The 'Little Entrance' was originally the entry into church. The deacon carries the Gospel book and precedes the priest around the altar and out of the north door to come before the holy doors. The procession goes to collect the bishop from the body of the church when he celebrates. Appropriate verses followed by the troparia and kontakia of the day are sung as the clergy enter the sanctuary. The singing of the trisagion, 'Holy God, Holy mighty, Holy Immortal have mercy on us' was probably the refrain of the original entry chant. The clergy move during this chant to their places behind the altar, the bishop going to the central throne in the apse, thus completing the entry rite.
After the greeting 'Peace be to all', there is a prokeimenon proper to the day, and then the Epistle is read. Incensation in preparation for the Gospel should take place during the 'Alleluia' chant that follows, but is often begun during the reading. A deacon receives the Gospel book and a blessing from the celebrant and may read in the body of the church, either in the centre (Russian usage) or from a bema to one side (Greek usage).
Anciently sermons were preached after the Gospel and this practice is again common in many places, especially in western Europe and America. Other practices include preaching at the end of the Liturgy and even during the communion of the clergy, if there are a large number of concelebrants.
The originally penitential litany known as the ektene has been imported into the rite at this point, and may be followed by a Litany for the Departed. A further litany follows for the catechumens, who were then dismissed (often omitted today), and there are two short Litanies of the Faithful. This was the original location of the synapte. The two prayers said by the priest are for the preparation of the clergy, and that God will hear the prayers of the faithful.
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