Author Topic: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists  (Read 806 times)

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Offline icecreamsandwich

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Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« on: April 22, 2014, 11:57:04 PM »
Hello all, and please excuse the silliness of these questions.

I'm slowly trying to ease my way back into praying regularly so this is (for now at least) for my own interest and not something I intend to follow as of yet.

I am fortunate to have a copy of the HTM prayer book, and when I was praying regularly, my prayer rule consisted of a few of the morning prayers, and at night, Small Compline (for whatever reason I really like Small Compline). However, I've noticed in the preface that they have it such that there are 4 Canons, 2 Akathists, and Paschal Hours (which they say can be said on Sundays). It seems that one could work this to have a different one of those "inserted" into the Small Compline each day, and there's a point in the service where they suggest you do so. I don't seem to fully understand their instructions, though. What then, is the purpose of a Canon and an Akathist? Are they just longer, more structured prayers? Under what circumstances would you encounter either of them? Is it the kind of thing where if you have the time you pray one of them or are they generally to be prayed at a certain time?

Second to that, what are the circumstances under which one would wish to conduct a Reader's Vespers / Matins? I mean, I can imagine it'd be good for those groups of Orthodox who are in a mission setting and have no priest, or a family away from home, etc, and towards the sunset would want to conduct one, but what of an individual person?

Thanks for any and all answers.
Please correct me if I'm wrong - I'm still learning as I go along.

Offline hecma925

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2014, 08:42:30 AM »
Second to that, what are the circumstances under which one would wish to conduct a Reader's Vespers / Matins? I mean, I can imagine it'd be good for those groups of Orthodox who are in a mission setting and have no priest, or a family away from home, etc, and towards the sunset would want to conduct one, but what of an individual person?

Thanks for any and all answers.

To your first point, all I can say is I pray canons/akathists when I can; sometimes it's once a week.  I'll let others with more knowledge comment on the hows/whys/whens.

As far as Reader's services, they're good if you can't make it to church.  An individual can read it, but for an actual service, you should have another person.  Same thing with DL, you can read it all you want, but it's not a Divine Liturgy until you have a priest and another person.
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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2014, 10:54:33 AM »
As far as Reader's services, they're good if you can't make it to church.  An individual can read it, but for an actual service, you should have another person. 

What does this mean?
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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2014, 11:12:30 AM »
As far as Reader's services, they're good if you can't make it to church.  An individual can read it, but for an actual service, you should have another person. 

What does this mean?

I've been to a Reader's Service for Typica and a Vespers where a deacon led it.  It's not the same when I read it alone.
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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2014, 12:27:23 PM »
I've been to a Reader's Service for Typica and a Vespers where a deacon led it.  It's not the same when I read it alone.

OK, I was hoping that's what you meant.  :)
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Offline icecreamsandwich

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2014, 04:06:36 PM »
To your first point, all I can say is I pray canons/akathists when I can; sometimes it's once a week.  I'll let others with more knowledge comment on the hows/whys/whens.

As far as Reader's services, they're good if you can't make it to church.  An individual can read it, but for an actual service, you should have another person.  Same thing with DL, you can read it all you want, but it's not a Divine Liturgy until you have a priest and another person.

Thank you! It seems I've been on the right track at least.

I can understand that, but I'm still a bit confused. I mean, from the outset, if one is alone (or even with others but with no clergy), the Reader's service isn't going to be nearly the same as if one was going to the proper service. Matins/Vespers, though - as far as I'm aware, the intention of those services was that one would wake up, do their prayers, then go to work, while stopping off on the way to (Matins) or from (Vespers) work and thus participate more fully in the cycle of services. That doesn't seem to be nearly as common nowadays, though. I guess what I'm asking is, is it common to have an individual having those services on a regular basis, or would they mostly be concerned with keeping up their prayer rule and perhaps (as you do) a Canon or Akathist as time / circumstances permits?
Please correct me if I'm wrong - I'm still learning as I go along.

Offline hecma925

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2014, 04:16:05 PM »
Thank you! It seems I've been on the right track at least.

I can understand that, but I'm still a bit confused. I mean, from the outset, if one is alone (or even with others but with no clergy), the Reader's service isn't going to be nearly the same as if one was going to the proper service. Matins/Vespers, though - as far as I'm aware, the intention of those services was that one would wake up, do their prayers, then go to work, while stopping off on the way to (Matins) or from (Vespers) work and thus participate more fully in the cycle of services. That doesn't seem to be nearly as common nowadays, though. I guess what I'm asking is, is it common to have an individual having those services on a regular basis, or would they mostly be concerned with keeping up their prayer rule and perhaps (as you do) a Canon or Akathist as time / circumstances permits?
It depends on what parish you go to.  A larger cathedral parish may have Matins every day or, at the very least, Matins/DL a couple times during the weekdays.  My parish only has regular Wednesday Vespers and Thursday Matins/DL as the only weekday services; if there is a feast day, there usually will be vespers the night before.  So, how common is it?  It depends. :) I would talk to your priest about a prayer rule, because it would be difficult to keep a full liturgical cycle every day.  Personally, I use Jordanville's prayer book and I pray the morning prayers and its selections from vespers.  I try doing it every day, but for sure, I get morning prayers in.  For me, that's enough to struggle with.  Once a week, I'll read an akathist which helps when you are starting to read the same prayers every day.  I would focus on re-establishing a prayer rule that you can keep.
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Offline icecreamsandwich

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2014, 04:56:07 PM »
Thank you! It seems I've been on the right track at least.

I can understand that, but I'm still a bit confused. I mean, from the outset, if one is alone (or even with others but with no clergy), the Reader's service isn't going to be nearly the same as if one was going to the proper service. Matins/Vespers, though - as far as I'm aware, the intention of those services was that one would wake up, do their prayers, then go to work, while stopping off on the way to (Matins) or from (Vespers) work and thus participate more fully in the cycle of services. That doesn't seem to be nearly as common nowadays, though. I guess what I'm asking is, is it common to have an individual having those services on a regular basis, or would they mostly be concerned with keeping up their prayer rule and perhaps (as you do) a Canon or Akathist as time / circumstances permits?
It depends on what parish you go to.  A larger cathedral parish may have Matins every day or, at the very least, Matins/DL a couple times during the weekdays.  My parish only has regular Wednesday Vespers and Thursday Matins/DL as the only weekday services; if there is a feast day, there usually will be vespers the night before.  So, how common is it?  It depends. :) I would talk to your priest about a prayer rule, because it would be difficult to keep a full liturgical cycle every day.  Personally, I use Jordanville's prayer book and I pray the morning prayers and its selections from vespers.  I try doing it every day, but for sure, I get morning prayers in.  For me, that's enough to struggle with.  Once a week, I'll read an akathist which helps when you are starting to read the same prayers every day.  I would focus on re-establishing a prayer rule that you can keep.

Hmm. True. My parish is similar - usually there'll be a Liturgy during the week, and on a major feast day, but I don't think we have vespers the night before the big feasts. I'd LOVE to have the whole thing, though - someone on here posted a link from their parish (in Greece) where they have Matins and Vespers, daily, seemingly with out exception haha.

That's true. Eventually I hope to get to the point where I can get back to how I had it, consistently, but for now just praying morning and evening and sticking to it is the main task, and I hope to speak to my spiritual father and have his input. Don't want to rush into some enormous rule if it's not going to be followed.
Please correct me if I'm wrong - I'm still learning as I go along.

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2014, 10:19:46 AM »
I've been thinking for some time to note that one's prayer life in Orthodoxy is something that is not so much a rigid obligation like that of say, the Muslims, but rather something that one can set out to do and accomplish as best as possible. Most of us are not blessed to have either the time or inclination to participate in a full cycle of daily services and most local parishes do not offer such a regimen. In all honesty, that ideal is seldom - if ever - lived out in the world and most of us are not called to the monastic life. So, consult your pastor and work out what works for you seems to be the best suggestion that I can think of.

Offline frjohnmorris

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2014, 12:32:15 AM »
I've been thinking for some time to note that one's prayer life in Orthodoxy is something that is not so much a rigid obligation like that of say, the Muslims, but rather something that one can set out to do and accomplish as best as possible. Most of us are not blessed to have either the time or inclination to participate in a full cycle of daily services and most local parishes do not offer such a regimen. In all honesty, that ideal is seldom - if ever - lived out in the world and most of us are not called to the monastic life. So, consult your pastor and work out what works for you seems to be the best suggestion that I can think of.

It does not take that much time to read the portions from the Book of the 8 Tones and daily sections from the Menaion, Triodion or Pentecostarion for Vespers and Matins every day. The Melkites publish good English translations of each book that are faithful to the Orthodox originals with no Roman Catholic additions. Their version of the Menaion is much less expensive than other translations.

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2014, 12:34:37 AM »
Hello all, and please excuse the silliness of these questions.

I'm slowly trying to ease my way back into praying regularly so this is (for now at least) for my own interest and not something I intend to follow as of yet.

I am fortunate to have a copy of the HTM prayer book, and when I was praying regularly, my prayer rule consisted of a few of the morning prayers, and at night, Small Compline (for whatever reason I really like Small Compline). However, I've noticed in the preface that they have it such that there are 4 Canons, 2 Akathists, and Paschal Hours (which they say can be said on Sundays). It seems that one could work this to have a different one of those "inserted" into the Small Compline each day, and there's a point in the service where they suggest you do so. I don't seem to fully understand their instructions, though. What then, is the purpose of a Canon and an Akathist? Are they just longer, more structured prayers? Under what circumstances would you encounter either of them? Is it the kind of thing where if you have the time you pray one of them or are they generally to be prayed at a certain time?

Second to that, what are the circumstances under which one would wish to conduct a Reader's Vespers / Matins? I mean, I can imagine it'd be good for those groups of Orthodox who are in a mission setting and have no priest, or a family away from home, etc, and towards the sunset would want to conduct one, but what of an individual person?

Thanks for any and all answers.

A readers service is simply Vespers or Matins with the Deacon or Priest's parts left out.
In my parish when I am out of town on a Sunday and cannot find a substitute Priest, I have my readers conduct the Typica Service which is the Divine Liturgy with the full Psalms of the Antiphons and the Deacon or Priest's parts left out. A Deacon can lead a Typica and give Communion from the reserved Sacrament. With the blessing of the Bishop, a Deacon can give Holy Communion.
In public services rather than private prayers, the canon is chanted during a service such as Matins, or Little Compline. We Antiochians serve Little Compline with the Canon to the Theotokos and the Akathist Hymn on Friday evenings during Great Lent. The canon is chanted after the Creed during Little Compline followed by the appropriate section of the Akathist Hymn. The Akathist Hymn has 4 parts. During the first 4 weeks of Lent we do one part. On the 5th Friday, we interspace all 4 sections of the Akathist Hymn between the Odes of the Canon. After the canon and or Akathist Hymn is chanted, we continue with the rest of Little Compline.

Fr. John W. Morris
« Last Edit: April 25, 2014, 12:50:18 AM by frjohnmorris »

Offline icecreamsandwich

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2014, 09:19:08 AM »
I've been thinking for some time to note that one's prayer life in Orthodoxy is something that is not so much a rigid obligation like that of say, the Muslims, but rather something that one can set out to do and accomplish as best as possible. Most of us are not blessed to have either the time or inclination to participate in a full cycle of daily services and most local parishes do not offer such a regimen. In all honesty, that ideal is seldom - if ever - lived out in the world and most of us are not called to the monastic life. So, consult your pastor and work out what works for you seems to be the best suggestion that I can think of.

That's true. I haven't seen any nearby parishes that have very much more than a few of the services in each given week, and that makes sense (cost, time, number of priests, number of attendees, etc).

And I don't intend to actually follow such a massive rule - doing so now would be a bad idea in my circumstances, and I'd likely simply give up. I am going to speak to my priest and ask him what he thinks is best, but for the moment I'm trying to take manageable chunks and stick with those. I wish to learn more about the Church, though, and that's the intention of this thread.

A readers service is simply Vespers or Matins with the Deacon or Priest's parts left out.
In my parish when I am out of town on a Sunday and cannot find a substitute Priest, I have my readers conduct the Typica Service which is the Divine Liturgy with the full Psalms of the Antiphons and the Deacon or Priest's parts left out. A Deacon can lead a Typica and give Communion from the reserved Sacrament. With the blessing of the Bishop, a Deacon can give Holy Communion.
In public services rather than private prayers, the canon is chanted during a service such as Matins, or Little Compline. We Antiochians serve Little Compline with the Canon to the Theotokos and the Akathist Hymn on Friday evenings during Great Lent. The canon is chanted after the Creed during Little Compline followed by the appropriate section of the Akathist Hymn. The Akathist Hymn has 4 parts. During the first 4 weeks of Lent we do one part. On the 5th Friday, we interspace all 4 sections of the Akathist Hymn between the Odes of the Canon. After the canon and or Akathist Hymn is chanted, we continue with the rest of Little Compline.

Fr. John W. Morris

Thank you very much, Father. Might you be able to elaborate on the private uses of the above, if any (especially the Reader's services)? Also the difference between the Canon and Akathist?
Please correct me if I'm wrong - I'm still learning as I go along.

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2014, 09:54:39 AM »
BREAKING NEWS:
I'm uneducated.
What's a reader's service? Is it kind of like a prayer office with congregation and diaconate but no presbyters? That's the gist I'm getting.
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Offline genesisone

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2014, 10:23:01 AM »
BREAKING NEWS:
I'm uneducated.
What's a reader's service? Is it kind of like a prayer office with congregation and diaconate but no presbyters? That's the gist I'm getting.
Yes, you are right about this. It's a service without a priest present. A deacon may or may not be present. It's a service led by a Reader (tonsured or otherwise blessed to lead) in the absence of a priest. Fr John Morris mentioned it a few posts back. Once in a while, when our priest is feeling a bit under the weather, he will have us chanters do Orthros as a Reader's service even though he is physically present in the building, but he does not participate, saving his energy to be at his best for the Divine Liturgy.

Here is a link to instructions about how to conduct these services.

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Re: Reader's Services (Vespers, Matins) + Canons/Akathists
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2014, 02:34:34 PM »
I've been thinking for some time to note that one's prayer life in Orthodoxy is something that is not so much a rigid obligation like that of say, the Muslims, but rather something that one can set out to do and accomplish as best as possible. Most of us are not blessed to have either the time or inclination to participate in a full cycle of daily services and most local parishes do not offer such a regimen. In all honesty, that ideal is seldom - if ever - lived out in the world and most of us are not called to the monastic life. So, consult your pastor and work out what works for you seems to be the best suggestion that I can think of.

That's true. I haven't seen any nearby parishes that have very much more than a few of the services in each given week, and that makes sense (cost, time, number of priests, number of attendees, etc).

And I don't intend to actually follow such a massive rule - doing so now would be a bad idea in my circumstances, and I'd likely simply give up. I am going to speak to my priest and ask him what he thinks is best, but for the moment I'm trying to take manageable chunks and stick with those. I wish to learn more about the Church, though, and that's the intention of this thread.

A readers service is simply Vespers or Matins with the Deacon or Priest's parts left out.
In my parish when I am out of town on a Sunday and cannot find a substitute Priest, I have my readers conduct the Typica Service which is the Divine Liturgy with the full Psalms of the Antiphons and the Deacon or Priest's parts left out. A Deacon can lead a Typica and give Communion from the reserved Sacrament. With the blessing of the Bishop, a Deacon can give Holy Communion.
In public services rather than private prayers, the canon is chanted during a service such as Matins, or Little Compline. We Antiochians serve Little Compline with the Canon to the Theotokos and the Akathist Hymn on Friday evenings during Great Lent. The canon is chanted after the Creed during Little Compline followed by the appropriate section of the Akathist Hymn. The Akathist Hymn has 4 parts. During the first 4 weeks of Lent we do one part. On the 5th Friday, we interspace all 4 sections of the Akathist Hymn between the Odes of the Canon. After the canon and or Akathist Hymn is chanted, we continue with the rest of Little Compline.

Fr. John W. Morris

Thank you very much, Father. Might you be able to elaborate on the private uses of the above, if any (especially the Reader's services)? Also the difference between the Canon and Akathist?

A canon consists of 9 odes based on the 9 Biblical odes. However, because of its intense penitential nature we only chant the 2 ode during Great Lent. Also during Great Lent, most canons only have three odes. That is why the book of services for Great Lent is called the Triodion.
An Akathist is a different kind of prayer. The original Akathist is the Akathist to the Theotokos chanted on Friday evenings during Great Lent in the Greek and Antiochian tradition. Akathist literally means not sitting, because the tradition is that after successfully defending Constantinople from a Persian attack in 626, the people gathered in the Church and sang the Akathist Hymn, which is really about the Annunciation and birth of Christ. They were so moved by the destruction of the Persian fleet by a hurricane that they stood during the hymn. I assume that it is chanted during Great Lent, because the Feast of the Annunciation almost always falls during Great Lent. Under the Old Calendar the Feast of the Annunciation can fall on Pascha. There are also Akathist Hymns to various Saints. The structure of anAkathist Hymn is very different from that of a canon.  There is a kontakion, followed by a series of short chants by the Priest usually beginning with something like "Hail..." or "Rejoice..." At the end of each section (oikos) the people respond with a refrain. The Akathist to the Theotokos has 24 sections each beginning with a different letter of the Greek alphabet.

Fr. John W. Morris