Thursday, January 14, 2021

Follow-up on a Recent Article about the Byzantine Office

At the end of last month, I published an article about the Byzantine ceremony of the Royal Hours of Christmas, and earlier this month, another about those of the Epiphany. Both of these were revisions of articles which I had originally done four years ago, very much expanded by the addition of my own translation of most of the hymns proper to these services, and several videos with recordings of some of them in both Greek and Church Slavonic. (On April 2nd, which is Good Friday this year, I will do the same for my original article on the Royal Hours of that day.)
The original version of the first article included an audio-only recording of the ceremony from the Sretensky Monastery in Moscow, whose choir is justifiably considered one of the best representatives of the Russian choral tradition. However, the YouTube channel on which it was hosted was later deleted. Since the pandemic, the monastery has been regularly broadcasting live on its own channel, and so I thought this video, in which one actually sees the ceremony would be interesting, and of course also enjoyable for the beautiful music. In many respects, the Byzantine Rite is still where the Roman Rite was in the high Middle Ages, which is to say, there are many variations of custom analogous to those which constituted the various medieval Uses of the Roman Rite. Here the most notable ones are that there is no incensation at the Epistle readings, and the vestments are white, where many churches use dark vestments for the Royal Hours.
The video begins with the Hour of Prime; Terce starts at 21:46, Sext at 38:11, None at 1:00:47, and the Typika (a service broadly analogous to the medieval “dry Mass”) at 1:25:11, ending at 1:34:30.
After a brief pause, there begins a service which occupies most of the video, which I did not include in my previous article, since it is quite lengthy and complicated to describe. On the eves of Christmas and Epiphany, and on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, the Byzantine Rite merges Vespers and the Divine Liturgy, which is celebrated according to the much longer form of St Basil the Great, rather than the shorter daily anaphora of St John Chrysostom. (The liturgy of St Basil is otherwise used only on his feast day, January 1st, and the Sundays of Lent except for Palm Sunday.) On Christmas Eve, the ceremony also includes eight prophecies before the Epistle, and on Epiphany Eve thirteen, but most of them are quite short; on Holy Thursday, there only three, but on Holy Saturday, fifteen, several of which are quite lengthy. In practice, many churches will omit some of the prophecies, but in the video above, all eight are said; there is a very pretty canticle after the third (1:58:00) and sixth (2:05:20).
The full text of both of these services can be read at the following links.
Royal Hours:

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