Site hosted by Build your free website today!

The Typikon of the Russian Orthodox Church

Chapter 22: It should be known when the priest censes.

At Vespers he censes during the stichera on "Lord, I have cried...", at the beginning of Matins, and on the Ninth Ode. He also censes during “the Blameless” on Saturday and Sunday.

The priest or the deacon should cense in this manner: First, he stands in front of the Holy Table and makes the sign of the cross with the censer. Then he stands on the south side and again makes the sign of the cross*. In the same manner he censes the east and north sides of the Holy Table, the rest of the Sanctuary and the Table of Oblation. Then he leaves through the north door. He goes to the Royal Doors and makes the sign of the cross with a censer before them. Then he goes and censes the holy icons: on the south side the icon of the Savior Jesus Christ, and of the temple and the rest on that side. In the same manner he censes the left side: the icon of the Most-Holy Theotokos, all other icons, and also the Abbot. If the Abbot is absent, he censes an icon that stands at his place. Then he censes in the same manner the right choir of the brethren, two times, raising a censer from right to the left in front of each brother, making the sign of the cross. After he has finished censing the choir he stands among them at the center. If this side is singing a sticheron he waits until the other side starts singing. When the right-side choir is silent, then he makes a sign of the cross* for the whole choir, and he bows to them in a good order, once to each. All of them bow to him in the same manner. And then he censes the left-side choir, and all the brethren standing in the church. And then he goes to the narthex and censes there according to the order, he makes the sign of the cross* before the Beautiful Doors. Then he censes to both sides, the holy icons, and all the brethren according to their rank . After that he goes back to the Red Doors and, facing west, he censes all in a cross-like manner. When he enters the temple from the narthex, he makes a sign of the cross* in front of the Royal doors, and then he censes the icon of the Savior Jesus Christ, and, on the left side, the icon of the Theotokos, and the one that is placed on the analogion, and the Abbot. Then he enters the Sanctuary through the south door, makes the sign of the cross* in front of the Holy Table and puts the censer away.

Additional Notes:

From Nikol'skii's Commentaries on censing:

1) In ancient times a censer had a handle and was called a "katziia" ....

The double censing of the choirs was established in the memory of an appearance of the Mother of God in the church newly-built by St. Anthony of Athos, when she gave gold coins to the singing brethren and silver coins to the others. It was done to show God's special care for those who sacrifice their tranquility for the sake of obedience and brotherly love and for the common comfort and edification.

Even in our times, on Mount Athos, during the divine services, the katziia together with other kind of censers is also used for censing. At Compline during the 7th Ode of the canon the ponomar'** takes the katziia and, being blessed by the hieromonk, censes ikons first and then all the brethren. He censes them in a cross-like manner and makes a deep bow in front of everyone holding the katziia's handle wrapped with a piece of fabric.

2) The priest says the prayer of the censer not only at the Proskomide in the form given in the Euchologion, but he does it quietly every time blessing the censer for censing... The deacon asks his blessing every time he is about to start censing, holding the censer in such a way that the priest blesses not the head of it or the chains but the cup with the piece of coal and incense inside. When a hierarch serves he blesses the censer.

3) We can read in the Euchologion that when Alleluia is sung the deacon takes the censer and comes to the priest. After taking his blessing the deacon censes the Holy Table, etc. It is stated that the deacon himself put incense in the censer... But when the priest censes he himself puts incense in. The Typikon says that at Vespers when we have a Vigil "the priest takes the censer and puts incense in it standing before the Holy Table " (Chapter 2, On Vespers). Ancient icons depict deacons as having a censer in one hand and an incense box in another...

* that is, with the censer

**ponomar' -- paraecclesiarch

The background for these pages is the opening page for a 17th century, Slavic Typikon, from the Chilandar Monastery.