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Author Topic: Anticipation of Holy Week services  (Read 335 times) Average Rating: 0
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Regnare
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« on: April 14, 2014, 03:45:06 PM »

As I experience my first Orthodox Holy Week, I am noticing that some of the services are intended to be anticipated, i.e., celebrated before their technically correct time. The only example I've encountered is that of Bridegroom Matins, which is intended to be celebrated on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings, despite theoretically being the service for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings, respectively. I have also learned, however, that some services are anticipated despite the fact that they aren't supposed to be. For example, I am told that the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil, celebrated on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, is in fact supposed to be celebrated in the evening, as its "Vesperal" part indicates, but is often celebrated in the morning.
So could someone give me a quick rundown of which services are actually supposed to be anticipated?
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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2014, 04:00:02 PM »

So could someone give me a quick rundown of which services are actually supposed to be anticipated?

None of them, AFAIK.
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2014, 01:06:30 AM »

As I experience my first Orthodox Holy Week, I am noticing that some of the services are intended to be anticipated, i.e., celebrated before their technically correct time. The only example I've encountered is that of Bridegroom Matins, which is intended to be celebrated on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings, despite theoretically being the service for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings, respectively. I have also learned, however, that some services are anticipated despite the fact that they aren't supposed to be. For example, I am told that the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil, celebrated on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, is in fact supposed to be celebrated in the evening, as its "Vesperal" part indicates, but is often celebrated in the morning.
So could someone give me a quick rundown of which services are actually supposed to be anticipated?

At some time in the distant past, I have never read when, the Holy Week services were shifted forward so that evening services like the Vesperal Liturgies for Holy Thursday and Saturday are celebrated in the morning and the Matins for the next day is celebrated in the evening. Thus the Bridegroom Matins that we serve on Sunday evening is actually Matins for Holy Monday, and so forth. I assume that this was done so that more people could attend than they could in the morning when most people are at work or in school.

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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2014, 10:06:18 AM »

As I experience my first Orthodox Holy Week, I am noticing that some of the services are intended to be anticipated, i.e., celebrated before their technically correct time. The only example I've encountered is that of Bridegroom Matins, which is intended to be celebrated on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings, despite theoretically being the service for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings, respectively. I have also learned, however, that some services are anticipated despite the fact that they aren't supposed to be. For example, I am told that the Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil, celebrated on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, is in fact supposed to be celebrated in the evening, as its "Vesperal" part indicates, but is often celebrated in the morning.
So could someone give me a quick rundown of which services are actually supposed to be anticipated?

At some time in the distant past, I have never read when, the Holy Week services were shifted forward so that evening services like the Vesperal Liturgies for Holy Thursday and Saturday are celebrated in the morning and the Matins for the next day is celebrated in the evening. Thus the Bridegroom Matins that we serve on Sunday evening is actually Matins for Holy Monday, and so forth. I assume that this was done so that more people could attend than they could in the morning when most people are at work or in school.

Fr. John W. Morris
It would be interesting, wouldn't it, Father, to find out when, where, and why these services came to be celebrated at odd times.

For me, the effect that has been created is that a lot of things simply can't be explained about Holy Week. How can we really explain why the Incarnate God would be betrayed and crucified? How can we explain the behaviour of the Twelve, of Joseph and Nicodemus, of Pontius Pilate, of St Longinus, and many more? How can we explain the Resurrection? The topsy-turvy liturgical format reminds me and reinforces for me the notion of how topsy-turvy everything was during that week. I watch and enjoy in amazement.
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2014, 11:58:03 AM »

At some time in the distant past, I have never read when, the Holy Week services were shifted forward so that evening services like the Vesperal Liturgies for Holy Thursday and Saturday are celebrated in the morning and the Matins for the next day is celebrated in the evening. Thus the Bridegroom Matins that we serve on Sunday evening is actually Matins for Holy Monday, and so forth. I assume that this was done so that more people could attend than they could in the morning when most people are at work or in school.

Fr. John W. Morris
That only makes sense with regard to Bridegroom Matins, though. Doing this actually decreases the number of people who can attend the Holy Thursday Liturgy, and has no effect whatsoever on the Holy Saturday one, since Pascha is celebrated no earlier than midnight.
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2014, 12:07:29 PM »

That only makes sense with regard to Bridegroom Matins, though. Doing this actually decreases the number of people who can attend the Holy Thursday Liturgy, and has no effect whatsoever on the Holy Saturday one, since Pascha is celebrated no earlier than midnight.

I believe the transfer of Vespers/Vesperal Liturgies to the morning has more to do with fasting.  The traditional Lenten fast involves no food or drink until Vespers or at least the Ninth Hour.  If there was a Liturgy in the evening, the fast would only be broken after Communion.  By anticipating Vesperal Liturgies to the morning, you lessen the burden of pre-Communion fasting.  I believe something similar is involved in serving Vespers in the morning during Lent even when there's no Liturgy: it is a kind of "liturgical fiction" which allows you to have "fasted until Vespers" even if it's not yet 10am. 
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2014, 01:09:07 AM »

That only makes sense with regard to Bridegroom Matins, though. Doing this actually decreases the number of people who can attend the Holy Thursday Liturgy, and has no effect whatsoever on the Holy Saturday one, since Pascha is celebrated no earlier than midnight.

I believe the transfer of Vespers/Vesperal Liturgies to the morning has more to do with fasting.  The traditional Lenten fast involves no food or drink until Vespers or at least the Ninth Hour.  If there was a Liturgy in the evening, the fast would only be broken after Communion.  By anticipating Vesperal Liturgies to the morning, you lessen the burden of pre-Communion fasting.  I believe something similar is involved in serving Vespers in the morning during Lent even when there's no Liturgy: it is a kind of "liturgical fiction" which allows you to have "fasted until Vespers" even if it's not yet 10am. 


That would be a good explanation except for the fact that all services of Holy Week are transferred forward to the evening. We serve the Matins for Holy Monday on Sunday evening and so forth. The Presanctified Divine Liturgies which we celebrate on Wednesday and in the Russian tradition on Friday evenings during Great Lent are celebrated in the mornings of the first three days of Holy Week. I serve the Divine Liturgy of Holy Thursday at 7 a.m. on  Thursday, although from the text we can tell that it was originally celebrated in the evening.

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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2014, 01:11:19 AM »

Do the Oriental Orthodox also move their Holy Week services forward so that a morning service is served the evening before as the Eastern Orthodox do? That might indicate that it is a very ancient practice that became normal before Chalcedon.

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« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2014, 07:42:41 AM »

I'm very into the topic, have been researching it for a few years. Here is an article in English that talks about the subject a bit: http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8123

Generally speaking, the current pratice done in 90% of EO parishes is not accurate, regarding the Holy Week services (and, above all, their time scheduling). But e.g in many places in Poland the Holy Saturday Matins are served at proper time: at ~2 AM. In some parishes also the Liturgies of Presanctified Gifts from Holy Monday to Holy Wednesday are done in the evening (but, then, unfortunately, there are no Bridegroom Matins).

And, what's also important, such practices are relatively new - it started to be common in the XIX century because of Islamic occupation, industrialisation and that people couldn't fast so much and the priests probably weren't giving the blessing to eat a very light meal in the morning if they're going to commune in the evening, which nowagain is becoming slowly normal. And all these changes weren't done at the same time and so radically - in earlier centuries the differences between typikon and the practice were minimal and over the years have become more serious.

I've been struggling in my area (and parish, but not only) to have at least Maundy Thursday services (so also the matins of Good Friday) in the proper place. You see, e.g the Matins of Good Friday should be done in manner of the all-night vigil (not this eastern Slavic compilation, but just a vigil starting in very late evening, after the truly vesperal Liturgy of st. Basil) and it's proved in the language, e.g in Serbian it's called Veliko Bdenije which means "Great Vigil".

Roman Catholics used to ahve the same problem, but they had had a reform of the Holy Week (and, what's important, fasting before receiving the Eucharist) just before the Vaticanum II
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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2014, 11:08:24 AM »

"Maundy Thursday," what? The days of "Great Week" in the Orthodox Church are prefaced with "Holy and Great..."
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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2014, 11:58:23 AM »

"Maundy Thursday," what? The days of "Great Week" in the Orthodox Church are prefaced with "Holy and Great..."

I'm not native English speaker as it can be easily noticed Wink I've just read several times this name and I know in various Orthodox cultures there are local names for some days of the Holy Week (I'm sure for Syriac Orthodox, actually about Copts too)
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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2014, 12:16:16 PM »

"Maundy Thursday," what? The days of "Great Week" in the Orthodox Church are prefaced with "Holy and Great..."

I'm not native English speaker as it can be easily noticed Wink I've just read several times this name and I know in various Orthodox cultures there are local names for some days of the Holy Week (I'm sure for Syriac Orthodox, actually about Copts too)

That is true, but in English, at least in America, Catholics and some more liturgical Protestants call Thursday in Holy Week Maundy Thursday, but Eastern Orthodox call Thursday in Holy Week Great and Holy Thursday.

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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2014, 12:56:13 PM »

That would be a good explanation except for the fact that all services of Holy Week are transferred forward to the evening. We serve the Matins for Holy Monday on Sunday evening and so forth. The Presanctified Divine Liturgies which we celebrate on Wednesday and in the Russian tradition on Friday evenings during Great Lent are celebrated in the mornings of the first three days of Holy Week. I serve the Divine Liturgy of Holy Thursday at 7 a.m. on  Thursday, although from the text we can tell that it was originally celebrated in the evening.

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Christ is risen!

I'm aware that the morning services in Holy Week are also anticipated the evening before, but I would suggest that if the Vesperal services are all moved to the morning to accommodate Communion without an overbearing fast (which is my supposition), there really is no where else to put the morning services.  

My understanding of the rubrics (based on a recollection of what is in Met Kallistos' translation of the Triodion) is that, with the exception of the Matins of Good Friday, most of the morning services of Holy Week are actually supposed to be served early in the morning of the day itself (e.g., Matins of Holy Tuesday should start around 1am or 2am on Tuesday, not at 7pm on Monday evening).  I suppose these are supposed to be vigils throughout the night lasting until dawn.  The fact that the Matins of Friday is much lengthier due to the Gospel readings and extra hymnography probably justifies its earlier start time in the rubrics.  There is a pastoral advantage in parishes to having these services anticipated in the evening rather than keeping them at their intended time, of course, but the rubrics don't appear to intend that the morning services will be anticipated any earlier than "very early in the morning" except in the case of Friday.  

Regarding Vesperal services in Holy Week, I find it interesting that every one of them is served in the morning except on the one day when there is no Communion at all and the fast is supposed to last all day: Good Friday.  Every other day, there is some form of Communion attached to Vespers (be it the full Liturgy on Thursday and Saturday or the Presanctified Liturgy on Monday through Wednesday), and it is usually anticipated in the morning, but the earliest I have ever seen the Vespers of Friday served is noon, but more often it is somewhere between 2pm and 4pm.  So on the one day where Communion is not a concern, the services are served more or less at their intended times.  Even during the weeks of Lent, the Presanctified Liturgy, at least in my area, is served in the morning at least as much, if not more, than it is served in the evening.  So I think Communion is really the deciding factor in the timing of the Vesperal services, and the rest of the daily cycle probably revolved around that.  Just a hunch.  

Do the Oriental Orthodox also move their Holy Week services forward so that a morning service is served the evening before as the Eastern Orthodox do?  

As far as I can tell, no.  Speaking for Holy Week in the Syriac tradition as practiced in Indian communities, morning services are served in the morning, and evening services in the evening.  We have no Presanctified Liturgy on Monday through Wednesday, so that's not really an issue on those days.  The Liturgy on Thursday is not a Vesperal Liturgy according to the rubrics: it is an early morning Liturgy, traditionally beginning with the Midnight Office around 2am, Matins and Third Hour around 3.30-4am, and the Liturgy immediately following, ending about daybreak.  The services of Friday literally last all day (the average parish's Friday services run from 9am-3pm), so we don't worry about the intended time because we're already there.  Smiley   The Liturgy of Saturday is a fasting Liturgy: it is served after the Ninth Hour of Saturday, but before Vespers (of Pascha).  It is not a Vigil for Pascha as it is in the Byzantine rite, but is the Liturgy of the day.  Its "in-between" character can be seen not only in its traditional time, but also in its readings: the Epistles are baptismal and Paschal in nature, but the Gospel is St Matthew's account of the burial of Christ and the meeting of the Jews with Pilate on Saturday to arrange to have the tomb guarded.  The rubrics and music of the Liturgy are also penitential and not joyous, but it is supposed to conclude with the rite of Forgiveness (as at the beginning of Lent) as a way of ushering in the Paschal celebration beginning later in the evening.  

With some variation, this seems to be true of all the OO except possibly the Armenians, whose schedule looks more like the contemporary Byzantine practice.  But these two rites have other similarities as well, and I suspect the practice of the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem has been influential in this regard, at least in part.          
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2014, 01:11:06 PM »

"Maundy Thursday," what? The days of "Great Week" in the Orthodox Church are prefaced with "Holy and Great..."

I'm not native English speaker as it can be easily noticed Wink I've just read several times this name and I know in various Orthodox cultures there are local names for some days of the Holy Week (I'm sure for Syriac Orthodox, actually about Copts too)

Yeah, all of our liturgical books have their own traditional names for the days of Holy Week, but in English it's easier sometimes to use commonly used English terms. 

For us, Holy Week is "Great Week", but more properly "Week of the Passion" ("Great" might be in there, but I'm not sure at the moment).  Monday and Tuesday are "Monday/Tuesday of the Week of the Passion".  Wednesday is something like "the Wednesday of Agitation" because on it the priests were agitated concerning what to do with Jesus, the disciples were agitated because one of them was conspiring against the Lord, and because Jerusalem itself was in an "uproar" over who and what Jesus was.  Thursday is "Thursday of the Mysteries" and "Passover" (Pascha).  Passover is self-explanatory, but the "mysteries" referred to by the former name are the Eucharist, of course, but also the mystery of humility (i.e., the washing of the feet), the priesthood (instituted that day), and the holy oils (which used to be consecrated on this day...the sinful woman, remembered earlier in the week in the Byzantine rite, is commemorated late Wednesday into Thursday for this reason).  Friday is "the Great Friday of the Passion", Saturday is "the Saturday of the Annunciation" (because on it, Christ preached the gospel in Hades) or "Saturday of Light" (because Christ shone his Light in the darkness of Sheol), and Sunday is simply "the Great Feast of the Resurrection in the flesh on the third day of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ".   
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