The Divine Liturgy/The Byzantine Rite Eucharistic Liturgies
Liturgy also known as the Divine Liturgy
The institution of the Eucharist, that is, of the Mystic Supper by the Lord, is recorded by St. Matthew 26:26-28; St. Mark 14:22-24; St. Luke 22:19-20, and the Apostle Paul, I Corinthians. 11:23-25. What, was created at the Eucharist the gathering of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles was for our Lord, “to create the Holy Eucharist and leave His own Being to the Church.”
The term (Liturgy) originally signified a public duty of any kind, including religious assignments. In the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, the term is used for the first time to denote services in the Temple. In its Orthodox usage the term denotes the Eucharist as the chief act of public Christian worship. In a derived sense, the term also denotes the text containing the words and order of the Eucharist. There are three main Orthodox Liturgies; St. Chrysostom’ s, St. Basil’s, and Presanctified,. Another Liturgy, that of, St. James, the Brother of the Lord.
The Liturgies of the Orthodox Church:
The term liturgy in its Orthodox usage denotes the work of the people that pertains to God. By the fourth century the term Divine Liturgy became the technical term for the mystery of the Eucharist (communion), the crux of our liturgical celebration. The word Eucharist is taken from the great prayer of the consecration (the Anaphora) and in turn means thanksgiving.
Four liturgies have passed down through our sacred tradition: the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, the Liturgy of Saint Basil, the Presanctified Liturgy, and the Liturgy of Saint James, the Brother of our Lord. The Church commonly practices these liturgies, excluding that of Saint James, today. Each in turn offers the faithful a unique means towards the same climatic end, the celebration of the Eucharist.
The Liturgy of Saint James, The Brother of the Lord:
(The Antiochian-Jerusalem Greek James)
The Oldest Orthodox liturgy, Has its Origin as the Local Liturgy of Jerusalem before it went to Antioch. Today it is performed only 2 times a year, On the feast of St James the Brother of the lord, and the Sunday after the nativity
(The Divine Liturgy of St James, which was until recently only celebrated on the island of Zakynthos on his feast on 23 October and in Jerusalem on the Sunday after Christmas, is today celebrated in an increasing number of Orthodox churches. It was the ancient rite of Jerusalem, as the Mystagogic Catecheses of St Cyril of Jerusalem imply. It is still, in its Syrian form, the principal liturgy of the Syrian Oriental Church, both in Syriac and, in the ancient Syrian Orthodox Church of India, in Malayalam and English.)
Liturgy of St. James (The Antiochian-Jerusalem Greek James)
This is a very ancient Liturgy existing in a Greek and Syriac form. It is traditionally ascribed to St. James, the Lord’s brother and first bishop of Jerusalem. It bears many common elements with the Liturgy known to St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem who died about the year 386, and contains an apparent reference to the discovery of the Cross of Christ in Jerusalem in the year 326. It was mostly used in the Syriac, Armenian, and Georgian speaking provinces of the Church. The fact that the Syrian Jacobites, separated from Orthodoxy in 451, as well as by the Orthodox themselves, used it proves that the Liturgy cannot have been composed later than the middle of the 5th century. It is celebrated in the Orthodox Church on the anniversary of the death of St. James (October 23) and at Jerusalem on Sunday after The Nativity. The Liturgy of St. James is an important specimen of liturgical antiquity reflecting the liturgical practices of the 4th century, if not earlier. There is little doubt that the rite of St. Cyril of Jerusalem was describing in the famous Catechetical Sermon was the Liturgy of St. James in the form of that time. But around the 13th to 14th century this Liturgy was phased out in favor of the Byzantine Rite that included, the other three, Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, and the Presanctified.
The Liturgy of Saint James, the Brother of our Lord:
The Liturgy of Saint James is, Probably the oldest of the Eucharistic Liturgies. It is still used, occasionally at Jerusalem. And is used on Saint James’s Day, by many Churches of the Byzantine Tradition. St. James was the Bishop of Jerusalem soon after the formation of the Church on the Pentecost. James was the son of Joseph, by a previous marriage, and hence a brother of Jesus. The Liturgy reflects James understanding of the majesty of God. It is different for the more commonly used Liturgies of Ss. Chrysostom and Basil
Liturgy of St. Basil (The Caesarian-Byzantine Basil)
The origin of the Liturgy of St. Basil is Antiochian, specifically from Cappadocia where St. Basil was bishop. In all probability, St. Basil was the celebrant, if not in its present form, at least in its essentials. And through we have ancient documents ascribing to St. Basil a specific liturgical formula in the form of ‘Anaphora’, the liturgy in its present form is obviously the collective work of many composers. But still, most of the important prayers in it are the work of St. Basil on the strength of style, vocabulary and ideas.
St. Basil’s Liturgy appears to be older than St. Chrysostom’ s perhaps by two centuries. The Liturgy of St. Basil is celebrated ten times a year, namely, the first five Sundays of the Great Lent, before Pascha-Easter, on Thursday and Saturday of Holy Week (Vesperal Liturgies), the Nativity feast of our Lord, St. Basil’s day (January 1) and Theophany-Epiphany Day (January 6).
The Liturgy of Saint Basil: (The Caesarian-Byzantine Basil)
The Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great has its origins in Cappadocia where Saint Basil served as bishop. The liturgy is most logically the collection of a number of composers, however, the chief prayers of the anaphora are attributed to him. In fact, Saint Basil was most probably the celebrant of this liturgy, if not in its present form, at least in its essentials. It is celebrated by the Church on ten occasions each year: the first five Sunday's of Great Lent, on Thursday and Saturday of Holy Week (Vesperal Liturgies), Christmas Day, the Feast of Saint Basil, and Epiphany.
There also exist an “Egyptian” Liturgy of Saint Basil, celebrated by Monophysite Copts., The Diophysite Orthodox celebrate the Byzantine-Basil Liturgy ie. Egyptian-Basil, Byzantine-Basil
Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Normal Constantinopolitan Liturgy)
St. John Chrysostom Liturgy is well known and very common in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It may be celebrated every day of the year except the ones of St. Basil and those of the Presanctified Gifts, and on Good Friday. It is shorter than that of St. Basil and much reduced compared to St. James’. St. Chrysostom Liturgy put an end to the free prayers and hymns in the officiating of the Holy Eucharist. The Liturgy placed a seal on the free forms of the re-enactment of the Mystic Supper of the Lord, depicting it in its finest form with a destiny of enduring far into the future. Despite the addition of hymns at later times, the St. Chrysostom Liturgy remains the same majestic religious masterpiece with grandeur and dramatic appeal matching the human expression and the divine act. St. Chrysostom (345-407A.D.) was an eloquent preacher, writer and one of the Fathers of the Orthodox Church, whose writings have been translated into many languages and have nourished the Christian Church throughout the centuries. <Celebrated Daily, Sunday etc.>
The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom: (Normal Constantinopolitan Liturgy)
The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is most familiar to the faithful. It is dated two centuries later than the liturgy of Saint Basil yet bears an identical structure. As a liturgical reformer, Saint John reshaped this liturgy, amongst other things, abbreviating prayers and shortening its length. For the most part the liturgy we celebrate today is that which the great saint celebrated himself, in the fourth century.
Presanctified Liturgy (Lenten Liturgy)
The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is in reality a religious service composed of elements drawn from Hesperinos, the Vespers service, and from the first part of the Divine Liturgy beginning with ‘Blessed be the kingdomGÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Âª’ and ending just before the Cherubic hymn begins. It includes no Consecration, but prepared believers can receive Communion from the Consecrated Elements reserved from the Liturgy of the previous Sunday. A service of the nature of the Presanctified can be traced back to pre-Nicene times. St. Sophronios, at Jerusalem calls the Presanctified in 646 an, ‘Apostolic’ institution. The Presanctified is attested as a Lenten substitute for the Eucharist in Canon 52 of the Trullan Synod (Quinisext) in 692. One should bear in mind, however, that the Councils hardly introduced anything new; either in faith or in the liturgical practice of the Church; rather, they verified and vested with universal authority teachings or practices that the conscience of the Church had in sufficient measure already accepted. This means that the Trullan canon in reality aimed at safeguarding an established practice within the Church at large.
The Presanctified Liturgy is attributed to St. Gregory Dialogos (540-604), but also to St. Epiphanios (315-403), St. Germanos, Patriarch of Constantinople (about 634-733), and even to St. James, St. Peter; and in Sinai it was ascribed to St. Basil and St. Chrysostom. Obviously, the pre-Byzantine core of the Presanctified goes deeply back into the beginnings and only a little later than the ‘Synaxes’ of the primitive Church. Its present Byzantine form appears to be the work of more than one composer. Parts obviously added to the ancient core are of different dates and different hands.
The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts: (Lenten Liturgy)
The Church during Great Lent and Holy Week celebrates the Presanctified Liturgy. It combines aspects from the vespers service and the Divine Liturgy. It contains no consecration, yet the faithful can receive communion from the gifts, sanctified the previous Saturday or Sunday. This service is the product of Canons 49 & 51 of the Synod of Laodicea, (about 365) that, prohibited the celebration of the Eucharist in its common, non-penitential form, during Great Lent, apart from Saturdays and Sundays.
The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is celebrated on Wednesdays and Fridays of the first six weeks of Great Lent, on Thursday of the fifth week, when the Great Canon of St. Andrew is commemorated, and the commemoration of Hieromartyr Haralampos (February 10th), on February 24th, the commemoration of First and Second Findings of the Head of St. John the Baptist, sometimes on March 9th, the day commemorating the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, and March 31st, the day commemorating Saint Innocent of Irkutsk, if it falls on a fast day, and not a Saturday or Sunday; and on the first three days of Passion Week (Great Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday)., The Presanctified Liturgy can also be celebrated if the Parish Patronal feast falls within the Lenten season, Monday through Friday. The Presanctified is never celebrated on The Annunciation (March 25th) , When this Great Feast falls on any Weekday during Great Lent, The Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom is prescribed to be celebrated., the celebration of the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts concludes the day of commemoration. It does not open the day of commemoration.
Service celebrated by a bishop.
When we gather as an Orthodox family for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy we gather as unique individuals with unique responsibilities in the life of the Church. Each of us, by the virtue of our role in the Church, is a member of the Eucharistic community. In this light, each of us is an invaluable steward to the Church, offering much with his/her ministry.
Early in the history, each community had a presiding bishop who was assisted in the services with the presbyters and deacons. After the churches began to increase to meet the needs of growing number of faithful within a particular diocese, the presbyter was appointed by the bishop, as the chief celebrant in a local community, the parish. Even so the concept of the Church is understood not in terms of the presbyter, but in terms of his diocesan bishop.
When the bishop is in our midst, celebrating the Divine Liturgy it then becomes a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy, he is the chief celebrant of the assembly of the faithful. On account of his presence we add seemingly unique phrases and hymns making the service hierarchal.
In the hierarchal Divine Liturgy, we commemorate the hierarch as celebrant. Additionally, the celebrating hierarch commemorates his presiding bishop, demonstrating the local parishes unity to the greater Orthodox community. And, ultimately as stewards with unique ministries, the presbyter(s) and the laity under the direction of the bishop, offer up all glory to God. Also known, as “Patriarchal Divine Liturgy”, if a Patriarch/Metropolitan or an Archbishop is the main celebrant.
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy:
When we gather as an Orthodox family for the celebration of the Divine Liturgy we gather as unique individuals with unique responsibilities in the life of the Church. Each of us, by virtue of our role in the Church, is a member of a particular 'ordo' within the Eucharistic community. In this light, each of us is an invaluable steward to the Church, offering much with his/her ministry.
More often than not though, we gather without the president of our Eucharistic assembly, that is, we celebrate the liturgy without the bishop! Early on in our history, each community had a presiding bishop who was assisted in the service by a college of presbyters and deacons. Shortly thereafter as the number of churches increased to meet the needs of the growing number of faithful within a particular diocese, the presbyter was then appointed by the bishop, as the chief celebrant in a local community, the parish. Even so, the concept of the Church is understood not in terms of that presbyter, but in terms of his diocesan bishop.
When a bishop is in our midst, celebrating the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, the Liturgy of Saint Basil, the Presanctified Liturgy, or the Liturgy of Saint James, the Brother of our Lord, he is the chief celebrant of the assembly. On account of his presence we add seemingly unique phrases and hymns making the service hierarchical. The phrases and hymns that we add may seem foreign to us or even unimportant because of their infrequency, yet these additions offer us the true flavor of the hierarchical liturgy. In the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, we commemorate the hierarch as celebrant. Additionally, the celebrating hierarch commemorates his presiding bishop, demonstrating the local parishes unity to the greater Orthodox community. And, ultimately as stewards with unique ministries, the presbyter(s) and the laity under the direction of the bishop. Offer up, all glory to God., Also Known as “Patriarchal Divine Liturgy” if a Patriarch/Metropolitan or an Archbishop is the main celebrant
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy:
A "Hierarchical Divine Liturgy" is a Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Bishop (who is also known as the "Eparch" or "Hierarch"). The Eparch is the ruling Hierarch of an Eparchy (i.e. area over which he is pastorally responsible, a.k.a a "diocese" in the Latin Churches).
The Hierarchical Divine Liturgy is served whenever the Bishop is present. Nowadays the Eparch usually "visits" on special occasions in the parish, e.g. ordinations, a big parish anniversary, or the parish "Praznyk"/”Yiorti” (the patronal Feast day of the parish). But, from a theological and liturgical viewpoint, the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy is actually the basic and normal Divine Liturgy of the Church. Technically, it is only "by exception" that any Divine Liturgy is served without the Eparch. Since the Bishop is the "Shepherd" of his Church, he should preside at all his Church's celebrations. And he did in the early Church when the Christian Community was small. Nowadays it is impractical the Bishop be present at every Service in the Eparchy. However, the Eparch is still present at each Service by means of various symbols, which remind us of our unity with the Bishop, and through him the entire Church both local and universal.
E.g. any celebration of Liturgy requires an "Antimins", a small cloth icon of the Burial, which is signed by the Bishop, representing his presence and thus the authorization of the entire Christian Community. Just, as each, Divine Service should be served by a Deacon, and the Service obviously "limps" without the ministry of the Deacon. Even more so does the Service "limp" when the Bishop is absent. Clearly in the early Church, the Bishop presided at every Divine Service. And in Cathedrals, esp. the Cathedral of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) our mother Church, where our Liturgy developed, the presidency of a Bishop was normative. When the Bishop is present, the entirety of the Church is present. The Eparch represents in his office, the Christian community (both Laity and Clergy) geographically in the local and particular Church - being the representative of both laity and clergy (cf. his election and the Triple Axios of clergy and laity). By his Apostolic Succession, he also makes present the Church historically stretching back to the Apostles.
And by his Communion with:
The Patriarch, the college of Bishops and all those with whom the Patriarch is in Communion, e.g. the other Patriarchs, the Eparch makes present the entirety of the Catholic/Orthodox Communion. You may notice that every so often during the Hierarchical Services, suddenly the language will change into Greek: e.g.: "eis polla Eti, Dhespota"; "Ton Dhespotin...", or "Agios o Theos...".
As Rus'-Ukraine was evangelized by Byzantine missionaries, the first Bishops and Metropolitans of our Church were Greeks. (Applicable, If in a Russian/Ukraine/Carpatho-Russian Orthodox parish)
Thanks to Saints Cyril and Methodios, equal to the Apostles and Teachers of the Slavic Nations, the Holy Scriptures and Liturgical Texts, etc. were translated into the local vernacular.
Nevertheless, in gratitude to their missionary bishops who had to leave their homeland to minister to our Church and in remembrance of our connections with our mother Church, certain portions of the Service will be taken in Greek.
According to local custom three other ancient Liturgies, are also used by Orthodox Churches, on the occasion of the Feast Day of the Saints to which their authorship is traditionally attributed.:
The Orthodox (Chalcedonian) Liturgy of Saint James, The Brother of the Lord, Of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Used on October 23rd, and the Sunday after the Nativity (See entry above)
The Orthodox (Chalcedonian) Liturgy of St Mark, Of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria is another Liturgy, that have been phased out in favor of The Byzantine Rite liturgies i.e., The St. John Chrysostom, The St. Basil and the Presanctified.
The Orthodox (Chalcedonian) Liturgy of Saint Gregory the Theologian-Wonderworker, a Ancient Liturgy of Cappadocia and Alexandria
If there is no Divine Liturgy, the Typica is read which gives a sketch of the Divine Liturgy. (A Reader’s Service)
Divine Liturgy: The Eucharistic Liturgy. The Orthodox equivalent to the Roman Catholic Mass or to the Protestant service of Holy Communion. In the Orthodox Church there are four Eucharistic Liturgies used. The most common is the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the liturgy used on all Sundays except those which fall during the Great Lent, and all holy days on which a eucharistic liturgy is served except for the eves of Pascha, Christmas and Theophany, Holy Thursday, and the feastday of St. Basil the Great (January 1). The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, used on the Sundays of Great Lent, Holy Thursday, the Eves of Pascha, Christmas, and Theophany, and the Feast of St. Basil the Great. The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts which is actually an extended Vespers service at which Holy Communion which was consecrated on the previous Sunday is distributed. The Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts is used during weekdays of Great Lent when the full celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy is prohibited. The Liturgy of St. James, is served only in certain places on the feastday of St. James the "Brother of the Lord" and first Bishop of Jerusalem.
“The Eucharist is OUR Mystical Food: Without it, we starve spiritually.”