Liturgical Handbook of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad
When and where are the Hours read at an Hierarchical Liturgy, and where does the Priest stand?
Category: Hierarchical Services

While during a Priestly celebration of the Divine Liturgy the Hours are read from the kliros and the Priest remains in the Altar, this changes at the Hierarchical service.

When the Bishop celebrates and has been vested upon the cathedra, the Hours begin straightaway after the blessing with the trikiri and dikiri and the singing of ‘Ton despotin…’. The Hours are not read before the Bishop’s arrival.

During the singing of ‘Ton despotin…’ an analoy is placed midway between the cathedra and the amvon, facing the Altar, slightly to the Bishop’s left (north), so as not to be standing directly between him and the Royal Doors. The Priest who served the Proskomedia (which is always entirely finished before the Bishop’s arrival, including the covering of the gifts) exits the Altar via the north door, and with him the Reader, bearing the book of the Hours in his hands. The other Priests and the Deacons do not depart the Altar.

The Priest and Reader approach the cathedra, the Priest passing behind it, to end on the Bishop’s right, while the Reader remains on his left. Facing east, they together cross themselves, then turn to the Bishop for a blessing. The Bishop blesses them simultaneously, the Priest with his right hand (which is kissed by the Priest), and the Reader receiving the blessing over the book with his left (likewise kissing the Bishop’s hand). The Reader then goes to the analoy and lays the book upon it. The Priest, standing before the Bishop and to his right, says the blessing of the Hours (‘Blessed is our God…’); as he does, both he and the Reader cross themselves, then together turn towards the Bishop and bow. The Reader reads the Hour.

Throughout both Hours, the Priest remains in the centre of the temple with the Bishop. Every time that he pronounces an exclamation, both he and the Reader turn to the east and cross themselves, then turn and bow to the Bishop. (This is the prescribed custom; in actual practice, the Bishop may bless the Priest — especially if there is only one serving — to depart from this place once the Hours have begun, in order to hear confessions or make other preparations before the beginning of the Liturgy proper. But where it is possible, the Priest should remain in the centre of the temple, with the Bishop, both of them attentively listening to the reading of the Hours.)

At the conclusion of the Sixth Hour, during the forty-fold ‘Lord, have mercy,’ the other Priests and the Deacons exit the Altar via the side doors and take their places in ranks before the Bishop, with the Deacons at the east end. The Priest who served the Proskomedia and has been with the Bishop in the centre of the temple throughout the Hours, being generally the junior Priest, moves from his position directly at the Bishop’s right to wherever he properly stands amongst the ranks of the Priests, by seniority. When all are in place, they together turn to the east and cross themselves, turn and bow towards the Bishop, then stand facing each other.

The final exclamation of the Sixth Hour is proclaimed by the Priest, whereupon the Bishop with the Deacons says the prayers before the beginning of the Liturgy.

Once the Hours are complete, the Reader takes both his book and the analoy and returns them to their normal places, and re-enters the Altar.

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