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In the Byzantine Rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic

Churches, Orthros (Greek (, meaning "early dawn" or "daybreak")


or Otrenya (Slavonic ) is the last of the four night offices, which also
include vespers, compline, and midnight office. In traditional monasteries it is held daily so as to end
at sunrise. In many parishes it is held only on Sundays and feast days. It is often called matins after
the office it most nearly corresponds to in Western Christian churches.
Orthros is the longest and most complex of the daily cycle of services. It is normally held in the early
morning, often always in monasteries preceded by the midnight office, and usually followed by
the First Hour. On great feasts it is held as part of an all-night vigil commencing the evening before,
combined with an augmented great vespers and the first hour. In the Russian tradition, an all-night
vigil is celebrated every Saturday evening, typically abridged, however, in spite of its name, to as
short as two hours. In the Greek parish tradition, orthros is normally held just before the beginning of
the divine liturgy on Sunday and feast day mornings.
The akolouth (fixed portion of the service) is composed primarily of psalms and litanies.
The sequences (variable parts) of matins are composed primarily of hymns and canons from
the octoechos (an eight-tone cycle of hymns for each day of the week, covering eight weeks), and
from the menaion (hymns for each calendar day of the year). During great lent and some of the
period preceding it, some of the portions from the octoechos and menaion are replaced by hymns
from the triodion and during the paschal season with material from the pentecostarion. On Sundays
there is also a gospel reading and corresponding hymns from the eleven-part cycle of resurrectional
gospels.

Contents
[hide]

1Outline
2Types of orthros
o 2.1Basic forms
o 2.2Special forms
3See also
4Notes
5External links

Outline[edit]
All of the psalms used herein are numbered according to the Septuagint, which is the official
version of the Old Testament used by the Byzantine Rite. To find the
corresponding KJV numbering, see the article Kathisma.

Matins usually opens with what is called the "Royal Beginning", so called because the
psalms (19 and 20) speak of a king. The royal beginning is not used in Greek parish
practice; also, it is omitted at all-night vigil. During Paschal season it is replaced by
the paschal troparion sung thrice):
The priest's opening blessing: Blessed is our God ..., reader: Amen. and the usual
beginning.
Psalms 19 and 20, during which the priest performs a full censing of the temple (church
building and worshippers).
Glory... Both now... and the trisagion prayers.
The Royal troparia:
A brief litany by the priest (not the deacon as is usual for litanies)
Ekphonesis by the priest: Glory to the holy, consubstantial, life-giving and undivided
trinity, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages
The Six Psalms (3, 37, 62, 87, 102, and 142),[note 1] during which the priest says twelve silent
prayers: six in front of the Holy Table (altar), and six in front of the Holy Doors
The Litany of Peace (also known as the Great Litany)
God is the Lord ... and the apolytikion (troparion of the day)
The Psalter (either two or three sections, depending upon the liturgical season). For each
section the following order is followed:
The kathisma (section from the Psalter)
The Little Litany
The sessional hymns (Greek: kathismata, Slavonic: sedalen)
On Sundays: Evlogetaria (Blessed are you, O Lord, teach me your statutes)
The Little Litany
On Sundays and Feast Days:
The Hypako is chanted to prepare for the message of the Gospel reading
The Anavathmoi ("hymns of ascent") based on Psalms 119-133, called the Song of
Degrees)
The Prokeimenon
The order of the Matins Gospel
On Sundays, and every day during Paschal season: Choir: Having beheld the
Resurrection of Christ ...
Psalm 50
Sundays and Feast Days: Glory ..., both now ... and a hymn
Sundays, Feast Days and Lenten Days, the petition: O God, save your people and bless
your inheritance ..."
The canon:
First through third odes
Little Litany
Sessional hymns
Fourth through sixth odes
Little Litany
Kontakion and oikos
Synaxarion (commemorating the saints of the day)
Seventh and eighth Odes
Ninth ode, on most days preceded by the Magnificat, during which the
deacon censes the church
Little Litany
On Sundays, Holy is the Lord our God, three times
The exapostilaria (hymns related to the day's gospel, or the day's feast)
The lauds (Greek: Ainoi, praises): Psalms 148, 149, 150; stichera are interspersed between
the final verses on days the great doxology is sung,
The ending:
The doxastikon (the glory hymn), when chanted properly in Byzantine music is the longest,
and usually the richest, hymn of the service.
Sundays and feast days: the Great Doxology is chanted, followed by the apolytikion, the
two litanies and the dismissal
Weekdays: the Small Doxology is read, followed by the first litany, the aposticha, It is
good to give praise unto the Lord..., the trisagion sequence followed by the apolytikion,
and the second litany (there is no dismissal)
The First Hour
In very traditional monasteries, readings from the Church Fathers are read after each of the
sessional hymns.

Types of orthros[edit]
There are seven types of Matins:

Basic forms[edit]
Sunday orthrosThe longest of the regular orthros services - Gospel Reading and Great
Doxology. If this service is celebrated in its entirety it can last up to six hours but is typically
abridged.
Daily orthrosCelebrated on most weekdays - No gospel reading, Small Doxology.
Feast-day orthrosVery similar to Sunday orthros, excluding those parts which are strictly
resurrectional in nature - gospel reading and Great Doxology.
Special forms[edit]
Lenten orthrosWeekdays during great lent, the Wednesday and Friday of Cheesefare
Week, and, optionally when there is no divine liturgy, on the weekdays of the lesser fasting
seasons (Nativity Fast, Apostles' Fast and Dormition Fast). The service follows the order of
daily orthros but with penitential material added (hymns and prayers), most days have three
kathismata from the Psalter, "God is the Lord" is replaced by "Lenten Alleluia" (from which
fact these days are identified as "days with Alleluia"). The petition: "O God, save your people
and bless your inheritance ..." is read by the priest. There is no gospel reading. The Small
Doxology is read and there is special lenten ending of the service, including the Prayer of St.
Ephraim.
Great and Holy Friday Orthros Twelve Passion Gospels are interspersed throughout the
service; Antiphons are used between the Gospels (these originated in a different office).
Great and Holy Saturday OrthrosLamentations are chanted around the epitaphios,
interspersed between the verses of Psalm 118. Contains some elements of the old cathedral
office: reading of three pericopes (lessons from the Old Testament, epistle and Gospel) at
the end - Great Doxology followed by the procession with epitaphios.
Paschal orthrosCelebrated during Bright Week, from the Sunday of Pascha (Easter)
through Bright Saturday. The service is vastly different from the rest of the year; only
the ektenias, canon (the canticles of which are omitted) and lauds are the same; everything
else, including the psalms, are replaced by special paschal hymns. The priest vests fully in
his eucharistic vestments on the Sunday of Pascha and wears a phelonion throughout the
week. There is no doxology at all.