it was really beautiful.
just like all your responses here!
sorry, this is going to be long, but you asked!
so i got there really early, as the morning prayers didn't start till 10.30.
(what i called 'raising of incense' earlier - there is not so much incense as with us, so i see why u don't call it that)
some lady in the hall wanted me to drink tea with her (while i was waiting for the church to be open), and i really didn't know what to say to that! i just refused politely (several times, it is like with arabs / north africans) and smiled.
soon after, i went outside to wait by the church door (i was too excited to wait anymore in the hall and a bit afraid of the tea drinking temptation!) and met the priest. he was one of 2 priests (the other came later) and was friendly and said i could commune with them after i explained i was coptic orthodox.
there were service books there
but only for the liturgy, and i hadn't printed the morning prayers booklet above (was late last night) so i understood nothing except 'Der vorghormia'.
but i was easily able to worship with my spirit as the praying / singing was so beautiful, and the people so sincere.
they called on God and He came and blessed us.
for the main liturgy the second priest came in, wearing an elaborate hat a bit like a married priest's mitre / hat, but bright blue and having many sides. i wasn't expecting a second priest to be there, so it was a bit of a surprise.
it was at that moment, i remembered that i was in armenia, the kingdom of special hats, not in any other orthodox liturgy!
i was able to follow really easily in the book (except when i turned 2 pages at once by mistake!) and was soon fluently singing 'Der vorghormia'
(with my size of brain, it's best just to learn one phrase at a time!)
there was a leaflet given to everyone with the day's readings, so i could follow in my english Bible for the first 2 and then the gospel was printed out in full in english and armenian. that was really nice, so i could pray along with all the armenian speakers (everyone else looked armenian).
there was not a word in english (hmm, could maybe work on that one...) until the first priest (hatless) said that anyone who wanted to take Holy Communion had to come forward (small church, many people, we shuffled forward a bit) for the absolution. that bit was just like going for confession, except your sins are already written down for you, so you can do it communally (it really does cover most sins!). of course you tell God silently about any particular sin that is on your mind as well.
the absolution was all in (old) armenian, but the translation was easy enough to follow, and my spirit was lighter after that.
there was lots of raising of the host (maybe the catholics copied them) and there wasn't a point in the service where you stop making the sign of the cross like in the coptic liturgy.
one strange thing was that the deacons did all the censing. also i couldn't work out the different vestments. some altar servers and choir members wore the same thing (including lady choir members) and one deacon (had a stole over one shoulder) wore an altar server / choir vestment while the other (similar stole) wore a much shinier, paler version of the vestment.
the other person wearing a similarly shiny vestment did not have a stole.
some of the choir members did not wear vestments at all. the changing room was very small; maybe they ran out!
what i really liked was that most of the people were joining in with all the choir bits; it didn't feel at all like a spectator sport (like in one or two other churches, sorry, it just feels like that if most of the congregation pays no attention).
i stayed back during Holy Communion (more than half the congregation went up), so i could pay careful attention to how it was done (did not want to bite the priest's finger). it is like in eastern orthodox churches, with the Holy Body and Blood together.
the prayers and singing were really beautiful and kept me focused on worshiping God, so i was not as worried as i might have been about making a cultural error.
people were very friendly afterwards and also during the kiss of peace (i liked that bit too, done 'correctly' with the kiss spreading out from the altar) and i felt very welcome. i couldn't stay long after as i had to meet someone, but was already invited back again!
so, armenian orthodox Christians, thank you and well done!