Orthodox Worship

Divine Liturgy in a Serbian monastery

Divine Liturgy in a Serbian monastery

Heaven On Earth

From a report of emissaries sent by the then pagan Prince Vladimir of Russia (AD 988):

WHEN we journeyed among the Bulgars, we beheld how they worship in their temple, called a mosque, while they stand ungirt.

The Bulgarian bows, sits down, looks hither and thither like one possessed, and there is no happiness among them, but instead only sorrow and a dreadful stench. Their religion is not good.

Then we went among the Germans, and saw them performing many ceremonies in their temples; but we beheld no glory there.

Then we went on to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth.

For on earth there is no such splendour or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty.

Source: The Christianisation of Russia

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Informally Formal

Orthodox worship is at once much more and yet also much less formal than Western worship. The following extract from OrthodoxWiki puts it well:

ORTHODOX, inspired by a vision of ‘heaven on earth,’ have striven to make their worship in outward splendor and beauty an icon of the great Liturgy in heaven.

There is no Orthodox equivalent to the ‘Low Mass’. At every Liturgy, as at every Matins and Vespers, incense is used and the service is sung, even though there may be no choir or congregation, but just the priest and a single reader. Since the Orthodox sincerely believe in the One Church, every service is served as if all of the One Church is present, both the visible and the invisible.

In Orthodox worship, people come and go freely, and nobody is surprised if one moves about during the service, arrives late, or does not stay to the end. The absence of pews, at most churches, adds to the feeling of being at home when at church, or like children in their Father’s house, and not patrons at the opera.

The same informality and freedom is in the behavior of the clergy. Ceremonial movements are not so minutely prescribed as in the west, priestly gestures are less stylized and more natural.

This informality can lead to irreverence at times, but it is this precious quality which allow the Orthodox to glimpse the beauty.

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Commentaries on the Liturgy

There is a simple introduction to Orthodox Worship at the website of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, Overland Park, Kansas USA.

Another good overview comes from St George’s Greek Orthodox Church in Greenville, South Carolina. There is also a helpful guide to the various parts of the Divine Liturgy (Holy Communion service).

A still more comprehensive commentary on the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (the Eucharist), provided by Archimandrite Ephrem Lash, can be found at the Orthodox Islington website (London).

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Divine Liturgy from Constantinople

There is a sequence on YouTube of ten videos from Constantinople, showing the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom celebrated on the Sunday of the Orthodoxy in the Cathedral of St George at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople (Istanbul).

Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Part 1)
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Part 2)
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Part 3)
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Part 4)
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Part 5)
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Part 6)
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Part 7)
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Part 8)
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Part 9)
Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Part 10)

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Liturgy for Christmas

A professionally produced video of a Christmas night service in Serbia, from 2009. Beautiful music, and a delightful atmosphere. Occasional commentary in Serbian.

Christmas in Serbia (Part 1)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 2)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 3)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 4)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 5)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 6)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 7)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 8)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 9)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 10)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 11)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 12)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 13)
Christmas in Serbia (Part 14)

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Divine Liturgy (extracts) on the Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God

Liturgy from a charming small church in Thessaloniki, Greece

Part 1 (Litany)

Part 2 (Little Entrance & Gospel)

Part 3 (Great Entrance)

Part 4 (Creed)

Part 5 (Lord’s Prayer)

Part 6 (Communion, above)

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Liturgy, Magnificat

These atmospheric videos come from a seminary in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

Litany
Cherubic Hymn
I Will Bless The Lord At All Times

Magnificat (see video above)

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Orthodox Easter Video

St Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, Arizona USA was brought to life by Elder Ephraim, formerly Abbot of the Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos. In the videos below, you can see Easter celebrated at the Monastery, which now has more than forty members. The Monastery has a website with a music project, including some transcriptions of chants (in English) into Western notation.

Easter at St Anthony’s Monastery, Arizona (Part 1)
Easter at St Anthony’s Monastery, Arizona (Part 2)
Easter at St Anthony’s Monastery, Arizona (Part 3)
Easter at St Anthony’s Monastery, Arizona (Part 4)
Easter at St Anthony’s Monastery, Arizona (Part 5)
Easter at St Anthony’s Monastery, Arizona (Part 6)

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Also On Gabriel’s Message

How Shall We Not Be Amazed?
It is truly meet (Ἄξιον ἐστιν)
Joseph Was Seized With Wonder
O Virgin Pure (Αγνή Παρθένε)
Today The Virgin (Ἡ Παρθένος σήμερον)

Holy Week And Easter
Christ Is Risen (Χριστὸς ἀνέστη)
Day Of Resurrection
Hail! O Life-bearing Cross
Επιτάφιος Θρήνος (Epitaphios Lament)
Life Laid In The Tomb
They have stripped me of my garb
Today Upon The Tree

Great Doxology
Holy God (Trisagion Hymn)
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
O Gladsome Light
Prayer of St Ephraim
Small Compline
The Angel Guardian
The Lord’s Prayer
The Cherubic Hymn