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Author Topic: Reasoning behind timing of Holy Week services  (Read 2407 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 22, 2009, 10:20:55 AM »

What's the historical reason behind serving Matins at night and Vespers in the morning during the last part of Holy Week?  When did this start? 
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2009, 10:29:18 AM »

Because it's awesome? Wink

In all seriousness, it just seems to work better. But for the liturgies, having a Vesperal DL in the middle of the day on Thur and Sat would mean complete fasting from midnight until 4 pm or 5 pm, or 6 pm....which for most people is impossible. If you move those services back, you have to move the others too.  Also, Matins for say Holy Saturday is supposed to start at around 1 am (per Ware's Lenten Triodion).  Most people are not able to come to Church at that time.  If you have moved the Vesperal DL to 9 am, you can't very well do Matins into the Vesperal DL all at once, so it makes sense to move Matins backwards too. Just my unscholarly musing and opinion.
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2009, 10:36:30 AM »

Because it's awesome? Wink

In all seriousness, it just seems to work better. But for the liturgies, having a Vesperal DL in the middle of the day on Thur and Sat would mean complete fasting from midnight until 4 pm or 5 pm, or 6 pm....which for most people is impossible. If you move those services back, you have to move the others too.  Also, Matins for say Holy Saturday is supposed to start at around 1 am (per Ware's Lenten Triodion).  Most people are not able to come to Church at that time.  If you have moved the Vesperal DL to 9 am, you can't very well do Matins into the Vesperal DL all at once, so it makes sense to move Matins backwards too. Just my unscholarly musing and opinion.

I'll see what kind of musings Fr. Calivas has/had, when I get access again to his book (which should be at the office.... I'm on my way in a moment).
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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2009, 11:47:06 AM »

As another piece of info, the traditional Latin rites did the same thing until the Holy Week reforms of the 1950s. No idea why, though.
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« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2009, 12:00:29 PM »

I've found an online text of what Fr. Calivas wrote in the introduction to his book "Great Week and Pascha in the Greek Orthodox Church" (HC Press, 1992).  The section quoted below was in the book on pp. 13-16.  It was copied from:
http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8123

Quote
THE TRANSPOSITION OF THE SERVICES

Throughout the centuries the faithful have observed Great Week and Pascha with fervor and great solemnity. Twice each day in the morning and in the evening, they would gather in the churches to celebrate the designated service at the appointed times.

However, at some point in history the appointed times of the services began to change. The morning services were moved to the preceding evening and the evening services to the morning. It is not clear when and why these changes began to occur. By the middle of the nineteenth century, if not much sooner, it had become a common practice throughout the Orthodox Church. P. Rombotes in his book Christianiki Ithiki met' Leitourgiki published in Athens in 1869 makes reference to the custom, as does the new Typikon of Constantinople. The reasons for the change appear to be ambiguous. Both Rombotes and the Typikon mention that it was done to accommodate the people. This may have meant any number of things. For example, the new Typikon hints at one such possibility. By mentioning the fact that the services were very lengthy, it implies that the transposition occured in order to address this problem. Another reason for the change may have come about as a result of some socio-political factors during the Ottoman rule. For example, a rule regulating the time for the public assembly of the Christian populace may have resulted in the shift of the services. Sometimes, an imposed practice in one generation or period has a way of becoming permanent.

Perhaps the most plausible reason for the rearrangement of the divine services is based on late medieval attitudes concerning the time of the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and the reception of Holy Communion. According to long held popular beliefs, it was thought that the morning hours of the day were the most suitable and acceptable for the reception of Holy Communion. This being the case, it follows that all celebrations of the Divine Liturgy should be placed in the morning hours, regardless of the fact that some such celebrations were in fact nocturnal in nature.

An additional factor of considerable importance, which may also help explain the transfer of the morning services to the previous evening is the vigil or extended nocturnal service. There were several different types of vigils in the early and medieval Church. Their structure, content and length varied according to purpose and local custom and usage. They were conducted as late night, all-night or pre-dawn observances. Vigils were held on the eve of great feasts as a sign of watchfulness and expectation. We know from several early and medieval documents that the Passion of our Lord was observed liturgically in both Jerusalem and Constantinople with some type of vigil service. There is sufficient evidence to connect the present Great Friday Orthros with these earlier vigil services. It is reasonable to assume from this that the present Orthros was originally observed as a nocturnal celebration. Thus, as the order and hours of the divine services of Great Week began to change and shift, this service - and by extension the other morning services of the Week - was advanced to earlier evening hours.

Whatever the reasons for the transposition of the services, we have in fact inherited a particularly peculiar tradition, which circumvents both the normal liturgical practice as well as the natural order of things. Beginning with Great Monday and lasting through Great Saturday, the divine services are in an inverted position. Morning services are conducted the evening before and evening services are celebrated in the morning of the same day. Thus, on Palm Sunday evening, we conduct the Orthros of Great Monday and on the morning of Great Monday we celebrate the Vespers with the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. This pattern places us one half day ahead of the historical events and the natural order.

Of particular interest in this matter, is the order of the divine services for Great Thursday contained in the now defunct Typikon of the Great Church. The services of the Orthros and the Trithekte in this Typikon are assigned to the morning hours, while a series of long services are designated for the evening hours. They are: the Vespers, followed by the Nipter (Washing of the feet), to which the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil is added beginning with the entrance of the Gospel. Before Holy Communion was distributed, the Patriarch also consecrated the Holy Myron. After the Divine Liturgy came the service of the Pannychis. In the Cathedral Office the Pannychis was a type of vigil service. This particular Pannychis on Great Thursday commemorated the passion of the Lord ("Ti de auti espera eis tin ida ton pathon tou Kiriou imon Ihsou Christou...). The twelve Gospel pericopes narrating the events of the passion were read at this service. These pericopes are the same as those now read in the present service of the Orthros of Great Friday, which in current practice is conducted on the evening of Great Thursday by anticipation.

From this description we learn at least two things. First, that Great Thursday evening in the late medieval church was supplied heavily with a series of long services. Second, the commemoration of the passion was conducted in the context of a vigil service (the Pannychis) on the night of Great Thursday. Because of the length of these services, I think we can safely assume they lasted well into the night. Can we assume also that Great Thursday evening with its overburdened liturgy became the pivotal day in the process that saw the breakdown of liturgical units and their transposition to earlier hours? The Vesperal Divine Liturgy, for the reasons stated above, may well have been the first to be dislodged from its original moorings, moving steadily forward in the day until it came to be celebrated in the morning hour. Next, the Pannychis or Vigil lost its original meaning and began to gravitate to an earlier hour. As these arrangements gradually evolved, the transposition of the morning services to the preceeding evening became the established practice.

Difficult as it may be, however, I believe that the Church is obliged to press the issue through careful study and find a way to restore the proper liturgical order. She can do no less, if she is to be true to her quest for and commitment to liturgical renewal and reform. St. Symeon of Thessalonike (+ 1429), an inspired student and teacher of liturgy noted in one of his treatises that once the Church has clarified and determined correct liturgical usages, we are obliged to change even those things that have become a practice by default. While we must honor and reverence our liturgical inheritance, we are also obliged to look at it more carefully and to distinguish between Tradition and custom. Here let me stress the point that it is the Church in her collective wisdom that must authenticate the need and procede to the reform of liturgical practice and usage.

The footnotes:
Quote
44 P. 243.

45 Τυπικὸν τῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ Μεγάλης Ἐκκλησίας, p. 362, note 46.

46 Χριστανικὴ Ἠθικὴ καὶ Λειτουργική, p . 243. Cf. Typikon, p. 355, note 42, and p. 301,

note 51. 1. Fountoules Ἀπαντήσεις ,vol. 2 (Thessalonike, 1975), p. 209 ff.

47 Τυπικόν, p. 362. A. careful study of the development of the horarium of the divine services in both the cathedral and monastic offices would prove useful in understanding, at least in part, these gradual shifts. What exactly were the assigned and actual hours of the daily office in the monasteries and the secular churches during the early and late medieval periods? How was the ordering of the horaria affected by the revisions or replace­ment of the Typika? What changes in societal structures affected the Church and im­pacted on the horaria? I have argued elsewhere, e.g., that such changes during the course of the early centuries brought about the transfer of the original evening eucharistic assembly first to the pre-dawn hours and later to the "third" hour of the day (see, Χρόνος Τελέσεως, pp. 165-96). Another item that may shed some light on the transposition of the Paschal Vigil Liturgy is related to the rule that allows for the celebration of only one Divine Liturgy by one priest on one altar on a given day or feast. Could a strict interpretation of this rule also have contributed to the shift of the Pachal Vigil Liturgy?

48See Robert Taft, The Liturgy of the Hours in East and West (Collegeville, 1986), pp. 165-90.

49 See below, Chapter Four, Great Friday. Also, in the tradition of Jerusalem the Or­thros of Great Saturday was celebrated as a nocturnal celebration.

50 The only service conducted at the regularly appointed hour is the Vesper Service of Great Friday.

51 See Mateos, Le Typicon, pp. 72-78.
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2009, 12:05:53 PM »

Most enlightening.  Thank you, Cleveland.
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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2009, 01:10:56 PM »

I find the info interesting, but of course complete disagree with the "need" to "fix" them.  Can anyone actually imagine not doing an Epitaphios procession on Friday evening in the Greek Church? Please!

Also the reference to St. Symeon of Thess. is ironic: St. Symeon went on and on about keeping the Cathedral rite and restoring it...and we saw how far he got with that one Wink
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2009, 02:15:58 PM »

I find the info interesting, but of course complete disagree with the "need" to "fix" them.  Can anyone actually imagine not doing an Epitaphios procession on Friday evening in the Greek Church? Please!

It is a strange one.  But it's also strange saying "Let us complete our morning prayer to the Lord" at 10pm (no, I'm not arguing for a time-shift).

Also the reference to St. Symeon of Thess. is ironic: St. Symeon went on and on about keeping the Cathedral rite and restoring it...and we saw how far he got with that one Wink

Good one.
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2009, 03:25:04 PM »

I was under the impression it was because of the churches view of time. The church day starting in the evening and ending before the next evening. Further, during Holy Week it was relayed to me that time has shifted and become reversed in the Resurrection a day termed, "The night brighter than any day". Because the event of the Resurrection occurs outside of time, the church shifts the services to accomodate.

Just what I remember from Bible Study. I'll ask again next week since I probably got at least part of it wrong.

-Nick
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2009, 04:07:33 PM »

Also the reference to St. Symeon of Thess. is ironic: St. Symeon went on and on about keeping the Cathedral rite and restoring it...and we saw how far he got with that one Wink

But St. Simeon did keep the Cathedral rite in his cathedral.  His was the last to follow it.  It was after him the Cathedral Rite got shelved.
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2009, 04:10:05 PM »

Also the reference to St. Symeon of Thess. is ironic: St. Symeon went on and on about keeping the Cathedral rite and restoring it...and we saw how far he got with that one Wink

But St. Simeon did keep the Cathedral rite in his cathedral.  His was the last to follow it.  It was after him the Cathedral Rite got shelved.

That's the point: he tried hard to get it back, and his work evaporated after he was gone only to go back to what the people had become comfortable with.
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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2009, 04:45:16 PM »

I was under the impression it was because of the churches view of time. The church day starting in the evening and ending before the next evening. Further, during Holy Week it was relayed to me that time has shifted and become reversed in the Resurrection a day termed, "The night brighter than any day". Because the event of the Resurrection occurs outside of time, the church shifts the services to accomodate.

Just what I remember from Bible Study. I'll ask again next week since I probably got at least part of it wrong.

-Nick

While I'm in no way implying you weren't taught this or whoever taught it to you is wrong, this seems to me to be an apocryphal, spiritual explanation of something that had historical reasons after the fact.  I was looking more for the historical reasoning/significance of the shift of time, especially when it first happened.
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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2009, 11:18:02 PM »

Also the reference to St. Symeon of Thess. is ironic: St. Symeon went on and on about keeping the Cathedral rite and restoring it...and we saw how far he got with that one Wink

But St. Simeon did keep the Cathedral rite in his cathedral.  His was the last to follow it.  It was after him the Cathedral Rite got shelved.

That's the point: he tried hard to get it back, and his work evaporated after he was gone only to go back to what the people had become comfortable with.

Father,

It was my understanding that the Holy Wisdom Cathedral in Thessalonika kept the Cathedral Rite long after even Holy Wisdom in Constantinople had abandoned it, not that St. Simeon reintroduced it.  It was also my understanding that he abbreviated the Psalmody at Vespers and Orthros and permitted the Canon to be introduced at Orthros, both at the urging of the people.

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« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2009, 11:38:39 PM »

Father,

Not yet. Wink

It was my understanding that the Holy Wisdom Cathedral in Thessalonika kept the Cathedral Rite long after even Holy Wisdom in Constantinople had abandoned it, not that St. Simeon reintroduced it.  It was also my understanding that he abbreviated the Psalmody at Vespers and Orthros and permitted the Canon to be introduced at Orthros, both at the urging of the people.

Fr. Deacon Lance

You're right - I mis-spoke when I said "get back."
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« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2009, 12:28:16 AM »

Also the reference to St. Symeon of Thess. is ironic: St. Symeon went on and on about keeping the Cathedral rite and restoring it...and we saw how far he got with that one Wink

But St. Simeon did keep the Cathedral rite in his cathedral.  His was the last to follow it.  It was after him the Cathedral Rite got shelved.

I know. I was referring to his exhortations to restore it elsewhere, which didn't go anywhere.
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« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2009, 11:27:25 AM »

Let us not forget the "solidification" due to the invention of the printing press and the supplanting of all other texts in favor of the mass printed Venetian texts, including the split Triodion/Pentecostarion (at one time a single volume), which in turn effected the later Nikonian reforms in the northern lands.  Some of these things were perhaps a matter of the faithful getting used to custom, but certainly others were simply a matter of "these are the texts that are mass printed" and were thus far more widely spread and available and naturally supressed all other texts.  As we know from the earlier triodia, the Holy Week formed the "vigil" of the "flowery" period, but in the split printed triodia, the flowery period was "shifted" to the beginning of the Pentecostarion, thus "splitting" the Paschal Vigil, enabling, in the progress of time, the first "move" of the Basil Liturgy to the morning.  Yet, even in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, as we see from Bulgakov, there was great care widespread in Russia that the Basil Liturgy still at that time begin after noon and rules in place to insure that it was not moved to the morning.  Of course, we know that in the Holy Sepulcher (Anastasis), the Holy Saturday Liturgy still begins in the late afternoon. 
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« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2009, 02:13:03 PM »

Part of the reason, is its easier for people to attend these services as they are timed right now.  Also, a created reason is that all creation is in an uproar over the arrest and passion of Jesus.  Its like the symbolism in the Divine Liturgy to pattern the life of Jesus, yet there is no order...one moment we symbolize His passion and then His birth, and so forth.
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« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2009, 03:31:57 PM »

Part of the reason, is its easier for people to attend these services as they are timed right now.  Also, a created reason is that all creation is in an uproar over the arrest and passion of Jesus.  Its like the symbolism in the Divine Liturgy to pattern the life of Jesus, yet there is no order...one moment we symbolize His passion and then His birth, and so forth.

Hello Father Vasyl!  Christ is Risen!  You point out some very good things here.  It is very true that, for example, more people are able to attend, for example, Thursday night Matins than they are Friday morning Royal hours thus the replication in those (plus Vespers of Holy Friday) is seen in this way as practically beneficial for most parishioners.  But in the other services which lack replication, the inversion simply yields different services not attended.   For example, the practice of Holy Tuesday with Presanctified served in the morning and Matins in the evening, the very service that has the actual Gospel account of the Bridegroom parable with the Vesperal hymnography as a preparation, is not heard by most.  Thus they come to the Bridegroom Matins in the evening to proclaim the Bridegroom is coming at midnight without the experience of the "Bridegroom Presanctified" readings or chants in the context.  In such situations they miss the "Bridegroom Presanctified" entirely.  However, there are those parishes that have both services in the evening, but the "status quo" is the inversion, in which case neither one is missed.  Of course, creation in an uproar is an ex post facto application utilized to try and make sense of the inversion, not the reason that the inversion occurred in the first place.  As Scripture says, let all things be done in good order, and as St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain says, there should be nothing that is not done in good order, and that "the canon always supercedes the ritual" when restoring good liturgical order.  Still the Greek Athonite as well as the Slavic "ritual" (Sabbas Typikon), at least officially, actually has that "good order" still officially on the books and at least in some places.   For example, it specifies that the Vespers (for the Presanctified) take place at 4pm in Holy Week, and specifies that the Bridegroom Matins begins at early morning, 1am, as with Jerusalem Matins of Holy Saturday.   It specifies that the first "calling" to Vespers on Holy Thursday happens at 2pm so that Mystical Supper can begin around 2:30 or 3pm (since it gives monks the time to arise, make their way to the church, for the clergy to vest, etc.), thus beginning in the time period "between the two evenings" when the Passover Lamb was sacrificed and prepared between 3 and 5pm (according to Josephus) at the end of Nisan/Aviv 14, and ending (at least in "monastic time" with slower chant--4 hours later) after the time "when the meal had ended."   Of course, practically for parishioners you cannot be having some of these services at 1am in the morning, so it either had to be "moved back" or "moved forward," as you first correctly stated, and since the Greek practice of the early 19th century moved them "in anticipation," the Slavs soon followed, especially with the onset of Soviet oppression.  A few years back I remember reading that the Greek practice of "anticipation" happened originally in part due to the Ottomon civil authorities forcing some of these services in the central patriarchates to be celebrated before their actual times so that less credence was given to Christianity, and thus others followed the "Jerusalem practice."  I will look for this article and if find it will post link or quote to substantiate. 
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« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2009, 04:20:32 PM »

Part of the reason, is its easier for people to attend these services as they are timed right now.  Also, a created reason is that all creation is in an uproar over the arrest and passion of Jesus.  Its like the symbolism in the Divine Liturgy to pattern the life of Jesus, yet there is no order...one moment we symbolize His passion and then His birth, and so forth.

Hello Father Vasyl!  Christ is Risen!  You point out some very good things here.  It is very true that, for example, more people are able to attend, for example, Thursday night Matins than they are Friday morning Royal hours thus the replication in those (plus Vespers of Holy Friday) is seen in this way as practically beneficial for most parishioners.  But in the other services which lack replication, the inversion simply yields different services not attended.   For example, the practice of Holy Tuesday with Presanctified served in the morning and Matins in the evening, the very service that has the actual Gospel account of the Bridegroom parable with the Vesperal hymnography as a preparation, is not heard by most.  Thus they come to the Bridegroom Matins in the evening to proclaim the Bridegroom is coming at midnight without the experience of the "Bridegroom Presanctified" readings or chants in the context.  In such situations they miss the "Bridegroom Presanctified" entirely.  However, there are those parishes that have both services in the evening, but the "status quo" is the inversion, in which case neither one is missed.  Of course, creation in an uproar is an ex post facto application utilized to try and make sense of the inversion, not the reason that the inversion occurred in the first place.  As Scripture says, let all things be done in good order, and as St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain says, there should be nothing that is not done in good order, and that "the canon always supercedes the ritual" when restoring good liturgical order.  Still the Greek Athonite as well as the Slavic "ritual" (Sabbas Typikon), at least officially, actually has that "good order" still officially on the books and at least in some places.   For example, it specifies that the Vespers (for the Presanctified) take place at 4pm in Holy Week, and specifies that the Bridegroom Matins begins at early morning, 1am, as with Jerusalem Matins of Holy Saturday.   It specifies that the first "calling" to Vespers on Holy Thursday happens at 2pm so that Mystical Supper can begin around 2:30 or 3pm (since it gives monks the time to arise, make their way to the church, for the clergy to vest, etc.), thus beginning in the time period "between the two evenings" when the Passover Lamb was sacrificed and prepared between 3 and 5pm (according to Josephus) at the end of Nisan/Aviv 14, and ending (at least in "monastic time" with slower chant--4 hours later) after the time "when the meal had ended."   Of course, practically for parishioners you cannot be having some of these services at 1am in the morning, so it either had to be "moved back" or "moved forward," as you first correctly stated, and since the Greek practice of the early 19th century moved them "in anticipation," the Slavs soon followed, especially with the onset of Soviet oppression.  A few years back I remember reading that the Greek practice of "anticipation" happened originally in part due to the Ottomon civil authorities forcing some of these services in the central patriarchates to be celebrated before their actual times so that less credence was given to Christianity, and thus others followed the "Jerusalem practice."  I will look for this article and if find it will post link or quote to substantiate. 

Bless, Father!

Thank you very much for this exposition and I look forward to reading the article (or even quotes from it) that you mention.
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