Hymns of the Holy Eastern Church: translated from the service books with introductory chapters on the history, doctrine, and worship of the church





"The Hymns and Hymn-Writers of the Church Hymnary";
"Hymns from East and West"; "Hymns of the Early Church";
"Hymns of the Greek Church"; etc.


Publisher by Appointment to the late Queen Victoria




The generous reception given to a former series of renderings of Hymns from the Office Books of the Greek ChurchHymns of the Greek Church. Translated, with Introduction and Notes. Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier: Edinburgh, 1900. by those who are best qualified to judge, and the gratifying fact that already no fewer than five pieces from that series have secured a place in the revised edition of one of our most valued permanent Hymnals, encourage the translator to pursue his work in this department of devotional literature.

No apology is needed for this additional volume on a subject too little known, the contents of which are an earnest attempt to acquaint our people still further with the valuable praise literature of the Eastern Church.

We are still far from realising the unity of the Church of Christ in the world, when that section of it which is historically nearest The Christ--which joins hands with Him and with His Apostles--is practically ignored. Why this should be, let our Christian scholars answer. About a year ago the Rev. R. M. Moorsom, of Winchester, published his Renderings of Church Hymns, containing, among others, twenty translations from the Service Books of the Eastern Church. For that valuable addition to our hymnody, the Christian Church in our land is under a debt of gratitude to Mr. Moorsom; but he and the very few others who have sought to interest the Church in a subject so rich and so attractive, have as yet but touched its fringe.

Of the forty-six pieces in this volume, forty-two appear for the first time in English verse. While leaving critics to pass their verdict on the value of the work, the translator can yet justly claim to have made a substantial addition to our English hymnody from Eastern sources.

The renderings have all been made from the Service Books, the edition used being the one printed at Venice,--with the exception of the Triodion, which belongs to the Athens edition.

To enable any who are interested in the subject, and who may have access to the Service Books, to compare the renderings with the original text, the title of the book, and the number of the page where it can be seen, are given in each case.

The Introductory chapters on the History, Sacraments, and Worship of the Church, are given in the hope that they may be the means of removing prejudices and misconceptions, and of awakening some degree of interest in the Eastern Church.

For much of the information contained in these chapters the translator is indebted, among other works, to Neale's History of the Holy Eastern Church, Stanley's History of the Eastern Church, King's Rites and Ceremonies of the Greek Church, and Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But many of the facts were collected a few years ago during a residence in the East.

J. B.

      Trinity Manse,
Portpatrick, Nov. 1, 1902.


ἐν τῷ θλίβεσθαί με, εἰσάκουσόν μου τῶν ὀδυνῶν--(Antiphon), 71
εἰς τὰ ὄρη ψυχὴ ἀρθῶμεν·--(Antiphon), 72
ἐπὶ τοῖς εἰρηκόσι μοὶ·--(Antiphon), 73
ἐξεγερθέντες τοῦ ὕπνου, προσπίπτομέν σοι--(Troparia), 74
ταχεῖαν καὶ σταθηρὰν δίδου παραμυθίαν τοῖς δούλοις σου, Ἰησοῦ--(Troparion), 76
ψυχή μου! ψυχή μου! ἀνάστα, τί καθεύδεις;--(Kontakion-Automelon), 78
ἡ βασιλεία σου, Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς--(Sticheron Idiomelon), 79
ἡ γέννησίς σου Χριστὲ ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν--(Apolutikion), 81
ὅτε ἥξεις ὁ Θεὸς ἐν μυριάσι καὶ χιλιάσι--(Troparia), 82
ὁ κύριος ἔρχηται--(Troparia), 83
ἠχήσουσι σάλπιγγες--(Stichera), 84
βίβλοι ἀνοιγήσονται--(Stichera), 85
δεῦρο ψυχή μου ἀθλία--(Ode), 86
ὁ δεσπόζων τῶν αἰώνων πάντων κύριος--(Ode), 88
τὰ πλήθη τῶν πεπαγμένων μοι δεινῶν--(Sticheron), 90
τίς αὗτος Σωτὴρ, ὁ ἐξ Ἑδώμ--(Troparia), 91
ἔφριξε γῆ, ἀπεστράφη ἥλιος--(Troparia), 92
ὁ βουλήσει ἅπαντα ποιῶν--(Troparia), 93
ὑμνοῦμεν σου Χριστὲ, τὸ σωτήριον πάθος--(Stichera), 95
ἀναστάσεως ἡμέρα, καὶ λαμπρυνθῶμεν τῇ πανηγύρει--(Sticheron), 97
κύριε, ἐσφραγισμένου σοῦ τάφου--(Stichera), 98
τῷ πάθει σου, Χριστὲ, παθῶν ἠλευθερώθημεν--(Stichera), 100
τοῦ λίθου σφραγισθέντος ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων--(Apolutikion), 102
ἑσπερινὴν προσκύνησιν--(Stichera), 104
ὁ κύριος ἀνελήφθη εἰς οὐρανοὺς--(Stichera), 106
ὡς αἱ τάξεις νῦν τῶν ἀγγέλων ἐν οὐρανῷ--(Hymn to The Trinity), 107
τὰς ἄνω Δυνάμεις μιμούμενοι οἱ ἐπὶ γῆς--(Hymn to The Trinity), 109
ὑμνῳδίας ὁ καιρὸς, καὶ δεήσεως ὥρα·--(Hymn to The Trinity), 111
σὺ μόνος ὢν θαυμαστὸς, καὶ ἐν ἀνθρώποις τοῖς πιστοῖς ἵλεως--(Ode), 113
ὡς θεῖος ποταμὸς, τοῦ ἐλέους ὑπάρχων--(Kathisma), 114
σταθερῶς τοὺς ἀγῶνας ἐπιδειξάμενοι--(Ode), 115
ποία τοῦ βίου τρυφὴ διαμένει λύπης ἀμέτοχος;--(Idiomela), 116
ὁρῶντές με ἄφωνον καὶ ἄπνουν προκείμενον.--(Sticheron), 118
ὢ τίς μὴ θρηνήσει τέκνον μου--(Stichera), 120
παράδεισε πάντιμε, τὸ ὡραιότατον κάλλος--(Stichera), 121
ἀληθῶς ματαιότης τὰ σύμπαντα--(Cento), 125



The Eastern Church is little known in the West, and it would seem that there is not much desire on our part to alter that condition of things. As the Eastern Hemisphere is separated from the Western by the Ural and Carpathian ranges, so is Eastern Christendom separated from Western Christendom, and more effectually, by the mountain barriers which our ignorance, prejudice, and indifference have set up. But it is well to remember the German proverb, Behind the mountains are also people, and that the people who are behind those mountains which have been the growth of centuries, form nearly one-fourth of the followers of the Faith of Christ, or about one hundred million souls.

The causes which have led to this indifference on the part of the West towards the East are many, but there are two which might be mentioned as being perhaps the chief.

(I.) The first of these is the inherent peculiarity of temperament, which finds its expression in habits of thought, and modes of action, in the East, against which the spirit of the West frets, and for which it has neither sympathy nor toleration. The quiet, meditative restfulness of the East--its satisfaction with past attainment in the matter of Doctrine and Worship, its wistful retrospective gaze upon magnificent accomplishment, which the experience of centuries of trial has only intensified, are totally alien to the active, speculative, hopeful spirit of the West. Attainment is the boast of the East, and in that it rests content. Progress, achievement, is the craze of the West. Those temperaments, so obviously diverse, have for long parted company.

(II.) The other is the great Roman Church. Inspired with that spirit which commends itself to the Western mind--its activity, its aptitude to fit itself to the ever-changing circumstances of the times, its progressive spirit, its thirst for achievement--characteristics without which it could scarcely have survived amid the crash of falling empire, and the chaos of barbaric anarchy which marked its birth--that Church for the past nine centuries has obtruded itself upon our attention, and claimed, nay demanded, our consideration. It pervades the West, its advocates are ubiquitous, its influence is everywhere felt. It was a knowledge of that Church and a very real acquaintance with its spirit and methods, which enabled the reformers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to successfully wage war with it; and we realise that, in these days, to retain our freedom we must keep ourselves in touch with it, and by full and fresh acquaintance continue armed against its persistent aggressiveness. We are out of touch with the East, at no point do we come in contact with it; we have nothing to fear, though we might have something to hope from it. But we are in the West, and whether we will or not the Roman Church is always with us, and unceasingly demands our attention. So the Eastern Church fades from our view: out of sight it is out of mind, and it is the Roman Church that bars our vision.

But the Eastern Church deserves better at our hands than to be thus forgotten. In these days of unrest, when men's minds are unsettled on so many questions, a strange, alluring calm pervades our spirit when we overtop the barriers and look down upon the peace and quiet of Eastern Christendom. There, in all her pristine simplicity and attractiveness, as in the golden days of the Empire, as in the fierce conflict of the early middle ages when John of Damascus whetted the sword for the conflict, so now under the misrule and tyranny of the Turk, she holds in quiet restfulness the simple faith committed to her by the Apostles and Fathers, the same Church now as then.

Do we forget that the Fathers of the Eastern Church formulated our doctrines, and shaped our Creed, guarding it in every item with jealous care? Do we forget that the Churches founded by the apostles in Syria and Asia Minor still hold by the apostolic doctrine, and are parts of that great Church? Do we forget that the creed framed at Nicea is practically our creed, even as it is the creed of the Eastern Church? Do we forget that with unbroken succession, from the dawn of Christianity down to the present day, the bishops of that Church have handed on the torch of truth? We reap the blessings of Eastern fidelity to Christian truth, and forget, or ignore, the source whence it came to us. The high-sounding pretensions of Rome hide the facts of the case from us, and Rome, the first great dissenter from the Catholic Church, would not only claim for herself what does not belong to her, but would brand as schismatic and heretic all who differ from her in doctrine or practice. What modern Christendom would have been, had the Roman schism of 1054 never taken place, it is difficult to conceive. The suggestion opens up to our minds an alluring prospect, for we cannot forget that the revolt of the reformed faith in the sixteenth century was not from the faith of the East, but from the Roman Church with its accumulation of intolerable abuse.

Such thoughts should incline us sympathetically towards the Church of the East, and enable us to overtop the barriers which have been raised by incidents of history and unfounded prejudices and differences of temperament, which in no way affect the fact of our indebtedness to that Church, and consequently her claim upon our intelligent interest.

But we are told that, after all, there is little difference between the Roman Church and the Greek Church--that the abuses of the one are the abuses of the other. That, we shall see shortly, is not the case. And we are told, too, that the Greek Church is a dead Church, and without missionary zeal. How a Church that has stretched out its hands to the farthest east, bestowing the blessings of the Gospel upon Tartar and Indian; southward, planting the Cross in Arabia, Persia, and Egypt; northward, diffusing light to the limits of Siberia, can be termed a non-missionary Church, is difficult to understand. How a Church that has fought hand to hand with idolatry, not only in the early ages when her spirit was young, but also during the past six centuries under the abominable superstition of the Turk, retaining her faith in Christ through it all, can be termed a dead Church, does not readily appear. No Church has provided more martyrs to the Christian Faith; and even during the course of the nineteenth century, in the Lebanon, at Damascus, throughout Syria, and in Armenia, men and women have chosen death rather than abandon their faith in Christ. If under persistent, unceasing persecution--not for generations, but for centuries--a Church can hold to its faith and maintain its testimony, the term dead cannot be applied to it. When in 1453 the Turk entered Constantinople, the history of the Greek empire was closed, but not that of the Church. She accepted the change of circumstances; and when her temples were despoiled, and her worship profaned, still held to her faith in Christ. If missionary zeal has languished, if life is faint in the midst of such experiences, is it to be wondered at? The struggle with oppression has been long, but now that the Ottoman Empire totters to its fall, the prospect brightens, and the Church which has so nobly maintained the conflict will doubtless reap her reward when the tyranny, which is meanwhile co-extensive with her beneficent sway, has for ever been removed.

Prior to the great schism of 1054, when the See of Rome separated from the East, and the Pope excommunicated Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, in East and West, Christendom was practically one. The causes which led to that separation, which was fraught with momentous and far-reaching issues for Christianity, may be briefly referred to. They had their beginnings in the far past.

The building of Constantinople in A.D. 330 by the Emperor Constantine on the site of the ancient Byzantium, and the subsequent transference of the seat of government to that city, were in reality the prime causes leading to that disagreement and alienation, which grew in intensity and broadened, till they reached the point of entire separation.

Prior to that event, Byzantium was but one of the many Sees of the Eastern Church, but thereafter its rank rose with the rising importance of the city, till at the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381, which closed the Arian controversy, the bishop of Constantinople was elevated to the second rank after the bishop of Rome, on the ground that Constantinople was the New Rome. No pre-eminence of jurisdiction was granted at that time, but it came in due course when, at the Council of Chalcedon, A.D. 451, the canon of A.D. 381, conferring second rank, was confirmed, and a range of jurisdiction granted. Against all this Rome, of course, protested emphatically, the Pope excommunicating the patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria, and for forty years the East and West were practically separated. At the end of that term, however, excommunication was withdrawn on the acknowledgment of the supremacy of Rome; but the estrangement continued and broadened. It was aided, on the one hand by the pride of the Greeks who plumed themselves on their unbroken succession from the Apostolic Church, their use of the language of the Apostles which was little known in the West, their introduction of Christianity into the West, and their formulation of Christian doctrine; and on the other hand, by the old spirit of Rome, which aspired to world-wide dominion both in Church and in State, and could ill brook rivalry on the part of the Greeks. The estrangement found its completion in 1054, when the addition of the word Filioque to the Latin creed, by which the Roman See expressed its belief in the doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Ghost--from the Father and the Son--a doctrine against which the Greek Church had emphatically protested, supplied the ground for a renewal of the quarrel which this time resulted in separation complete and final, Pope Leo IX. excommunicating the patriarch of Constantinople.

The responsibility for the great schism undoubtedly lies with Rome, and that should be remembered for all time. The introduction of Filioque into the Creed was a proceeding by no means called for. Christians could quite well have lived and worked together without dogmatising on that particular; but a pretext had to be found, and Filioque supplied it.


Prior to the fall of the Empire in the middle of the fifteenth century, the Greek Church comprised within her borders, Greece, Illyricum (Dalmatia), the islands of the Archipelago; Russia; Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine; Egypt, Nubia, and Abyssinia; Arabia, Persia, and Mesopotamia. After that disaster she fell into a dependent condition in those territories secured by the Turk. In the eighteenth century Russia claimed separation from Constantinople, and has been governed since by a Holy Synod; and when the new kingdom of Greece was established in the early part of last century, the Church there, in like manner, claimed a distinct organisation. Scattered portions of the Church, chiefly in Hungary, Servia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, and in Poland, which, while following the Greek rite, accepted the supremacy of the Pope, united themselves, A.D. 1590, to the Roman See. But those Uniat Greeks, as they were termed, after 250 years, returned to the Eastern Church, in part associating themselves with the Russian Church, and in part with the See of Constantinople. Servia has now its own Metropolitan.

At the present time, the Eastern Church may be thus grouped--

I. The Greek Church proper.
II. The Heretical Churches.
III. The Russian Church.

I. The Greek Church comprises those peoples who speak the Greek language. Among these are the independent Church of Greece, the Apostolic Churches of Asia Minor, and those Uniats in the northern part of the Balkan Peninsula who returned to their former allegiance to the Patriarch of Constantinople. In this group we may also include the independent Church of Servia.

II. The Heretical Churches are self-supporting Churches in the countries in which they are situated. They are termed heretical on account of their revolt from the jurisdiction of Constantinople. They hold with the rest of the Church to the doctrine of the Nicene creed as drawn up at the first two Councils, but reject the decisions of the subsequent Councils. They are the Churches in Egypt, Syria, and Armenia, and in those countries known as Kurdistan.

The causes which gave rise to those so-called Heretical Churches are not a little interesting, but cannot be gone into here at any length. They may, however, be referred to as shewing the relation of the Churches of the East to the various Councils.

The Heretical Churches of the East owe their existence to the actions of the General Councils subsequent to the Councils of Nicea and Constantinople. At these the doctrines accepted by Orthodox and Heretical Churches alike were distinctly expressed. But when to the decisions of those Councils there came to be added the decrees of succeeding Councils, certain Churches revolted. Those universally accepted doctrines were that Christ was consubstantial with the Father (ὁμοούσιος), and that He, the Son of God, became man (ἐνανθρωπήσας). It was, however, only when theologians tried to make plain what was meant by the latter phrase, that it prickled with disputable points. The differences of opinion emerging took two types. One of these so thoroughly divided the Divine from the human nature in Christ, as almost to destroy altogether any real union. Another insisted on an absorption of the human in the Divine, such as would disfigure both, and by that absorption create a distinct nature. The former, the separation of the natures, became the doctrine of the Churches of Chaldea, while the latter was adopted by the Churches of Egypt.

The Nestorians in like manner accept the decrees of the first two Councils, and refuse to entertain the additions made by the latter Councils, characterising them as unwarranted alterations of, or additions to the findings of the first two Councils. The Monophysites accept the addition of Chalcedon and of all the Councils following it.

The third General Council, that of Ephesus, decreed that the title Theotokos (God-bearer) should be applied to the Virgin, and at the Council of Chalcedon this was repeated, affirming that Christ was born of the Theotokos, according to the manhood; the same Symbol affirming that two natures are to be acknowledged in Christ, and that they are indivisible and inseparable. Thus it was that the Nestorians repudiated the decrees alike of Ephesus and Chalcedon, by repudiating the term Theotokos and holding the duality of Christ's nature so as to lose sight of the unity of His Person.

There was nothing for it, therefore, but to separate from the Greek Church (orthodox), and in separation from that Church they became most extensive and powerful.

At the Council of Chalcedon, the fourth General Council, the now widely acknowledged doctrine in all the Churches of the West, as also in the Orthodox Greek Church, was declared, that Christ was to be acknowledged in two natures. The Monophysites--those who held by the one nature theory--revolted, and gave rise to many sects, and to three Churches--the Coptic Church of Egypt, the Abyssinian Church, and the Jacobite Church of Syria.Jacobus Baradaeus, an eminent Syrian theologian, who rejected all decisions of Councils subsequent to Constantinople, 381 A.D.

The Armenian Church is in much the same position; but it has been termed even more heretical than the Jacobite, a very erroneous charge against a Church which is really orthodox. The Armenian Church is separated from the Constantinopolitan by the difference which the accidental absence of the Armenian bishop from the Council of Chalcedon made: the decisions of which were never understood, and of course never formally accepted.

III. The Russian Church includes the peoples of that great Empire. Christianity was first preached in Russia at the close of the tenth century, when Prince Vladimir was baptised, A.D. 992. Originally, and for many years this Church, subject to the Patriarch of Constantinople, as already stated, claimed separate jurisdiction in 1721. The Czar is the head of the Church in temporalities, but the Holy governing Synod is the spiritual head, and supplies the place of a patriarch.

Under so many jurisdictions, the Eastern Church is dogmatically one. She has no Confession of Faith; no Thirty-nine Articles: the Bible is her standard, and the Creed of Nicea her expression of dogma.

The Athanasian Creed is found in the Service Books of the Church, but it is not an acknowledged Symbol; and there it differs from the text accepted in the West in the clause relating to the Holy Spirit.


In common with the Roman Church, the Greek Church has seven Sacraments. These are--the Eucharist, Baptism, the Holy Chrism, Penance, Matrimony, Unction of the Sick, and Ordination.

Holy Communion.--In relation to this Sacrament, as indeed to all the Sacraments of the Eastern Church, it is necessary to say that, doctrine being in an altogether undefined state, an outsider has considerable difficulty in realising, in any degree of certainty, what the attitude of mind generally of the Church is, or more exactly ought to be. One cannot help feeling that without the mental subtleness of the East, and the atmosphere and environment of its worship, it is impossible to understand, so as to express it, how this Sacrament is viewed. Eastern theology has not been systematised, and could not be--such subtleties and nice distinctions abound, as would defy systematising.

And nowhere as in this Sacrament do we feel this difficulty more. Transubstantiation as we understand it, and as it is held in the West, is nowhere a doctrine of belief in the Eastern Church, although the language of the service may seem emphatic, and quite unmistakable. Under the operation of the Holy Spirit--not as in the West, after the formula of institution (and this is an important difference) the bread and wine become the precious Body and the precious Blood of our Lord; and when they are partaken of, are as fire and light in us, consuming the substance of sin, and burning the tares of our passions. That all seems plain enough. But what is the nature of this change? In the Western Church the material on the altar--the bread and the wine--are actually changed into the Body and the Blood: they are materially no longer bread and wine: the bread and wine have disappeared, and the Body and Blood of Christ have taken their place. They are, as the term expresses it, transubstantiated.

That is not the view of the Greek Church. The bread and the wine do not change their substance: they are bread and wine, nothing more, to the end, with this difference, it is a subtle one, doubtless, that the Body and Blood of Christ under the operation of the Holy Ghost are there IN that bread and wine. There is, if we might so express it, Insubstantiation. The materials are not changed, but the Body and Blood of Christ are there.

As a rule, persons go to Holy Communion once a year, shortly after confession. The laity communicate in both kinds, and in this particular the Eastern Church differs from the Western, which withholds the cup from the laity. In other particulars the two Churches differ. The wine is mixed twice, not once; the Sacrament is received standing, not kneeling; and the bread is ordinary leavened bread, not unleavened. As noticed in connection with baptism, infants after that Sacrament partake of the cup, and continue to do so till they reach their seventh year. At that age they are expected to go to Confession, and thereafter they communicate in both kinds.

There are three methods of communion practised in the Eastern Church, (1) Giving the bread first, and thereafter the cup, as is the uniform custom in the West. (2) The priest gives the bread, and the deacon gives the wine with a spoon. (3) The bread is broken into crumbs, and put into the wine, and both are given together in a spoon.

Before the people separate, the priest distributes the Antidoron. The bread of the Eucharist is called the Gift, and the portion which is afterwards distributed is for the use of those who have not communicated, and is given in place of the gift. It is carried home, and may be used by the person himself, or given to any who are sick, or who for other reasons were absent from the celebration, and is partaken of fasting. The services both before and after Communion are in many cases exceedingly beautiful.

Baptism.--The Eastern Church observes infant baptism, but insists on trine immersion--in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. A priest is the celebrant; but in cases of sudden and serious illness any orthodox person may perform the rite. In the event, however, of the sick person recovering, a priest must fill in and complete the office.

The form of the service is briefly as follows. The child having been brought to church, is anointed with oil, which has been blessed for the purpose by the priest, on the breast and back, and on the ears, hands, and feet. Then follows the profession of the faith in which the child is baptized. The water of baptism is thereafter blessed, and the child immersed three times.

The Holy Chrism is the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Eastern Church, and it differs considerably from the Western rite. This Sacrament is given immediately after baptism, not as in the West when the child has come to years of discernment, and in nearly every case by the ordinary priest. Oil is again used, the priest anointing the baptised person with it, making the sign of the Cross--on the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, ears, breast, hands, and feet. Thereafter the child partakes of the wine of the Holy Communion.

Penance.--In the Greek Church Confession has never assumed the objectionable features which so largely characterise that Sacrament in the Roman Church. It is, as far as it can be made such, a means of grace; and when used in a right and proper spirit, helpful to a degree. To quote from a catechism of the Russian Church, "Penance is a mystery, in which he who confesses his sins is, on the outward declaration of the priest, immediately loosed from his sins by Jesus Christ Himself." Or in the language of a former Metropolitan of Moscow--"Confession is a mystery in which sins are forgiven by God, through the means of the priest, to the faithful, when these confess them unreservedly, and believe unhesitatingly in the merits of Christ." At the age of seven every child is expected to come to Confession and to continue coming four times a year ever thereafter.

When the priest has offered up prayer supplicating the mercy of God, the penitent confesses his sins, craving pardon from the just and merciful God, and grace to sin no more. The confessor addressing the penitent reminds him that he has come to God with his sins, and does not confess to man but to God. After he has been dealt with in all faithfulness, the priest tells him that he himself is also an unworthy sinner, and has no power to forgive sins, but relying on the Word of Christ, "Whosesoever sins ye remit," says, "God forgive thee in the world that now is, and in that which is to come."

Penance is prescribed only for mortal sins; for venial sins absolution alone is given, the penitent kneeling while being absolved, although during confession he sat.

Matrimony.--The first duty of the priest towards persons contemplating marriage is to instruct them in the Ten commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Creed. Notice of intended marriage is announced in church some weeks prior to the event, and the ceremony is carried out in church before witnesses.

The Office for Matrimony has two parts, one dealing with betrothal, and the other with the marriage. These may be performed at the same time, or separately, as the case may demand.

Taking the betrothal first. After prayer for blessing upon the persons, the priest takes two rings, one of gold and one of silver, and giving the ring of gold to the man says, "A., the servant of God, is betrothed to B., the handmaid of God, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, now and ever and to the ages of ages, Amen." Afterwards taking the silver ring, and giving it to the woman, he says, "B., the handmaid of God," etc. The godfather then changes the rings, giving the gold ring to the woman, and the silver ring to the man, an expressive act, proclaiming to the bridegroom that he must learn to accommodate himself to the weakness of the bride, and that she has now become sharer of his goods. Then follows the Coronation, or marriage proper. After words of instruction and prayer, the priest takes the crowns, and first of all crowns the bridegroom, saying, "A., the servant of God, is crowned for B., the handmaid of God, in the name of the Father," etc. Then he crowns the bride, using the same formula. The words are repeated three times in each case, the sign of the Cross being made each time. The crowns are, as a rule, the property of the Church, and according to the wealth or poverty of the people are made of precious metal or of tin. The priest then takes the common cup and gives to the bridegroom first, and then to the bride, to drink. Later, the priest removes the crowns, and after prayer the friends come forward with their congratulations, the bridegroom and the bride kiss each other, and the priest pronounces the dismissal.

Second and third marriages, while allowed, are not looked upon with favour, and the Church shows its disapprobation in several ways. They are not crowned, and the words of the service for such marriages have subtle allusions to their unworthiness. The priest prays, "Give unto them the conversion of the publican, the tears of the harlot, and the confession of the thief, that through repentance they may be deemed worthy of Thy Heavenly Kingdom." The priest does not present Himself at the wedding feast, nor are the parties allowed to partake of the Sacraments of the Church for the space of two years. Fourth marriages are unlawful.

Unction of the Sick.--This Sacrament must not be confounded with the Sacrament of Extreme Unction of the Roman Church. It has its authority in the injunction of the Apostle James--"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the Church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." The oil is consecrated for the purpose by seven priests, and the Sacrament is not administered unless several priests, usually three, are present. This rule is founded on the use of the plural number by St. James. If possible, the rite is observed in church, but where that is impossible, in the house. According to the Scriptural direction, the priest anoints the sick with oil, and prays God to forgive him, and to cure the body and the soul. In cases of extreme urgency the Communion is thereafter given to the sick.

Ordination.--This Sacrament, giving as it does a place in the succession with apostolic authority, is most jealously guarded. But before speaking of Ordination, it may be useful in the first place to give some description of the vestments worn in the Greek Church, and with which the clergy are robed according to their rank. The origin of the vestments in use in the Greek Church certainly affords much difficulty. It is more than likely that they present fundamentally the dress of the early Greek of comparatively high social standing in apostolic times, with certain very important modifications and additions.

We can find no trace of vestments of any kind whatsoever in the Apostolic Church. The garments worn by the apostles and their companions in work would be the dress of the ordinary Greek of fairly high social standing. During the first three centuries, in which Christianity suffered so much at the hands of her enemies, we cannot think of much alteration on dress taking place in the case of the ministers of religion--men had something else to think about. But quieter times came, and no doubt the alterations would then be made to which we have referred; and we can fancy that in making those alterations regard would be had to symbolism, and that garments to suggest certain facts and functions would be brought into use. In making those modifications and additions there can be little doubt that the vestments of the Jewish priesthood with their symbolism would be, as far as possible, approximated.

That those vestments in the early centuries were purely what they now are, ecclesiastical vestments, we very much doubt. It is more likely that for some time they constituted what we would term the ordinary everyday clerical dress.

The first vestment, and that which is common to every order, is the Stoicharion, which corresponds to the Alb in use in the West. It is a white tunicle, not now of linen as formerly, but of silk. The Epimanikia, or hand-pieces, were formerly made in the shape of the sleeves of a surplice, but are now considerably contracted. They hang down on each side of the arm, and are drawn close to it by cords which are fastened tightly round the wrist. The significance of the vestment is not apparent. They are said to represent the cords with which Christ was bound before being delivered to Pilate. Formerly, only bishops wore the Epimanikia, but now they are worn by all ranks.

The Orarion, or praying vestment, is peculiar to the deacon. It is identical with the Latin Stole, and is thrown over the left shoulder. Its significance is obscure, but it has been represented as symbolising wings, the ministry of the deacon being angelical. Those three vestments constitute the dress of the deacon. The priest has the Stoicharion and the Epimanikia, but instead of the Orarion the Epitrachelion. This vestment is not unlike the stole, but of a different shape. It is not thrown round the neck hanging down the front in two pieces. The head of the priest passes through a hole of sufficient size, and the vestment hangs in front in one piece. Whether it symbolises the easy yoke of Christ we cannot say. The Zone is the next article of vestment, and is worn to bind the Stoicharion and the Epitrachelion together round the waist.

The Phaenolion.--This word is translated cloke in I. Tim., iv. 13, and as a vestment represents the garment which Paul left at Troas with Carpus. It is the Latin Chasuble, but is now much reduced in dimensions. Those five vestments constitute the dress of a priest. The bishop, in addition to the five just mentioned, with the exception of the Phaenolion, for which is substituted the Saccos which represents the robe in which Christ was mocked, has two other vestments, making seven in all. They are the Omorphiona, or Pall. It is fastened round the neck, and is larger than the Latin Dalmatic; and the Epigonation, which is a small ornament made of brocade, or some such stiff material, and of a diamond shape. It is worn hanging at the right side, and may represent the towel with which Christ girded Himself, or if a sword, may be typical of the victory of the Church over sin. No doubt the latter is the correct interpretation, as the words spoken, when it is assumed, would indicate, "Gird Thy sword on Thy thigh, O Thou most Mighty."

The office of Ordination is exceedingly simple and most expressive, and varies according to the rank of the candidate. The minor orders are those of Reader, Singer, Sub-Deacon, and Deacon. If the candidate be a Reader, he is brought to the bishop, who counsels him regarding his duties, and laying his hand upon his head prays over him, ordaining him to his order. He is then robed in the Stoicharion and a copy of the Epistles is put into his hand. If a Singer, he is robed in like manner, and a copy of the Psalter is put into his hand. The office for a Sub-Deacon is more elaborate, as his rank is higher than that of a Reader or a Singer. He is set apart for the exercise of his functions with prayer and counsel, and is robed with the Stoicharion and Zone. The Order of Deacon is a much more important one in the East than in the West. He has duties in connection with the celebration of the Eucharist, as we have already seen, which he alone can perform. He is vested, in addition to the Stoicharion and Zone, with the Orarion, or Stole, which he wears over his left shoulder.

The higher orders begin with the priest. In his case the Orarion is exchanged for the Epitrachelion, and the service is arranged to suit the peculiar functions of his order. The additional higher orders are--Proto-presbyter, Abbot, Archimandrite, Bishop, and Metropolitan or Patriarch. It should be stated that the lower grades are necessary steps to the higher ones, and are, as a rule, permanent.

Unlike the Roman Church, which demands the celibacy of the clergy, the Eastern Church requires of all orders of her parochial clergy that they should be married prior to ordination. Bishops, who, as a rule, are chosen from the monasteries, and are consequently celibates, continue in that state, although a married bishop has not been unknown in the Eastern Church. The practice is founded on the words of St. Paul to Timothy, "A Bishop must be ... the husband of one wife," which they take literally, in a sense which we do not attach to them. Before, therefore, orders can be conferred, the candidate must be married, and if during his incumbency his wife should die, he must give up his parochial duties and retire to a monastery. He cannot put himself right with this requirement of Church discipline by marrying again, for "A bishop must be ... the husband of one wife." If, as we are bound to infer from that prohibition, he is deemed the husband of one wife even after his wife is dead, it is difficult to understand on what principle he is obliged to abandon his duties, seeing that he has fulfilled the apostolic requirement. Such is the practice of the Church: he must be married once, and his wife must be alive during the whole term of his incumbency. We must however bear in mind the objection which the Eastern Church has to second marriages generally, which, while not prohibited, are stigmatised; and perhaps in this objection is to be found the explanation of the general rule.

One other rank should be mentioned--that of Deaconess or Abbess. It ranks above that of Deacon, and was instituted in order to bring conventual establishments, over which they are set, directly under Episcopal jurisdiction.

The minor rites, canons, and offices, and special prayers of the Eastern Church, are too numerous to be dealt with here. Suffice it to say, that there is no event of ecclesiastical importance which has not its appropriate rite, and scarcely an experience of life for which some provision has not been made in the magnificent services of the Church.

One office of universal interest, however, we must refer to shortly, viz., that for Burial. There are five Burial offices in the Euchologion--for a monk, for a priest, for a child, and for laymen (two). It may serve our purpose to take the last as a specimen.

The office begins with the following instruction:--"On the death of one of the orthodox, straightway the relatives send for the priest, who, when he is come to the house in which the remains lie, assumes the Epitrachelion, and burning incense gives the blessing, and the relatives, as is usual, say the Trisagion, the Most Holy Trinity, and the Lord's Prayer." After certain troparia are sung, and prayer offered, the remains are carried to the church and placed in the narthex (page 52). The service, which is long and varied, and most impressive, is made up of scriptural lessons--Psalm i.; The Beatitudes; John v. 24; I. Thess. iv. 13-17; prayers; The Canon of the Dead, which contains eight odes written by Theophanes (eighth century), and the idiomela of John the Monk--presumably John of Damascus--eight in number, the first of which is given in this volume. Towards the close of the service, the priest bows down and kisses the corpse, in which act he is followed by the relatives and friends present. Then the stichera of the last kiss, said to have been written by John of Damascus, are sung, followed by the idiomela. After the priest has given the prayer of absolution, the body is carried to the grave followed by the mourners, the clergy going before chanting the Trisagion. When the remains have been laid in the grave, the priest takes some earth on a shovel, and scatters it crosswise on the body, saying, "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein." After the corpse oil has been poured upon the remains the grave is covered, while certain troparia are sung. This office in certain parts is very striking. The stichera of the last kiss, of which a rendering can be seen in Neale's Hymns of the Eastern Church, and the idiomela, which follow, being specially noteworthy.

It is deserving of note that the Eastern Church has a special office for the burial of little children--an appreciation of the honour conferred upon them by Christ in His kingdom, and an acknowledgment of the importance of the child-like spirit, as constituting an essential qualification on the part of those who would enter that kingdom, very beautiful indeed. A rendering of certain stichera from this office is included in this volume.


The following is a typical plan, roughly drawn, of a Greek church.

Typical plan of a Greek Church

1. The Bema; 2. The Altar; 3. The Prothesis; 4. The Diaconicon; 5. The Iconostasis; 6. Doors; 7. The Ambon; 8. The Nave; 9. The Narthex.

From this plan it will be seen at a glance that a Greek Church consists of four parts: (1) The Bema or Sanctuary, which contains the altar, and on either side the Prothesis and the Diaconicon. From the choir the Sanctuary is separated by the Iconostasis, which answers to the altar rails in a Roman Church. (2) In front of the Iconostasis is the Choir, not architecturally separated from the Nave, but occupying the eastern end of it. (3) The Nave. (4) The Narthex. In some of the larger churches there are two Nartheces--the esonarthex and the exonarthex, the latter serving the purpose of an extended porch.

To look at the arrangement and detail of the church more particularly--

The (ἅγιον βῆμα) Bema or Sanctuary, for the due celebration of the Holy Mysteries, occupies the eastern end of the church. Only priests are allowed to enter the Bema, and by them it can be entered only after fasting and prayer. The altar which stands in the Bema is built of stone, Christ being the Head of the Corner, and the Foundation Stone, and is furnished with candles, a copy of the Scriptures, and the Cross.

The Prothesis, to the north of the Bema, is a small chapel, on the table of which the sacred offerings are prepared for the altar. The chapel of the Prothesis is separated from the Bema by a wall to which entrance is had by a screened doorway.

The Diaconicon is to the south of the Bema, and contains the sacred utensils and vestments. It is of inferior sanctity, but the clergy of the lower orders are not allowed to enter it.

The Iconostasis is the screen which separates the sanctuary from the choir, and is so called for the reason that certain icons or pictures are depicted on it. It is of panelled wood, sufficiently high to hide the interior of the sanctuary from the worshippers. In some cases it is simply a curtain of some cloth fabric. It has three doors leading to the Prothesis, to the Bema, and to the Diaconicon. On either side of the door giving entrance to the Bema are the icons of our Lord and of the Virgin Mother--the one to the right and the other to the left. Other icons are displayed over the screen, which in many cases is quite a work of art.

In front of the Iconostasis is the choir, and opposite the Holy door leading to the Bema is the Ambon, from which the reader recites the scriptures, and from which, on special occasions, sermons are delivered.

The Nave is that part of the church designed for the accommodation of the male portion of the congregation.

The Narthex gives accommodation to catechumens and penitents, where the Gospels can be heard, but from which the celebration of the Mysteries cannot be witnessed. Late comers usually content themselves with a place in the Narthex in order not to disturb the service. The Narthex is in some cases vaulted, as are also the aisles, so called, over which are galleries for the accommodation of the female portion of the congregation; where these are awanting, women are accommodated in the Narthex, as the division of the sexes during worship is rigidly maintained.

There are no seats in a Greek Church, as the recognised posture during worship is standing. In some churches narrow stalls are built in which the worshipper can stand, leaning forward, and resting his elbows during the long service; and in a church which the writer visited some years ago in Constantinople, there were in those stalls narrow ledges upon which the knee can be rested. Organs are not used in the services; but as the greater part of the service is chanted by the singers, vocal music in some cases is carried to great perfection.


The services of the Church are contained in seventeen quarto volumes of closely printed matter. Of these, from a Western point of view, the most important would seem to be:

The Euchologion, which contains the offices of S. Chrysostom and S. Basil, and those for Baptism, Burial, etc.

The Triodion and Pentecostarion contain the services for Lent and the three Sundays preceding it, and for Pentecost. Those two volumes contain the most attractive of all the services of the Church, and their hymnody, which includes much of the work of S. John of Damascus, is incomparable in the whole range of the service books.

The Horologion contains the offices for the eight canonical hours.

The Parakletike or Greater Octoechus, containing the ferial office, is also very rich in hymnody.

The Menaea, of which there are twelve volumes, one for each month of the year, contain the services for saints' days. Service books so many and so voluminous, obviously cannot be in the hands of the people, but it is remarkable to what extent their bulk and intricacies are mastered.


The veneration of saints and relics took its rise on the overthrow of paganism at the time of Constantine. It was very natural that those who had suffered martyrdom at the hands of pagan persecutors should at that time be remembered; and so it came to pass that churches were considered honoured above all others which contained the relics of those martyrs. The bones of Christ's witnesses were removed from their lonely graves, where they had lain long neglected, and were deposited under Christian altars. Saint's days were appointed upon which their deeds were rehearsed and their lives commemorated. From a veneration of the saints it was a short step to their invocation, and what helped the Church to take that step was the difficulty felt by men in regarding Jesus Christ as being at once God, and the Mediator between God and man.

The chief of saints is the Mother of our Lord after the flesh. The title applied to her--Mother of God--is quite intelligible, when we recollect the strife of the Arian controversy, and the

#TextTuneText InfoTune InfoTextScorePage ScanAudio
71In mine affliction, LordTextPage Scan
72Now let our souls ascendTextPage Scan
73When came the call to meTextPage Scan
74From the calm of sleep awakingTextPage Scan
76O Jesus, when our spirits mournTextPage Scan
78Wake, my soul! In careless slumberTextPage Scan
79Firm through the endless yearsTextPage Scan
81Thy Birth upon our world hath givenTextPage Scan
82When with Powers of heaven attendingTextPage Scan
83When Christ the Lord shall comeTextPage Scan
84When the trumpet's sound shall wakeTextPage Scan
85Surely comes the dreadful dayTextPage Scan
86Mourn, O my soul, thy primal sinTextPage Scan
88Eternal Ruler, Thou didst willTextPage Scan
90Ah! woe is me because of sinTextPage Scan
91What Saviour comes from EdomTextPage Scan
92Then the earth in terror shookTextPage Scan
93Word of God, Who by Thy willTextPage Scan
95Thy glorious rising on the first of daysTextPage Scan
97The day of resurrection!TextPage Scan
98When wicked hands had firmly sealedTextPage Scan
100Wherefore on the Cross upliftedTextPage Scan
102O come and let us worship ChristTextPage Scan
104Thee, as the evening light declinesTextPage Scan
106Now the Lord from earth ascendingTextPage Scan
107As angel hosts with heavenly songsTextPage Scan
109Our hearts to Heaven upraisingTextPage Scan
111This is the time of songTextPage Scan
113Thou Christ alone art greatTextPage Scan
114A stream of mercy springsTextPage Scan
115Who toiled for Christ through suffering soreTextPage Scan
116What joy of life abidethTextPage Scan
118Come friends behold me hereTextPage Scan
120Who would not weep my childTextPage Scan
121O Paradise above!TextPage Scan
125Vain the bliss from earth that springsTextPage Scan
127Hail! the morn with gladness crownedTextPage Scan
128Close beside the heart that loves meTextPage Scan
130The time shall surely comeTextPage Scan
132When glory crowned the mountain topTextPage Scan
133Beyond the clouds of HeavenTextPage Scan
134Triple Beam of gloryTextPage Scan
136O God of Light and Life and JoyTextPage Scan
138The morn in beauty breaksTextPage Scan
139See where the orb of dayTextPage Scan
[This hymnal has not been proofed - data may be incomplete or incorrect]
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