Hello all, and please excuse the silliness of these questions.
I'm slowly trying to ease my way back into praying regularly so this is (for now at least) for my own interest and not something I intend to follow as of yet.
I am fortunate to have a copy of the HTM prayer book, and when I was praying regularly, my prayer rule consisted of a few of the morning prayers, and at night, Small Compline (for whatever reason I really like Small Compline). However, I've noticed in the preface that they have it such that there are 4 Canons, 2 Akathists, and Paschal Hours (which they say can be said on Sundays). It seems that one could work this to have a different one of those "inserted" into the Small Compline each day, and there's a point in the service where they suggest you do so. I don't seem to fully understand their instructions, though. What then, is the purpose of a Canon and an Akathist? Are they just longer, more structured prayers? Under what circumstances would you encounter either of them? Is it the kind of thing where if you have the time you pray one of them or are they generally to be prayed at a certain time?
Second to that, what are the circumstances under which one would wish to conduct a Reader's Vespers / Matins? I mean, I can imagine it'd be good for those groups of Orthodox who are in a mission setting and have no priest, or a family away from home, etc, and towards the sunset would want to conduct one, but what of an individual person?
Thanks for any and all answers.