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Vigil for Holy Friday/Saturday: Psalter vs. Gospels


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#1 John S.

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 01:54 AM

I have heard from two different (both reliable) sources of two different traditions for the vigil on Holy Friday until Holy Saturday morning: one states that the Psalter is to be read throughout the night, the other the Gospels (presumably because this is read during the wake of a priest). Can anyone tell me which is the proper tradition (and why)?

Thank you for your help!
John

#2 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 02:06 AM

In the village of Omsk all was not well in the local Parish. Every year, during Lent at a certain point in Matins ("Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes"), half of the congregation would make a bow (a metania) at the waist, and half would make a full prostration to the floor (a great metania).

The little metanists would start whispering sharply, "No! No! From the waist!" To which the great metanists would hiss back even louder, "Wrong! Full prostration! Who are you following, the Devil?!" And fist fights would break out and the service could not even be completed.

Finally the war-weary parishioners decided to ask their priest, Fr Benjamin. "Father, what is the tradition? In Lent, at 'Blessed art Thou', do we make a little metany, or a great metany?" Knowing the rancor attached to the dispute, poor Fr Benjamin trembled, grew pale, then fainted and fell backwards.

So next they went to the Skete of the Forerunner, and asked the Abbot: "Father, we want to know, we have a terrible argument at our parish--what is the tradition? Because half the people say to make small metanies at "Blessed art Thou' now, and half say great metanies. And we start fighting, terrible, terrible. So, tell us, what is the Tradition?" Seeing the ferocity in their faces, poor Hieromonk Anatoly simply fainted.

Then someone shouted, "Let's go to Elder John and ask him!" It was a marvelous idea. Surely the elder's answer would bring peace, for he was respected by all, a native of the village, and his hoary 94 years guaranteed a knowledge of what the old tradition had been.

So a large crowd gathered at the elder's hut on the outskirts of town. Some 15 men from both sides entered the hut, and found frail Elder lying on his bed. As he struggled to draw himself up and offer tea, they cut him off: "Elder John, you have to help us! What is the Tradition? Every year in Lent, at 'Blessed art Thou, O Lord', half of the people at our village make little metanies, and half the people great metanies, and we start to argue, and the service doesn't even finish because of the fist fight!" Then Elder John said firmly, in his voice shaking with age, and with tears streaming down his joyful face, "THAT... is... the Tradition!"

#3 Paul Cowan

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 03:57 AM

We have 30 minute timeslots reading the Psalter only from the end of Friday night service until the beginning of Saturday morning service.

Paul

#4 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 01:05 PM

I have heard from two different (both reliable) sources of two different traditions for the vigil on Holy Friday until Holy Saturday morning: one states that the Psalter is to be read throughout the night, the other the Gospels (presumably because this is read during the wake of a priest). Can anyone tell me which is the proper tradition (and why)?

Thank you for your help!
John


Where I have seen such practices on this night there has been the reading of the Psalter done in shifts. But at seminary we had a wonderful tradition where several of us would arrive at midnight and sing the Praises in Byzantine style.

I suspect that different things are done simply because nothing is actually mentioned about this at all in the Typikon as used at least in the Russian tradition. Likely everything done is by very local tradition.

On the other hand the Typikon does specifically refer to reading the Acts of the Apostles after the Vespers & Liturgy of St Basil on Holy Saturday. The Typikon even provides the exclamations said by the Reader and priest when this reading begins.

An interesting note is that it also says that when baskets are blessed before the Paschal Matins then we sing the resurrectional Tropar Tone 2 "When Thou didst descend to death...". In other words you don't sing Christ is Risen at such blessings until after at least the Matins has been done.

In Christ-
Fr Raphael

#5 Jeremy Troy

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 05:05 PM

Last year was my first vigil, and we decided what to read on the fly. We read nonstop the entire night, and managed to read all of Acts, Hebrews, the Gospel of Matthew, about two-thirds of the Psalter, and the morning and evening prayers with the Communion prayers. Two of us (including myself) were Chrismated Saturday morning.




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