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Effects on Hymnography Based on Rank of Feast
Basic Effect on Hymnography
Of all the services in the daily cycle, the two services which will be effected the most by the status of the other cycles are Vespers and Matins. The other services contain significantly fewer sung hymns and so are less effected by the changes in cycles.
The Vespers and Matins services will change literally every day. The day of the week requires certain changes (e.g., the Prokeimenon for Tuesday is different than the Prokeimenon for Friday). In addition the Otoechos prescribes hymns for each day of the week in a given tone. In addition, the two yearly cycles (fixed feasts and movable feasts) effect the hymns that are to be used. To make matters more complex, the significance of the feasts to be celebrated is the basis for how much change the feast places on the service.
In order to properly prepare a service taking into account each of these cycles, the chanter must consult the Otoechos (hymns of the eight tones for each day of the week), the Pentecostarion (hymns from Pascha to Pentecost), the Triodion (hymns of pre-lent, lent, and Holy Week), the Menaion (book of feast day hymns), Service Book (to get the basic structure of the service and the non-changing components), and possibly a Typicon (a book listing the proper order of services).
Normally, only two of the cyclical texts will be required at any given time. If we are not in the Triodion or Pentecostarion periods, only the Octoechos and Menaion will be required. During lent, the Triodion or the Pentecostarion along with the Menaion will be necessary.
Luckily, the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy publishes a guide for all Vespers, Matins and Divine Liturgies for each Sunday of the year. This document points the chanter to all the proper hymns in the proper order. It is still necessary to understand the rules because if a service is to be performed in the middle of a week, the chanter must put it together from scratch.
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As described earlier, a service being held on a feast day will include some changes (replacement of some Resurrectional texts with texts to commemorate that feast). The more significant the feast, the more the services (primarily Vespers and Matins) will be changed to add emphasis to the feast. In addition, if a fixed feast were to fall in one of the movable feast periods (e.g., The Feast of the Three Hierarchs could occur during the Triodion period) both the fixed and movable feast would have an effect on the nature of the service. The significance of the feast will also determine if the “daily” or “festal” versions of the services are to be celebrated.
A higher ranked feast will absorb more of the changeable portions of a service than a lower ranked feast. On Feasts of the Lord (Rank 1) there are commemorations in the weeks before and after the feast. In addition, on the feast day, the entire service is supplanted by one commemorating the feast. In lower ranked feasts, less emphasis on the feast is included in the service.; Examples of where these emphases can occur in Vespers and Matins are:
Vespers: Stichera, Glory and Now in “Lord, I have cried”
Vespers: Stichera, Glory and Now in Latya and Artoklasia
Vespers: Stichera, Glory and Now in Aposticha
Matins: Troparia in “God is the Lord”
Matins: Now of the Kathismata (Rank 2 only)
Matins: Matins Gospel (Rank 2 only)
Matins: 9th Ode of the Katavasia
Matins: Glory and Now in Exaposteilaria
Matins: Stichera, Glory and Now in Praises
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Effect of Overlapping Cycles
Services for each day of the year can be described by knowing the state of each of the liturgical cycles. Unfortunately, this does not mean that the hymns prescribed for a particular feast in one year will be the same as those for the same feast in a subsequent year.
For example, the Feast of the Three Hierarchs will be celebrated every year on January 30. The hymns for this feast day Vespers and Matins will not be exactly the same from year to year. This is because in some years, the movable feast cycle of the Triodion will overlap with this feast and in other years it will not. In the years where the Triodion period has begun by January 30 (the fixed date for this feast), it is necessary to include the texts of the Triodion along with the texts associated with this feast day.
Building Services With Respect to Overlapping Cycles
In order to build services properly, it is necessary to consult the proper guides based on the date of the service and the status of each of the liturgical cycles. For daily services, the following ground rules apply[vii]:
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Consult the Triodion and Menaion for basic lenten services and special commemorations of saints.
Consult the Pentecostarion and Menaion for basic lenten services and special commemorations of saints.
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All other periods
Check the Menaion for the feast of the day (and its rank). The rank will determine how much of the service is based on the Octoechos and how much is based on the Menaion.
Proper care should be taken to read the fine print (usually in the form of a reference to the Typicon) which describes how the various references should be used, which text takes precedence over which, and how to properly integrate the various texts.
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There are several liturgical cycles in the life of The Church. Each of these cycles continues to repeat along a continuum of time moving ever forward towards the day of the second coming of Christ. As the cycles continue they, on their own and in interaction with each other, effect the nature and content of the services that are part of the daily cycle.
By properly following the appropriate reference material, it is possible to build services that appropriately commemorate the effect of each of these cycles on every service, on every day of the year. By properly preparing and participating in these services, we become both a part of and a witness to the liturgical cycles.
As we live these cycles throughout time, we remember our Lord, His mother, and the Saints and what they did for us. By participating in these services, we also know that the miraculous events commemorated in the services are real today and continue to exist for us in concrete terms. By learning from the hymnography, we are prepared for the eventual end of this mortal timeline, at the second coming of Christ.
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