From Fr Serge Keleher, a well-known Russian Catholic priest in Dublin:
Molitvennik, Moscow 2002, "izdaietsia po Blagosloveniiu Vysokopreosviashchenneishego Alimpiia, Mitropolita Moskovskogo i vsieia Rusi" [Serge's translation: published with the blessing of His Eminence Alympy, metropolitan of Moscow and all Rus'], printed at the Old Ritualist press "Pechatnik" in the city of Vereshchagino, Perm oblast'.
It is difficult to obtain the publications of the Russian Orthodox Old-Ritualist Church [Serge: this is a completely separate church from the MP - they are Old Believers with their own bishops and priests], so in the first place my thanks to the friend who kindly obtained this prayer-book for me.
The book is printed in modern Russian orthography, which rather surprises me (since with very few exceptions the language of the book is Church-Slavonic, and the Old-Ritualists prefer authentic Church-Slavonic orthography) and probably indicates that it is meant to be used by people
who are perhaps relatively new to the Old-Ritualist Orthodox Church, or who have not yet learned the Church-Slavonic alphabet.
The contents of this book (311 pages) include five pages of
instruction on prayer (two of these pages are on the importance of the Sign of the Cross made with two fingers; another page is on the importance of the Church-Slavonic language, informing the reader that "The task of Orthodox Christians is to maintain this great language for future
generations, by learning correct reading and chanting in Church-Slavonic, maintaining the power of the monuments of literature and the liturgical inheritance of the Russian Church."
Further, the book gives the morning and evening prayers, the table prayers (before and after meals), Vespers (this and all the other services are given as done in the absence of a priest - which seems odd, since the Russian Orthodox Old-Ritualist Church has priests and stresses the importance of the Holy Priesthood), Great Compline, Small Compline, daily Midnight Office, Saturday Midnight Office and Sunday Midnight Office in each of the Eight Tones - in all, 88 pages of this book are devoted to the Midnight Office - Orthros, First, Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours, Typical
Psalms (Obiednitsa), the daily Dismissals, the Troparia, Theotokia and Kontakia of the Eight Resurrectional Tones (plus the Ipakoi and Ikosi), the two Resurrection Troparia sung on alternate Sundays after the Great Doxology - which is also a trifle odd, since the Orthros provided in the
book omits the Great Doxology - the ferial Troparia, Theotokia and Kontakia, the Theotokia and Staurotheotokia used at Vespers and Orthros after the Troparia, materials for Holy Pascha (in a confusing arrangement), and prayers for specific intentions (these are mostly short invocations of
Saints considered appropriate for the special intention).
One may notice an interesting textual change: the Troparion, Kontakion and Theotokion of the Holy Cross (p. 192 and elsewhere) ask the Lord "pobiedy dierzhavie Rossiistiei" - to grant victories to the Russian State over her enemies. The pre-Niconian text, appearing as recently as
2000 AD in the Chasoslov published by the same publishers and also with the approval of Metropolitan Alimpij, reads ""pobiedy blagoviernomu tsariu i vielikomu kniaziu" - grant victories to the Tsar and Great Prince over his enemies. One wonders what text the Russian Orthodox Old-Ritualist is presently using during the diaconal petitions for the civil authority. But that is a small matter; there has been no Tsar or Great Prince since 1917, and even before the Russian Revolution the Old Ritualists were not inclined
to commemorate the Tsar as had been done before Nicon, since it was Tsar Alexis Michaelovich who imposed the Niconian reform and the succeeding Romanovs enforced it.
The question that occurs to me repeatedly when perusing this prayer-book is the effect it is apt to have on those coming recently to the Russian Old-Ritualist Orthodox Church. There is so little instruction. Nothing at all is provided, for example, of the preparation for Holy
Confession, or the Prayers before and after Holy Communion. It would be almost impossible to follow the Divine Liturgy using this prayer book. I welcome the publication of the book, but I pray that a new, expanded and improved edition will follow. By way of example, one might suggest the excellent and well-received Old Orthodox Prayer Book published by Nativity of Christ parish in Erie, Pennsylvania. [Serge: used copies of which you may buy through the Amazon link on the Orthodoxy page on my site.]
Lest I be misunderstood, let it be clear that I am not in the least hostile to the Russian Orthodox Old Ritualist Church. I admire that Church of martyrs and confessors profoundly and I implore Almighty God to give her every blessed success. In recent years, it seems that life is becoming a
little easier for that Church and that her mission is expanding; God grant that this continue.