Daily offices

John Cassian in the fourth century gives some gleanings of the daily services of the monks in Egypt. However, the present divine office was reformed by Patriarch Gabriel, with the result that it is heavily monastic in ethos. The present form has eight services: Morning, Terce, Sext, None, Eleventh Hour (Vespers) and Compline, together with Prayer of the Veil, and Midnight. The structure of each hardly varies. There are fixed initial prayers, twelve psalms, a Gospel reading, poetic refrains called psali, Kyrie eleison some 40 to 50 times, trisagion, Lord's Prayer, dismissal prayer of absolution, and a final prayer. Psalms 119-28 are used at Vespers, and 129-50 at Compline. Some of the psali have parallels in the Byzantine troparia and Theotokia.

In addition to these monastic offices, there are offices of Evening and Morning Incense, and it is thought that these are relics of the 'cathedral' offices. The rite for the evening begins with fixed introductory prayers, continues with the invitatory with praise of Mary and the saints, the putting on of incense, the evening incense prayer, censing the altar, intercessions for the dead and sick, trisagion, Lord's Prayer, 'Hail to You', preface to Creed, Creed, blessing with candles and cross, litany, prayer of the Gospel, psalm verse, Gospel, three great prayers and censing, Lord's Prayer, three prayers of absolution, veneration of the cross and Gospel, and ends with the final blessing. There is also provision for a daily choral service called Psalmodia, which has three forms. It can precede the Evening Office of Incense, or come between Midnight and Morning Prayer, or between Morning Prayer and the Morning Office of Incense. The structure consists of fixed initial prayers and Psalm 50, a fixed psalmody or canticles, psali, Theotokia (theological hymn of the day), Lobsh of the Theotokia (another poetic piece), a hymn of the day (Difnar) and conclusion.

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