clarification.

Also, is it right that at any Great Vespers (3rd class or higher) that the psalter reading should always begin with the first Kathisma (Blessed is the Man)? 

Thanks for the help.
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Offline GreekChef

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Re: Small Vespers vs Great Vespers
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2007, 12:15:25 AM »
For certain commemorations of saints and also for certain feasts, there are two sets of Vespers:  Small and Great.  The texts differ as do the number of stichera at both "Lord I have Cried" and the Aposticha.  Why is this?  Is one celebrated earlier in the day as opposed to the other?  Are great Vespers used as part of a vigil-rank feast/commemoration?  I'd appreciate clarification.

Also, is it right that at any Great Vespers (3rd class or higher) that the psalter reading should always begin with the first Kathisma (Blessed is the Man)? 

Thanks for the help.

Some feasts do have both small and great vespers.  Are you asking why there are two sets of vespers for the same feast?  Or are you asking why we do small vespers some days and great vespers others?  Or are you asking what the difference is between small and great vespers in general?

Just getting a little clarification on the OP.  My husband's area is liturgics, so I'm bouncing these questions off of him.  He is asking for the clarifications, so he knows exactly how to answer.
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Offline GreekChef

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Re: Small Vespers vs Great Vespers
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2007, 12:19:09 AM »
One short answer here is if the vesperal service is to be followed by Divine Liturgy (within the same liturgical day- so, like, the next morning), then Great Vespers should be celebrated.

If it is a feast day such as evangelismos, then there are both small and great vespers.  The idea is that small vespers is done before dinner, and dinner is followed by compline and then great vespers and all the services that follow in a vigil format (such as the hours, reading of the psalter, mesonichtiko, Orthros, Divine Liturgy, with others possibly thrown in there).
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Offline GreekChef

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Re: Small Vespers vs Great Vespers
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2007, 12:26:00 AM »
One short answer here is if the vesperal service is to be followed by Divine Liturgy (within the same liturgical day- so, like, the next morning), then Great Vespers should be celebrated.

If it is a feast day such as evangelismos, then there are both small and great vespers.  The idea is that small vespers is done before dinner, and dinner is followed by compline and then great vespers and all the services that follow in a vigil format (such as the hours, reading of the psalter, mesonichtiko, Orthros, Divine Liturgy, with others possibly thrown in there).

Okay, he's telling me that certain feast days, like the feast day of the Holy Cross... Sept. 13th would have both small and great vespers, then on the 14th (the actual feastday) there's Divine Liturgy, then the evening of the 14th (but liturgical day of the 15th) is great vespers. 

Now, another example is Saturday of the Souls.  That Friday night actually calls for small vespers (even though there is Divine Liturgy the next day). 

Then during Lent there are Contrition vespers, which is great vespers (but with a different feel), without Divine Liturgy the next day.  All other vespers during Lent are small vespers, except for the great vespers service the evening prior to the feast of the Annunciation.

Hope this helps (rather than confuses)!
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Small Vespers vs Great Vespers
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2007, 12:36:51 AM »
For certain commemorations of saints and also for certain feasts, there are two sets of Vespers:  Small and Great.  The texts differ as do the number of stichera at both "Lord I have Cried" and the Aposticha.  Why is this?  Is one celebrated earlier in the day as opposed to the other?  Are great Vespers used as part of a vigil-rank feast/commemoration?  I'd appreciate clarification.

Also, is it right that at any Great Vespers (3rd class or higher) that the psalter reading should always begin with the first Kathisma (Blessed is the Man)? 

I'm going to echo GreekChef's answer and expand a bit.

Great Vespers is appropriate for certain feasts depending on the "size" of the feast (as you've observed a bit with your post).  As the "size" increases, so too do the elements.

"Blessed is the Man" is only appropriate when it is called for by the Menaion.  For example, St. Nicholas' feast day calls for "Blessed is the Man."  However, it is not added to the reading from the Psalter, but replaces it for that feastday.

Great Vespers is really only called "Great" when there is also a "Small" Vespers called for on the same feastday.  As GreekChef pointed out, the only times when you see a double-vespers listed are on days when Vigils are done in Monasteries.  The Small Vespers should occur at the normal time (before dinner, as she noted), while the Great Vespers will be left to "kick-off" the vigil.

So what makes a Vespers "Great" otherwise?  Well, all Resurrectional Vespers are "Great", which means every Saturday evening, plus every Vespers of Bright Week (and Lazaros Saturday, which is a Resurrectional Day).  Every Vespers of a "Despotiki" (Despotic/Lordly, referring to feasts of the Lord) or "Theomitoriki" (God Mother, referring to feasts of the Theotokos) Feast are Great.  Vespers for Major Saints of the Church are also "Great" - of course, that depends on the local Church - as it should.  But you can tell the "Great" commemorations from the hymns that are composed for them: If there are hymns for the Liti (procession of the Icon) in Vespers, if there are 4+ composed hymns for one saint for Lord I Have Cried; you can also tell by the presence of certain readings - Matins Gospel, Vespers Old Testament; and other elements, like the chanting of the Polyeleos or the "Blessed is the Man."

Finally, every Hierarchical Vespers is Great.
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: Small Vespers vs Great Vespers
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2007, 12:39:11 AM »
I shouldn't have said "finally."  I forgot Presanctified Liturgy, which is a Great Vespers with Communion attached.  In fact, it is a fantastic Vespers, since one can see a few ancient traditions maintained in the Service on top of the more modern ones (the doubling of "Let my prayer arise", the doubling of the Entrance - with "O Joyful Light" and "The Light of Christ Illumines all").
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.

Offline Fr. George

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Re: Small Vespers vs Great Vespers
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2007, 12:43:40 AM »
Okay, he's telling me that certain feast days, like the feast day of the Holy Cross... Sept. 13th would have both small and great vespers, then on the 14th (the actual feastday) there's Divine Liturgy, then the evening of the 14th (but liturgical day of the 15th) is great vespers. 

At those follow-up Great Vespers for major feasts like Holy Cross or the Presentation you also get a change in the Prokeimenon (which is often not changed on the feastday itself) - it's very cool.  Great Vespers is also done for the leave-taking of a major feast (so Dec 30 evening for the leavetaking of Christmas on the 31st), but that's because the leave-taking is treated almost exactly like the feastday itself.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2007, 12:44:07 AM by cleveland »
"O Cross of Christ, all-holy, thrice-blessed, and life-giving, instrument of the mystical rites of Zion, the holy Altar for the service of our Great Archpriest, the blessing - the weapon - the strength of priests, our pride, our consolation, the light in our hearts, our mind, and our steps"
Met. Meletios of Nikopolis & Preveza, from his ordination.

Offline ilyazhito

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Re: Small Vespers vs Great Vespers
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2011, 09:42:30 PM »
Cool! Small Vespers is to be done at approx. 15:00, based on what I've read, but I haven't seen a Small Vespers Service.