Friday, January 11, 2008

A little liturgical research

One of the things that clergy and cantors/choir directors much check about each year regards the observance of the Sunday after the Nativity and the Sunday Before the Theophany. Depending on how the calendar days fall, both or one of these Sundays may be observed.

That is why we have the convenient book called the "typikon" or the "ustav." It gives instructions on how to treat each and every possible combination or coinciding of days in the church year.

If the Sunday following Christmas occurs on or before Dec. 31/Jan 13, then it is observed as the Sunday after the Nativity. This day honors Our Lord's immediate family relatives, and is considered to be the feast of St. Joseph in the Byzantine tradition.

The Sunday Before Theophany (Yordan) occurs on Jan 2/15 through Jan 5/18. If there happens to be no Sunday between these days (as is the case this year), then the day is superseded.

January 1/14 is the feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord & St. Basil the Great. If it falls on a Sunday, all texts are taken from the feast itself.

Some years see the weekdays falling to include both the Sunday after Nativity and the Sunday before Theophany.

The readings, troparia and other liturgical parts are different, depending on which Sunday is observed. This year, since the "leaving-taking" (final day) of Christmas is on Dec. 31/Jan. 13, Sunday is celebrated as the closing of the Nativity festivity and the "Sunday after Nativity.

Well readers, these are some of the liturgical peculiarities that we must decipher, in order that you may all more fully participate in the liturgical cycle of the Byzantine-Orthodox tradition.

Our liturgical life can seem complicated and obsolete, but when put all together, it weaves a beautiful seamless garment, during which the events of salvation history are portrayed and the Good News of the scripture is preached.

Check my bulletins on the church website for each week's liturgical texts and combinations. Let us all enjoy and take full part in the liturgical life of our parishes.

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