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Creating a Liturgical Library

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The Divine services constitute a treasury of theology and life for all Orthodox Christians. Whilst compiled and formed throughout the ages by men, they were guided by the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church into all truth (cf. John 16:13). Therefore, we do not just believe the divine services are interesting sources of theology, or men's expressions of worship – they are literally inspired by God, in the same way we speak of the Scriptures. They are a source of the Faith and a source of life.

We offer here a list of books for compiling an English language liturgical library, specifically having in mind Russian liturgical practice. The list is subdivided between rubrical guides, service books for the clergy and choir, and commentaries that illuminate the contents of Divine worship:

  1. Rubrical Guides
    1. A Practical Handbook for Divine Services by Fr Gregory Woolfenden. This book thoroughly analyzes modern Russian rubrics for the Divine Liturgies, Vigil, and concelebrations at Liturgy. An explanation of the use of liturgical colors throughout the year is given.
    2. An Abridged Typicon by Feodor Kovalchuk. A thorough examination of Russian liturgical rubrics. Discusses everything, from what kind of flowers may be used in Church, to how to serve Vespers on Holy Friday. In spite of its name, this is one of the most comprehensive liturgical books we know of.
    3. The Order of Divine Services According to the Usage of the Russian Orthodox Church is an invaluable aid in determining the appropriate texts to be used at any service.
  2. Service books (by publisher)
    1. Holy Trinity Publications: essential service books. Includes Clergy Service Book: The Divine LiturgyClergy Service Book: The All-Night Vigil; and for laymen, The Divine Liturgy for Choir and Laity and The All-Night Vigil for Choir and Laity. For a Slavonic and English service book, the Slavonic-English Parallel Text liturgy book is an indispensable resource. The Unabbreviated Horologion is useful for clergy and laymen alike.
    2. St. Tikhon's Monastery Press: A Small Book of Needs, a Trebnik for “in the field” work; the entire Great Book of Needs collection; the upcoming Hieratikon, a totally reworked clergy service book that is both small, visually appealing, and easy to use.
    3. Antakya Press: Though this press publishes service books for use in the Antiochian Orthodox Church, their books are useful for comparison and their inclusion of Russian rubrics. The Liturgikon contains nearly every service in one volume. In addition, the time-tested Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic and Apostolic Church, by Isabel Hapgood, is an invaluable source, containing the liturgies, feasts, and some services from the Trebnik.
  3. Commentaries on Divine Worship
    1. The Divine Liturgy: A Commentary in the Light of the Fathers by Hieromonk Gregorios. A contemporary Athonite monk examines the Divine Liturgy of St. John line by line, even rubric by rubric, explaining their spiritual and historical interpretation. As the title suggests, the Fathers are constantly quoted throughout this work.
    2. Experiences During the Divine Liturgy by Protopresbyter Stephanos K Anagnostopoulos. Examines the Divine Liturgy from a very spiritual perspective, mainly recounting experiences of holy men and women during the divine services. Has many typos, but don't let that stop you from reading its rich content.
    3. The Typikon Decoded by Archbishop Job (Getcha). Written from the perspective of historical development, this work examines the meaning behind the liturgy and all the divine services of the daily cycle. It is unrivaled in its level of detail. It also notes variations between different local Orthodox Churches.

For those who would like to explore further Fr John Whiteford has made available this (http://www.saintjonah.org/services/library.htm) very comprehensive overview.


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