To the dearly beloved and very reverend clergy of the cathedrals of the Diocese of the West:
Holy Trinity Cathedral, San Francisco, California
St. Spiridon Cathedral, Seattle, Washington
Holy Virgin Mary (Rescuer of the Perishing) Cathedral, Los Angeles, California
Holy Transfiguration Cathedral, Denver, Colorado
to no longer omit Psalm 33, "I will bless the Lord at all times..." from its place at the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom, of St. Basil the Great, of the Presanctified Gifts, and at the All-Night Vigil (but not at Great Vespers served alone; to restore the stanzas on the Beatitudes (i.e., the so-called "Blesseds"); to use certain Service Books; to cause the singing of certain portions of the services by the entire church; and for the Priest to read aloud certain prayers heretofore prescribed to be read in secret. I will also iterate some other instructions, which should not represent changes, but reminders of what is expected.
The place for Psalm 33 at Divine Liturgy is indicated in the 1984 printing of the Divine Liturgy (St. Tikhon's Seminary Press): Vol. I, Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, pp. 97-98, and Vol. II, Liturgy of St. Basil the Great and of Presanctified Gifts, 103 -104, and p. 160, respectively. It is also indicated in the Priest's Service Book, Part II: pp. 293, 352, & 391.
The place for Psalm 33 (first eleven (11) verses only, i.e., through "...shall lack nothing.") at All-Night Vigil is indicated on p. 24 of the Priest's Service Book, Part I.
The music for the chanting of Psalm 33, if not available in a given cathedral's music library, may be obtained from Rev. Hierodeacon Vincent, the Los Angeles Cathedral Deacon. The version provided by Father Deacon is the chant to be used when I serve.
When a deacon is serving Divine Liturgy, the chanting of this psalm is the time for him to consume the Holy Gifts; hence, the priest will continue to read the Prayer at the Consumption of the Holy Gifts and will bless the deacon to consume the gifts immediately after "Blessed be the Name of the Lord, henceforth and forevermore."
Former practice dictated that the blessed antidoron was distributed during the chanting of Psalm 33. I leave it up to the senior priest at each Cathedral to decide whether this will be wise pastorally. In any case, having received the antidoron and having venerated the Precious Cross, the devout parishioner remains in the temple to read the prayers of Thanksgiving after Partaking of the Mysteries (while the parishioner who has not partaken remains also in church, repenting): all must stay at least until the dismissal, as usual. When I am serving, then I will be unvested and don the Mantiya during the Psalm.
At the All-Night Vigil Psalm 33 (only the first eleven (11) verses) is chanted after "Blessed be the Name of the Lord, henceforth and forevermore". The senior of the priests, goes to stand before the Holy Doors during the chanting of the Psalm, and bles ses the People ("The Blessing of the Lord be upon you...") at the conclusion.
This should lead to a clear understanding of when the Typical Antiphons (Bless the Lord, O my soul; Praise the Lord, O my soul; and In the Kingdom, remember us, O Lord) are to be sung and when they may be omitted, replaced by the Daily Antiphons with their refrains. When the Typikon prescribes Blesseds from a Canon, the Typical Antiphons must be sung; conversely, if on a given (week)day no Blesseds are prescribed, for example, when it's the day of a Saint for whom no Canon was written at all, then the Daily Antiphons may be sung. Since there are Blesseds for every Sunday in every tone, then it would never be appropriate to sing anything but the Beatitudes, or, more correctly, the Typical Antiphons, on a Sunday, except in one case: when a Great Feast of our Lord occurs on Sunday. Then, of course, the Festal Antiphons must be sung. Blesseds, with the Typical Antiphons, would be sung on the days of the Forefeast and Afterfeast, when the Festal Antiphons not prescribed.)
Remarks about music for the Blesseds. There are three possible ways for the Blesseds to be chanted: in the prescribed tone, in a standard chant, and by the reader (psalmist or chorister) chanting alone.
It would be a quite complicated undertaking for the choir master and the choir to essay following the first possibility, singing the Blesseds in the prescribed (respective) tone(s): this is more achievable in monastic practice. The second possibility, singing the Blesseds in a standard chant, is to be preferred. If the choir master does not have in his church music library a standard setting for Blesseds, he may obtain a good one from the choir master at the San Francisco Cathedral, where it is already be ing used, or from Hierodeacon Vincent. The Beatitudes themselves must, of course, be sung to one of the straightforward, simple chants. (Here it may be said to anyone who fears that the restoration of the Blesseds is going to prolong the Liturgy unconscionably, that it is possible to sing the Beatitudes and the Blesseds in less time than some choirs are now using to sing the Beatitudes alone, by exercising common sense in selecting the music.) The third possibility, a solo chanter chanting the Blesseds, while the choir sings the Beatitudes, would certainly be appropriate in a very small parish or a mission, but not appropriate to any of our cathedrals with their relatively vast personnel and talent resources.
About the Holy Altar, When it is Opened and When it is ClosedThe Holy Doors (and the north and south doors, as well) are of course still to remain opened through the entire Bright Week, until the Ninth Hour on Bright Saturday evening, i.e., during the entire period when, according to ancient practice, those newly illuminated through Holy Baptism remained in the Temple wearing their Baptismal garments.
The curtain is opened at the beginning of Vespers, and stays open even until the Dismissal. At Matins likewise, from the beginning until the end. At the Hours, when they are read outside of Liturgy, it is opened for the reading of the Apostle, and stay s open until the dismissal. But at the dismissal it is closed indeed. At the beginning of Liturgy the curtain is opened and stays opened until (through) the Great Entrance. After the Entrance it is closed again, until the priest, or deacon, cries, "The doors, the doors, in Wisdom let us attend!" It is opened then and remains open until the exclamation, "Holy Things are for the Holy!". And again it is closed. After Communion it is opened again, and it stays open until the end of the Holy Liturgy. After the Dismissal of the Liturgy, it is again completely closed. But if a Molieben is sung, then it remains open from beginning to end of that. NOTE: Be aware that the Holy Doors are never opened, except at the beginning of Great Vespers when there is a Vigil, when the priest censes, and for all entrances , i.e., of Vespers and Liturgy, and with the Holy Gospel: likewise, they are opened for the appearance of the Holy Gifts, even until the completion of the Divine Liturgy.
Tonsured Readers may make ready the vestments in the Altar for the Sacred Servers and Church Servers before a service. They may prepare the censer, and carry lights, or fans, during processions and entrances, hold the holy water vessel and brush, hold the vessel with blessed oil or the dish with the blessed bread at Vigil, and they may cut up and otherwise prepare that blessed bread. They may themselves light the lights and lamps when prescribed by the ritual. They may prepare the vessels which contain w ine and water and fill them before the Divine Liturgy, and they may operate the altar curtain according to the prescribe ritual. They may prepare the warm water and bear it to the Deacon or Priest during the Divine Liturgy. They may bear the episcopal st aff, ascend the ambo to sing the trio at the Trisagion of the Divine Liturgy, bear and page the Bishop's Service Book, may secure the train of the Bishop's mantle, and may distribute the hierarchical Eagle-rugs. These privileges are all in addition to the ir assigned responsibility of reading in Church (not only in Church but from the Ambo, or on the raised "Vesting Place").
Ordained Subdeacons may do all those things permitted to Readers. In addition, they may touch the Holy Altar Table, when there is a necessity or direction to do so. For example, a Subdeacon may remove the large cloth which covers the Holy Table and everything on it between services. He may prepare the Table of Oblation for Divine Liturgy. A Subdeacon may remove the Dikirion and/or Trikirion from the Holy Table, if these have been placed there (i.e., when there is no special stand for them behind the Holy Table). Subdeacons may open the Holy Doors, as at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, when a hierarch is serving. Subdeacons vest a hierarch in his holy vestments when there are not enough deacons to do so.
Untonsured Readers, both men and women, are a regular part of our Church life, and will continue to be so. Where there are many Readers, then they should read according to a (fair) schedule made up by the Senior Priest of the Cathedral or the person he appoints to do so. There is certainly no reason to exclude women from reading when I am serving, especially since some of the finest reading I have ever heard has been by women; for example, Mrs. Olga Raevsky-Hughes, Matushka Emilie Lisenko, Matushka Ma rgaret Gisetti, and others. Few men read this well -- soberly, correctly, distinctly, according to the established patterns, devoutly, not self-consciously, and in tune.
IX. There is a qualitative standard for the execution of all the sacred privileges described above: perfection.
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