wow, thanks for all the insights and links; i will look at them when i have time.
thanks to the same guest who loves shopping, i managed to arrange another expedition,
to another cathedral near a shopping centre! (i spend a respectful 30 mins in the shops,
she spends a respectful 30min in the cathedral, then we go our separate ways till tea time!)
this one was anglican, and it was interesting to compare the high anglican choral vespers
(where i was equally lost, despite the service card!) to the russian orthodox 'high' vespers.
of course (as i am very biased), the russian orthodox service was more beautiful.
this is mainly because the people seemed more sincere and partly because the anglican service was only 40min.
but the 'getting lost' bit seems to be a result of the development of liturgies in the centuries where the cathedral
was the leader in liturgical development (as opposed to the monastery).
some of the development in the western rite (of which the high anglican rite is a copy) and the eastern orthodox church were similar;
with the people becoming more like spectators and the choir taking precedence.
this occurred to a much lesser extent in churches outside the sphere of influence of the roman empire (eg. mine)
i have been reading 'the study of liturgy' edited by jones, wainright and yarnold, which is mainly an anglican and catholic study,
but it seems to apply to the orthodox churches as well.
does anyone know of a good book covering eastern and oriental liturgical developments?
i find it interesting, and it helps me find our similarities.
eg. in the 'great doxology' quoted by lbk, the first half is the same as our coptic one,
and the rest is prayed in the 'tasbeha' (midnight praise) service that usually follows vespers on a saturday
(and can be done on other days too, but there is usually not enough people to do it daily).