The deacon incenses the church, and the priest begins with the blessing: 'Blessed be the kingdom of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit . . .' The deacon says the synapte while the priest says a prayer. Then is sung the first antiphon (in Russian churches usually Psalm 102), and there is a small litany while the priest says another prayer. The second antiphon (Russian usage, Psalm 145) always includes the hymn 'Only-begotten Son and Word of God', and is followed by another short litany and prayer. The third antiphon is usually the Beatitudes.
This service of antiphons and prayers was originally a processional service sung on days when the Sunday or festal observance began at one church and processed to another, most especially Hagia Sophia, for the Eucharist. By the ninth or tenth centuries, when there was no procession through the city, a priest and deacon would begin the service of three antiphons, and the bishop would only enter after it. In the contemporary rite, when a bishop celebrates, he remains in the body of the church during the service of the antiphons and only enters the sanctuary at the so-called 'Little Entrance'.
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