Liturgical Handbook of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
At the end of the Vespers of a Vigil, are the Royal Doors opened?
Category: All-Night Vigil and Evening Services

At the conclusion of the Vespers of an All-Night Vigil, it has become the practice in some places for the Royal Doors to be opened and the main lights of the temple illuminated — sometimes at the proclamation of ‘Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart…’; in other places, at the singing of the tropar after Our Father. In neither case does this correspond to the older practice of the Church Abroad, in which, during the Vespers of a Vigil, the Royal Doors are not opened at all after the conclusion of the Entrance, nor the lights illuminated. This is true whatever the rank of the commemoration or Feast.

At the conclusion of the Vespers of a Vigil, the Royal Doors remain closed and the lights off both during the prayer of St Symeon and during the singing of the tropar. At the conclusion of the latter, while the choir sings ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord…’ (thrice) and the Psalm, the Priest, wearing the epitrahil and cuffs without the phelon, and with his head covered (if so awarded), venerates the Holy Table with a kiss and exits the Altar via the north door; then, standing before the closed Royal Doors, he turns to the people and pronounces the benediction (‘The blessings of our Lord be upon you…’) while making the sign of the Cross over them with his hand. He then immediately re-enters the Altar as the Six Psalms are begun.

The exception to this is a Hierarchical Vigil in which the Litya has been served at the conclusion of Vespers. In this case, the Royal Doors remain nevertheless closed throughout (including during the prayer of St Symeon and the tropar, as above, and also the benediction); they are opened (without the lights being illuminated) only after the end of the benediction from the amvon, to permit the Bishop to re-enter the Altar via the Royal Doors, which are then immediately closed behind him (Priests re-enter via the Deacon’s doors; and if serving a Litya without a Bishop, the Priests both exit and re-enter via the Deacon’s doors, with the Royal Doors not being opened at all.)

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