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:
- Rubrical Guides
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- Service books (by publisher)
- Holy Trinity Publications:
essential service books. Includes Clergy Service Book: The Divine Liturgy, Clergy 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Commentaries on Divine Worship
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
For those who would like to explore
further Fr John Whiteford has made available this
very comprehensive overview.