-> Church Etiquette

A Survival Guide to Great Vespers

Introduction to Byzantine Church Life
A Guide to Divine Liturgy
A Guide to Great Vespers
Who's Who? in Church Services
Coming into Church
"Greetings and Salutations"
Greeting a Priest
The Sign of the Cross

Great Vespers is the Saturday evening Church Service.

It begins the cycle of Sunday Services (Vespers, Matins, and Divine Liturgy).

Following good Jewish Tradition, the Eastern Churches see the day as beginning on the evening before, cf. Genesis 1:5b, "Evening and Morning, the first day".

The core of the Service is the praying of the Evening Psalms and the Lighting of the Lamps.

In the Bible, people prayed in the Evening (as well as at morning and midday). Pious Jews still pray at Morning, Midday and Evening.

Lamp lighting originally served the practical purpose of having light when the sun set. Everyone in Bible times did it.

The Church deconstructed the household chore to be understood theologically as symbolic of:

Jesus the Messiah

- the Light of the World.

According to Fr. Alexander Schmemann, there are 4 themes to Great Vespers:

1. Creation

2. the Fall

3. Salvation

4. Parousia

A Brief outline of Great Vespers

1. Creation
Initial Blessing:
Psalm of Creation
Great Litany
Kathisma Psalms
Little Litany

2. The Fall
Lamp Lighting Psalms
Stikhera of the Psalms (Hymns which explain the Psalms)

3. Salvation (Liturgy of the Word)
Entrance Procession
Hymn of Light
Prokimen (Psalm introducing the Bible Readings)
Old Testament Readings (on major Feastdays)

Insistant Litany
Prayer by Reader (Favour us O Lord )
Litany of Supplication
Prayer of Inclination
Apostikha (Final hymns which explain the Psalm for the Feast)

4. Parousia
The Song of St. Simeon
Trisagion Prayers
Resurrectional Tropar (Theme Hymn of the Sunday)
The Dismissal

Sing Along!

Much of our Divine Services involves the praying of Litanies.

The Deacon will lead the Faithful in a series of Petitions: (e.g.: " peace let us pray unto the Lord.")

The Faithful respond by singing:

"Lord have mercy." about 83% of all Responses in our Church

"Grant this, O Lord." Used in the Litany of Supplication

"To You, O Lord." The 2d last Response to each Litany

"Amen." The conclusion to all prayer.

Sing Along in Ukrainian!

(N.B: in Ukrainian, ALL vowels are short vowels, e.g. ö = got, ï = fit, etc.)

Lord, have mercy = " Hós-pö-dï Pö-mí-lou-wee "

To You, O Lord = " Tö -Bée, Hós-pö-dï "

Amen = " Ah -méen "

Grant this, O Lord = " Pö -dýe, Hós-pö-dï "


All are very welcome & encouraged to pray and sing with us.

-- There is nothing you have to do. Just stand and pray with us.

-- we pray STANDing (Sit for the Sermon & Bible Readings)

Please sit if you are infirm, or elderly, etc.

Like...Where the heck are the pews, MAN?

- Tips

- a. don't worry, soon, your legs/back will get used to standing

- b. making Reverences and venerating Icons really helps the ol' legs

- c. wear comfortable shoes

For more a More Detailed Explanation

"Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me your statutes!"

Ukrainian version


Fr. Roman Galadza