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Name of one of the chief service-books of the Byzantine Church

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Euchologion (euchologion), the name of one of the chief service-books of the Byzantine Church. It corresponds more or less to our Missal and Ritual. The Euchologion contains first, directions for the deacon at the Hesperinon (Vespers), Orthros (Lauds), and Liturgy. The priest’s prayers and the deacon’s litanies for those two hours follow. Then come the Liturgies; first, rubrics for the holy Liturgy in general, and a long note about the arrangement of the breads at the Proskomide. The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is the frame into which the others are fitted. The Euchologion contains only the parts of priest and deacon at full length, first for the Chrysostom-liturgy, then for those parts of St. Basil’s Liturgy that differ from it, then for the Presanctified-Liturgy, beginning with the Hesperinon that always precedes it. After the Liturgies follow a collection of sacraments and sacramentals with various rules, canons, and blessings. First the rite of churching the mother after childbirth (euchai eis gunaika lecho), adapted for various conditions, then certain “canons of the Apostles and Fathers” about baptism, prayers to be said over catechumens, the rite of baptism, followed by the washing (apolousis) of the child, seven days later, certain exorcisms of St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom, and the rite of consecrating chrism (muron) on Maundy Thursday. Then follow the ordination services for deacon, priest, and bishop (there is a second rite of ordaining bishops “according to the exposition of the most holy Lord Metrophanes, Metropolitan of Nyssa“), the blessing of a hegumenos (abbot) and of other superiors of monasteries, a prayer for those who begin to serve in the Church, and the rites for minor orders (reader, singer, and subdeacon).

The ceremonies for receiving novices, clothing monks in the mandyas (the “little habit”) and in the “great and angelic habit” come next, the appointing of a priest to be confessor (pneumatikos) and the manner of hearing confessions, prayers to be said over persons who take a solemn oath, for those who incur canonical punishments, and for those who are absolved from them. Then comes a collection of prayers for various necessities. A long hymn to Our Lady for “forgiveness of sins”, written by a monk, Euthymius, follows, and we come to the rites of espousal, marriage (called the “crowning”, Stephanoma, from the most striking feature of the ceremony), the prayers for taking off the crowns eight days later, the rite of second marriages (called, as by us, “bigamy”, digamia, in which the persons are not crowned), and the very long unction of the sick (to hagion elaion), performed normally by seven priests. Next, blessings for new churches and antiminsia (the corporal containing relics they use for the Liturgy; it is really a kind of portable altar), the ceremony of washing the altar on Maundy Thursday, erection of a Stauropegion (exempt monastery), the short blessing of waters (hagiasmos), and the great one (used on the Epiphany) followed by a sacramental which consists of bathing (nipter) afterwards. After one or two more ceremonies, such as a curious rite of kneeling (gonuklisis, otherwise a rare gesture in the Eastern Churches) on the evening of Whitsunday, exorcisms, prayers for the sick and dying, come the burial services for laymen, monks, priests. Then follows a very miscellaneous collection of prayers and hymns (marked euchai diaphoroi), canons of penance, against earthquakes, for time of pestilence, and war, and two addressed to Our Lady. More prayers for various occasions end the book. In modern Euchologia, however, it is usual to add the “Apostles” (the Epistles) and Gospels for the chief feasts (these are taken from the two books that contain the whole collection of liturgical lessons), and lastly the arrangement of the court of the ecumenical patriarch in choir, with rubrical directions for their various duties during the Liturgy. This last chapter is found, of course, only in the Orthodox book.

It will be seen, then, that the Euchologion is the handbook for bishops, priests, and deacons. It contains only the short responses of the choir, who have to use their own choir-books (Triodion, Pentekostarion, Oktoechos, Parakletike, Menologion). The Euchologion, in common with all Byzantine service-books, suffers from an amazing want of order. One discerns a certain fundamental system in the order of its chief parts; but the shorter services, blessings, prayers, hymns, etc. are thrown together pell-mell.

The first printed edition was published at Venice in 1526. The Orthodox official edition in Greek is printed (as are all their books) at the Phoenix press (tupographeion he Phoiniks) at Venice (7th ed., edited by Spiridion Zerbos, 1898). There is also an Athenian edition and one of Constantinople. The Churches that use other liturgical languages have presses (generally at the capital of the country, St. Petersburg Bukarest, Jerusalem) for their translations. Provost Alexios Maltzew of the Russian Embassy Church at Berlin has edited the Euchologion in Old Slavonic and German with notes (Vienna, 1861, reprinted at Berlin, 1892). Uniats use the Propaganda edition and have a compendium (micron euchologion) containing only the Liturgies, Apostles and Gospels, baptism, marriage, unction, and confession (Rome, 1872). J. Goar, O.P., edited the Euchologion with very complete notes, explanations, and illustrations (Euchologion, sive Rituale Graecorum, 2nd ed., Venice, fol., 1720); this is still the standard work of reference for Byzantine rites.


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