Wednesday 15 April 2020

Great Friday Matins

Matins is the morning service of the Orthodox Church, but the Great Friday matins service is normally celebrated on Thursday evening.  This is the service of the Holy and Saving Passion of Christ during which twelve sections of the Gospels are read.

This year, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic it’s not possible for laypeople to attend our services.  Some churches and monasteries live-stream their services. Others have published advice about reading services at home.

The services of Great Week are found in a book called the Triodion.  Either the Ware’s Lenten Triodion or the new Holy Transfiguration Monastery Holy Week book will do. The HTM book has all the hymns and readings needed in one place.

However, if you’re using the Lenten Triodion, you will notice that many of the hymns and psalms are different to the ones you normally hear in church. This is because we use the HTM translation.  Our simple guide is based on our usage at St. Edward’s and assumes that you only have a blue Boston Prayer Book and a Lenten Triodion.

We have simplified things a little, because reading services at home is an act of prayer. You are praying with the other members of the Orthodox Church – both those at home, and the monastics praying in monasteries all over the world.  Don’t worry about getting everything ‘right’ – it’s not possible to learn Matins overnight. 

Our book 'The Grace of the Spirit' has an overview of the structure of Matins which might be helpful. We have also linked to some music too.  The following three points are worth remembering:
  • We start and end a reader service with: ‘Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us’. 
  • We read the Gospel in a normal voice. We leave out the entire introduction too. 
  • We leave out all the litanies.

      Great Friday Matins 

      The service starts on p.47 of the Boston Prayer book. Read from page 47 to page 63. Finish this section on ‘Our hope, O Lord, Glory be to Thee.’ 

      We then sing Alleluia three times. And then the verse: 'Out of the night my spirit waketh at dawn unto Thee, O God, for Thy commandments are a light upon the earth.'  
      We then sing ‘Alleluia’ three times after each of the following verses: 
      • Learn righteousness ye that dwell upon the earth.
      • Zeal shall lay hold upon an uninstructed people and now fire shall consume the adversaries. 
      • Add more evils upon them, O Lord, add more evils upon them that are glorious upon the earth.
      We now sing the Troparion ‘When the glorious disciples were enlightened…’ three times. You can find this in the blue Boston Prayer book (p.157). Straightaway we read the First Gospel (p. 565 Lenten Triodion) After the Gospel we sing (or read) the antiphons in the Lenten Triodion. You don’t need to repeat the verses. Now read or sing the sessional hymn.

      Now read the Second Gospel Reading followed by the antiphons and sessional hymn in the Lenten Triodion. This sequence is unchanged after the Third, Fourth and Fifth Gospel Readings. Just carry on reading what is in the Lenten Triodion.

      After the Sixth Gospel Reading we sing or read the Beatitudes and the verses (Lenten Triodion p.589) followed by the Prokeimenon.

      After the Seventh Gospel read Psalm 50 (page 4 in the Boston Prayer Book). After the Eighth Gospel we read the canon. Just read this straight through.  Don’t repeat any of the verses. 

      At the end of the canon we sing or read the exapostilarion followed immediately by the Ninth Gospel.  We now sing the Praises (page 78 in the Boston Prayer book). If you don’t know how the Praises work,  you can just read the verses for ‘Lauds’ on page 596 of the Lenten Triodion.

      Now read the Tenth Gospel Followed by the Small Doxology (see p. 19 in Boston Prayer book). Now Read the Eleventh Gospel followed by the Aposticha Verses  (p. 598 in Lenten Triodion).

      Now read the Twelfth Gospel followed by this prayer: ‘It is good to give praise unto the Lord and to chant unto Thy Name O Most High, to proclaim in the morning Thy mercy and Thy truth by night. 

      Now read ‘Holy God to our Father’ followed by the troparion on page 600 of the Lenten Triodion: ‘Thou hast redeemed us from the curse of the Law…’

      Glory…. Both now… Lord have mercy (thrice). Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us. Amen.

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