Akathists, Services, Canons, and Other Prayers - Volume I

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Paraklesis, Small Supplicatory Canon to Theotokos

Shop Our Brands. All Rights Reserved. The total number of troparia is determined by local usage. Theoretically, each ode has fourteen or occasionally sixteen , with some troparia repeated if the service books do not provide enough of them and some conjoined if there are too many. This makes the canon too lengthy for typical parish use, so fewer are sung or in Russian practice, read.

Canons are used most notably at Matins , but also at the Midnight Office for Sunday; at Great and Small Compline ; and at special services such as the Paraklesis and those of similar structure such as the Panichida and Moleben. In Russian practice for the latter cases the canon is often vestigial, consisting of no more than a selection of katabasia with refrains and doxology.

The Greek equivalent of a Moleben is the Paraklesis , during which a full canon is still chanted. Canons may also be used in private prayer either as a regular part of a rule or for special needs. One traditional prayerful preparation for reception of the Eucharist is to read three canons and an akathist the evening prior. When used privately there is generally no attempt at an elaborated musical or metrical performance, and may be read silently.

Sometimes abbreviated canons are used. A canon consisting of only four odes is called a tetraode ; a canon consisting of only three odes is called a triode. The preceding ode s may vary with the day of the week. Because the use of triodes is so prevalent during Great Lent, the book containing the changeable portions of services that liturgical season is called the Triodion. In the Russian Orthodox Church , for arcane historical reasons, the Pentecostarion is called the Flowery Triodion even though it contains no triodes.

Triodes and tetraodes are also found during certain Forefeasts and Afterfeasts.

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The Biblical odes are not identical in meter , and so although all the music is performed in the same mode each ode must comprise an individual composition. However, in the original Greek compositions, the irmos and troparia would by design be of the same meter and so could use the same melody. Acrostics would often be present as well, read down a canon's troparia, and sometimes involving the irmos as well if it was composed at the same time. The meter and acrostic would be given along with the canon's title. First, Orthodox believe that the physical world will participate in the transfiguration of all things at the final judgment, and that our transformed, spiritualized bodies will be reunited with our departed souls at the resurrection of the dead.

Therefore, the bodies of the deceased should be treated with respect, and not be mutilated or burned, but reverently buried, while awaiting the final resurrection.

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Second, cremation shows contempt and lack of respect for the bodies that God created, just as the Nazis showed their contempt by cremating the dead in their concentration camps. Also, there are numerous historical examples of the relics of the saints being burned as a sign of contempt by enemies of Christianity. Third, the nature of Orthodox funeral and burial rites require the presence of the body of the departed person except in exceptional situations.

Yes, there are three other wonderful Orthodox Divine Services that you might attend or even read privately at home: an Akathist , a Moleben [mol- yeb -ben], and sometimes, a Canon. In Russia and Ukraine, Akathists are very frequently served, often on Sunday evenings at pm combined with Vespers, and in some churches, after Sunday Liturgy.

In America very few parish churches serve Akathists, but as more and more Akathists are being translated into English and become available in print, more parishes are discovering the joy and blessing of serving Akathists, either sung as a Service with a priest, or chanted by a Reader. In fact, many people like to read Akathists at home. An Akathist is an extended hymn composed according to a very particular structure of thirteen sections, usually concluding with one or more kneeling prayers.

Then the first Ikos and Kontakion are repeated, followed usually by one or more kneeling prayers. When done as a separate church service, sometimes an Akathist is combined with Vespers, a Moleben or a Canon. An Akathist is the one Service that can , and frequently is chanted by a Reader. Most of the Akathists are to a particular saint, but some are to Christ, to the Theotokos, for various feastdays, for icons of the Mother of God, or for special themes — such as thanksgiving, Holy Communion, the Cross, the Resurrection.

Like an Akathist, so too a Moleben is usually served with the clergy standing in the front center of the church, before the Gospels and hand-cross on a small table or analogion. It is a fairly short Prayer Service for various particular intentions, such as: thanksgiving; travel; healing; the New Year; anniversaries; beginning of studies; in times of troubles, war, sickness, discord and strife; for soldiers going to war; to request prayers of a particular saint or to invoke the prayers of many saints; for particular icons, especially of the Mother of God; for general supplication of the Mother of God; and other types of general supplication.

Basically, you name the need, and there is a Moleben Service for it. The structure of Molebens can vary enormously, with a broad mixture of chanting and singing, back and forth, by Reader, Deacon, Priest and choir. In most Canons, each Irmos is based on nine hymns from the Old Testament. Although the Canon is a very important part of Matins, the poetic-hymn form of the nine-part Canon is widely used outside Matins.

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  • Not only are there frequently Canons in Grand Compline and sometimes in Molebens, but there are numerous other Canons for a wide variety of purposes for example — to Christ, to the Mother of God, for Repentance, for healing, and for Preparation for Holy Communion, to mention just a few. Although Canons may be chanted by a Reader, when done as a Divine Service, Canons are usually combined with some other service.

    Serving Akathists, Molebens or Canons provide wonderful opportunities for people to come together and pray as a Church family for some particular need, purpose or event, or to commemorate a particular saint — or for the faithful to enhance their personal prayer life by praying these services privately. There are various other occasional services or prayers, usually fairly short, that are offered, that are not so much public Divine Services, but are more in the category of personal or private prayers that a priest offers for a particular need or occasion.

    These may include: prayers for the dying, and immediately after the departure of the soul from the body; for a woman about to give birth, and after giving birth; for a new-born child; for the naming of a child on the eighth day; various prayers for the sick, such as before surgery, after an accident, thanksgiving for recovering from illness or surgery; prayers said in time of war and blessing of those going into war; prayers before lessons and when school begins; and countless blessings of various objects, from vestments, icons, prayer ropes, crosses, prayer books, Bibles, palms, water, candles, Paschal foods, grapes and first-fruits, flowers, animals, cars and other vehicles of transport, and of course, the blessing of a new home and Theophany home-blessings, as well as the blessing of any new building.

    We hope that this has helped you to understand more about Orthodox worship and some underlying principles behind the Divine Services, and consequently, to participate more deeply in them.

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      Orthodox Worship, Other Services. This important Kontakion hymn expresses a major theme of the Orthodox services for the departed: With the saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of Thy servant, where sickness and sorrow are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting. Powered by Orthodox Web Solutions.