Russian Orthodox Liturgical Resources

Liturgical Handbook
of the Practices of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
Return to Handbook IndexРусская версия
Handbook of Liturgical Practice of the Russian Church Abroad
Liturgical Question:
What is the manner of the Deacons’ participation in the Little Entrance at a Hierarchical Liturgy?
Handbook Category: Diaconal Services and Rubrics (index)

At the appointed time during the singing of the third antiphon, the senior Priest steps in front of the Holy Table with the senior Deacon to his right. These two clerics alone make the sign of the Cross together twice, after which the Priest kisses the Gospel and the Holy Table while the Deacon kisses the Holy Table alone. They then make the sign of the Cross a third time and both bow to the Bishop (seated upon the cathedra). They then turn to the east and the senior Priest hands the Gospel book to the Deacon, who kisses his right hand. The Deacon processes to the High Place,  at the centre of the servers already assembled there with their items for the entrance, and asks the Bishop to bless the censers — these are held by the other serving Deacons, who raise them as the senior Deacon petitions their blessing.

The servers (candle- and fan-bearers) then lead the entrance procession, followed by the junior Deacons with the censers, then the senior Deacon and behind him the Priests. The Deacons bearing the censers do not swing them while processing.

As the senior Deacon descends from the amvon he says quietly, ‘Let us pray to the Lord’, as the Bishop prays (mystically) for the Entry. The senior Deacon, together with all those servers destined to stand before the Bishop on the south (right) side, pass behind the cathedra (never in front of it) and form their ranks. When in place all servers and clergy face the Altar (eastwards) until the senior Deacon takes his place between the two ranks, also facing east and placing the Gospel upon his left shoulder; thereupon, and taking their lead from the senior Deacon, all make the sign of the Cross, turn and bow to the Bishop, and then face each other across the ranks. The senior Deacon, meanwhile, turns towards the north, pointing his orarion towards the Altar, and says, ‘Bless, Master, the holy entrance’, whereupon the Bishop so blesses and the Deacon approaches him, holding the Gospel book for him to venerate and kissing the Bishop’s hand as the latter does so. The Deacon then turns back towards the east, moving several paces in front of the Bishop, while the other Deacons cense the Gospel book, ensuring their censers swing in a synchronised and even pace.

Once the choir has finished singing the Beatitudes, the senior Deacon exclaims, ‘Wisdom! Aright!’ and makes the sign of the cross with the Gospel, facing eastward. He then immediately turns to face the Bishop, who now holds the dikiri and trikiri. The second and third Deacons should move in front of the senior Deacon and cense the Gospel, facing towards the east (taking care not to stand directly between the Bishop and the Gospel book), as all the clergy and servers being to sing the entrance hymn, ‘O Come let us worship…’. During the opening of this hymn, the Bishop with the dikiri and trikiri slowly bows before the Gospel book which the Deacon holds aloft; when he straightens after this bow the second and third Deacons turn from the Gospel towards the Bishop, and they cense him as he makes the sign of the Cross with the dikiri and trikiri, facing eastwards. When the Bishop then turns to face west and bless the people (and like wise in the two other directions), the second and third Deacons turn back towards the Gospel and cense it continually.

After the Bishop has censed the people from each of the cardinal directions, as he turns back towards the Holy Altar the senior Deacon likewise turns to face eastwards, and leads the Bishop and other servers and clergy back into the Altar. He places the Gospel once again atop of the folded antimins, then immediately stands aside, turns towards the Bishop (who is venerating the icons on the Royal Doors to make his entry), and waits to receive the trikiri from him. The second Deacon should stand behind the first, censer in hand, ready to give it to the Bishop as soon as the latter enters the Altar.

Cover of the 'Liturgical Handbook of the Church Abroad' eBook 2nd Edition

This is a sample entry from our Liturgical Handbook of the practices of the Church Abroad, which is available in paperback and in e-Books format for Kindle, smartphones and other devices. Please see the Table of Contents for a complete listing of the more than 150 entries on aspects of liturgical service in the Church Abroad, organised thematically for quick reference or for detailed study. Or, you can obtain the full paperback or eBook now, for reference at any time on your e-reader, smartphone, tablet or other device:

Liturgical Resources

Full resoures on the liturgical heritage of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Altar Servers

‘To Serve in My Father’s House’: a primer on the spiritual nature of service in the Altar