Friday, May 29, 2020

Communion, Communion Spoons, and Irrational Fears

I recently came across a very insightful remark from a conservative writer (Denise McAllister) who was engaged in an online debate with someone over what the government should or should not be able to mandate. She wrote: "My freedom doesn’t end where your irrational fear begins." But of course the question of whether one's fears are rational or irrational is the question we have to consider.

There is unfortunately no risk free way for us to live in this world. If we were to avoid all risks, none of us would ever get into an automobile, but most of us do, because we consider that to be a manageable risk. If you drive while listening to the radio, or drinking a cup of coffee, you are adding to your risks... but these added risks are generally considered to be fairly minimal.

It is curious that while many local governments have closed churches, or severely restricted attendance, they have allowed marijuana shops and liquor stores to stay open. As a judge in Illinois recently pointed out, only 5 months ago, marijuana shops were not even legal, but they are now considered to be essential, but churches, which are protected by the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution are not (at least in many states). But, apparently, some risks are worth taking -- it's just a question of what you think is important. Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has said that it is not yet safe for churches to give communion to their people, when asked whether people should refrain from hooking up with strangers for sex, said:
"If you're willing to take a risk—and you know, everybody has their own tolerance for risks—you could figure out if you want to meet somebody. And it depends on the level of the interaction that you want to have.... If you're looking for a friend, sit in a room and put a mask on, and you know, chat a bit. If you want to go a little bit more intimate, well, then that's your choice regarding a risk" (Newsweek: "Dr. Fauci Says You Can Meet a Tinder Date 'If You're Willing to Take a Risk'" 4/16/20).
So it is all a matter of what your priorities are.

The question of how the various levels of government in the United States have handled the Coronavirus is something that we will probably be debating for years to come, but within the Orthodox Church, there is also an ongoing debate regarding how various bishops have handled this crisis. The bishops have responded to this crisis in various ways. Some only imposed restrictions on services in those places in which this was mandated by the local authorities; while others either restricted attendance or cancelled them altogether, regardless of government mandates being imposed or not. I have seen many who have argued that bishops who imposed such restrictions are outright heretics and apostates. But I have never heard such arguments when a parish has cancelled services because of severe weather. It may be, that as we reflect on this crisis, many bishops will regret that they overreacted. It could also have been that if this virus had proven to be as deadly as many were saying, that some bishops might have regretted under-reacting. So this is not a question of heresy, but a question of wisdom -- i.e., what was the reasonable thing to do under the circumstances. We might disagree with a bishop's decisions, but even if he judged wrongly, one has to assume his motivations were good, and that a desire to subvert the faith was not among those motivations. But what concerns me most at present, is where some bishops are headed with their responses to how we should go forward liturgically, in the wake of this virus.

We currently have bishops mandating the use of a different spoon for each communicate, and some who have instituted the practice of giving people communion in the hand (with a portion of the intincted Eucharist), all driven by the fear that giving people communion with a communion spoon, as the Church has been doing for nearly a thousand years now, might cause someone to get the virus. The question we should ask, however, is whether or not this fear is rational or irrational.

It has been pointed out that the practice of the Church in the first millennium was for people to receive communion much in the same way that Orthodox clergy still do: first with the Body of Christ in the hand, and then by receiving the Blood directly from the chalice. Why did the Church end that practice, and begin communing people with a spoon? Because people were carelessly dropping portions of the Eucharist, and because of some people taking the Eucharist home for superstitious purposes. There is little reason to believe that people in our time will be more pious and careful than people in the first millennium -- and there is plenty of evidence to assume just the opposite.

While many are appealing to the older practice as a basis for what they propose as a solution to concerns over this virus, none are actually suggesting we return to that practice, because obviously, if the laity were all partaking from a common chalice, this would not be an improvement over using a single spoon. In fact, while the spoon is dipped back into the chalice and washed in the Blood of Christ after each person is communed, this does not happen to the outside of the chalice.

Those advocating for the use of multiple, or even disposable spoons, appeal to precedents from the past for how those known to be sick with infectious diseases have been communed. But the key factor is that this is how people who were known to have an infectious disease were communed -- such methods were never used as a preventative measure. Also, when a priest is communing the sick, he normally does so with the reserved sacrament, and so the wine that is in the chalice is unconsecrated wine.*

The question I have asked many people who have advocated that such changes are necessary is very simple: Is there any evidence that anyone has ever gotten sick from receiving communion with a spoon?  There answer to this question is "no." But some people then retort that this is simply because no one has ever done a scientific study of the question, but this is not true. It is true that, to my knowledge at least, there have been no studies involving the use of communion spoons, but there have actually been several studies of people using a common chalice -- which would be more likely to be a means of transmitting disease than a communion spoon, for the aforementioned reason -- and so such studies are a good way to answer the question of whether we are dealing with rational or irrational fears.

John Sanidopoulos, in his article "Scientific Studies on the Transmission of Infectious Diseases Through Holy Communion" has pointed to 6 relevant studies done between 1943 and 1998. One study found that even under ideal circumstances (ideal for allowing transmission, that is), the use of a common chalice showed 0.001% of organisms being transferred, but when studying conditions that actually followed real world practice, no transmission could be detected. In another study, three groups of people were studied: those who go to Church and receive communion, those who go to Church but who do not receive communion, and those who do not go to Church at all. What they found was that even among those who received communion as often as daily, there was no increase in one's risk of infection. And so even if you do not believe in God, fears of getting sick because of getting a virus from a communion spoon are irrational -- and if you do believe in God, and actually believe what we confess before we receive the Eucharist (which is that the Eucharist is truly Christ's Body and Blood), then you should have nothing to worry about.

Fr. Alkiviadis C. Calivas, in his article "A Note on the Common Communion Spoon," says that he himself has no such fears, but expresses his concern for those who do:
"In my sixty-four years in the priesthood, I have consumed the chalice thousands of times after countless Divine Liturgies without fear or hesitation, as every priest does. I am not certain, however, that every faithful parishioner would do the same, if they were asked. My point is this. Holy Communion should be a source of joy, hope and strength for everyone and not a test or measure of one’s faith in God’s providential care (Matt. 4:5-7). St. Paul reminds us that the love of Christ requires that we care for all persons, whatever their situation and be sensitive and responsive to their just needs and concerns for the sake of the Gospel (1 Cor. 9: 19-23)."
I have not been a priest for even half as long, but my experience supports Fr. Alkiviadis' conclusion that there is nothing to fear. When I commune the faithful, the last mouth that I place the spoon into before handing it off to the deacon is my own (to ensure that there is nothing left of the Eucharist on the spoon), and I have not so much as had a fever since several years before I was ordained a priest. If a virus could be transmitted via a communion spoon, there should be widespread instances of priests with oral herpes (which can be spread by the use of eating utensils that have been used by someone with that virus), but as a matter of fact, there is no evidence that anyone has gotten such a virus in this way.

I can appreciate Fr. Alkiviadis' concern for people who have irrational fears, but why should we encourage such irrational fears to persist by acting in a way that communicates to those suffering from them that we believe those fears are well founded?

I am afraid that we as a society may be raising up a generation of germaphobes who will spend their lives paralyzed by such irrational fears, and be so concerned about dying from the many germs and viruses that abound in our world, that they are unable to actually live. But it is far more concerning to contemplate the message that the Church would be sending to the faithful, if we act as if receiving communion is a physically dangerous act. It is indeed spiritually dangerous to receive communion in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27-29), but which of the saints ever taught or suggested that the Eucharist could be a means of transmitting a disease? None did. In fact there is a well known episode from the life of St. John of Shanghai:
"Vladyka's constant attention to self-mortification had its root in the fear of God, which he possessed in the tradition of the ancient Church and of Holy Russia. The following incident, told by O. Skopichenko and confirmed by many from Shanghai, well illustrates his daring, unshakable faith in Christ. "Mrs. Menshikova was bitten by a mad dog. The injections against rabies she either refused to take or took carelessly… And then she came down with this terrible disease. Bishop John found out about it and came to the dying woman. He gave her Holy Communion, but just then she began having one of the fits of this disease; she began to foam at the mouth, and at the same time she spit out the Holy Gifts which she had just received. The Holy Sacrament cannot be thrown out. So, Vladyka picked up and put in his mouth the Holy Gifts vomited by the sick woman. Those who were with him exclaimed: `Vladyka, what are you doing! Rabies is terribly contagious!' But Vladyka peacefully answered: `Nothing will happen; these are the Holy Gifts.' And indeed nothing did happen."
If someone does not really believe that the Eucharist is what we say it is, then indeed they should not receive communion, because "...he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body" (1 Corinthians 11:29).

Aside from all that has been said, when we speak of "risk" or "chance" as Christians, we should understand that these are simply means of referring to the many variable factors that we do not know. We, however, do not believe in a God that is a helpless observer, who fondly hopes that things will work out well for us. We believe, that if we are doing what God wants us to do, that we don't need to worry beyond that. The worst that can happen is that we will die, and go to be with Christ for all eternity. We believe that not a sparrow falls apart from the will of the Father (Matthew 10:29), and as St. Anthony of Optina said during a cholera epidemic (which killed far more people than the coronavirus is likely to):
"You should not be afraid of cholera, but of serious sins, for the scythe of death mows a person down like grass even without cholera. Therefore, place all your hope in the Lord God, without Whose will even the birds do not die, much less a person."
For more on this question, I would highly recommend the article: "A Response to "On administering Holy Communion in a Time of a Plague""

*I personally wouldn't worry about it even then, but this is perhaps why more caution is shown.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Reader Services through the 5th Sunday after Pentecost

For those who prefer texts in Slavonic and Russian, the Moscow Patriarchate has been posting reader service texts for both the Vigil and Typika for Sundays and feasts, linked at the top of their official page:

For those who want texts in English, however, here is the next set of texts:

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

or viewed in HTML, here:

For the Rubrics, see:

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days):

For the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (May 31st):

For the Sunday of Pentecost (June 7th):

For the Sunday of All Saints (June 14th):

For the Sunday of All Saints of Russia (June 21st):

The rest of these services require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. In addition to the files linked for the Sundays below, you will need to use the appropriate Katavasia, which for this time period is the Katavasia of the Theotokos. Also, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

For the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost / Prophet Amos (June 28th):

combined with the Octoechos:

For St. John of Shanghai (Saturday, July 4th) (Octoechos text included):

For the 4th Sunday after Pentecost / Hieromartyr Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata (July 5th):

combined with the Octoechos:

For the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Tuesday, July 7th) (no Octoechos text needed for this service):

For the 5th Sunday after Pentecost / Ss. Peter and Paul (July 12th):

combined with the Octoechos:

However, if doing Vigil is too much for you at present, you could do Small Compline, and take the canon of each of the above days, and read it immediately after the Creed, and then repeat the Kontakion that is appointed after Ode 6th of  the canon after the following Trisagion.


In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (May 31st):

For the Sunday of Pentecost (June 7th):

For the Sunday of All Saints (June 14th):

For the Sunday of All Saints of Russia (June 21st):

For the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost / Prophet Amos (June 28th):

For St. John of Shanghai (Saturday, July 4th):

For the 4th Sunday after Pentecost / Hieromartyr Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata (July 5th):

For the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Tuesday, July 7th):

For the 5th Sunday after Pentecost / Ss. Peter and Paul (July 12th):

Friday, May 01, 2020

Review: A New Epistle Book

Deacon Peter Gardner has previously published a Gospel Book, a Prophetologion, and a Lenten Lectionary (which consists of those parts of the Prophetologion used during Lent and Holy Week). But he has now added to these useful texts an Epistle Book, which is according to the King James Version, with only some amendments to make it conform to the Slavonic Apostol (and these are minor, and few and far between). The text also contains translations of the introductions to each book. The translation used for the prokimena and alleluia verses is the Psalter According to the Seventy, commonly known as the "Boston Psalter," and since is the most commonly used translation of the Psalter in ROCOR and to some extent in other jurisdictions as well, this makes this text especially useful for those in such parishes. The text is also well bound, and seems sturdy enough to last, and the size is just about perfect, and the size of the font is as well. A lot of work went into putting it together, and the more I have looked it over, the more I have liked it.

The text would be improved, in my opinion, with some minor editing of the KJV text to eliminate words or phrases that are particularly obscure. The margins are wide enough, however, that one can make margin notes so that a reader will make whatever amendments are considered necessary -- which is what I am in the process of doing with my copy.

Also, the black and white edition would be improved if the texts that are in a shade of gray (because in the color edition they are in red) where instead in dark bold black text, as was done by St. Tikhon's in their Apostol's black and white edition.

It is available for $60.00 (in a simple black and white text, as pictured above), or for $160.00 in a color edition (with red rubrics). The color edition makes finding the asterisks within the text a bit easier on the eyes, and so if you can afford it, that would be a better format to go with. The color edition is also printed on better quality paper. Both editions come with a dust cover, but the text itself is in a simple dark blue, with the words "Epistle Book" printed on the spine. If one could find a nice metallic cover that fits this edition, this would also be a nice touch.

In my parish, we have been using an earlier version of the St. Tikhon Apostol, and I have had to regularly print out a sheet for each Liturgy, so that the reader would read the prokimena and alleluia verses in the translation we use. This edition makes that unnecessary, and so this makes a great addition to the options that are available for English speaking Orthodox Christians -- especially for those who love the traditional form of Liturgical English in our services.

I would also recommend anyone who is interested in doing Reader Services, even if occasionally, that they get a copy of the Prophetologion, Gospel, and Epistle Book by Fr. Peter Gardner. There is really nothing else available right now that is comparable.

Update: You can see a list of suggested changes I would make to the text here:

You can do this by hand, by underling the text that needs to be amended, and writing the amended word text in the margin. If you use correction tape to white out the border before you write, this gives you more room. In some cases, it may be easier to white out the text that needs to be changed, and to write the correction over it, you just need to do so legibly, and keep the space you have in mind.

See Also: 

King James English and Orthodox Worship

Beauty and the Bible

An Orthodox Look at English Translations of the Bible

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Reader Services Through Ascension

The Eves

For Saturday Night and the Eves of the various Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

or viewed in HTML, here:

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days):

For the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers (May 3rd):

For the Sunday of the Paralytic (May 10th):

For Mid-Pentecost (May 13):

For the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (May 17th):

For the Sunday of the Blind Man (May 24th) & Ss. Cyril and Methodius :

For the Apodosis of Pascha (May 26th):

For the Feast of the Ascension:

However, if doing Vigil is too much for you at present, you could do Small Compline, and take t he canon of each of the above days, and read it immediately after the Creed, and then repeat the Kontakion that is appointed after Ode 6th of  the canon after the following Trisagion.


In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers (May 3rd):

For the Sunday of the Paralytic (May 10th):

For Mid-Pentecost (May 13):

For the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman (May 17th):

For the Sunday of the Blind Man & Ss. Cyril and Methodius (May 24th):

For the Apodosis of Pascha (May 26th):

For the Feast of the Ascension:

Friday, April 24, 2020

Stump the Priest: The Reserved Sacrament

A Communion Set for bringing Communion to the Sick

Question: "With access to services being limited due to the Coronavirus lockdown, we have been told that we can be given communion from the Reserved Sacrament, but this is something I know almost nothing about. Is there some form of prayer or other service used when receiving communion in this way? How should I prepare or fast? Are there differences that may be applicable if one is healthy and receiving or ill? What exactly is the Reserved Sacrament? Does include the Blood or is it just the Body?"

What is the Reserved Sacrament?

The Reserved Sacrament is very similar to the Eucharist that the faithful partake of at the Presanctified Liturgy. The Presanctified Eucharist is prepared at a regular Liturgy. An additional Lamb (the Eucharistic Bread to be consecrated at the Liturgy) is prepared for each Presanctified Liturgy that will be celebrated in the coming week. Before the clergy commune, they take these Lambs, and they are intinctured, which means that the priest takes the spoon and carefully pours small amounts of the consecrated Blood on the Lamb, and then this is placed into an artophorion (αρτοφοριον, which literally means a "bread bearer").

An Artophorion similar to the one we have in our parish.

An artophorion is designed to allow the Presanctified Eucharist to dry, without it drying too much. The Reserved Sacrament is prepared in exactly the same way, but it is not immediately placed into an artophorion or a tabernacle (which is a larger container, that is normally kept on the altar year round).

A Tabernacle

How is the Reserved Sacrament Prepared

Ideally, the Reserved Sacrament is prepared on Holy Thursday (which commemorates the Mystical Supper and the Establishment of the Eucharist by Christ), but it can be prepared at any full Liturgy. The difference between preparing the Reserved Sacrament and what is done with a Presanctified Lamb, is that rather than putting the whole Lamb into an artophorion, after the Liturgy is concluded, the priest cuts this Lamb into pieces appropriate for communion people. Some priests simply leave this in a diskos that is covered, and allow it to dry in that way. Our service books tell us to heat these particles so that they are completely dry.

The service book does not spell out exactly how this is to be done, beyond saying that a brick is to be placed on the Antimins, and that the particles are to be heated over burning coals, stirred regularly, and removed from the heat, and then returned to the heat as many times as is necessary to dry them thoroughly, but without burning them.

There may be a better method of doing it than the one I came up with, but what I did was to take a tin coffee can, with the bottom removed (the can needs to be a bit wider than the brick, for the air to flow properly). I took a pair of pliers to put crimps along the top, to allow the flow of air, and then used a ceramic bowl, which with sand in the bottom of it (in order to elevate the coals), and so those parts are arranged as is seen in this picture:

I then place the bottom of a larger tin coffee can on top of that, which then allowed me to place a liturgical plate on top on top of it, which looks like this:

The liturgical plate with the Reserved Sacrament is placed on it, and stirred.

 I found doing it with about 5 minutes on, followed by 5 minutes off, and repeating this for about 30 to 40 minutes, worked well. This allowed me to use two plates, and to rotate them. The particles were constantly stirred with the liturgical spear, while over the heat.

In the Tabernacle, there is a drawer that slides out, into which these particles are to be placed. The service books say that if the material of the tabernacle is not gold or silver, it should be lined with paper. Ours is gold plated on the outside, but not inside of the drawer, and so I use a large index card, and cut it to line the drawer, and then placed these particles in it -- after, of course, allowing them to cool down and to air on a covered diskos for about a day.

How is the Reserved Sacrament Brought to People?

Normally, the Reserved Sacrament is used to commune people who are too sick to come to Church, but it is also used to commune people who cannot come to Church for other reasons. For example, it is used to bring communion to prisoners who do not have access to a liturgy in prison. There are Communion sets specifically designed for this purpose.

A communion set similar to one of the sets that we use in our parish.

These sets have a container sufficient to hold as many portions of the Eucharist as will be needed, a small spoon, and a small chalice. Often, they also have a container that can hold some communion wine. This set is further placed into a pouch of some sort that the priest can carry around his neck.

How Should Someone Prepare to Receive the Reserved Sacrament?

Normally, you should prepare in the same way that you would when you are preparing to receive communion at a regular Liturgy. If someone is sick, obviously, their ability to fast may be limited or non-existent. Also, if someone was near death, there would be no time for them to do pre-communion prayers, at least not at any great length. You should also prepare for confession.

What Happens When the Priest Arrives?

The first thing I do, is to find a sturdy table that I can place the holy things on. Often, this is the family dining table. I lay out one communion cloth on the table, and then open up the Communion Set, pour some wine into the chalice (this wine is not consecrated), and then place the portions of the Eucharist into the chalice that will be necessary to commune those present. Doing this first allows time for these portions to soak in the wine, so that they will be soft by the time Communion is given. While the wine poured into the chalice is not consecrated, the reason why there was an intincturing when preparing the Reserved Sacrament was so that both the Body and the Blood would be in the Reserved Sacrament.

I then hear the confessions of those who will be communed. Then, we use the service of "The Office When in Extreme Urgency Occasion Arises To Give Communion to a Sick Person," If there are other people present, I will ask them to hold the Communion Cloth under the chin of the person who is being communed. Communion is given to those who have prepared, the services is concluded, and then I cleanse the chalice, and put things away. Those who have communed can say the prayers of Thanksgiving right away, or after the priest leaves, but they should say it one way or another, unless they are too ill to do so. If someone is too ill to read prayers, someone can read the prayers aloud for them to hear.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Reader Services: St. Thomas Sunday and Radonitsa

For those still unable to attend services, here are some reader service options for the coming week.

For Saturday Night, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

or viewed in HTML, here:

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here:

However, if doing Vigil is too much for you at present, you could do Small Compline, with the Canon:

On Sunday, you can do Typika.

You can find the fixed portions here:

Or in Word Format, here:

The variable portions are posted here:

Or you can download the Typika text with everything, including the Scripture readings, here:

On Radonitsa, which this year is Tuesday, April 28th, you can do the Akathist for the Repose of the Departed:

This Akathist is also found in Volume 1 of the Book of Akathists from Holy Trinity Monastery.

And do that as part of the Rule of St. Pachomius, inserting it where the rule calls for 100 Jesus Prayers.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Holy Week at Home, Part 2

The following is a continuation of Holy Week at Home, Part 1. This concludes the most important services of Holy Week that can be done as reader services.

You will also find a lot of answers to practical questions about how to do reader services on the Reader Service Horologion Page.

On Holy Saturday morning (April 18th):

You can do the 3rd, 6th, and 9th Hour, for Holy Saturday:

Followed immediately by Typika and Vespers for Holy Saturday:

Alternatively, you could just read the Holy Saturday Old Testament Readings:

On Holy Saturday afternoon, or evening, you could read through the book of Acts, which is what is appointed by the Typikon.

At about 11:30 p.m. on Holy Saturday, you would do the Midnight Office:

The Midnight Office is the last service of the Triodion, and we then immediately begin the services of Pascha. Paschal Matins is served at approximately 12:00 a.m., April 19th:

Then you do the Paschal Hours. If you were doing what the Typikon calls for, you would do this service three times, for the 1st, 3rd, and 6th hours. In parish practice, it is usually only done once.

During Bright Week, the Paschal Hours are what we do for our morning and evening prayers. For more on how they can be sung, see:

And then, in the place of the Paschal Liturgy, we do Typika:

The above order of Typika incorporates the Festal Antiphons, and so is a bit more like the Paschal Liturgy. Fr. George Lardas has also put together the Typika according to the order found in the Slavonic Great Horologion, and he provides it in various languages, and combinations of languages:

On the Afternoon of Pascha, you can serve the Agape Vespers:

If doing the other Paschal services is too much, Typika is fairly simple, and the Paschal Hours are also short and simple, so you should at least do those services.

Update: If you prefer ePub format, some of the above services have been converted to that format, and are available here:

Update 2: The Carpatho-Russian Diocese has a document that has some useful ideas for doing Holy Week at home, especially with children. It also has some icons at the end that with a color printer could be very useful for the services:

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Holy Week at Home, Part 1

For the benefit of the many Orthodox Christians who will find themselves unable to attend Holy Week services in person, I am presenting reader service options. This is part 1. In part 2, I will post Holy Saturday Vespers, the Midnight Office for Pascha, Paschal Matins, the Paschal Hours, and Paschal Typika.

Lazarus Saturday Eve (Friday April 10th):

For those who want to do the service as it is appointed, here is the text for the Matins of Lazarus Saturday:

If you are unfamiliar with what a Kathisma is, it is a section of the Psalter. There are 20 of them, and this is a chart that explains which are done when. If you have a liturgical Psalter, these Kathismas will be properly notated.

In parish practice, instead of the 2 or 3 Kathismas that are appointed, usually, only one is done, and that Kathisma is usually abbreviated to consist of one psalm per stasis (each Kathisma having 3 of them). This is a chart with suggestions on which psalms to use, based on the tone of the week:

Technically, Holy Week does not have a tone, but what I have always done is continue with the sequence of tones through Holy Week, and so on Lazarus Saturday this year, you would use the selections for tone 1, but beginning with Palm Sunday, and through the rest of the week, it would be the selections for tone 2.

If you don't have a liturgical Psalter, or if you think your kids will not be able to make it through a longer service, you can skip the Kathismas entirely.

Also, if doing Matins is more than you want to attempt, here is Small Compline, with the Matins canon inserted, so that you can get the meat of that service, in a much shorter and more simple service:

For Lazarus Saturday morning, April 11th, here is the text of Typika:

Palm Sunday Eve (Saturday April 11th):

Here is the Vigil for Palm Sunday:

For a more simple service, here is Small Compline with the Palm Sunday canon:

For Palm Sunday morning, April 12th, here is the text of Typika:

For Palm Sunday Evening, April 12th, here is the text of Vespers:

Holy Monday Matins, served on Sunday Evening (April 12th):

For a more simple option, you could do the Akathist to the Passion of Christ, either inserting it into Small Compline, or using the Rule of St. Pachomius, and inserting it where it calls for the Jesus Prayer.

This can be done on Sunday evening, Monday evening, and Tuesday evening.

During the days of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, you could try to read all four Gospels, which is what is done according to the Typikon during the hours, or at least try to read through one of them. The reason we do this liturgically, is because it was on these days that Christ taught in the Temple. In addition to reading the Gospels yourself, you could also listen to them being read by downloading the YouVersion Bible app on your phone, which is free.

Holy Monday Vespers, served on Monday Afternoon or Evening (April 13th):

Holy Tuesday Matins, served on Monday Evening (April 13th):

Holy Tuesday Vespers, served on Tuesday Afternoon or Evening (April 14th):

Holy Wednesday Matins, served on Tuesday Evening (April 14th):

Holy Wednesday Vespers, served on Wednesday Afternoon or Evening (April 15th):

Holy Thursday Matins, served on Wednesday Evening (April 15th):

On the Thursday Morning (April 16th):

You can do the 3rd, 6th, and 9th hours:

Followed immediately by Typika and Vespers:

Alternatively, you could do the Akathist for Holy Communion, as suggested above for the Akathist to the Passion of Christ:

The Service of the Twelve Passion Gospels, served on Thursday evening (April 16th):

If you do not have a Liturgical Gospel Book, the 12 Gospel Readings are laid out here:

If doing the Matins is too much for you, I would suggest you have your family at least read through the 12 Gospel readings. You can also do the Akathist to the Cross, as indicated above:

The Royal Hours of Holy Friday, served in the morning (April 17th):

Vespers for Holy Friday, served in the afternoon (April 17th):

Holy Saturday Matins, served Friday Evening (April 17th):

The above text does not include the text of the actual Lamentations, but the Antiochian Archdiocese provides sheet music, with the text using a translation that is almost identical to what we normally use:

If that service is more than you feel capable of pulling off, you could do the Akathist to the Life Bearing Tomb, as indicated above:

Also, if you can read music, you will find a lot of sheet music for these services here:

Update: If you prefer ePub format, some of the above services have been converted to that format, and are available here:

Update 2: The Carpatho-Russian Diocese has a document that has some useful ideas for doing Holy Week at home, especially with children. It also has some icons at the end that with a color printer could be very useful for the services:

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Reader Services for the Sunday of the Fifth Week, and Annunciation

You can find the fixed and changeable parts for Typika here:

But if you would rather download this Sunday's Typika text, with everything embedded, you will find that here:

Annunciation falls on Tuesday, and Annunciation is one of the more complicated services in the Liturgy Year. If anyone wants to try to put it together, the rubrics are here:

I could also send you the texts (which require combing the Triodion supplement to the texts that normally do not change if the service falls on a weekday during lent) if you contact me.

But for most people, I would suggest that if you are unable to go to Church, on the eve of the feast (Monday night) use this text for Small Compline, which has the Annunciation Canon in it, laid out for lay use:

And then on the morning of the Feast, use this Typika text, which includes the Byzantine Festal Antiphons, which I think adds a nice touch to the service:

Next Week I will post several texts for Holy Week, beginning with Lazarus Saturday.

Another service you can do, whenever you wish, but I would encourage you to do at least once with regard to the situation we are in with the Coronavirus, is a moleben to St. John of Shanghai, which is arranged as a reader service:

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Reader Services in the Coming Week

The fifth week of Lent, is one of the more important times during Lent. Unfortunately, many are on lockdown because of the Coronavirus, and so here are some ways to observe the more important services.

Here is Typika for Sunday, all laid out:

For  the Great Canon on Thursday, for those who are not use to doing services, I would recommend that you use the text of Small Compline: and then, right after the Creed, you would do the Great Canon. This text has the text has the text for the Great Canon on the 5th week of Lent, beginning on page 42:

For the Fifth Friday of Great Lent, we do the service of the Akathist Hymn. For those not use to doing services, I would recommend using this text, which follows the more simple Greek order of service, but is arranged as a Reader Service:

Nothing Strikes Fear in the Person Whose Hope is in God

Note: The following epistle, by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco was sent to me by Bishop George of Australia (ROCOR), and St. John's words have particular significance to the problems we are facing currently. I adjusted the translation of the Scriptures that reference to match those usually used in ROCOR.

It should be noted that this epistle was written while the Japanese were bombing and shelling Shanghai. They began their invasion of China on July 7, 1937. They began the battle to take Shanghai on August 13th, and they finally defeated all remaining resistance in the city on November 11, 1937. This epistle was written on August 30th, 1937, and was addressed to the mostly Russian refugee flock, who had escaped the Soviet Union, and its brutal war with the White Army, only to face an even more terrifying war by both land, sea, and air.
"Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? And from Thy presence whither shall I flee? If I go up into heaven, Thou art there; if I go down into hades, Thou art present there. If I take up my wings toward the dawn, and make mine abode in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there shall Thy hand guide me, and Thy right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 138:7-10 LXX).
These divinely inspired words of the Psalmist David should be particularly in our thoughts during these days, when the entire world is literally quaking, and from every direction comes news of all kinds of distress, shocks and calamities.

Before you can concentrate on what is occurring in one country, you are distracted by even more threatening events which have unexpectedly erupted someplace else; and before you can get a grasp on them, yet other news distracts your attention to still some other location, forcing you to lose track of the previous ones, even though they have by no means reached their conclusion.

In vain do “the representatives of the nations consult in order to find a remedy for the common affliction. They encourage one another and others, saying, 'peace, peace,' when there is no peace." (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11).

Calamities in the lands where they are unfolding do not come to an end, when suddenly new ones begin in places which had been considered safe and calm.

Those who flee from troubles in one place find themselves amid troubles elsewhere that are even worse. "As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him” (Amos 5:19) Or, as another prophet says, "He who fleeth from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that cometh up out of the midst of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake" (Isaiah 24:18)

This is what we see happening in our days.

A person sets out for his peaceful occupation and suddenly falls the victim of military action which erupted in a place where no one had expected it.

The person who escapes danger from military action, finds himself amid the horrors of natural catastrophes, of an earthquake or typhoon.

Many meet their death where some had escaped it, while other people are prepared to risk their lives rather than waste away in places considered to be secure, because they anticipate other catastrophes which could soon come upon those areas.

It would seem that there is no place on the globe in recent times that remains a peaceful and calm haven from troubles in the world.

Everything has become complicated: politically, economically, socially. "In perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren," as the Apostle Paul wrote (2 Corinthians 11:26). And to these dangers in our days we must add also, "danger in the air and danger from the sky," which are especially frightful.

But when all the dangers listed by the Apostle Paul were endured by this glorious Chief of the Apostles, he had a great consolation. He knew that he was suffering for Christ and that Christ would reward him for these sufferings. "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Timothy 1:12). He knew that the Lord would grant him the strength necessary to endure even greater tribulations, and for this reason he boldly says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).

These current catastrophes are so terrible for us, because they have come upon us because we are not firm in the Faith, and because we are not enduring them for the sake of Christ. For that reason, we have no hope of receiving crowns for them.

And what is even worse, and leaves us powerless in our efforts to counteract our misfortunes, is that we do not strengthen ourselves with the power of Christ. We put our hope, not in God, but in human powers and means. We forget the words of the Sacred Scriptures: "Trust ye not in princes, in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation. Blessed is he of whom the God of Jacob is his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God" (Psalm 145:3,5 LXX). And again: "Except the Lord build the house, in vain do they labour that build it. Except the Lord guard the city, in vain doth he watch that guardeth her" (Psalm 126:1 LXX).

We keep trying to find a firm foundation apart from God. And so, we suffer what was foretold by the prophet: "This sin will become for you like the sudden collapse of the wall of a strong city under siege," and which is then immediately vanquished (Isaiah 30:13). Woe to those who are leaning against those walls! Just as a collapsing wall crushes those who are leaning on it, in the same way, with the destruction of false hopes, all those who placed their trust in them will perish. Their hope will be like a "staff of reed." "When they grasped you with the hand, you broke, and pierced their shoulders; and when they leaned upon you, you broke, and injured their loins" (Ezekiel 29:7).

It is entirely different with those who seek the help of God. "Our God is refuge and strength, a helper in afflictions which mightily befall us. Therefore shall we not fear when the earth be shaken, nor when the mountains be removed into the heart of the seas" (Psalm 45:1-2 LXX).

Nothing is fearful for the person whose hope is in God. He does not fear men who work evil. "The Lord is my light and my saviour; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 26:1 LXX). The horrors of war are not fearful for him. "Though a host should array itself against me, my heart shall not be afraid; though war should rise up against me, in this have I hoped" (Psalm 26:3 LXX). He is calm when he lives at home. "He that dwelleth in the help of the Most High shall abide in the shelter of the God of heaven" (Psalm 90:1 LXX). He is ready to sail across the sea. "In the sea are Thy byways, and Thy paths in many waters" (Psalm 76:20 LXX). Boldly, literally on wings, he flies through the sky to distant lands, saying, "Even there shall Thy hand guide me, and Thy right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 138:10 LXX). He knows that if it pleases God to protect his life, "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but unto thee shall it not come nigh" (Psalm 90:7 LXX).

Even death is not fearful for him, because, for the person whose life is Christ, death is gain (Philippians 1:21). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, 'For Thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35-39). "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).

This is what the Lord says: "Loose the bonds of wickedness; forgive unjust debts; let the oppressed go free; tear up every unjust agreement. Share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house. When you see the naked, cover him, and do not mistreat your own people. Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your reward. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:6-9).

Lord, teach me to do Thy will and hear me on the day that I call upon Thee!

May Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have placed our hope in Thee.

Humble John, Bishop of Shanghai
August 30, 1937
St. Alexander Nevsky

Friday, March 20, 2020

Doing Vigil at Home

As a follow up to my post about doing Typika at home, let me provide some guidance on how to do Vigil at home as a reader service, as well as some suggestions for what you can do if doing Vigil is beyond your reach at this point.

The text for the fixed portions of the service is posted here:

In Word format:


For Sundays, you normally need the Resurrectional texts of the Octoechos. They are posted here:

You will need to have the text for the Tone of the Week, which you will find on the Rubrics Page (which is updated monthly). You will also need the Resurrectional Exapostilaria and Gospel Stichera which is posted on the Octoechos Index.

You will also need the Menaion Text, Triodion Text, and or Pentecostarion Text appointed for the day. For example, this Sunday is the Third Sunday of Lent, and so you will need the text of the Triodion, but it is also the Feast of the 40 Martyrs, which means you would need the text of the Menaion. Both of those texts are combined and available here:

The Fourth Sunday of Lent is found here:

The Fifth Sunday of Lent is here:

I will post an update when we get to Holy Week, with links to those texts.

Now if you do not think you could ever figure out how to do a vigil on your own, what you can do instead is to sings an Akathist or Canon instead, either in conjunction with Small Compline, or simply using the Rule of St. Pachomius, and replacing the 100 Jesus Prayers indicated with the Akathist or the Canon.

You will find a number of Akathists and Canons which are available online here:

If you have questions or need further help, if you contact me, I will try my best to answer.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Doing Typika at Home

Due to the Coronavirus, many people are finding themselves without access to regular services, either because they are quarantined themselves, or their parish has cancelled services. So here are some simple steps for how to do Typika at home. Typika is a service which can be done in the place of the Liturgy, whenever this is necessary.

You can download the fixed portions of Typika in a Word document:

Or use the text on the web:

The variable portions of Typika for Sunday's and Feasts are posted here, and are updated each month:

The Epistle and Gospel reading are indicated on that page, and so one could simply read them out of their own Bible, but ideally it would be best to have them in the form of a Gospel book and the Epistle book.

For the Epistle book, the least expensive option is a softcover text from the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies:

This text follows the format of a Byzantine Lectionary, and so has the readings laid out exactly as they are read.

Another option is the Apostol from St. Tikhon Seminary, which follows the format of a Slavic Apostol, and is in hardback:

For the Gospel book, the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies publishes a similarly inexpensive softcover edition:

For a Gospel that follows the Slavic format, and is in hardback, Deacon Peter Gardner publishes a very well done text, in two sizes, and in either black text, or color:

You can find more information about the pros and cons of these editions in the article: Practical Tips on Building a Liturgical Library.

In a pinch, you could print out these reading from the Choir Cues group, which sends these out with the variable texts for the Liturgy each week:

You should try to sing as much of the service as you are able, but if you can't, you can simply read the text aloud. For Liturgical Music and information on how to learn to sing the eight tones, see: Orthodox Musical Resources.

For more details on how to do reader services (i.e., services without a priest), see:

Practical Questions On How To Do Reader Services

You can find more information about Reader Services at the Reader Service Horologion.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Sermons on Psalm 118[119]

An Orthodox Funeral, at which is chanted Psalm 118

In August 2014, I began a series of sermons on Psalm 118 (in the Septuagint, Psalm 119 in Protestant translations), and have preached an average of 4 sermons a year on this Psalm, and so after 5 1/2 years, I have finally finished the series. Here is the text of the Psalm, with the sermons at the end of each of the 22 sections, which in the Hebrew text consist of 8 lines each, and in each section the lines all begin with the letter of the Hebrew alphabet which correspond to that section. This is thus an acrostic Psalm, and the longest chapter in the Bible.

I drew heavily upon St. Theophan the Recluse's commentary on Psalm 118, but also on Blessed Theodoret, St. Augustine, and Cassiodorus, as well as some the occasional commentaries of some other saints. I would strongly recommend reading all of these commentaries, but if you were looking for a single source on Psalm 118, St. Theophan's commentary is the one to get.

St. John of Shanghai's words on the importance of the Psalms in general and of this Psalm in particular are mentioned several times in the various sermons below:
"Perhaps it will happen that you will die without having once in your life read in full the Psalter of David... You will die, and only then will good people read over your lifeless body this holy Psalter, which you had no time even, to open while you lived on earth! Only then, at your burial, will they sing over you the wondrously instructive, sweetly-wise-but alas, to you completely unknown-words of David: Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord... Blessed are they who search His testimonies. who keep His revelations, and seek Him with their whole heart. Do you hear: Blessed are they who search His testimonies, seek out the revelations of the Lord; and you had no time even to think of them! What will your poor soul feel then, your soul to which every word of the Psalmist, repeated by a reader or singer over your coffin, will sound as a strict reproach that you never read this sacred book?... Open now, before it is too late, this wondrous book of the Prophet King. Open it and read with attention at least this 118th Psalm, and you will involuntarily feel that your heart becomes humble, soft, that in the words of David are the words of the merit of God, and you will repeat involuntarily, many times, with sighing of heart, the verse of this Psalm: I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost; seek out Thy slave, Lord!" (from his weekly diocesan bulletin (Shanghai, November 24, 1941, no. 503, emphasis added).


Blessed are the blameless in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.  Blessed are they that search out His testimonies; with their whole heart shall they seek after Him.  For they that work iniquity have not walked in His ways.  Thou hast enjoined Thy commandments, that we should keep them most diligently.  Would that my ways were directed to keep Thy statutes.  Then shall I not be ashamed, when I look on all Thy commandments.  I will confess Thee with uprightness of heart, when I have learned the judgments of Thy righteousness.  I will keep thy statutes; do not utterly forsake me.
Blessed are the Blameless (Psalm 118:1-8)

Wherewithal shall a young man correct his way? By keeping Thy words.  With my whole heart have I sought after Thee, cast me not away from Thy commandments.  In my heart have I hid Thy sayings that I might not sin against Thee.  Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes.  With my lips have I declared all the judgments of Thy mouth.  In the way of Thy testimonies have I found delight, as much as in all riches.  On Thy commandments will I ponder, and I will understand Thy ways.  On Thy statutes will I meditate; I will not forget Thy words.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Teach Me Thy Statutes (Psalm 118:9-16)

Give reward unto Thy servant, quicken me and I will keep Thy words.  O unveil mine eyes, and I shall perceive wondrous things out of Thy law.  I am a sojourner on the earth, hide not from me Thy commandments.  My soul hath longed to desire Thy judgments at all times.  Thou hast rebuked the proud; cursed are they that decline from Thy commandments.  Remove from me reproach and contempt, for after Thy testimonies have I sought.  For princes sat and they spake against me, but Thy servant pondered on Thy statutes.  For Thy testimonies are my meditation, and Thy statutes are my counselors.
Unveil Mine Eyes (Psalm 118:17-24)

My soul hath cleaved unto the earth; quicken me according to Thy word.  My ways have I declared, and Thou hast heard me; teach me Thy statutes.  Make me to understand the way of Thy statutes, and I will ponder on Thy wondrous works.  My soul hath slumbered from despondency, strengthen me with Thy words.  Remove from me the way of unrighteousness, and with Thy law have mercy on me.  I have chosen the way of truth, and Thy judgments have I not forgotten.  I have cleaved to Thy testimonies, O Lord; put me not to shame.  The way of Thy commandments have I run, when Thou didst enlarge my heart.
The Doors of Repentance (Psalm 118:25-32)


Set before me for a law, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes, and I will seek after it continually.  Give me understanding, and I will search out Thy law, and I will keep it with my whole heart.  Guide me in the path of Thy commandments, for I have desired it.  Incline my heart unto Thy testimonies and not unto covetousness.  Turn away mine eyes that I may not see vanity, quicken Thou me in Thy way.  Establish for Thy servant Thine oracle unto fear of Thee.  Remove my reproach which I have feared, for Thy judgments are good.  Behold, I have longed after Thy commandments; in Thy righteousness quicken me.
The Way of Thy Statutes (Psalm 118:33-40)


Let Thy mercy come also upon me, O Lord, even Thy salvation according to Thy word.  So shall I give an answer to them that reproach me, for I have hoped in Thy words.  And take not utterly out of my mouth the word of truth, for in Thy judgments have I hoped.  So shall I keep Thy law continually, for ever, and unto the ages of ages.  And I walked in spaciousness, for after Thy commandments have I sought.  And I spake of Thy testimonies before kings, and I was not ashamed.  And I meditated on Thy commandments which I have greatly loved.  And I lifted up my hands to Thy commandments which I have loved, and I pondered on Thy statutes.
 Our Anchor of Hope (Psalm 118:41-48)


Remember Thy words to Thy servant, wherein Thou hast made me to hope.  This hath comforted me in my humiliation, for Thine oracle hath quickened me.  The proud have transgressed exceedingly, but from Thy law have I not declined.  I remembered Thy judgments of old, O Lord, and was comforted.  Despondency took hold upon me because of the sinners who forsake Thy law.  Thy statutes were my songs in the place of my sojourning.  I remembered Thy name in the night, O Lord, and I kept Thy law.  This hath happened unto me because I sought after Thy statutes.
Remember  Thy Words to Thy Servant (Psalm 118:49-56)


Thou art my portion, O Lord; I said that I would keep Thy law.  I entreated Thy countenance with my whole heart: Have mercy on me according to Thy word.  I have thought on Thy ways, and I have turned my feet back to Thy testimonies.  I made ready, and I was not troubled, that I might keep Thy commandments.  The cords of sinners have entangled me, but Thy law have I not forgotten.  At midnight I arose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness.  I am a partaker with all them that fear Thee, and with them that keep Thy commandments.  The earth, O Lord, is full of Thy mercy; teach me Thy statutes.
Overcoming Sin (Psalm 118:57-64)


Thou hast dealt graciously with Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word.  Goodness and discipline and knowledge teach Thou me, for in Thy commandments have I believed.  Before I was humbled, I transgressed; therefore Thy saying have I kept.  Thou art good, O Lord, and in Thy goodness teach me Thy statutes.  Multiplied against me hath been the unrighteousness of the proud; but as for me, with my whole heart will I search out Thy commandments.  Curdled like milk is their heart; but as for me, in Thy law have I meditated.  It is good for me that Thou hast humbled me, that I might learn Thy statutes.  The law of Thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.
God's Work to Guide Us on the Path of Salvation (Psalm 118:65-72)


Thy hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding and I will learn Thy commandments.  They that fear Thee shall see me and be glad, for on Thy words have I set my hope.  I have known, O Lord, that Thy judgments are righteousness, and with truth hast Thou humbled me.  Let now Thy mercy be my comfort, according to Thy saying unto Thy servant.  Let Thy compassions come upon me and I shall live, for Thy law is my meditation.  Let the proud be put to shame, for unjustly have they transgressed against me; but as for me, I will ponder on Thy commandments.  Let those that fear Thee return unto me, and those that know Thy testimonies.  Let my heart be blameless in Thy statutes, that I may not be put to shame.
Thy hands have made me and fashioned me (Psalm 118:73-80)


My soul fainteth for Thy salvation; on Thy words have I set my hope.  Mine eyes are grown dim with waiting for Thine oracle; they say: When wilt Thou comfort me?  For I am become like a wine-skin in the frost; yet Thy statutes have I not forgotten.  How many are the days of Thy servant? When wilt Thou execute judgment for me on them that persecute me?  Transgressors have told me fables, but they are not like Thy law, O Lord.  All Thy commandments are truth. Without a cause have men persecuted me; do Thou help me.  They well nigh made an end of me on the earth; but as for me, I forsook not Thy commandments.  According to Thy mercy quicken me, and I will keep the testimonies of Thy mouth.
On Thy Words have I Set My Hope (Psalm 118:81-88)


For ever, O Lord, Thy word abideth in heaven.  Unto generation and generation is Thy truth; Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth, and it abideth.  By Thine ordinance doth the day abide, for all things are Thy servants.  If Thy law had not been my meditation, then should I have perished in my humiliation.  I will never forget Thy statutes, for in them hast Thou quickened me.  I am Thine, save me; for after Thy statutes have I sought.  Sinners have waited for me to destroy me; but Thy testimonies have I understood.  Of all perfection have I seen the outcome; exceeding spacious is Thy commandment.
Forever, O Lord, Thy Word Abideth in Heaven (Psalm 118:89-96)


O how I have loved Thy law, O Lord! the whole day long it is my meditation.  Above mine enemies hast Thou made me wise in Thy commandment, for it is mine for ever.  Above all that teach me have I gained understanding, for Thy testimonies are my meditation.  Above mine elders have I received understanding, for after Thy  commandments have I sought.  From every way that is evil have I restrained my feet that I might keep Thy words.  From Thy judgments have I not declined, for Thou hast set a law for me.  How sweet to my palate are Thy sayings! more sweet than honey to my mouth.  From Thy commandments have I gained understanding; therefore have I hated every way of unrighteousness.
Loving God and Hating Sin (Psalm 118:97-104)


Thy law is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my paths.  I have sworn and resolved that I will keep the judgments of Thy righteousness.  I was humbled exceedingly; O Lord, quicken me according to Thy word.  The free-will offerings of my mouth be Thou now pleased to receive, O Lord, and teach me Thy judgments.  My soul is in Thy hands continually, and Thy law have I not forgotten.  Sinners have set a snare for me, yet from Thy commandment have I not strayed.  I have inherited Thy testimonies for ever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart.  I have inclined my heart to perform Thy statutes for ever for a recompense.
A Light Unto My Paths (Psalm 118:105-112)


Transgressors have I hated, but Thy law have I loved.  My helper and my protector art Thou; on Thy words have I set my hope.  Depart from me, ye evil-doers, and I will search out the commandments of my God.  Uphold me according to Thy saying and quicken me, and turn me not away in shame from mine expectation.  Help me, and I shall be saved; and I will meditate on Thy statutes continually.  Thou hast set at nought all that depart from Thy statutes, for unrighteous is their inward thought.  I have reckoned as transgressors all the sinners of the earth, therefore have I loved Thy testimonies.  Nail down my flesh with the fear of Thee, for of Thy judgments am I afraid.
Hitherto Hath the Lord Helped Us (Psalm 118:113-120)


I have wrought judgment and righteousness; O give me not up to them that wrong me.  Receive Thy servant unto good, let not the proud falsely accuse me.  Mine eyes have failed with waiting for Thy salvation, and for the word of Thy righteousness.  Deal with Thy servant according to Thy mercy, and teach me Thy statutes.  I am Thy servant; give me understanding, and I shall know Thy testimonies.  It is time for the Lord to act; for they have dispersed Thy law.  Therefore have I loved Thy commandments more than gold and topaz.  Therefore I directed myself according to all Thy commandments; every way that is unrighteous have I hated.

The Eye of the Soul (Psalm 118:121-128)


Wonderful are Thy testimonies; therefore hath my soul searched them out.  The unfolding of Thy words will give light and understanding unto babes.  I opened my mouth and drew in my breath, for I longed for Thy commandments.   Look upon me and have mercy on me, according to the judgment of them that love Thy name.  My steps do Thou direct according to Thy saying, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.  Deliver me from the false accusation of men, and I will keep Thy commandments.  Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant, and teach me Thy statutes.  Mine eyes have poured forth streams of waters, because I kept not Thy law.

Wonderful are Thy Testimonies (Psalm 118:129-136)


Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and upright are Thy judgments.  Thou hast ordained as Thy testimonies exceeding righteousness and truth.  My zeal for Thee hath made me to pine away, because mine enemies have forgotten Thy words.  Thine oracle is tried with fire to the uttermost, and Thy servant hath loved it.  I am young and accounted as nothing, yet Thy statutes have I not forgotten.  Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Thy law is truth.  Tribulations and necessities have found me, Thy commandments are my meditation.  Thy testimonies are righteousness for ever; give me understanding and I shall live.

Blessed are They that Hear the Word of God and Keep it (Psalm 118:137-144)


I have cried with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord, and I will seek after Thy statutes.  I have cried unto Thee; save me, and I will keep Thy testimonies.  I arose in the dead of night and I cried; on Thy words have I set my hope.  Mine eyes woke before the morning that I might meditate on Thy sayings.  Hear my voice, O Lord, according to Thy mercy; according to Thy judgment, quicken me.  They have drawn nigh that lawlessly persecute me, but from Thy law are they far removed.  Near art Thou, O Lord, and all Thy ways are truth. From the beginning I have known from Thy testimonies that Thou hast founded them for ever.
Imitating God (Psalm 118:145-152)


Behold my humiliation and rescue me, for Thy law have I not forgotten.  Judge my cause and redeem me; for Thy word's sake quicken me.  Far from sinners is salvation, for they have not sought after Thy statutes.  Thy compassions are many, O Lord; according to Thy judgment quicken me.  Many are they that persecute me and afflict me; from Thy testimonies have I not declined.  I beheld men acting foolishly and I pined away, because they kept not Thy sayings.  Behold, how I have loved Thy commandments; O Lord, in Thy mercy, quicken me.  The beginning of Thy words is truth, and all the judgments of Thy righteousness endure for ever.
If They Hear Not Moses and the Prophets (Psalm 118:153-160)


Princes have persecuted me without a cause, and because of Thy words my heart hath been afraid.  I will rejoice in Thy sayings as one that findeth great spoil.  Unrighteousness have I hated and abhorred, but Thy law have I loved.  Seven times a day have I praised Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness.  Much peace have they that love Thy law, and for them there is no stumbling-block.  I awaited Thy salvation, O Lord, and Thy commandments have I loved.  My soul hath kept Thy testimonies and hath loved them exceedingly.  I have kept Thy commandments and Thy testimonies, for all my ways are before Thee, O Lord.

All My Ways are Ever Before Thee (Psalm 118:161-168)


Let my supplication draw nigh before Thee, O Lord; according to Thine oracle give me understanding.  Let my petition come before Thee, O Lord; according to Thine oracle deliver me.  My lips shall pour forth a hymn when Thou hast taught me Thy statutes.  My tongue shall speak of Thy sayings, for all Thy commandments are righteousness.  Let Thy hand be for saving me, for I have chosen Thy commandments.  I have longed for Thy salvation, O Lord, and Thy law is my meditation.  My soul shall live and shall praise Thee, and Thy judgments will help me.  I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost; O seek Thy servant, for I have not forgotten Thy commandments. 
The Signs of Life (Psalm 118:169-176)

Note: The translation of Psalm 118 is that of The Psalter According to the Seventy, © Copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Brookline, MA, used by permission. All rights reserved.