Liturgical Handbook of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
At the anointing of the Vigil, when and how do the clergy and servers re-enter the Altar?
Category: All-Night Vigil and Evening Services

At the conclusion of the anointing of the clergy and Altar servers during the Vigil, just prior to the faithful coming forward for the same, the clergy and servers return to the Altar. This is done in a dignified and coordinated manner according to the following custom:

As the final rank of Altar servers is anointed and returns to their rank before the icon / Gospel book to make their final bow, all the clerics and servers surrounding the presiding Priest (or Bishop) turn to the east and, together with those final servers, make the sign of the Cross and bow towards the east, then turn and bow towards the presiding Priest. They then depart and re-enter the Altar — the clergy through the open Royal Doors and the servers through the Deacon’s doors.

The presiding Priest and one server will alone remain in the centre of the temple, to anoint the faithful with the consecrated oil — the server standing to the Priest’s right with the oil. If it is a Vigil at which a litya has been served, another server will also remain at his left side, holding the tray with the blessed bread, which is distributed to the faithful. (If two Priests are concelebrating, the second Priest will remain at the presiding Priest’s left to distribute the bread; if a Bishop is serving, a Priest will remain at his left-hand side to do this.)

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