Interesting difference in prayers

I’ve been looking at the presentation of the Prayers of Thanksgiving After Holy Communion as presented in different Orthodox prayer books, and have run across some interesting variants in different editions.

The variation occurs with the theotokion following the troparion and kontakion determined by the Saint whose Liturgy was just celebrated (St John Chrysostom, St Basil the Great, St Gregory the Dialogist).

For instance, in the Jordanville Prayer Book, the theotokion here is a beautiful one: “O protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, O mediation unto the Creator unfailing, disdain not the suppliant voices of sinners; but be thou quick, O good one, to help us who in faith cry unto thee; hasten to intercession and speed thou to make supplication, thou who dost ever protect, O Theotokos, them that honor thee.” (In Greek, this theotokion begins, “Προστασια των Χριστιανων…”.) This appears to be the most common usage, to have some form of this kontakion used in this position. For instance, this appears in The Liturgikon produced by the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, though as a footnote, with yet another variation in the main text, which is related to the recommended kontakion mentioned on the SCOBA site: “The Church is revealed to all as a brilliantly lit heaven, leading the faithful in the way of the light. Standing therein we cry aloud: make firm the foundation of this house, Lord.” This one also appears (though my memory may be playing a trick on me) in this place in the Greek-English Liturgikon published by Narthex Press (which is very nice, by the way).

In the Holy Transfiguration Monastery Prayer Book (which I generally prefer), instead of a theotokion is simply this supplication: “By the intercession, O Lord, of all the Saints and the Theotokos, do Thou grant us Thy peace and have mercy on us, since Thou alone art compassionate.” I contacted the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, and received a prompt reply from Fr Parthenius there, stating that in the typica, such minor variations are many. Their choice has been to find the usage in older, reputable sources, and to follow those. (He didn’t know the specifics in this case.) This is a very helpful and illuminating answer, and a comforting one. So, the HTM Prayer Book’s usage is certainly an old one.

Our brand new priest (new for us, that is) is having these prayers read after the Liturgy, which is a very welcome practice! (Now we’ll just have to get people used to staying for them, rather than rushing off to the coffee hour!) He’s using the Antiochian Liturgikon, which is a nice translation, but I think with a little searching, I’ll be able to find the HTM version of Προστασια των Χριστιανων so that I can simply use my little HTM Prayer Book to follow along and/or read (we read them in English, I should have mentioned). In any case, I’m happy for these prayers now becoming a regular part of our parish life. I certainly had not been consistent at all in praying them, though I really wanted to be. Now I have that opportunity, and we can do it all together, like one of those beautifully admirable Russian parishes!

Another new thing will be a Paraklisis every Wednesday evening followed by a Bible Study, starting next week. What a great thing that’ll be! Next thing you know, we’ll have a whole mess o’ services all week, and I’ll be happy as a clam.

3 Replies to “Interesting difference in prayers”

  1. What a lovely practice that is, and how it fills me with joy that you now have the opportunity of hear (and sometimes read!) these prayers in Church!

    I should like to note, however, that what is usually printed under the heading of “Prayers of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion” in the prayer books is actually a composite of the aforesaid prayers and the prayers appointed before leaving the Church. The Prayers of Thanksgiving properly so called are only the triple “Glory to Thee, O God” and the following five prayers, and from “Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace” to the Dismissal we have the order of prayers before leaving the Church. As Father Parthenios correctly notes, there is wide variety in monastic and other local typika as to which troparia and kontakia are read (not, I should add, sung) before leaving the Church, though the Troparion, Glory, Kontakion, Both Now, Theotokion order is pretty close to standard most everywhere (but note that the HTM prayer book adds another, very interesting order when these prayers are read in Church, which is patterned after the order of the Troparia and Kontakia chanted at Liturgy according to the Sabbaitic Typikon).

  2. Thank you very much for this! As we discussed on the phone, this clarifies it entirely. It’s exactly at the transition point that the differences occur. The post-communion prayers proper are the first part, which are really only the priests prayers for finishing the remaining Body and Blood in the skeuophylakion. The repetition of the dismissal prayers is logical. What else would one do when about to leave the skeuophylakion? (And being a good Greek boy, I know you know that the -eu- is -ef-).

    Now I’m just wondering why they chose (in the Antiochian Bishop Basil’s Liturgikon) the theotokion that’s proper for precisely this season (from the Apodosis of Holy Cross to November 7) or alternately the kontakion for 13 September for that spot. The HTM option seems a better fit, though, a supplication (probably taken from the end of a liti somewhere) rather than a “loose kontakion” or one that is “out of season”. Those must’ve been established at some point. I’ll continue to look into it and to ask around.

    In any case, dear readers, the order indicated in the HTM rubrics that Esteban and I mentioned above is as follows (properly rubricated!):
    When, however, the Prayers of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion are to be read aloud in church, then the reader sait the following after the Our Father:

    First, if it be the Lord’s Day, the Resurrection Dismissal Hymn of the tone of the week.

    Then the Dismissal Hymn of the current major feast, if one is being celebrated.

    Then the Dismissal Hymn of the Saint of the church. (Note that if the church is named in honour of a Feast of the Master or of the Theotokos, its Dismissal Hymn is omitted when a major feast is celebrated.)

    Then the Dismissal Hymn(s) of the Saint(s) of the day.

    Then the Dismissal Hymn of the Saint whose Divine Liturgy was celebrated (see above).

    Then, if it be the Lord’s Day, the Resurrection Kontakion of the tone of the week.

    Then the Kontakion of the current major feast, if one is being celebrated.

    The Kontakion of the Saint of the church. (Note here also that if the church is named in honour of a Feast of the Master or of the Theotokos, its Kontakion is omitted when a major feast is celebrated.)

    Then the Kontakion (Kontakia) of the Saint(s) of the day.

    Then the Kontakion of the Saint whose Divine Liturgy was celebrated (see above).

    So, even these are logical, and based on a coherent usage: troparia for their proper hierarchy followed by kontakia in their proper hierarchy. Very interesting!

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