Liturgical Handbook of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
What are the ‘lesser forms’ of an Hierarchical Liturgy?
Category: Hierarchical Services

At the Trisagion hymn of the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, the Deacons and all Altar servers are already at the High Place since the singing of the final kondak. As the kondak ends, the senior Deacon alone departs from the High Place and takes the Bishop’s blessing, thence passing through the Royal Doors to stand upon the amvon. There, once the singing concludes, he proclaims ‘Let us pray to the Lord’, and the Bishop offers the exclamation (‘For holy art Thou…’), which is completed by the Deacon with the usual exchange (‘O Lord, save the pious…’, etc.).

During the exclamation, the Bishop blesses only the Subdeacon to the right (south) of the High Place, who alone turns to the east, crosses himself, and bows to the Bishop. None of the other Subdeacons or servers move at all, remaining at the High Place, facing west. Once he has bowed to the Bishop, the appointed Subdeacon takes the dikiri, already positioned on the south side of the Holy Table, and holds it in his hands, several steps back (to the south) of the Holy Table. The trikiri is not touched.

As the Deacon completes the exclamation (‘…and unto the ages of ages’), he re-enters the Altar via the Royal Doors, passes in front of the Subdeacon to the High Place and crosses himself as usual; then, turning to the west, he walks back to the front of the Holy Table, taking the dikiri from the Subdeacon as he does so. He gives the dikiri to the Bishop, then returns to the centre of the High Place.

After the choir has sung the Trisagion the first time, all the clergy and servers together sing it the second time while the Bishop makes the sign of the Cross over the Gospel book with the dikiri. Once he has made this blessing, the second-ranked Priest (to the Bishop’s left) lifts the Cross from the Holy Table and presents it to the Bishop, kissing the latter’s hand as he does so. As the singing within the Altar is concluding, the Deacons with all the servers turn to the east and cross themselves, then turn and bow to the Bishop. The two Subdeacons come forward, and as the Bishop departs through the Royal Doors with the Cross and dikiri, they exit through the Deacon’s doors to stand at his side upon the amvon. The servers inside the Altar return to their normal places.

On the amvon, the Bishop thrice proclaims the prayer and blesses the people with the Cross and dikiri, as the choir sings the Trisagion in a fragmented manner (one portion following each of the three repetitions of the prayer), changing his direction at each recitation. The Subdeacons remain at his sides, facing directly west; they do not turn with him, nor do they bow as he blesses, but remain standing upright and still. After the third recitation of the prayer the Bishop returns to the Altar via the Royal Doors and the Subdeacons enter via the Deacon’s doors. The Bishop gives up the Cross to the second Priest, who returns it to the Holy Table, then the Bishop himself — still holding the dikiri — kisses the table and the Deacon precedes him to the High Place, the two making their usual exchange of prayers. There the Subdeacon on the south side takes the dikiri after the Bishop has used it to bless the throne; and the Subdeacon on the north side, who has already taken up the trikiri into his hands, gives it to the Bishop upon the throne, from which he blesses while all the clergy and servers again sing the Trisagion hymn together. As the singing concludes, the Subdeacon takes the trikiri from the Bishop, whereupon he and the other Subdeacon, still holding the dikiri, cross themselves to the east and bow to the Bishop, then place the dikiri and trikiri in their normal places.

At this point the Reader comes forward with the Apostle book to take the Bishop’s blessing for the reading; and the censor is brought to the Deacon and the incense bowl to the Bishop, who himself places the incense and blesses the censing before the Gospel. These do not need to be brought forward earlier, which is a commonly-observed mistake (e.g. doing so during the singing of the Trisagion): it is more important that all the servers together sing the final refrain of the hymn together than to occupy themselves with readying the censer, etc., and therefore weakening the singing.

The Subdeacons quietly remove the Bishop’s omofor during the prokeimenon.

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