|- Divine Liturgy
|- 9th Hour
"Divine Liturgy" - Liturgy is our main worship service and centers around the Sacrament of Holy Communion. During Liturgy, there are also various hymns, litanies of intercession, readings from the Epistles and Gospels, and a sermon. The Greek work "λειτουργία" ("liturgy") is used throughout the Bible, but in English is instead often rendered as "ministering to the Lord" or "worship." Liturgy literally means "the work of the people." Thus, the Divine Liturgy is understood as God's action taking place in the midst of those who have assembled together in His name. The Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church has its roots in the Old Testament worship of the Tabernacle and Temple, and has an organic and unbroken connection to the earliest liturgy used in the apostolic era. Liturgy is usually about an hour and 15 minutes in length.
"Vespers" - The name Vespers comes from the Greek word "ἑσπέρα," which means "evening." Thus, it is an evening prayer service centered around the setting of the sun and the beginning of the new day (according to the Jewish sense of time, with the new day beginning at sundown). During Vespers, there are Psalm readings, litanies of intercession, and various hymns about a special event or saint being remembered on that particular date. Saturday evening Vespers focus on the Resurrection of Christ as a preparation for keeping "the Lord's Day." Vespers is usually 35 - 45 minutes in length.
"Orthros" - The word "Orthros" (in Greek, "ὄρθρος") means "daybreak." Orthros is an early morning service, and is very similar to the "Matins" service in the Western Christian traditions. During Orthros, there are Psalm readings, litanies, hymns, and a Gospel reading. The Sunday morning Orthros services focuses on the theme of the Resurrection, and moves seamlessly into the Divine Liturgy. Orthros is usually an hour to an hour and 15 minutes in length.
"Akathists" - Akathist comes from the Greek word "Ἀκάθιστος," which literally means "not seated." As with most other Orthodox services, if possible, the faithful stand in reverence in order to remain attentive in their prayer and worship. The Akathist service is a series of poetic hymns in honor of a particular feast, saint, or special event. There are many different Akathist services; commonly used Akathists are addressed to Christ, the Nativity, the Cross, the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the church community, etc. An Akathist is usually 35 - 40 minutes in length.
Other services - Beyond the common services listed above, there are other services that are served during special times of the year. Examples of these would be special services during Advent, the Apostles and Dormition fasts, and Great Lent.
For those of us who are new to these services (or by way of reminder), here is a description of the special services we are having during Great Lent:
"Great Compline" - A beautiful service of evening prayer with a number of Psalms, both read and chanted. This services lasts about an hour (except during the first week of Lent, when it is combined with parts of the Great Canon...then, the services lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes).
"The Great Canon" - A long penitential hymn of verses and refrains, based on different figures from the Bible. During each refrain "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me," it is typical for the faithful to make a prostration or a bow, if possible...except for the chanters who are busy chanting the service. During the first week of Lent, the Great Canon is divided into 4 parts, with one part added to Great Compline on Monday through Thursday. During the 5th week of Lent, the Great Canon is heard in its entirety with Small Compline (that service lasts 2+ hours)
"Pre-sanctified Liturgy" - A special penitential Liturgy we serve only during Lent. Many of the hymns of Vespers are included in this service. Extra Holy Communion is consecrated on the previous Sunday ("pre-sanctified"), kept in a special tabernacle on the altar, then served at this Liturgy later in the week. It is especially to give grace and encouragement for those who are engaging in the fast. Pre-sanctified is about an hour and a half; it is usually preceded by 9th Hour (lots of Psalms) and Typica (selected hymns from our regular Liturgy), which together last about 30 minutes. Usually, these services are on Wednesday evening, followed by a lenten potluck meal and time of fellowship. Those receiving Holy Communion at Pre-sanctified Liturgy are to fast all day before receiving, or at least from after an early, light lenten lunch.
"The Akathist Hymn" - The Akathist Hymn during Lent is a special one to the Virgin Mary (called the "Madayeh" service in Arabic), praising and honoring her place in God's plan of salvation. This is one of the most popular lenten services, especially in Lebanon, Syria, and the Holy Land. It lasts a little under an hour.
"Daily Lenten Orthros" - A service of morning prayer, similar to the service we have each Sunday morning before Liturgy. Orthros includes Psalms, beautiful chanting, and litanies. It lasts about an hour.