Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, RELIGION ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 24 March 2017

Byzantine Christian Worship

Summary and Keywords

Eastern Orthodox and Catholics of the Byzantine Rite practice a liturgical tradition historically synthesized and disseminated via the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Various traditions of Jerusalem, and Palestine more generally, became a significant part of the synthesis. After Constantinople’s fall in 1453, the Greek liturgical books printed in Venice came to codify the textual and structural bases for the various families of this Rite. These families nonetheless employ different languages and music. They are also distinguished by ritual particularities. The Byzantine tradition stresses the sacramentality of the entire worship space and retains a transcendent ethos. The latter derives from the belief that earthly liturgy is a copy of the heavenly.

While the full, codified Rite reveals an obvious regard for Scripture, approximately 85 percent of the Old Testament is not part of the lectionary—even if allusions to those unused passages are occasionally found in the hymnography.

Historically, various genres have evolved in Byzantine hymnography, but—with some exceptions—the evolution of new forms ceased after Constantinople’s fall. As in all classical Rites, the Eucharist consists of a Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist, though an elaborate preparation of the gifts precedes the Liturgy of the Word. A distinctive Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts is a prominent part of Lenten observance. As for the Hours, Vespers and Matins (Orthros) are the “hinges” of the office. Especially in the ancestral territories of the Rite, these have remained prominent—even in parochial churches.

The Orthodox Church does not grant the same status to the Septinarium as does the Catholic, but all seven sacraments are celebrated with significant rites. Baptism, Chrismation (Confirmation), and the Eucharist are always administered together as initiation into the Church.

The immovable cycle of feasts begins on September 1, imitating the old Byzantine civil calendar, while Easter, the actual start of the Church year, inaugurates the cycle of movable commemorations. The latter includes a cycle of eight melodic tones, with one tone used per week. For the reckoning of the date of Easter, the Julian calendar continues to predominate, even though the Gregorian has been used by many Orthodox Churches for the immovable cycle since the post-World War I period.

The theological academies of the Russian Empire spawned a flowering of liturgical scholarship at the end of the 19th century. The Bolshevik Revolution curtailed this, and the baton passed to Rome’s Oriental Institute and to Orthodox institutions in Paris, Athens, and Thessaloniki, not to mention individual scholars throughout Europe.

Among the greatest challenges for the Byzantine Church today is the development and appropriation of solid research—both historical and theological—with a view to revitalizing worship in cultural environments significantly different from those in which it was born. Sociological factors, however, impede liturgical reform.

Keywords: Byzantine Rite, Eastern Orthodox worship, Constantinopolitan liturgy, Divine Liturgy, Byzantine divine office, Byzantine liturgical calendar, Orthodox Sacraments, Byzantine Catholicism, Greco-Catholic tradition, liturgical theology

Byzantine Christian worship is the conventional academic designation for the liturgical tradition of all Eastern Orthodox Christians (not to be confused with the Oriental Orthodox), as well as a majority of Eastern Catholics.1 These latter are the Byzantine, or Greek, Catholics (previously dubbed “Uniates”). Many practitioners of the Byzantine tradition will never refer to their worship as “Byzantine.” However, it remains the only serviceable term for a Rite practiced by communities as diverse as the Russian Orthodox and Melkite Greek Catholics, to name just two. The common denominator is the historical role of Constantinople (Byzantium). It is through this city that the Byzantine liturgical tradition was filtered and disseminated—either directly or indirectly. Consequently, even though historically the Byzantine Rite possesses substantial elements of Palestinian provenance2 (e.g., hymnographic texts and the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours), these elements were synthesized by authorities associated with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.3 Significantly, for more than a millennium, the latter was linked to the Roman Empire’s political center. (The Byzantines referred to themselves as the Romaioi.) Thus, Christians of the Alexandrian, Antiochene, and Jerusalem Patriarchates loyal to the Empire eventually adopted Constantinople’s synthesized Rite. With the conversion to Christianity of the South Slavs (Bulgarians and Serbs) and the East Slavs (present-day Ukrainians, Russians, and Belarusans), this Rite spread into the Balkan and Rus’ territories beginning in the 9th and 10th centuries.

Important Centers in the Evolution of Byzantine Worship

Throughout Byzantine history, Constantinople’s main church, Hagia Sophia, influenced the evolution of its liturgy. It modeled a ritual opulence. The presence of the imperial court prompted a splendor discernable in some communities to the present day. After the 11th century, the monastic enclave of Mt. Athos also played a significant role in shaping the Rite.4 It synthesized usages and texts from Saint Sabas Lavra near Jerusalem as well as Studite communities in and around Constantinople. Significant practices and texts of Jerusalem’s church of the Anastasis, or Holy Sepulcher, also entered Constantinople’s worship in various stages beginning in the 4th century.5

After the fall of Byzantium in 1453, Venice took on a vital role. With printing becoming decisive in the dissemination of liturgical traditions, and the Orthodox within the Ottoman Empire being prohibited from publishing, the prominent Greek colony of Venice began issuing liturgical books in 1509. This ultimately determined the textual dimension of the tradition.6 In different stages and with certain modifications, the Venetian Greek editions were eventually translated into Slavonic, Arabic, Romanian, etc. Thus, the codification of Byzantine Christian worship owes more to the work of Venetian printers than to ecclesiastical authorities. Of course, the printers reproduced material from manuscripts in use at the time, but their work was not controlled by conciliar bodies or assemblies of hierarchs. In any case, these 16th-century volumes have determined the textual basis for the Byzantine Rite to the present day. They represent, incidentally, only a portion of Greek liturgical texts extant in manuscript form.7

While this broad commonality of published texts provides a certain unity to the worship of all Byzantine churches, there are differences. These derive from liturgical language, music, architecture, styles of iconography, as well as “paraliturgical” elements. For many worshippers—as in any tradition—the last of these can be more significant than canonical worship. In popular devotion, the lighting of the Serbian Christmas Yule log, or the blessing of Ukrainian Easter baskets, can overshadow even the anaphora and scriptural lections.

As regards differences, it is a fact that each autocephalous or autonomous Church remains so independent of the other that even canonical aspects of worship governed by an ordo can vary from church to church. The jurisdictional independence allows for communities to interpret the tradition in diverse ways. In the case of Catholic churches of the Byzantine tradition, their separation from the Orthodox has engendered even more differences, and not all of them deleterious, as is frequently presumed.

Environment and Space

Historical Dimensions

Historically, especially before the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade, in 1204, the city as a whole often served as “worship space” (just as in other late-antique traditions8). A 10th- and 11th-century “ordo,” the so-called Typicon of the Great Church, prescribes a stational Eucharistic Liturgy sixty-eight times per year. Such processions throughout the city could also take place during the Liturgy of the Hours.9

But even before 1204, the church’s interior was becoming a more pronounced focal point. This coincides with the increased monasticization of church life after 843 ce. That year marked the end of iconoclasm, a movement that had compromised a fair number of secular clergy, spawning a monastic ascendency. Processions previously taking place outside and near the church increasingly became intramural. And the reaction against iconoclasm led to an explosion of fresco programs covering most of the church’s interior. This is not to suggest that prior to this period the interior of the church was considered inconsequential—quite the contrary, as is evident from Paul the Silentiary’s 6th-century poetic tribute to the appointments and adornments of Hagia Sophia.10 But with each passing century the interior develops increasingly normative and salient characteristics, not to mention symbolic significance in the mystagogies. The limitation of worship to the inside of the church was hardened with the Ottoman ban on displays of Christian devotion outside church buildings.

Present-Day Dimensions

Today, processions are generally limited to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as well as the church’s patronal feast and the Theophany Blessing of Water. Various other occasions can also provide opportunities for such processions. However, these are regulated by local custom rather than a general norm.

As regards the interior’s appearance, with the exception of a certain number of churches in Western countries, the practice of painting most of the interior of the church endures to the present. Thus, today the environment for Byzantine worship is usually a tripartite building richly adorned with canonically regulated sacred art. The first part of the building, the narthex, not only serves to house candle stands and a desk where offerings can be made for communion breads (prosphorae), it is also where baptisms and weddings begin. In many redactions of the Byzantine Rite, on major feasts, a rogation procession, the litē, moves to the narthex during Vespers and sometimes Great Compline.11

The largest part of the church building, the nave, is usually topped with a dome. Depending on the particular branch of the Byzantine tradition, this dome can be smaller (the Slavic form) or larger (the Greek and Middle Eastern form). Obviously, climate has played a role. Especially in the case of the larger dome, the worshipper is overshadowed by a space that subsumes him or her into a heavenward embrace. The depiction of Christ Pantocrator (the all-Ruler) descending into the assembly from the center of the dome “to unite heaven and earth” fosters this impression. The latter phrase is a topos for Byzantine worship. It recalls a biblical cosmology, with its stress on a universe salvifically restored to unity, and redolent of panentheism.

The third part of the church, the sanctuary, is separated by a wall of icons called the iconostasis. The need for “crowd control” around the holy table was already apparent in parts of Christianity by the early 4th century, but after the victory over iconoclasm, this single-tier barrier separating nave and sanctuary came to be covered with icons, and in some regions, it was eventually expanded to five tiers.12 A barrier initially constructed for practical reasons comes to symbolize the eschatological orientation of liturgy. Worshippers standing before the icon screen experience the partial fulfillment of hope and anticipation as one epiphany after another descends into their midst through the screen’s holy doors. These open during high points of the service. The gospel, the Eucharist, festal icons, and candles are brought forth to the assembly through the central doors of the iconostasis.

In the middle of the sanctuary stands a cube-shaped, or at least square, holy table. By at least the 12th century, there is firm evidence for a golden dove containing the reserved Eucharist being hung over the altar in Hagia Sophia.13 The more common practice was most likely reservation in the skeuophylakion, an outdoor sacristy.14 With the disappearance of the latter, in certain territories, Communion comes to be reserved under the altar or in the wall over the apsidal throne. Tabernacles begin to be placed on the altar consistently from the 18th century.15

There is no tradition of extra-liturgical Eucharistic adoration among the Byzantines, though prior to Vatican II, Eastern Catholics were pressured to adopt such practices. Rome has since discouraged this latinization. Thus the Byzantine tradition retains the patristic link between the Eucharistic Body as sustenance and the liturgical Body as assembly. It is in the celebration of the Eucharist, where members of the Body are linked through interpersonal activity, that the Body and Blood of Christ are revealed and worshipped. Of course, should the Eucharist be brought to the sick, for example, prostrations and other signs of adoration are performed.

Space as Sacrament

Fundamental to almost everything about the interior of the church and its “adornment” is its symbolic significance. Space itself is sacramental. The act of seeing heightens communion with God. Moreover, the focus is not one point in the building, but the entire church and everything transpiring therein. Thus, tradition prescribes the location and placement of icons, the lighting and extinguishing of candles during the service, and the form of various accoutrements. Even the aforementioned cube shape of the altar, though not universal, is intended to recall the measurements of the heavenly city in the book of Revelation (21:16), which itself recalls the shape of the holy of holies in Solomon’s Temple (I Kings 6:19).

All of the above explains why it is difficult to celebrate a Byzantine service outside a church built for that purpose. It also explains why liturgical discussions and debates among Byzantine Christians can be more intense than they otherwise should be. The decoration of the church and the ceremonies that take place within it have accrued a theology that imbues them with far more meaning than the words “decoration” and “ceremony” suggest. Ideally, they are not extrinsic to Christian living but are “stabs at corporate meaning.”16 This also explains why concerts of sacred music are generally banned in Eastern Christian churches.

Two Devalued Symbols

A discussion of Byzantine liturgical space would not be complete, however, without reference to the Byzantines’ loss of two ancient structures, the permanent ambo and the baptistery. Both developments reflect theological decline. While many Greek churches have managed to restore a permanent enclosure with lectern, from which the gospel is proclaimed and the homily preached, most other Byzantine communities have not. They rely on an altar server to carry a portable lectern to the area before the holy doors of the icon screen. (This is analogous to bringing out a portable altar for the liturgy of the Eucharist!) As for the baptistery, while some communities have begun constructing permanent structures, today it too is usually a movable structure. Sometimes it is even stored—unceremoniously—in an isolated corner of the church.

Ethos and Spirit

Many Westerners entering a Byzantine Rite church during a service notice a distinctive ethos or atmosphere. This dimension of Byzantine Christian worship is as significant as its textual tradition. It might be described as hieratic, or pan-sacramental. Some observers will simply refer to it as “transcendent.” The “seams” joining different parts of the service are concealed, creating the impression that the actions within the space are guided by something far beyond anything in the here and now. The assembly moves from one liturgical unit to the next without anyone disruptingly drawing attention to these transitions.

This ethos derives from a theology imbued with the patristic teaching that the worship transpiring on earth is a copy of the heavenly liturgy. As the latter is believed to continue without ceasing, and because what happens in church is supposed to be guided by what is occurring in the heavens, any interruption—or for that matter pause—is precluded. This does not mean that the service is devoid of directives or markers. These, however, are absorbed into its flow. Thus the indication for the tone of a responsorial (prokeimenon) will be sung out, as opposed to being announced as a spoken—and thus interrupting—instruction. Today, when in some communities the entire congregation is encouraged to follow the complex structure of the Liturgy of the Hours, the cantor may sing out the page number of the propers printed in a worship aid.17

Of course, the transcendent ethos described above is not uniquely Eastern. Prior to the Reformation, it characterized Western worship as well. Certainly the pre-Vatican II Latin Rite displayed such a quality. While this phenomenon is complex, among the elements that might help explain the present-day difference is Byzantine Christianity’s retention of a more Platonic worldview and the Eastern Church’s peripheral and derivative appropriation of the Cartesian and Kantian turn to the subject.18

Another aspect of Byzantine worship’s spirit that merits attention is its asceticism. Instructions regarding fasting, abstention, vigilance, and inner disposition are included among the rubrics in liturgical books. For example, the book of Lenten propers (Triodion) outlines the details of fasting for different days,19 and the ordinary of Orthros (matins-lauds) describes the spiritual attitude that should attend the recitation of the opening six psalms.20 These directives can also refer to the preparation required at home. The rubrics for the Eucharistic liturgy, for example, exhort the clergy to seek reconciliation with the estranged the night before the celebration.21

Biblical Dimensions

The topic of biblical dimensions of Byzantine worship is too vast and fluid for us to be able to consider more than two such aspects. The first—in spite of its importance—is generally ignored by authors, and the second is a dimension that has come to prominence only recently. They are signaled here as themes deserving greater exploration. We also mention them to give a sense of Byzantine liturgy’s scriptural grounding.

How Byzantine Worship Describes Itself

As regards the first dimension, in its Eucharistic prayers and in its Liturgy of the Hours, Byzantine worship self-describes as logikē latreia (Romans 12:1). The anaphora of Saint John Chrysostom, referring to the Eucharist, reads: “We offer to You this rational (logikēn) and unbloody worship . . .” It later repeats the phrase twice.22 Also, the opening of Basil’s anaphora reads, “It is truly right and proper, and fitting the majesty of Your holiness to praise You, to hymn You, to bless You, to worship You, to thank You, to glorify You, who alone are truly God; and to offer You with a contrite heart and spirit of humility this our rational worship” (logikēn latreian).23

Thus, the action performed as Eucharist is viewed as the living sacrifice—the offering of one’s total self—to which Saint Paul exhorts Christians in the Epistle to the Romans. But it is not only the Eucharist that is thus conceived. Vespers is described in the same way. The Tone 8 propers of Saturday evening (Sunday) Vespers read, “An evening hymn and rational worship (logikēn latreian), we offer you, O Christ, for you were well pleased to have mercy on us through the Resurrection.”24

Whether one translates logikē as rational, spiritual, or reasonable, the key is that this important scriptural exhortation is professedly realized in both the Eucharist and the Hours—that is, all of the Church’s canonical prayer. The identification of Romans 12:1 with liturgical worship is significant because the latter is then obliged to overcome all extrinsicism. The connection between liturgy and life is reinforced.

The Old Testament Temple and Byzantine Liturgy

The second biblical dimension that has gained prominence is the affinity between Old Testament temple worship and Byzantine liturgy. Methodist scholar Margaret Barker has pioneered work in this area.25 While the attempt to trace continuities to temple practice remains disputed for a host of reasons, her work is helpful in drawing attention to how Byzantine worship mirrors a large number of practices and themes described in the Old Testament. One is hardly obliged to concede temporal causality or continuity to admit that temple realities such as the holy of holies and its curtain eventually find transformed iteration in the Byzantine Rite.

Liturgical Language

Theoretically, any language can be used for Byzantine worship. There are no canonical restrictions—though in practice they abound. Historically, the question came to a head in the disputes between Saints Cyril and Methodius and their Frankish opponents in the 9th century. Especially since that time, the Orthodox have generally supported the principle of translating liturgical texts into vernaculars. Nonetheless, many churches of the Byzantine tradition are attached to a form of “sacred tongue.” Many Greeks still oppose the use of modern Greek for any part of the service, and the Moscow Patriarchate generally rejects the use of modern Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusan.26 Granted, the melding of melodies to Greek, Church Slavonic—and other—texts is a legitimate rationale for conservatism, but many opponents of the vernacular refuse to admit it even for those parts of the service that are chanted recto tono by a soloist (priest, deacon, lector). Such texts are not tied to music and could easily be adapted to vernaculars. These include scriptural lections, presidential prayers, and diaconal litanies.

Outside ancestral homelands—in the West, for example—Byzantine Christian communities will sometimes reject vernaculars owing to nationalism and/or immigrant nostalgia. The resistance can be particularly strong where the ancestral language has been prohibited or discriminated against in the home country. For better or worse, Eastern Christian communities frequently fuse ethnos and ecclesia, with consequences readily apparent in their liturgies.

Use of Scripture

The canonically codified form of Byzantine worship, that is, the official liturgical books, reveal a liturgy that is significantly scriptural (notwithstanding the fact that 85 percent of the Old Testament is never prescribed for any celebration).27 A markedly scriptural profile is evident in the fact that, according to the ordo, the entire Psalter is to be chanted every week (twice a week in Lent); the New Testament (excluding the book of Revelation) is to be proclaimed at Eucharistic liturgies in the space of a year; and significant parts of the Old Testament are to be heard at Vespers, not to mention other hours such as Lenten Sext, when much of Isaiah is read.28 But in practice—even in some monasteries—it is scripture that is jettisoned first when services are abbreviated. Even the ordinary psalms of Vespers and Matins are frequently truncated. When one considers that many Orthodox communities will celebrate the Eucharist only on Sundays, and that the Sunday lectionary consists of a one-year cycle of epistle and gospel pericopes, the average worshipper actually hears very little of the Bible. This would not be problematic, except that Orthodox theologians stress how it is worship that provides the principal locus for the appropriation of scripture29—and Orthodox and Catholics insist that the Bible is the Church’s book.

Naturally, parochial, as opposed to monastic, communities cannot be expected to celebrate services often enough to gain a fuller exposure to the lectionary or psalter pensum. However, presently there are no discussions underway to revise these in order to provide the average churchgoer with a fuller biblical diet. The possibility of restoring a greater number of psalm verses to the Byzantine responsorial (prokeimenon) is not discussed, nor has any ecclesial body reviewed the possibility of returning an Old Testament lection to the Eucharist. Though recently questioned,30 it remains the scholarly consensus that such a lection was indeed part of the Byzantine Eucharist until the period between Maximus the Confessor’s (d. 662) Mystagogy and Germanus of Constantinople’s (d. 754) Historia.31 The planned Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church, scheduled for 2016, has not included such issues in its agenda. Moreover, the Byzantine Catholic Churches have also ignored the problem. Theoretically, the latter’s regular contact with Western Churches, where such reforms have occurred, could motivate them to discuss such possibilities. However, the fear of being dubbed innovators or Westernizers by their Orthodox co-ritualists in part prevents such initiatives.32

Presidential Prayers

Most presidential prayers of the canonical Byzantine tradition derive from the first millennium. In fact, many of the key prayers predate the 8th century.33 Generally, these orations (though the anaphorae will be discussed below) evidence a classical pattern of invoking God—either the Father or the Son—rehearsing and praising His attributes and salvific actions, enunciating certain petitions, and exclaiming an embolism. Even when the prayer has been addressed to the Son, the embolism can be to all three Persons of the Trinity. The later the prayer, the greater the possibility that a scribe has appended a doxological conclusion without attention to the addressee. Older prayers tend to display greater logic in connecting these two parts.

Paradoxically, considering their antiquity, most of the presidential prayers of the Byzantine Rite are never said aloud—even though originally they were.34 In addition to the liturgical law, that older units frequently wane in prominence,35 this reduction to silent recitation has certainly been conditioned by the fact that it is nearly impossible to hear a longer text when it is proclaimed behind a screen. Besides, the priest faces ad orientem, “away from the assembly,” as he recites the prayers. In the original Constantinopolitan liturgy of the hours, such presidential prayers survived far longer as audible orations. This is because the clergy stood in the midst of the assembly for much of Vespers and Orthros, and only concluded in the sanctuary.

In present day practice, the only presidential prayer that is always said aloud at the Eucharist in all families of the Byzantine Rite is the “prayer behind the ambo” (“O Lord, You bless those who bless You . . .”).36 Arguably this is because the priest is required to exit the sanctuary and pronounce it in greater proximity to the congregation. Another exception is the lengthy kneeling prayers of Pentecost Sunday Vespers, which have also survived as prayers heard by the assembly.37 It is no accident, however, that in this case the priest (or bishop) actually faces the people as he reads them, making them fully audible. Similarly, the presidential prayers of most other rites that take place in the middle of the church, or among the people, are sung aloud. This deserves note, as any attempt to restore the aurality of presidential prayers can easily fail—and quite understandably. One needs to factor in how much will actually be heard. Besides, there is the fact that an increased word count will affect the experience of an already prolix Rite. The Ordinary of the Byzantine Eucharistic Liturgy has four times the number of words as the Roman Mass.38


Byzantine worship is noted for its theologically rich hymnography. Most such compositions are the work of monastic authors. As for time frame, roughly 90 percent of the hymnography found in Byzantine liturgical books today dates from the 7th to 14th century.39

As in all classical traditions, the earliest stratum of chants in the Byzantine Rite are simple refrains that either quote or paraphrase scripture. The prokeimenon is an example of the former, while short phrases inserted into Psalm 103 (104) at Great Vespers typify the latter. A fair number of stanzas, composed in Greek between the 5th and 8th centuries and extant (at least in an earlier redaction) in a Georgian compilation called the Iadgari,40 are still sung today. They can also be found in the Georgian Lectionary of Jerusalem (6th to 8th century).41 These are poetic compositions of several lines that originally farced psalms as refrains.

The Kontakion-Turned-Akathistos

In Constantinople itself, the 6th-century poet, Romanus the Melodist—followed by others—composed ballad homilies called kontakia (singular, kontakion).42 Many of these have survived in radically attenuated form. Today, only the introductory stanza, which previously preceded twenty-four hymnic units, is still sung, even though entire kontakia could still be used as late as the 12th century.43 An exception to this attenuation is the akathistos hymn. The most famous of these—still in use—is the akathistos to the Mother of God. The initial chant (proemion) is followed by twelve “kontakia” and twelve ikoi (singular, ikos).44

The term “akathistos” is derived from the fact that on the fifth Saturday of Lent, this hymn replaces the kathismata (sections of the psalter) at Matins. By transference, this became the name of the hymn. The usual explanation, “a hymn during which one does not sit” (a-kathistos), hardly makes sense. That would describe most of the hymns, nay essentially all of the services, of the Byzantine tradition.

The Hymnographic Canon

In addition to the aforementioned short refrains, as well as stanzas, which now appear under titles such as “troparion” and “sticheron” (as well as the aforementioned remnant of the kontakion), the most prominent form of hymnography is the canon. This is not to be confused with the Eucharistic prayer (which the Byzantines never refer to as a canon). It is rather a string of stanzas initially intended to farce nine biblical odes sung at Orthros (equivalent to Western matins and lauds). The nine odes are Exodus 15:1–19; Deuteronomy 32:1–43; 1 Samuel 2:1–10; Habakkuk 3:2–19; Isaiah 26:9–20; Jonah 2:3–10; Daniel 3:26–56); Daniel 3:57–88; with Luke 1:46–55 and Luke 1:68–79 as the ninth ode.

The most prominent of the canons is the great penitential canon of St. Andrew of Crete (d. 740 or earlier) sung at Orthros on the fifth Thursday of Lent.45 However, no other canon contains as many troparia (stanzas) as his—more than 200. The average canon consists of between two to four troparia for each ode and is preceded by a chant called the heirmos (connecting chant), which in the original Greek sets the meter and melody. At least one canon is appointed for each Orthros service throughout the year, and on Sundays—according to the ordo—up to four. Naturally, even monasteries do not always apply this norm. Today a wide array of abbreviations is common, from the practice of singing only the heirmoi, to singing only one canon even when more are appointed, to omitting entire odes. This last approach has a pedigree in the canonical tradition, as Lent is a season when historically canons with only three odes, for example, were sung (giving rise to the name for the Lenten propers book, the Triodion.) A tri-ode, in fact, was arguably the original form of the canon in non-monastic churches. As for the actual scriptural verses of each ode enumerated above, they have long been jettisoned. Even the official ordo, where they are still prescribed for weekdays of Lent, is frequently ignored.

The Chorale

A distinctive and prominent aspect of Slavic Greek Catholic (“Uniate”) hymnography is the chorale. Until the late 18th century, large parts of present day Ukraine and Belarus were within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Under Western influence Eastern Christians there began to compose such hymns. Some of these are magnificent, though others can reflect the banality typical of certain forms of folk culture. Manuscript compilations of these chorales exist from the 16th century, and in 1790, the famed Pochaiv Monastery, during its Uniate phase, published a large collection called the Bohohlasnyk.46

Originally, these chorales were sung during pilgrimages or as people gathered before and after services. With time, they came to dominate “soft points” in the service itself. Thus in addition to becoming communion hymns, they began to be sung during the initial incensation or immediately after the final “Amen” of the service. The melodies of these chorales even became the music for canonical parts of service (e.g., the cherubicon, Alleluia, and Kyrie eleison of the litē). Most prominent among these chorales are the Christmas carols (Ukrainian koliady). Some of them have roots in pre-Christian rites and remain part of domestic culture.

While Orthodox, as opposed to Byzantine Catholic, churches eschew the use of chorales during worship, one must wonder whether this would have remained the case had Constantinople not fallen in the 15th century. Is it not possible that Orthodoxy would have also embraced this new form of music? Certainly musical genres have evolved in Byzantine Christianity throughout the centuries. However, an appropriate question is whether a form of poetry in which text is sometimes entirely sacrificed to melody and rhyme, that is, in which words can be secondary, should be accorded canonical—and thus theological—status.

In any case, even Greek Catholics use these hymns—as beautiful as some of them can be—only at “soft points.” No one has attempted to have them replace canonical texts, even though, during the nadir of Eastern Catholic latinization (before Vatican II), some Slavic communities sang chorales as the priest celebrated the equivalent of a Byzantine low Mass.


In the Byzantine Tradition, the Eucharist is called “The Divine Liturgy,” or simply “Liturgy.” This reveals the distinctive status of the service. Other services are never referred to as “leitourgia.”

The Divine Liturgy consists of a Liturgy of the Word, still called “the Liturgy of the Catechumens” in most liturgical books, and a Liturgy of the Eucharist, called “the Liturgy of the Faithful.” Nonetheless, almost no Byzantine communities today require the unbaptized to leave the church before the beginning of the latter, even though many Orthodox have retained the command, “Catechumens, depart.”47

The Liturgy of the Word

Much of the hymnography of the Liturgy of the Word consists of chants that originally served as entrance hymns. The 5th century sees the introduction of the Trisagion (“Holy God, Holy and Mighty . . .”), the 6th century witnesses the inclusion of the Ho Monogenes chant (“O Only-begotten Son”), and variable troparia also come to be sung as entrance hymns. However, instead of successive chants displacing previous entrance hymns, the latter have generally been retained along with the former, except for troparia associated with particular feasts. Thus, during the Liturgy’s formative period, we see the accretion of entrance chants. What allows for such an accumulation of chants without their becoming overbearing—or at least less taxing than they might otherwise be—is the fact that the psalmody accompanying the chants has either been truncated or entirely eliminated.48 Thus, accumulation is accompanied by elimination, but the elimination occurs through abbreviation rather than complete suppression.

The three antiphons of the Liturgy of the Word are the original chants of the stational Liturgy, when Byzantines processed through the city. The structure has been retained even though the action has not. The procession has been reduced to a circumambulation of the altar. Incidentally, the “Psalms of Typica” (102 [103], 145 [146] and the Beatitudes), sung in many Byzantine communities as the three antiphons, derive from a Palestinian monastic communion service. They came to be imported into the Rite of Constantinople. After the 13th century, in many communities, these so-called “Typical Psalms” begin to supplant the usual three antiphons (Psalms 91 [92], 92 [93], and 94 [95]).49

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

Except for Holy Thursday and the Paschal Vigil (Holy Saturday) the Liturgy of the Eucharist is introduced by a 6th-century chant, the cherubicon: “Let us who mystically represent the cherubim, and sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-giving Trinity, now lay aside all cares of life … that we may receive the King of all, invisibly escorted by ranks of angels. Alleluia.”50 The Greek word translated as “represent” is literally “show forth as icons”—eikonizontes. The worshipping assembly describes itself as manifesting an order of angels.

The cherubicon is interrupted by the transfer of gifts from a table of preparation to the holy table. Called the “Great Entrance,” it was originally a short procession from the outdoor skeuophylakion. Thematically, the hymn points to key events that will ensue. The assembly will sing the Sanctus during the anaphora and will receive the King of all in Communion. And the cares of life will be forgotten as “hearts are on high” (cf. the pre-anaphoral dialogue).51 Incidentally, this procession is not an offertory. The offering of gifts takes place before the Liturgy of the Word, during the prothesis rite.52

Like all pre-Reformation Eucharists, the Byzantine has a “taking,” “blessing,” “breaking,” and “giving” (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:17–19). The first is the Great Entrance, the second the anaphora, the third the fraction, and the last, the actual reception of Communion.

Two anaphoras are used: that of John Chrysostom most of the year,53 and of Basil the Great ten times a year.54 Both are tripartite Antiochene-type Eucharistic prayers. During the last century, there was also a movement to employ a form of the anaphora of Saint James on his feast (October 23).

Even though originally Communion was received in the hand and from the cup, since the middle of the 11th century a spoon has been used to distribute Communion.55 Many Westerners find this alienating. Thus, in the 19th century Melkite Greek Catholics began intincting the Bread in the Wine. However, some have noted that the chances of the priest’s fingers touching the lips of the recipient are just as great as the possibility that the spoon will. Nonetheless, because some communities require the communicant to lick the spoon rather than simply allowing the priest to drop the Gifts into her mouth, some Westerners maintain their aversion.

The Byzantine Eucharist’s Eschatological and Resurrectional Accents

Theologically, the Byzantine Eucharist has a strong eschatological thrust and resurrectional accent. As regards the first, the Eucharist always begins with the exclamation, “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever . . .”56 At one time this formula began all services in Constantinople—even the Hours. But its retention for all Eucharists—even though historically coincidental—can be significant in view of other eschatological dimensions of the Eucharist. For example, during the Chrysostom anaphora one memorializes (makes anamnesis of) Christ’s second coming.57 This Eucharistic prayer also celebrates the conviction that God “did not cease doing everything until [He] led us to heaven and granted us [His] future kingdom.”58 Byzantine worship does not shy away from the paradox that in Christ believers experience future triumph as a present reality.

As regards the resurrectional accent, the practice of pouring hot water (zeon) into the consecrated chalice highlights the belief that the Body and Blood being received are fully alive, thus warm. Also, devotional practices that have developed surrounding Communion tend to have resurrectional themes. In some redactions of the tradition, after receiving the Eucharist, clergy recite Paschal texts. These include “Having seen the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus . . .,” or “Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem, the glory of the Lord has shone upon you . . .,” and “O great and most holy Pasch . . .”59

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

The fact that the full Byzantine Eucharist, that is, a Liturgy with anaphora, is viewed as fundamentally resurrectional is the fact that on weekdays of Lent such Eucharists are proscribed. The full Eucharist is considered a continuation of Christ’s post-Resurrection meals with the disciples. Also, the proclamation of the mirabilia Dei with the epicletic descent of the Holy Spirit is viewed as thoroughly celebrational. Consequently, instead of such a “banquet,” the Body of Christ is received on weekdays of Lent during a Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts. Communion is consecrated on a preceding Sunday (pre-sanctified) for distribution during the week.60 This Liturgy is celebrated in the evening (originally at 3:00 p.m.) in conjunction with Vespers after a day of fasting—a fundamental dimension of Lent. Thus the Eucharist is received primarily as nourishment for the ascetic journey, rather than as festive sustenance.61 Incidentally, because late antique populations consumed only two meals—a late morning breakfast and supper—the original Byzantine fast in preparation for the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts involved omitting only one meal. Some communities that have restored an evening celebration of this Liturgy propose a fast from noon, rather than the traditional fast from midnight. The latter requirement explains why, in the past, this service eventually came to be moved to the morning. Fasting from midnight to evening became too difficult. Because of this, many communities continue to celebrate this vesperal Liturgy in the morning.

Liturgy of the Hours

Unlike the Latin tradition, the Byzantine Liturgy of the Hours never became the purview of the clergy, even though during the pre-Vatican II period of Latinization certain Greek Catholics began conceiving of it as a breviary-style obligation. Of itself such a development need not have been injurious had it not led to a de-emphasis of the public and solemn celebration of the Hours.

In traditionally Eastern Christian lands, urban churches will frequently provide a daily celebration of the Hours, in particular, Vespers and Orthros.62 Outside such territories, the Greeks and Antiochenes usually retain a Sunday and festal celebration of the latter, while the Russians serve a vigil (Vespers and Orthros) the preceding evening. The latter is a two or three-hour remnant of the Sabaitic all-night vigil.63 The designation “all-night” (vsenoshnoe) is even retained. Other communities in Western countries generally settle for a celebration of Vespers on the eves of Sundays and feasts (followed by the Divine Liturgy the next morning). Incidentally, it is worth noting that, historically and thematically, Orthros is not exclusively a morning service. It includes aspects of a vigil. Thus, the insistence that Orthros always be served in the morning is misplaced.

In addition to Vespers and Orthros, the Byzantine tradition has retained Prime, Tierce, Sext, and None, along with Compline and a Midnight office. A remnant of a Palestinian monastic Communion office, the Typica, is also part of this nine-fold system—though without Communion in present-day usage. In more observant parishes, all of these services will be celebrated at some point during the year. Not surprisingly, however, only monasteries and cathedrals will tend to offer them as part of a daily cursus. However, unlike many Western religious, Orthodox monastics will usually not join in this full cursus as a daily community endeavor. Several members are delegated to sing all of the lesser offices on a daily basis, while others participate only in morning and evening services. In many East Slavic monasteries, these daily morning and evening offices are not Vespers and Orthros, but the Midnight office (in the morning) and Compline (after supper). Vespers and Orthros in these communities are actually celebrated together during the late afternoon and evening, thus imitating the “all-night vigil” on a daily basis. This practice has developed as a matter of convenience—to enable participants to sing the longer and more complicated services in larger blocks.

Sacraments and Blessings

Eastern Christians have generally managed to avoid the long held Western distinction between “liturgy” and “sacraments.” As for an enumeration of the latter, the question need not detain us. Suffice it to say that during the last century theologically astute Orthodox and some Byzantine Catholics have thoroughly relativized the notion of a Septinarium—even though many Orthodox still hold to the doctrine. But no General Council of the Orthodox Church has ever promulgated a seven-fold list. And for Byzantine Catholics the status of Trent can hardly be authoritative. Granted, the union Council, Lyons II, first introduced the Septinarium to the East,64 but there is an increasing movement to distinguish between ecumenical councils, and General Councils like Lyons II.


Be that as it may, among the distinctive Byzantine dimensions of analogous rites that Westerners list specifically as sacraments, one notes the following. Initiation almost always involves a unified celebration of Baptism, Chrismation, and Eucharist—even for infants.65 The latter are, in fact, the usual recipients—adult Initiation being rare.

The chrism must be blessed by a bishop. The bishop’s ancient role in presiding at Initiation is thus symbolized.66 As for the Eucharist, it is frequently administered from Presanctified Gifts or received at a subsequent celebration of the Divine Liturgy.


Confessions are heard with priest and penitent standing in front of an icon and usually a gospel book and cross. These are found in a part of the church that is secluded but not enclosed. Under Latin influence, via Ruthenian “Uniate” usage, Russian Orthodox today use an indicative form of absolution, “I absolve and forgive you.”67 Paradoxically, Melkite Catholics (along with the Greek and most other Orthodox) use the deprecatory form, “May God . . . forgive you all things . . .”68


The marriage rite is called “crowning,” with the placement of crowns on the head of bride and groom constituting the high point of the service. Most other Eastern Rites possess a similar ceremony. The theology is that of a grace-filled empowering from above rather than a contract or even covenant. This crowning rite is usually preceded by a betrothal service during which rings are exchanged.69 The betrothal was initially a separate act, but came to be joined to the marriage rite because the betrothal also carried legal obligations.70 The risk of infraction led to a desire to minimize the time between the two.


Ordination to the diaconate, presbyterate, and episcopate are distinguished from the bestowal of other (i.e., minor) orders by the fact that they must be conferred during the Eucharist—and at the holy table. Each occurs at a point in the Divine Liturgy indicative of the ordinand’s distinctive role. The bishop is ordained before the proclamation of the lections, the presbyter before the anaphora, and the deacon in anticipation of communion.71 These three ordination rites are also distinct in that they alone contain what under scholastic influence came to be viewed as the form of the Sacrament of Orders. This form is the prayer/exhortation: “The divine grace, which always heals that which is infirm and supplies that which is lacking, ordains the most pious deacon (name) [or priest etc] to be a priest [or bishop]. Therefore, let us pray for him, that the grace of the All Holy Spirit may come upon him.”72 Originally, this would not have been considered a particularly noteworthy part of the service. However, the need for a relatively short formula, and one present in all three rites, led to its rise in significance. This is not to deny the beauty of its theology, but only to indicate how an extrinsic doctrinal development has typically influenced thinking about liturgy.

Today, especially among the Greeks, there is growing interest in the restoration of the female diaconate.73 It endured in the East throughout much of the first millennium. Certain Roman Catholics74 have argued that the Byzantine tradition did not have female deacons (as opposed to deaconesses), but the argument is grounded in a retrojected Western theology of orders. However, the evidence compels even these scholars to admit that in Byzantium the appointment of female deacons was indeed an ordination fundamentally analogous to that bestowed on males, even if the roles were distinctive.

Anointing of the Sick

The rite of anointing of the sick is presented in the official euchologies of the Byzantine Churches as a service consisting of seven liturgical units celebrated by seven priests. Each unit contains a responsorial, epistle, and gospel, as well as orations.75 Curiously, what might be considered a euchological fluke is responsible for the canonization of this seven-fold structure. Middle-Byzantine euchologies provided seven units for the anointing of the sick, but these were frequently celebrated separately over the duration of a week. The same priest could perform all seven. With time, however, they were conflated into a single—lengthy—rite. In Slavonic, the rite is called soborovanie—a noun related to the word for “council” or “assembly,” and is indicative of the gathering of clergy. It is also significant that the letter of James, the first reading of the rite, refers to presbyters—in the plural (James 5:14).

Nonetheless, in practice seven priests rarely preside. The ideal, however, has led to the rite’s frequently being reserved to pilgrimages or retreats, when a greater number of clergy is available. It is also a prominent part of Holy Week observances. The service is commonly offered on the Wednesday before Pascha, even in the absence of a greater number of priests. Especially among the Greeks, it is celebrated in lieu of a pre-Easter confession. The reference in the epistle of James to the forgiveness of sins (James 5:15), has engendered this. Consequently, even those without any physical infirmities approach the sacrament during Holy Week. A high point in the rite is the placing of an open gospel book on the head of the ailing person.76

Funeral Rites

The codified funeral rite for laypersons contains a significant proportion of scripture—all of Psalm 118 [119]), for example.77 But the psalmody is almost always abbreviated or omitted all together.78 Nonetheless, in parts of Ukraine one still finds a fair number of communities where a cantor reads the entire Psalter over the deceased throughout the night.

In Western countries, many communities settle for the chanting of a fifteen-minute service, the “Trisagion Prayers” (litē), the night before the funeral,79 followed by an actual funeral in church or funeral chapel (lasting almost ninety minutes with eulogy),80 and interment at the cemetery. Except for clergy, the funeral is generally celebrated without a Eucharist. Eastern Catholics in Western countries, however, are inclined to add the latter—and thus abbreviate the actual funeral rite. As for cremation, Orthodox generally do not permit the practice,81 while in Western countries Eastern Catholics generally follow the guidelines of the Roman Catholic Church.

Note also that the Byzantine Rite has retained distinctive funeral services for priests, monastics, and children—in addition to the form for adult laypersons.

Liturgical Year and Calendar

The Beginning of the Church Year

Theologically, the beginning of the Church year is Pascha. For the movable cycle of feasts, Easter appears first in Byzantine liturgical books. However, because the Byzantine civil year began on September 1, the texts for immovable commemorations (those whose dates never change) are provided in volumes beginning with that month. Consequently, the fallacy that September 1 is the beginning of the Byzantine liturgical year is widely circulated. That date reflects an arrangement corresponding only to the secular Byzantine cycle.82 Of course, in keeping with a pre-modern worldview, the secular was also religious, as is evident in the hymnography for September 1.83

The Twelve Great Feasts and the Four Fast Periods

In the second millennium, the notion of twelve great feasts begins to gain currency. These are the Nativity of the Mother of God (September 8), the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14), the Entrance into the Temple of the Mother of God (November 21), Christmas (December 25), Theophany (January 6), the Encounter (February 2), Annunciation (March 25), Palm Sunday, Ascension, Pentecost, the Transfiguration (August 6), and Dormition of the Mother of God (August 15). Pascha stands above them all.84 It is preceded by a forty-day period of abstinence from meat and dairy products as well as from all food and drink on certain days or parts of days. This forty-day period of Great Lent includes Saturdays and Sundays. However, on these days, one takes meals, even though they are meat and dairy free. This is the actual meaning of the phrase, “in the East one does not fast on Saturdays and Sundays.” The uninterrupted abstention from meat and dairy products is the way that one arrives at a full forty-day reckoning. Thus, Great Lent begins on the Monday after Cheesefare Sunday, includes all weekends, and ends on the Friday before Lazarus Saturday (the latter being the day before Palm Sunday.) Thus, Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week are not strictly speaking part of the forty-day period, even though during Holy Week one continues to both abstain and fast.

In addition to the Great Fast (Lent), three other fast periods are prescribed today: a pre-Christmas forty-day fast; a fast between the second Monday after Pentecost and the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29); and a two-week fast before the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God (August 15). While the pre-Christmas period does contain bits of distinctive hymnography,85 the Byzantine calendar is devoid of anything as liturgically prominent as Western Advent. As for the pre-Dormition fast, the Greeks in particular are very devoted to the daily chanting of a Marian service called the Paraclesis.86

It must be noted, however, that even within rigorist communities, Eastern Christians generally avoid the kind of juridicism that characterized Latin approaches in the past. People are left to apply the fasting norms to their own particular circumstances. Thus, there is little mitigation of the ascetic discipline at an official, ecclesial level. And because of this personal appropriation of the norms, one finds Eastern Christians who are surprisingly rigorous and others who are remarkably lax.

The Julian and Gregorian Calendars, and the Date of Easter

As regards the retention of the Julian, as opposed to Gregorian, calendar, one needs to consult each individual Church—and sometimes even diocese—to determine which is followed. The divide is not confessional: many Orthodox follow the Gregorian calendar while some Greek Catholics the Julian. Today, the latter lags thirteen days behind the Gregorian. In the year 2,100 the gap will increase to fourteen.

As regards the celebration of Easter, a common misperception is that, during those years when the Julian reckoning lags behind the Gregorian, this is due to Nicea I’s ban on celebrating the Pasch “with the Jews” (meta tōn ioudaiōn).87 This is fallacious. As Dimitri Ogitsky of the Moscow Theological Academy demonstrated several decades ago, throughout much of the first millennium the Christian Pasch frequently preceded, or at least coincided with, the Jewish Passover. What Nicea I’s canon actually forbids is reliance on Jewish astronomers for the determination of when the first full moon after the vernal equinox will occur. Apparently, at that time they could be inept in their calculations.88

Byzantine Liturgical Scholarship

The modern, comprehensive study of Byzantine worship owes its beginnings to scholars working at the four theological academies of the Russian Empire near the end of the 19th century. Among the most noteworthy were Ivan Mansvetov (d. 1885), Nikolai Krasnoseltsev (d. 1898), and Aleksei Dmitrievsky (d. 1929). The last of the three excelled in the transcription and initial analysis of liturgical manuscripts.89 Nikolai Uspensky (d. 1987) attempted to continue their legacy, but the Soviet persecution of religion put an end to an auspicious movement.90 Today Mikhail Zheltov of Moscow is exerting titanic efforts to revive it.91

Among the Greeks, significant work with manuscripts was undertaken by Panagiotis Trembelas (d. 1977).92 Ioannes Fountoules (d. 2007) expanded the field by analyzing sources and publishing reconstructions of defunct historic rites.93 Many of these were cathedral offices that had been displaced by monastic offices. Fountoules even organized celebrations of such non-extant services to promote reflection on historical and pastoral questions. He also published an extensive series of pastoral reflections on liturgical questions.94

In the late 1950s, Anton Baumstark’s comparative method was appropriated by Juan Mateos, SJ (d. 2003). This gave rise to a school of liturgy centered at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome. Mateos’s Jesuit confrères, Miguel Arranz and Robert Taft,95 trained a whole generation of liturgists.96 Their mantle has been taken over by Stefano Parenti and Elena Velkovska.97 Today they are the leading liturgical historians working with Greek and Slavonic manuscripts.98 The couple combine Arranz’s compilatory prowess with Taft’s analytical acumen. Their critical attention to a vast array of previously known, as well as newly discovered, source material has enabled them to revise established paradigms.

In 1975, St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai became the site of a discovery of previously unknown liturgical manuscripts in various languages—and for various worship traditions, not just the Byzantine.99 For the Byzantine tradition these new finds are pivotal. The catalogue of Arabic manuscripts appeared in 1985, and the description of Slavonic sources was issued in 1988. Syriac fragments were described in 1995 and 2008. Two catalogues particularly crucial for Byzantine worship are those of the Greek (1998) and Georgian (2005) new finds. Heinzgerd Brakmann100 and Stig Simeon Frøyshov101 have done important work with the Georgian new finds. These provide crucial information for the early and middle Byzantine period.

Moving beyond texts, in the area of music the work of Egon Wellesz102 has been refined by Christian Hannick,103 and more recently by Alexander Lingas.104 Hannick’s work has been seminal in analyzing the evolution of hymnography. Inter alia, he has traced the connections between Greek prototypes and their Slavonic translations, especially as regards their musical dimension. As for Lingas, he has greatly improved our knowledge of the performance of Byzantine chant before and after the fall of Constantinople. His recordings of these chants with the Capella Romana are particularly enlightening.

Considering the importance of singing in the Byzantine tradition, one would expect more reflection on the theology and spirituality of music. However, among the few such pieces is Nicolas Lossky’s Essai sur une théologie de la musique liturgique: perspective orthodoxe.105

As for the visual, Byzantine worship is synonymous with engaging iconography. For English renderings of key source texts, Cyril Mango’s collection of excerpts thereof remains indispensable.106 Today among those contributing most to studying the interaction between liturgical rites and iconography are Sharon Gerstel,107 Linda Safran,108 and Vasileios Marinis.109

Warren T. Woodfin has recently published a meticulous analysis of embroidered vestments that illustrates how significantly the Byzantines developed their liturgical vesture between the 11th and 14th centuries.110 As for church architecture, in 1971 Thomas Mathews published a revelatory study that graphically described the functionality of Constantinople’s early churches over a period of several centuries.111 Robert Ousterhout has expanded and revised elements of Mathews’s work.112

Among the weaker areas of Byzantine liturgical study has been theology. Nonetheless, the very term “liturgical theology” apparently owes its origins—at least as part of a book title—to a Russian archimandrite, Kiprian Kern.113 Kern was one of Alexander Schmemann’s mentors at the famed Institut Saint-Serge in Paris. Schmemann benefited from the achievements of the Catholic liturgical movement as well as Nouvelles théologie. Combining these with the genius of existentialist thought, he penned a series of modern mystagogies.114 The scholar who has interpreted Schmemann and developed his line of thinking most creatively is not a practitioner of the Byzantine Rite, but a Roman Catholic, David Fagerberg. À la Schmemann, Fagerberg brilliantly argues how the liturgical act itself is a “stab at meaning” that forms the basis for second-order theologizing.115 This is in keeping with Schmemann’s dictum that worship is “the ontological condition of theology.”116

As hinted above, contemporary Orthodoxy has generally managed to overcome the mediaeval and Tridentine Western bifurcation of sacraments and liturgy. The most satisfying treatment of the sacraments by a modern Orthodox theologian is Constantin Andronikof’s (1998) Des mystères sacramentels.117 Not only did the French lay theologian manage to generate seminal theological insights as well as a synthesis of patristic and modern approaches, he was also attuned to developments in liturgical history. He thus avoided theologizing on the basis of faulty history.

In spite of the relative paucity of contemporary liturgical theology, Byzantine liturgy and sacraments have faired far better as a focus of historical theology. Réné Bornert,118 Hans-Joachim Schultz,119 John Meyendorff,120 and Paul Meyendorff121 have all contributed to our understanding of the classical patristic and Byzantine mystagogies. They have also outlined the evolution and interconnectedness of the symbols that make up Byzantine worship, and the way in which pre-Ottoman writers treated individual problems of sacramental and liturgical theology.

Among the areas that have recently gained the attention of Byzantine liturgists is the study of worship “from below.” Robert Taft has added to his life-long achievements with a study of how ordinary Byzantines might have experienced divine services.122

The question of liturgical reform, which garnered interest during the Moscow Church Council of 1917–1918123 and then catapulted into Eastern Christian consciousness around the time of Vatican II, has recently been studied more systematically by Thomas Pott.124 The monk of Chevetogne analyzes what reform itself might mean and how to understand different forms of “non-spontaneous” liturgical change throughout the Byzantine Rite’s history.

As for philosophy and worship, Byzantine liturgy is almost entirely bereft of works relating the former to the latter. This is due to the sad state of philosophical study among Eastern Christians. Brian Butcher, however, has masterfully applied the hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur to the Theophany Great Blessing of Waters to yield new perspectives.125 Other areas that remain woefully underdeveloped as regards Byzantine worship are ritual studies, phenomenology, pastoral psychology, translation theory (for Byzantine liturgical texts), and sociology.126

Bibliographies and Finding Aids

From 1952 to 2006, the most comprehensive bibliography of Byzantine liturgy appeared in the ongoing bibliography for Eastern Christian Studies published in Ostkirchliche Studien (OS). OS not only listed materials in a vast array of languages, it also tracked obscure publications. The bibliographies were organized thematically. The category “Liturgik” appeared as often as every year (during the 1950s) and as infrequently as once in eleven years (1989, then 2000—though these latter two are substantial).127 Byzantinische Zeitschrift still publishes a bibliography, which naturally includes liturgical material. And Heinzgard Brakmann continues to include bibliographic notices for Byzantine liturgy in Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft.

Turning to reference works and finding aids, introductory bibliographies can be found in the entries devoted to liturgy in the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium.128 Most of these were written by Robert Taft. A bibliography of Taft’s own works, numbering almost a thousand titles, is available.129 Attilio Vaccaro’s, Dizionario dei termini liturgici bizantini e dell’ Oriente cristiano130 includes short bibliographies. The aforementioned Pravoslavnaia Entsiklopedia from Moscow is simply unsurpassed for its bibliographies, though more than half of the volumes have yet to appear. Another significant Russian resource is Nikita Simmons’s Preliminary Catalogue of Early Church Slavonic Publications. Important material also appears in Anscar J. Chupungco’s five-volume Handbook of Liturgical Studies.131

Henrica Follieri’s five-volume Initia hymnorum ecclesiae graecae132 is invaluable as a resource for tracking where various hymns appear in the Byzantine textus receptus, and what modern scholars—until the mid-1960s—had written about individual hymns.

As regards manuscripts, the American Library of Congress has compiled digitized checklists for the Library’s manuscript microfilm collections from Mt. Sinai and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.133 And for Church Slavonic manuscripts housed in repositories in the former USSR, two indispensable volumes were published in 1984 and 2002 respectively.134

Finally, Joseph Szövérffy’s Guide to Byzantine Hymnography: A Classified Bibliography of Texts and Studies, Vols. 12 is still useful.135

Primary Sources

The following is a list of primary sources in Greek and Church Slavonic, as well as some English translations thereof. A more comprehensive list would include at least Arabic, Romanian, and Georgian sources.

For the textus receptus of Byzantine liturgical texts (and note that the term cannot be applied to the Byzantine tradition with the same precision as in the Latin Rite), see the Greek Operational Texts, the Orthodox Church for the Greek136; the Slavonic liturgical texts and be found here. Ephrem Lash’s English translations are available at Anastasis. One must remember, however, that Lash has translated the Greek hymnography with a view to singing the translations according to Byzantine chant. Transpositions of words and phrases are thus common, and synonymy can be frequent. Also, in the case of the Menaion, Lash has translated only selected commemorations. A full translation thereof has recently been published by the Old Calendarist Monastery in Brookline, Massachusetts.137 A translation of all twelve volumes, but from the Church Slavonic rather than Greek, can be found at this online index of documents.

English renderings of various ancient and modern lectionaries, several of which are germane to the study of the Byzantine tradition, can be found at this collection online.

Jacques Goar’s Euchologion sive Rituale Graecorum, first published in 1647

A constant point of reference for the study of Byzantine liturgy is . The second, corrected edition of 1730, is available online.

Superb facsimile editions of Peter Mohyla’s [Moghila’s] monumental euchology138 and liturgicon139 were published in 1988 and 1996, respectively.

As regards transcriptions of liturgical manuscripts, Dmitrievsky’s Opisanie is available at Logike Latreia: Michael Zheltov’s Liturgical Website. Dmitrievsky’s transcriptions can be flawed, and critical editions of several manuscripts have appeared since he published his three-volume resource between 1895 and 1917, but his work remains indispensable.

In 2003, Miguel Arranz provided liturgists with an invaluable resource: a four-volume collection of transcribed manuscript material from Greek and Slavonic euchologies with substantial introductions and annotations.140 Wherever a Greek formula exists in Slavonic, the latter version is provided in interlinear form.

Ioseph Schirò’s Analecta hymnica graeca e codicibus eruta Italiae inferioris,141 already mentioned, is a transcription in twelve volumes—though from Southern Italy alone—of manuscript hymnographic canons that have not entered the textus receptus.

A substantial sampling of early Slavonic liturgical imprints is available at an online catalogue that is part of the immense library of digitized resources from the Trinity Saint Sergius Monastery outside Moscow.142

Though the reading of the lives of the saints is the first item usually omitted at Byzantine services, it is prescribed for almost every day of the year at Matins, at least in abbreviated form. An invaluable resource for the full text is the English (and French) translation of the Greek Synaxarion, edited by Hieromonk Makarios of the Simonos Petras Monastery on Mt. Athos.143 Relying on the work of the Bollandists and other scholars, Makarios has collated and edited these vitae, which in the modern period had previously appeared in Greek collections prepared by Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain.144

The foundation documents, or typica, of Byzantine monasteries sometimes include liturgical prescriptions. An English translation of these documents has recently been edited by John Tomas and Angela Constantinides Hero.145

Finally, while not a primary source for liturgical texts, but rather a comprehensive overview of liturgical usage according to Russian usage—in other words, a liturgical handbook explaining rubrics and other aspects of the tradition—the very helpful English translation of S. V. Bulgakov’s classic Nastol’naya kniga is available on the website of the Holy Transfiguration of Christ Cathedral. This Bulgakov, incidentally, is not the famed theologian, but rather a seminary instructor in liturgics.

Further Reading

Alexopoulos, Stefanos. The Presanctified Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite: A Comparative Analysis of Its Origins, Evolution, and Structural Components. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2009.Find this resource:

Andronikof, Constantin. Des mystères sacramentels. Paris: Cerf, 1998.Find this resource:

Арранц, Михаил. Избранные сочинения по литургике [Selected works in liturgics]. vols. 1–4. Москва: Институт философии, теологии и истории св. Фомы, 2003.Find this resource:

Bradshaw, Paul F. Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West. New York: Pueblo, 1990.Find this resource:

Fagerberg, David W. Theologia Prima: What Is Liturgical Theology? Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2004.Find this resource:

Felmy, Karl Christian. Die Deutung der Göttlichen Liturgie in der Russischen Theologie. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1984.Find this resource:

Fisch, Thomas, ed., Liturgy and Tradition: Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990.Find this resource:

Galadza, Peter, et al., eds., The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship (Ottawa: Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, 2004).Find this resource:

Lash, Ephrem, ed., The Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom. Oxfordshire, U.K.: The Greek Orthodox Archdioces of Thyateira and Great Britain, 2011.Find this resource:

Mango, Cyril. The Art of the Byzantine Empire 312–1453. Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching 16. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.Find this resource:

Marinis, Vasileios. Architecture and Ritual in the Churches of Constantinopole: Ninth to Fifteenth Centuries. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Mary, Mother, and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, trans., The Lenten Triodion. London: Faber and Faber, 1978.Find this resource:

Mathews, Thomas F. The Early Churches of Constantinople: Architecture and Liturgy. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971.Find this resource:

Orthodox Eastern Church. The Great Horologion. Brookline, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1997.Find this resource:

Orthodox Eastern Church. The Menaion—Twelve Volumes. Brookline, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 2005.Find this resource:

Ousterhout, Robert. The Holy Space: Architecture and the Liturgy. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Parenti, Stefano, and Elena Velkovska, eds., L’Eucololgio Barberini Gr. 336, 2d ed., Biblioteca “Ephemerides Liturgiae Subsidia” 80. Rome: Edizione Liturgiche, 2000.Find this resource:

Rentel, Alexander. “Byzantine and Slavic Orthodoxy.” In The Oxford History of Christian Worship, edited by Geoffrey Wainwright and Karen B. Westerfield Tucker. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.Find this resource:

Schmemann, Alexander. For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1973.Find this resource:

Schultz, Hans-Joachim. The Byzantine Liturgy: Symbolic Structure and Faith Expression. Translated by Matthew J. O’Connell. New York: Pueblo, 1986.Find this resource:

Taft, Robert. “Mount Athos: A Late Chapter in the History of the Byzantine Rite.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 42 (1988).Find this resource:

Taft, Robert F. The Byzantine Rite: A Short History. American Essays in Liturgy. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992.Find this resource:

Taft, Robert F. A History of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Vols. 2–6. Orientalia Christiana Analecta. Rome: Pontificium Istituto Orientale, 1978–2008.Find this resource:

Wellesz, Egon. A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971.Find this resource:

Wybrew, Hugh. The Orthodox Liturgy: The Development of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 1990.Find this resource:


(1.) For an authoritative introduction to these churches, both Orthodox and Catholic, see Ronald Roberson, The Eastern Churches: A Brief Survey, 7th ed. (Rome: Edizioni “Orientalia Christiana,” 2008), 38–132; 156–183. This book is regularly updated at the website for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA).

(2.) “Palestinian” can be subdivided into Jerusalemite (or “hagiopolite”—from “the holy city”) on the one hand, and more broadly Palestinian—including even Mt. Sinai—on the other.

(3.) For an overview of the history, see Robert Taft, “The Liturgy of the Great Church: An Initial Synthesis of Structure and Interpretation on the Eve of Iconoclasm,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 34–35 (1980–1981): 45–75; and Robert Taft, The Byzantine Rite: A Short History, American Essays in Liturgy (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992). See also Alexander Rentel, “Byzantine and Slavic Orthodoxy,” in The Oxford History of Christian Worship, ed. Geoffrey Wainwright and Karen B. Westerfield Tucker (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 254–306.

(4.) See Robert Taft, “Mount Athos: A Late Chapter in the History of the Byzantine Rite,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 42 (1988): 179–194.

(5.) Robert Taft, “A Tale of Two Cities: The Byzantine Holy Week Triduum as a Paradigm of Liturgical History,” in Time and Continuity, ed. J. Neil Alexander (Washington, DC: NPM Studies in Church Music and Liturgy 1990), 21–41.

(6.) Alphonse Raes, “Les livres liturgiques grecs publiés à Venise,” in Mélanges Eugène Tisserant, vol. 3, part 2. Studi e Testi 233 (Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1964), 209–222.

(7.) The following twelve-volume collection provides just some of the hymnography, and from only one territory, that has not entered into the liturgical books of the Byzantine Churches: Ioseph Schirò, ed., Analecta hymnica graeca e codicibus eruta Italiae inferioris, vols I–XII (Rome: Istituto di studi bizantini e neoellenici, 1966–1980).

(8.) John F. Baldovin, The Urban Character of Christian Worship, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 228 (Rome: Pontificatium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1987).

(9.) Juan Mateos, S.J., Le Typicon de la Grande Église, 2 vols. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 165–166 (Rome: Pontificatium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1962–1963).

(10.) Paul Friedländer, Johannes von Gaza und Paulus Silentiarius: Kunstbeschreibungen justinianischer Zeit (Leipzig, Germany: Teubner, 1912).

(11.) See, for example, Orthodox Church in America, The Priest’s Service Book—Expanded and Supplemented: The Daily Offices (South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 2000), 162–174.

(12.) A. W. Epstein, “The Middle Byzantine Sanctuary Barrier: Templon or Iconostasis?” Journal of the British Archeological Association 134 (1981): 1–28; and see А. М. Лидов, ed., Иконостас: Происхождение—Развитие—Символика [The iconostasis: origins, development, symbolism] (Москва: Прогресс-Традиция, 2000), 431–441.

(13.) Robert F. Taft, A History of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Vol. 6: The Communion, Thanksgiving, and Concluding Rites, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 281 (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1991), 436–439.

(14.) For an illustration of this structure, see Thomas F. Mathews, The Early Churches of Constantinople: Architecture and Liturgy (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971), 92.

(15.) For the later evolution of this practice among some of the Slavs, see Laurence Daniel Huculak, The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the Kievan Metropolitan Province during the Period of Union with Rome (1596–1839), Analecta OSBM (Rome: PP. Basiliani, 1990), 44–45, 86–87.

(16.) David Fagerberg insightfully discusses how liturgy is a “stab at meaning,” and thus by its very nature, theological, in Theologia Prima: What is Liturgical Theology? (Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2004), 42 et passim.

(17.) See Peter Galadza, et al., eds. The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship (Ottawa: Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, 2004), 120, 204.

(18.) Anton Ugolnik, “An Orthodox Hermeneutic in the West,” St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Quarterly 27 (1983): 93–118, provides superb insights regarding this question.

(19.) A summary of these details, sometimes scattered throughout the appropriate sections of the Greek or Slavonic Triodia, can be found in Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, trans., The Lenten Triodion (London & Boston: Faber and Faber, 1978), 35–37.

(20.) See, for example, The Great Horologion (Brookline, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1997), 60.

(21.) Ephrem Lash, ed., The Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom (Oxfordshire, U.K.: The Greek Orthodox Archdioces of Thyateira and Great Britain, 2011), 2; see also, Synod of the Hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, The Sacred and Divine Liturgy of Our Holy Father John Chrysostom (Philadelphia, PA: Synod of the Hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, 1988), 9.

(22.) F. E. Brightman, ed., Liturgies: Eastern and Western (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1896), 329, 331, 332.

(23.) Ibid., 322; English translation from Peter Galadza, et al., The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship, 287.

(24.) Παρακλητική ή Οκτώηχος‎ (Ἀθήνα: Ἀποστολική Διακονία‎, 2003), 817.

(25.) Margaret Barker, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy (London: T & T Clark International, 2003), xi–xii; See also Margaret Barker, Temple Themes in Christian Worship (London: T & T Clark, 2007).

(26.) Anna Gopenko, Traduire le sublime: Les débats de l’Église orthodoxe russe sur la langue liturgique (Berlin: Frank & Timme, 2012).

(27.) James Miller, “The Prophetologion: The Old Testament of Byzantine Christianity?” in The Old Testament in Byzantium, ed. Paul Magdalino and Robert Nelson (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 2010), 66. There, Miller also lists all of the Old Testament books that are never read in Byzantine worship.

(28.) To the present day not a single ecclesiastical jurisdiction has published an English version of a lectionary that would provide all of the Old Testament readings appointed for all of the offices of the Byzantine Rite. For a Greek version, however, see Μιλτιάδης Κωνσταντίνου‎, ed., Προφητολόγιον: Τὰ Λειτουργικὰ Ἀναγνώσματα ἀπὸ τὴν Παλαιὰ Διαθήκη‎ (Ἀθήνα: Ἑλληνικη Βιβλική Ἑταιρία‎, 2009).

(29.) John Breck, The Power of the Word in the Worshiping Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1986), 45.

(30.) See Sysse Gudrun Engberg, “The Prophetologion and the Triple-Lection Theory: The Genesis of a Liturgical Book,” in Bollettino della Badia Greca di Grottaferrata III s. 3 (2006): 67–92.

(31.) Robert F. Taft, “Were There Once Old Testament Readings in the Byzantine Divine Liturgy? Apropos of an Article by Sysse Gudrun Engberg,” in Bollettino della Badia Greca di Grottaferrata III s. 8 (2011): 271–311.

(32.) There is also the fact that an otherwise superb document from the Vatican may in fact have the effect of preventing such discussions—and action—because the document orders Eastern Catholics to avoid departures from current Orthodox liturgical practice. The document is Congregazione per le Chiese Orientali, Istruzione per l’applicazione delle prescrizioni liturgiche del Codice dei Canoni delle Chiese Orientali (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1996), 21.

(33.) See Miguel Arranz, ed., L’Eucologio Costantinopolitano agli inizi del secolo XI—Hagiasmatarion & Archieratikon (Rituale & Pontificale) con l’aggiunta del Leiturgikon (Rome: Orthodox Eastern Church, 1996). For more detailed analysis, see Михаил Арранц, Избранные сочинения по литургике‎ [Selected works in liturgics], vol. 1–4 (Москва: Институт философии‎, теологии и истории св‎. Фомы‎, 2003).

(34.) Robert Taft, “Was the Eucharistic Anaphora Recited Secretly or Aloud? The Ancient Tradition and What Became of It,” in Worship Traditions in Armenia and the Neighboring Christian East: An International Symposium in Honor of the 40th Anniversary of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, ed. Roberta R. Ervine (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2006), 15–58.

(35.) For a discussion of this and other “laws” developed by Anton Baumstark, see Robert F. Taft, “Anton Baumstark’s Comparative Liturgy Revisited,” in Comparative Liturgy Fifty Years after Anton Baumstark (1872–1948): Acts of the International Congress, ed. Robert Taft (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 2001), in particular, see pp. 200 and 206.

(36.) Ephrem Lash, ed., The Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 49.

(37.) Holy Transfiguration Monastery, The Pentecostarion (Boston, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1990), 420–426.

(38.) One arrives at this calculation by simply inputting the Ordinary of the respective rites into a document and using the “word count” function. The result is approximately 10,000 words vs. approximately 2,500 words.

(39.) This is my estimation on the basis of a fifty-year familiarity with these hymns. But no one, to my knowledge, has statistically established this percentage, which explains my use of the adjective “rough.”

(40.) E. Met’reveli, Ts. Ch’ank’ievi, L. Khevsuriani, eds., Udzvelesi Iadgari (Tbilisi, Georgia: Metsniereba, 1980). For an analysis in English, see Andrew Wade, “The Oldest Iadgari: The Jerusalem Tropologion—4th to 8th centuries, 30 Years after the Publication” in Synaxis Katholike: Beiträge zu Gottesdienst und Geschichte der fünf altkirchlichen Patriarchate für Heinzgerd Brakmann zum 70, ed. Diliana Atanassova and Tinatin Chronz. Geburtstag, vol. 1 (Vienna: LIT Verlag, 2014), 720–750. See also Helmut Leeb, Die Gesänge im Gemeindesgottesdienst vom Jerusalem (vom 5. bis 8. Jahrhundert) Wiener Beiträge zur Theologie, 33 (Vienna: Herder, 1970).

(41.) Michel Tarchnischvili, Le grand lectionnaire de l’Église de Jérusalem (Leuven, Belgium: CSCO, 1959)

(42.) P. Maas and C. A. Trypanis, eds., Sancti Romani Melodi Cantica: Cantica Genuina (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1963); and José Grosdidier de Matons, Romanos le Mêlode: Hymnes, Tomes I–V, Sources chrétiennes (Paris: Cerf, 1964–1981).

(43.) Manuscript evidence of this can be found in θεμιστοκλῆς Στ. Χριστοδούλου‎, ‛Η νεκρώσιμη ἀκολουθία κατὰ τούς χειρόγραφους κώδικες‎ 10 ο‎–12ου‎ αἰώνος‎, Τόμος‎ B´: (Θήρα: Θεσβίτης‎, 2005), 342–344.

(44.) For one of the more accurate translations of this hymn—by Ephrem Lash, the renowned specialist on Byzantine liturgical Greek—see Anastasis, the home page of Archimandrite Ephrem. For the sake of comprehensiveness, one should note that a form of the full kontakion is also prescribed today at the funeral of a priest. For an English translation, see Great Book of Needs, 294–298.

(45.) For an English translation, see Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, trans., The Lenten Triodion (London: Faber and Faber, 1978), 378–414.

(46.) The only significant study related to the contents of the Bohohlasnyk in any Western language is F. Schäfer, Joachim Bruss, and Hans Rothe, Verse und Lieder bei den Ostslaven 1650–1720: Incipitarium (Cologne: Böhlau, 1984).

(47.) Ephrem Lash, ed., The Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom, 20.

(48.) The following English edition of the Chrysostom Liturgy provides the complete text of the appointed psalmody and hymnography for the three antiphons as prescribed by the 14th-century Diataxis (ordo) of Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos. Seraphim Nassar, ed., Divine Prayers and Services of the Catholic Orthodox Church of Christ (Brooklyn, NY: Syrian Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, 1961), 120–124. The Diataxis forms the basis for the official ordines of the Eucharist for all the Byzantine churches. However, for an example of how the psalmody is almost always truncated among the Slavs, see The Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist, The Orthodox Liturgy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), 37–41. An example of how it is truncated among the Greeks is evident in Leonidas Contos, trans., The Liturgikon (Northridge, CA: Narthex Press, 1996), 69–71.

(49.) The Great Horologion (Brookline, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1997), 148–149 provides these texts as used in the Liturgy.

(50.) Peter Galadza, et al., eds., The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship, 421.

(51.) Ibid., 431.

(52.) The most recent study of this part of the Divine Liturgy is Stelyios S. Muksuris, Economia and Eschatology: Liturgical Mystagogy in the Byzantine Prothesis Rite (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2013).

(53.) The upcoming third volume of Robert Taft’s multi-volume history of the Byzantine Eucharist will authoritatively treat Chrysostom’s anaphora.

(54.) The most authoritative recent work on the anaphora of Basil is by Gabriele Winkler. Her article, “The Christology of the Anaphora of Basil in its Various Redactions, with some Remarks Concerning the Authorship of Basil” in Bryan D. Spinks, ed., The Place of Christ in Liturgical Prayer: Trinity, Christology, and Liturgical Theology (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008), 112–126, includes references to her groundbreaking studies and those of others. The work of H. Engberding, Das eucharistische Hochgebet der Basileiosliturgie: Textgeschichtliche Untersuchungen und kritische Ausgabe (Münster: Aschendorff, 1931) remains foundational.

(55.) Robert F. Taft, A History of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, vol. 6: The Communion, Thanksgiving, and Concluding Rites, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 281 (Rome: Pont. Istituto Orientale, 1991), 315.

(56.) Ephrem Lash, ed., The Divine Liturgy of Our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom, 4.

(57.) Ibid., 33.

(58.) Peter Galadza et al., eds., The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship, 431.

(59.) The Liturgikon: The Book of Divine Services for the Priest and Deacon (Englewood, NJ: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, 1989), 306.

(60.) On the history of this Liturgy, see Stefanos Alexopoulos, The Presanctified Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite: A Comparative Analysis of Its Origins, Evolution, and Structural Components (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2009).

(61.) Alexander Schmemann presents the spirituality of this practice in Great Lent (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1974), 45–62.

(62.) For the Ordinary of these services, see Isabel Hapgood, Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church (Englewood, New Jersey: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, 1975), 1–37.

(63.) On the sabbaitic all-night vigil see Miguel Arranz, “N.D. Uspensky: The Office of the All-Night Vigil in the Greek Church and in the Russian Church,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 24 (1980): 83–113 and 169–195.

(64.) Denzinger-Schönmetzer, 36th edition, 465/860.

(65.) Leonidas Contos, trans., Sacraments and Services—Book One (Northridge, CA: Narthex Press, 1995), 1–41; and Great Book of Needs, 19–44.

(66.) Nicholas Denysenko, Chrismation: A Primer for Catholics (Liturgical Press, 2014) provides a superb introduction.

(67.) On this development, see M. Wawryk, “De S. Hieromartyre Josaphat: Promotore Formulae Indicativae Absolutionis in Ecclesia Rutheno-Ucraina,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 33 (1967): 583–603; and John H. Erickson, “Penitential Discipline in the Orthodox Canonical Tradition,” in The Challenge of Our Past: Studies in Orthodox Canon Law and Church History (Crestwood, NY, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1991), 35.

(68.) Both forms are printed side by side in A Monk of St. Tikhon’s Monastery, Book of Needs [Abridged] (South Canaan, PA: St. Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1987), 44. As noted, the Greek form is used by Melkite Catholics.

(69.) Leonidas Contos, trans., Sacraments and Services—Book One, 42–71; and Great Book of Needs, 156–179.

(70.) John Meyendorff, Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1975), 37.

(71.) For the early Byzantine forms of these rites see Paul F. Bradshaw, Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of East and West (New York: Pueblo, 1990), 133–139. Bradshaw includes the rite for the ordination of female deacons. For the present form of these rites according to Byzantine-Slav usage (minus the female diaconate) see Great Book of Needs, 237–281.

(72.) Great Book of Needs, vol. 1, 248.

(73.) Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald, Women Deacons in the Orthodox Church: Called to Holiness and Ministry (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1998). For the history of the tradition see also Cipriano Vagaggini, Ordination of Women to the Diaconate in the Eastern Churches, ed. Phyllis Zagano (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2013).

(74.) Aimé Georges Martimort, Deaconesses: An Historical Study, trans. K. D. Whitehead (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 156.

(75.) Paul Meyendorff, trans., The Service of Anointing of the Sick (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2009).

(76.) Meyendorff, The Service of Anointing of the Sick, 68.

(77.) Great Book of Needs, 113–121.

(78.) See, for example, Service Book of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church (Englewood Hills, NJ: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of New York and All North America, 1975), 186–199. Here, only Psalm 90 (91) has been retained, and some communities omit even this.

(79.) Contos, trans., Sacraments and Services—Book Three, 2–7; and Great Book of Needs, 18–83.

(80.) Contos, trans., Sacraments and Services—Book Three, 8–33; and Great Book of Needs, 183–214 respectively.

(81.) Bert Groen, “‘Burying the Dead Is Christian, Burning Them Is Pagan’: The Present Controversy about Cremation in Greece and Greek Orthodox Funeral Rites,” Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 53 (2001): 201–218.

(82.) Elena Velkova Velkovska has appropriately drawn attention to this in “The Liturgical Year in the East,” in Liturgical Time and Space: Handbook of Liturgical Studies, vol. 5, ed. Anscar J. Chupungco (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000), 157–158.

(83.) For example, the sticheron of the Aposticha at Vespers: “Christ our God, who created all things with wisdom and brought them from non-being into being, bless the crown of the year and preserve our city unbesieged; make glad our faithful Sovereigns by your power, giving them victories against enemies, through the Mother of God granting the world your great mercy.” Translation by Ephrem Lash at Anastasis.

(84.) For the Easter services, see Gabriele Bertonière, The Historical Development of the Easter Vigil and Related Services in the Greek Church (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1972). Most of the other feasts have not been studied in the same way—at least not within the last 100 years. Only a few studies in Russian by Yuri Ruban have attempted to bring that scholarship up to date.

(85.) Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, trans., The Festal Menaion (London: Faber and Faber, 1969), 176.

(86.) Joseph Raya and José de Vinck, Byzantine Daily Worship (Allendale, NJ: Alleluia Press, 1969), 937–955.

(87.) Norman P. Tanner, ed., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 1 (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990), 19.

(88.) D. P. Ogitsky, “Canonical Norms of the Orthodox Easter Computation and the Problem of the Dating of Pascha in Our Time,” Saint Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 17 (1973): 274–284.

(89.) Алексѣй Дмитріевский, Описаніе литургическихъ рукописей, хранящихся въ библіотекахъ православнаго Востока‎, Vols. 1–3 (Петроградъ‎: Типографія Императорскаго Университета Св‎. Владиміра‎, 1901–1917).

(90.) A history of Russian liturgiology has yet to be written in any Western language, but in the meantime, the following study in Russian is very helpful for the period up to 1848: Сове Б. И. “История литургической науки в России‎” [A history of liturgical scholarship in Russia], Ученые Записки Российского Православного университета ап‎. Иоанна Богослова‎ 2 (1996): 31–98. For the subsequent period, but again only in Russian and with a focus on Dmitrievsky, “The Russian Goar,” see Сове Б.И, “Русский Гоар и его школа‎” [The Russian Goar and his school] Богословския труды‎ 4 (1968): 39–84. One can glean an outline of the history of Russian liturgical scholarship from Peter Galadza, “Liturgy and Life: The Appropriation of the ‘Personalization of Cult’ in East-Slavic Orthodox Liturgiology, 1869–1996,” Studia Liturgica 28 (1998): 210–231. See also Karl Christian Felmy, Die Deutung der Göttlichen Liturgie in der Russischen Theologie (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1984), 333–339. Felmy gives a brief overview of Russian research into liturgical history.

(91.) In addition to Zheltov’s many entries in Православная Энциклопедия and other publications, see his superb website devoted to liturgy, Logike Latreia: Michael Zheltov’s Liturgical Website. See also the fruits of the recent international liturgical conference that he organized in Михаил Желтов, ed., Православное учение о церковных таинствах‎ [The Orthodox teaching regarding the sacraments], Vols. 1–3 (Москва: Синодальная библейско‎-богословская комиссия‎, 2009). English translations—of uneven quality—of some of these articles can be found on the Internet.

(92.) Παναγιώτης Ν‎. Τρεμπέλας‎, Aἱ τρεῖς λειτουργίαι κατὰ τοὺς ἐν Άθηναις κώδικας‎ (Άθηναι‎: ὁ Σοτήρ‎, 1997). For a review of modern Greek liturgiology see Stefanos Alexopoulos, “The State of Modern Greek Liturgical Studies and Research: A Preliminary Survey,” in Inquiries into Eastern Christian Worship: Selected Papers of the Second International Congress of the Society of Oriental Liturgy, ed. Bert Groen, Steven Hawkes-Teeples, and Stefanos Alexopoulos (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2012), 375–392.

(93.) For example, Παννυχίς‎ (Θεσσαλονίκη: Πουρνάρα‎, 1969).

(94.) Ἰωάννης Μ. Φουντούλης‎, Ἀπαντήσεις εἰς λειτουργικὰς ἀπορίας‎, Vols. 1–4 (Ἀθήνα: Ἀποστολική Διακονία‎, 1967–1994); and Τελετουργικά Θέματα‎, Vols. 1–3 (Ἀθήνα: Ἀποστολική Διακονία‎, 2002–2007).

(95.) A bibliography of Taft’s articles on method in the study of Byzantine liturgy is available in Robert F. Taft, A History of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Vol. 6: The Communion, Thanksgiving, and Concluding Rites, Orientalia Christiana Analecta 281 (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1991), 67.

(96.) See Gabriele Winkler, “The Achievements of the Oriental Institute in the Study of Oriental Liturgiology,” in Il 75o Anniversario del Pontificio Istituto Orientale, OCA, 255th ed. R. F. Taft and J. L. Dugan (Rome: Pontificium Institutum Studiorum Orientalium, 1994), 115–141.

(97.) See Robert Taft’s assessment of Parenti in ΤΟΞΟΤΗΣ‎: Studies for Stefano Parenti, Ἀνάλεκτα Κρυπτοφέρρης‎, Vol. 9, ed. Daniel Galadza, Nina Glibetić, and Gabriel Radle (Grottaferrata, Italy: Monastero Esarchico, 2010), 1–17; and Elena Velkovska’s tribute to her husband in the same volume, pp. 361–372. Of course, Parenti could have written an equally laudatory commendation of Velkovska’s work.

(98.) Among the many fruits of their labors are the several critical editions of the oldest Byzantine euchology: Stefano Parenti and Elena Velkovska, eds., L’Eucololgio Barberini Gr. 336, 2d ed., Biblioteca “Ephemerides Liturgiae Subsidia” 80 (Rome: Edizione Liturgiche, 2000). The Russian edition is particularly helpful as it has been updated with additional findings and insights: Eвхологий Барберини гр. 336 (Омск: Голованов, 2011).

(99.) The catalogue of the Greek materials is Archbishop Damianos, et al., ed., Τὰ νέα εὑρήματα τοῦ Σινᾶ‎ (Athens, 1998).

(100.) Diliana Atanassova and Tinatin Chronz, eds. Synaxis Katholike: Beiträge zu Gottesdienst und Geschichte der fünf altkirchlichen Patriarchate für Heinzgerd Brakmann zum 70. Geburtstag, Vol. 1 (Vienna: Verlag GmbH, 2014), xxvii–xlii.

(101.) Paul Géhin and Stig Frøyshov, “Nouvelles découvertes sinaïtiques: A propos de la parution de l’inventaire des manuscripts grecs,” Revue des études byzantines 58 (2000): 167–184.

(102.) Egon Wellesz, A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971).

(103.) Among his works particularly germane to our focus here, see Christian Hannick, “Reference Materials on Byzantine and Old Slavic Music and Hymnography,” Journal of the Plainsong and Mediaeval Music Society 13 (1990): 83–89. А bibliography of all of Hannick’s writings up to the year 2002 is available in ΚΑΛΟΦΩΝΙΑ‎ 1 (2002): 347–368.

(104.) Alexander Lingas, “Festal Cathedral Vespers in Late Byzantium,” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 63 (1997): 421–459.

(105.) (Paris: Cerf, 2003). A very brief, but helpful reflection is Aidan Kavanagh, “Eastern Lessons on Liturgical Music,” Pastoral Music 12 (1988): 67–69.

(106.) The Art of the Byzantine Empire 312–1453, Medieval Academy Reprints for Teaching 16 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986).

(107.) Sharon E. J. Gerstel, Beholding the Sacred Mysteries: Programs of the Byzantine Sanctuary (Seattle, WA: Washington University Press, 1999).

(108.) Linda Safran, ed., Heaven on Earth: Art and the Church in Byzantium (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997).

(109.) Vasileios Marinis, Architecture and Ritual in the Churches of Constantinople: Ninth to Fifteenth Centuries (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).

(110.) Liturgical Vestments and Sacramental Power in Byzantium (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). See also Christopher Walter, Art and Ritual of the Byzantine Church (London: Variorum Publications, 1982).

(111.) Thomas F. Mathews, The Early Churches of Constantinople: Architecture and Liturgy (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1971).

(112.) Robert Ousterhout, The Holy Space: Architecture and the Liturgy (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998).

(113.) Крины молитвенные—Сборник статей по литургическому богословию [Lilies of prayer: A collection of articles on liturgical theology] (Белград: Братство Преп. Серафима Саровскаго, 1928).

(114.) Alexander Schmemann, The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1988); and Alexander Schmemann, Of Water and the Spirit (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1974). However, his classic, For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1973) goes beyond presenting a modern mystagogy and reflects on basic themes of human existence and Christian mission using Orthodox worship as the point of reference. Incidentally, Schmemann’s Introduction to Liturgical Theology is actually an analysis of the evolution and significance of the ordo, or typicon. His book is named thus because the ordo was always the first object of study in Russian ecclesiastical liturgy programs.

(115.) David Fagerberg, Theologia Prima: What Is Liturgical Theology? (Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2004). Fagerberg’s On Liturgical Asceticism (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 2013) is also thoroughly Eastern in its ethos, sources, and spirit.

(116.) Alexander Schmemann, “Theology and Liturgical Tradition,” in Liturgy and Tradition: Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann, ed. Thomas Fisch (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990), 18. For a nuancing of some of Schmemann’s—and Fagerberg’s—thinking, see Peter Galadza, “Schmemann between Fagerberg and Reality: Towards an Agenda for Byzantine Christian Pastoral Liturgy,” Bollettino della Badia Greca di Grottaferrata 4 (2007): 7–32.

(117.) (Paris: Cerf, 1998).

(118.) René Bornert, Les commentaires byzantins de la Divine Liturgie du VIIe au XVe siècle, Archives de l’Orient Chrétien 9 (Paris: Institut français d'études byzantines, 1966).

(119.) Hans-Joachim Schulz, The Byzantine Liturgy: Symbolic Structure and Faith Expression, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell (New York: Pueblo, 1986).

(120.) John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (New York: Fordham, 1974), 191–211.

(121.) Paul Meyendorff, “Eastern Liturgical Theology,” in Christian Spirituality: Origins to the Twelfth Century, ed. Bernard McGinn and John Meyendorff (New York, 1985), 350–363.

(122.) Robert Taft, Through Their Own Eyes: Liturgy as the Byzantines Saw It (Berkeley, CA: InterOrthodox Press, 2006).

(123.) Николай Балашов, На пути к литургическому возрождению [On the path to a liturgical renaissance] (Москва: Духовная Библиотека, 2001).

(124.) Thomas Pott, Byzantine Liturgical Reform (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2010). The on-line documents and reports of the Special Synodical Committee on Liturgical Renewal of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece is an invaluable resource that details how an official church body is attempting to study and implement liturgical reform. The Committee organizes annual liturgy conferences. See online at Ecclesia.GR.

(125.) His PhD dissertation will soon appear as a Fordham University Press monograph in the series “Orthodox Christianity and Contemporary Thought.” For a sample of the kind of thinking involved in applying Ricoeur’s philosophy to Byzantine worship, see his “Figuring Liturgically: A Ricoeurian Analysis of the Byzantine-Rite ‘Great Blessing of Water’,” in Rites and Rituals of the Christian East: Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of the Society of Oriental Liturgy, ed. B. Groen, et al. (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2014), 405–421.

(126.) I reflect on many of these lacunae and the implications thereof in the second half of my presidential lecture, “New Frontiers in Eastern Christian Liturgy: Studying the Whole of Worship,” in Rites and Rituals of the Christian East: Proceedings of the Fourth International Congress of the Society of Oriental Liturgy, ed. B. Groen et al. (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters, 2014), 1–20.

(127.) For a complete list of the years when OS published bibliographies for the category “Liturgik,” see Ostkirchliche Studien 56 (2007): 11.

(128.) Alexander P. Kazhdan, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Vols. 1–3 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991). Two other reference works with bibliographies are Paul D. Steeves, The Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and Eurasia [formerly The Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and the Soviet Union] (Gulf Breeze, FL: Academic International Press, 1989–); and Θρησκευτική καὶ Ἠθική Ἐγκυκλοπαίδεια‎ (Άθῆναι‎, 1962–1968). While Steeves’s multi-volume work is far from completion, the entries are superb. On the other hand, the Ἐγκυκλοπαίδεια‎ can be very disappointing in the area of liturgy.

(129.) Robert Taft, Bibliography of the Right Reverend Archimandrite Robert F. Taft, SJ (Fairfax, VA: Eastern Christian Publications, 2013).

(130.) Attilio Vaccaro, Dizionario dei termini liturgici bizantini e dell’ Oriente cristiano (Lecce, Italia: Argo, 2010).

(131.) Anscar J. Chupungco, Handbook of Liturgical Studies (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1997–2000).

(132.) Henrica Follieri, Initia hymnorum ecclesiae graecae, Studi e testi 211 (Vatican City: Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, 1960–1966).

(133.) See the American Library of Congress collection for Mt. Sinai and for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

(134.) С. О. Шмидт, ed., Сводный каталог славяно-русских рукописных книг хранящихся в СССР—ХІ–ХІІІ в. (Москва: 1986); and С. О. Шмидт, ed., Сводный каталог славяно-русских рукописных книг хранящихся в России, странах СНГ и БалтииXIV в. (Москва: Индрек, 2002).

(135.) Joseph Szövérffy, Medieval Classics: Texts and Studies (Brookline, MA: Classical Folia Editions, 1978).

(137.) Orthodox Eastern Church, The Menaion (Brookline, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 2005).

(138.) Аркадій Жуковський, ed., Требник Петра Могили: Перевидання з ориґіналу, що появився у друкарні Києво-Печерської Лаври 16 грудня 1646 року [The trebnyk of Peter Mohyla: a reprint from the original that appeared in the printery of the Kievan-Caves Lavra, December 16, 1646] (Paris: Academic Publishing, Dr. P. Belei, 1988).

(139.) Orthodox Eastern Church, Leiturgiarion: The Service-Book of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Basil the Great, and the Presanctified Gifts, and the Daily Services. Reprint from Kiev: Monastery of the Caves, 1639 (Fairfax, VA: Eastern Christian Publications and Stauropegion, 1996).

(140.) Михаил Арранц, Избранные сочинения по литургике [Selected works in liturgics], Vols. 1–4 (Москва: Институт философии, теологии и истории св. Фомы, 2003).

(141.) Ioseph Schirò, Analecta hymnica graeca e codicibus eruta Italiae inferioris (Rome: Istituto di studi bizantini e neoellenici, 1966–1980).

(142.) See the online catalogue of digitized resources from the Trinity Saint Sergius Monastery.

(143.) Hieromonk Makarios, ed., The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, Vols. 1–7, trans. Christopher Hookway (Ormylia, Greece: Holy Convent of The Annunciation of Our Lady, 1998–2008).

(144.) Νικόδημος Άγιορειτής‎, Συναξαριστής τῶν δώδεκα μηνῶν τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ‎ (Ἐν Ζακύνθω‎, 1819).

(145.) John Tomas and Angela Constantinides Hero, ed. Byzantine Monastic Foundation Documents, Vols. 1–5 (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1998).