I found this on the Antiochian church website. It seems to be very good. I left out the some of the article that deals with the meaning of themes of each day in Holy Week in present usage. If anyone wants to see this go here:
The Historical Development of Holy Week Services In the Orthodox/Byzantine Rite
By The Very Rev. Nabil L. Hanna
Pastor, St. George Orthodox Christian Church, Fishers, IN
The Paschal fast of Holy Week1 is the most ancient part of the Great Fast.2 It is already well attested by the second century, in conjunction with the rites of Christian initiation through baptism. At first spanning one or two days, the fast lengthened to four and then to a full six already by the third century. With the conversion of Constantine, the ensuing flood of people desiring to enter the Faith and imperial interest in holy places, the fourth century witnessed tremendous development in ritual for Holy Week. This evolutionary process continued in the middle ages and shows itself even in our own time.
Within the New Testament, we see little indication of a preferred time for celebrating baptism. Baptism was understood primarily as a putting off of the old in order to become part of "a society of persons that was in marked contrast to all others."3 The original emphasis was on baptism for the remission of sins and a filling with the Spirit. The stress soon evolved into baptism as a death and resurrection of the individual, as a personal participation in Christ’s
suffering and exaltation.4 As such, Pascha became the normative occasion for baptism. As the numbers of catechumens waned, however, Lent and Holy Week were transformed to a commemoration of past events and to a time of repentance. The attendant rites have, over this course, taken on dramatic elements and a growing sense of sentimentality.
The Beginnings: Second and Third Centuries
By the second century, the very ‘structure’ of initiation in the early Church included instruction in preparation for baptism. The lengthof this preparation varied and often spanned several years. Then, "As many as are persuaded and believe that these things which we teach are true, and undertake to live accordingly, are taught to pray and ask God, while fasting, for the forgiveness of their sins; and we pray and fast with them"5 for one or two days—Saturday only, or Friday and Saturday—a fast without any food or drink.
By the mid-third century, in many but not all places, the fast had lengthened to six days. Few could have kept a week of total fast. In some places, bread and salt were eaten Monday through Thursday after the ninth hour, then, those who could, kept a total fast Friday and Saturday.6 On Holy Saturday, those who had been elected as being ready for illumination would
meet together as catechumens for the last time. Here they are
"catechized" by undergoing a final exorcism; they renounce Satan, are
anointed with the "oil of exorcism" which has been blessed along with
the chrism the preceding Holy Thursday, and recite the Creed which they
have memorized since hearing it in the fourth scrutiny [on the preceding
Sunday]. They kneel for prayer, and are then dismissed, being told to
go home "and await the hour when the grace of God in baptism shall be
able to enfold you."7
Dionysius of Alexandria, in writing his Letter to Basiliades around 260, provides us the earliest source for an incipient ritual of Holy Week. Dionysius takes great pains to link each day and hour of Holy Week to events in Christ’s passion, sojourn in the tomb and resurrection. The Syriac Didascalia do the same.8 Hippolytus’ Apostolic Tradition (ca. 215) and Cyprian (d. 258) both link the hours of prayer—for Holy Week and throughout the year—with specific events during Christ’s final week.
The Formative Age: Fourth Century
Cyril of Jerusalem, in the Catechetical Homilies he delivered ca.350, makes no mention of daily commemorations and ritual. The Cross and the Resurrection, for example, were part of a single, united celebration on Saturday night, for which the six days of fasting were simply preparation. Friday did not yet specifically commemorate the crucifixion.9 But the "current of the times"10 in the fourth century was a historicizing one: eschatological notions were giving way to historical commemoration.
From Jerusalem comes innovation. By the time a pilgrim from Spain named Egeria visited, between 381-385, when this same Cyril was in his final years as bishop of the Holy City, there had evolved unmistakable correlation between passion events and the services for each day. Egeria was able to describe the rites in great detail in her diary. The close proximity of the actual sites where the events of our Lord’s passion took place, and the influx of pilgrims, no doubt suggested visiting and venerating at those locations. Dix condenses well Egeria’s diary, showing "a fully developed and designedly historical series of such
celebrations in which the whole Jerusalem church takes part:"11
It begins on Passion Sunday with a
procession to Bethany where the gospel of the raising of Lazarus is
read. On the afternoon of Palm Sunday the whole church goes out to the
Mount of Olives and returns in solemn procession to the city bearing
branches of palm. There are evening visits to the Mount of Olives on
each of the first three days of Holy Week, in commemoration of our
Lord’s nightly withdrawal for the city during that week. On Maundy
Thursday morning the eucharist is celebrated (for the only time in the
year) in the chapel of the Cross, and not in the Martyrium; and
all make their communion. In the evening after another eucharist the
whole church keeps vigil at Constantine’s church of Eleona on the Mount
of Olives, visiting Gethsemane after midnight and returning to the city
in the morning for the reading of the gospel of the trial of Jesus. In
the course of the morning of Good Friday all venerate the relics of the
Cross, and then from noon to three p.m. all keep watch on the actual
site of Golgotha (still left by Constantine’s architects open to the sky
in the midst of a great colonnaded courtyard behind the Martyrium)
with lections and prayers amid deep emotion. In the evening there is a
final visit by the whole church to the Holy Sepulchre, where the gospel
of the entombment is read. On Holy Saturday evening the paschal vigil
still takes place much as in other churches, with its lections and
prayers and baptisms….
Visitors like Egeria carried back to their native lands the memory of what they had experienced in Jerusalem and tried to emulate it in their own liturgical practices. Thus historical commemorations and stational liturgies spread quickly throughout the Christian world, for both Holy Week and the rest of the year. For example, because of the unique situation in Jerusalem, where multitudes of pilgrims descended, they would occupy the church all night in order to have a place for matins, and similarly for the other hours of prayer. Thus, in order to keep the people occupied, services and hymns were celebrated continuously. Clearly it was impossible for the bishop to preside around the clock, so services would begin without the bishop, who would then make an
entrance some time later. This practice was imitated in many places, such that ever since the latter part of the fourth century the entrance of the bishop/clergy for vespers, Liturgy, etc., has moved from the opening of the service to some point later, for Hly Week and throughout the year!
Also noteworthy is that in the fourth century there developed a consensus that the full celebration of the Eucharist, always a joyful event, was inconsistent with the austerity of the fast. Instead, vespers with Communion was instituted on Wednesdays, Fridays and saints’ days,12 though Egeria declines to attest to the practice of presanctified Communion during Holy Week during the time of her visit.
The Studite Revisions: Ninth through Fifteenth Centuries
In the ninth century, two learned brothers at the Monastery of Studios in Constantinople—Theodore the Studite and Joseph the Studite, Archbishop of Thessalonica—created a work called the Triodion.13 Covering the period from three Sundays before the start of Lent through Pentecost, including, of course Holy Week, they compiled and composed original hymnography, seeking to bring a return to biblical roots, particularly the Psalms and the Old Testament.14 In doing so, the Studites furthered the earlier historicizing trends and nearly obliterated baptismal themes from Lent and Holy Week texts. Their emphasis was on commemorating salvation history and drawing out ethical and ascetical teachings.
Much of their material originated in Palestine in the sixth through eighth centuries, especially from the great Lavra of St. Sabas Monastery. They intended the Triodion for monastic communities. They had no catechumens. Even in the "world" by that time only infants remained to be baptized. Partly for this reason and partly because of the general influence monastics were gaining in the Church, especially in the area of spiritual direction, the monastic rites of the Triodion began replacing the cathedral rite in the twelfth century. By the fourteenth century, the process was complete.15
Within the basic structure of the Triodion, additional hymnography was inserted up until the fifteenth century—obviously an abrupt terminus at the fall of Constantinople. It is only at the end of the 14th and beginning of the 15th centuries, for example that the popular enkomia16 of Matins for Holy Saturday first appear.17
It must be noted that all printed editions of the Triodion are incomplete. They represent only a selection of the material in the manuscripts, "and many of the unpublished texts are of a high standard artistically and spiritually."18