Rites of initiation

The Syrian Orthodox Church developed several baptismal ordos, suggesting regional differences, and these are attributed to Severus of Antioch, Timothy of Alexandria, and for emergency use, Philoxenus of Mabbug. What is common is that this tradition follows that found in Apostolic Constitutions in having a significant post-baptismal anointing with myron.

Timothy of Alexandria has the same structure as Severus, and a number of prayers in common. According to Sebastian Brock, it dates from the sixth century (Brock 1972). However, the rite now in use is that of Severus, though the recensions used in the Syrian Orthodox, Malankara Church in India, and Mar Thoma Church of India, have some variations (Tovey 1998). The Syrian Orthodox recension (printed text 1974) consists of two services. The first is the service of the catechumens, and consists of opening Gloria to the Trinity, prayer of worthiness, Psalm 51, hymn 'O Lord by your baptism', quqal'yon (Psalm 29: 1, 3, 4), prayer and eqbo. This is followed by husoyo (absolution) and promion, sedro, qolo and etro, psalm and lections, insufflation, consignation, exorcism, apotaxis and synaxis, Creed and anointing.

The second service begins with the Gloria to the Trinity, and a prayer for mixing the water with the power and operation of the Holy Spirit. After a number of brief prayers, the candidate is anointed with the oil of anointing. This is followed by eqbo and husoyo, and then premion, sedro, hymn, and etro. After a series of prayers, the water is signed, myron is poured into the water, and the water is blessed: 'May this water be blessed and sanctified so as to become a divine regenerating laver.' The candidate is anointed with the oil of anointing, first on the forehead, and then the whole body, and is baptized. After the baptism the candidate is anointed with the myron, accompanied by prayer with hand-laying. The formula of anointing is, 'By the holy myron which is Christ's sweet fragrance, the seal of the true faith, and the perfection of the Holy Spirit's gifts, N is sealed.' After a series of prayers including the Lord's Prayer, the candidate is crowned with a ribbon, and then given communion. Male candidates are processed three times round the altar. There is a prayer for the removal of the crown (ribbon) after seven days.

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