Whenever I read any texts on Byzantine and Slavic worship, whether on this forum or anywhere else, I come across so many terms that it can often be quite confusing. Terms such as Parakliti, Octoichos, Pentecostarion, Triodion, Menaion, Menlogoion, Irmos, Orthros, Akathist, Stichera, etc
I was just wondering if there's any good book recommendations that anyone can make that may provide some explanation of Byzantine and Slavic worship and define some of the terms mentioned above.
If there's anything that provides information with regards to the history and authorship of some of these prayers and hymns that would be great as well.
I'll take a stab at it (copying your spelling, even if I would transliterate it differently, just for consistency's sake):Parakliti, Octoichos,
They are the same book (2 different names for the same one) - a book of hymns for every day of the week (Saturday evening through the following Saturday morning) in the Eight Modes/Tones, based on the commemorations of the day
(Sunday = Resurrection, Thursday = Apostles, etc.). This is a foundational book for the services of Vespers, Midnight Office, and Matins in the daily cycle. It will frequently also contain hymns sung during the Matins services on weekdays in Lent (although these hymns are usually in the back section).Pentecostarion,
The book for the season between Pascha and All Saints Sunday (which is 57 days); this book replaces the "Parakliti, Octoichos" during this time period.Triodion,
The book with hymns for the period between the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee and Great and Holy Saturday; the three sections are Pre-Lent, Lent, and Holy Week. During Pre-Lent, it supplements the "Parakliti, Octoichos" on weekends (generally); during Lent, it supplements the "Parakliti, Octoichos" on weekends and replaces it on weekdays (generally); during Holy Week it replaces completely the "Parakliti, Octoichos."Menaion, Menlogoion,
- Two terms for the same books - the books with hymns for the commemorations of the dates of the year (for example, December 6 is St. Nicholas of Myra, January 7 is the Synaxis of St. John the Baptist). Depending on the feast, this either supplements the "Parakliti, Octoichos" or replaces it (for larger feastdays).Irmos,
- A hymn of a Canon which is used as a musical pattern for other hymns.Orthros,
- Also called "Matins," this is the Dawn service in the daily cycle of Orthodox worship.Akathist,
- A collection of poems (called Kontakia and Oikoi) which is read/intoned/chanted without sitting down (Akathist literally means "without sitting"). The most famous Akathist is the one that St. Romanos the Melodist wrote to the Virgin Mary (done on the Fridays of Great Lent in the Roman/Byzantine tradition).Stichera
- A generic term for "a hymn."