Preparation

The liturgical books begin with the prayers said by the priest and deacon on entering church, and at their vesting and washing of hands. Then, at the table of the preparation, the priest takes the first of a series of loaves (the modern Greek custom of using one loaf for all that follows is not envisaged by the rubrics), and, saying verses from Isaiah 53: 7-8 'He was led as a sheep to the slaughter' etc., he cuts out a square of bread called the Lamb. This is placed on the diskos or paten, and wine with a little water is poured into the chalice by the deacon. The priest takes a particle from the next loaf in honour of the Mother of God, placing it beside the Lamb. From the third he takes nine particles in honour of nine orders of saints and places them on the other side. From the fourth and fifth loaves he takes particles to remember by name, first the living and then the departed. (Only the Lamb is used for communion.) The preparation is concluded by the priest veiling the diskos and chalice, incensing the gifts and saying a prayer, which is the oldest part of this rite (being known in the ninth century). Most of this rite was medieval elaboration of a simple selection of the bread and wine from amongst the peoples' offerings, and originally took place in an outside sacristy, the skeuophylakion, which at Hagia Sophia was to the north east of the main church (see Taft 1975).

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