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Question 118.


Greeting with the journey of Great Lent!
Father, I have a persistent question that begs to be asked, and now during Great Lent, it is even more pressing:
During Great Lent, on the Third Hour, we say the troparion: "Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, who hast made the fishermen wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit.......". And on the Sixth Hour we say the troparion : "Thou O Christ God has worked salvation in the midst of the earth, Thou hast stretched out Thou Most pure hands upon the Cross..."
Now, these troparia bring to mind the saving events of our Saviour's sojourning on earth; the Third Hour indicates the descent of the Holy spirit on the Apostles, likewise the Sixth Hour commemorated the Crucifixion, how come these troparia were removed from these canonical hours outside of Lent? When did this happen?
It is interesting that the troparion of the Ninth hour was left untampered with during Great Lent and outside of it!
Any help is appreciated.
Asking for your prayer
Michael A.

Answer to Question 118.


Dear Michael,
During Great Lent it is forbidden to celebrate the Divine Liturgy on weekdays. The rubrics say clearly that under no circumstances can the Divine Liturgy be celebrated in Lent Monday through Friday, with only one exception – the Feast of the Annunciation. This is because of Great Lent's character and atmosphere which calls for a period of deep mourning and fasting, a period of sadness. In Orthodox tradition, the celebration of the Eucharist has always preserved its festal and joyful character. Is it the sacrament of Christ’s coming and presence among his disciples and therefore a celebration of the Resurrection. But it is also the celebration of the Wedding banquet of the New Kingdom, the feast that we will partake of at the Second Coming of Christ. Every time the Church celebrates the Eucharist she transcends to the heavenly kingdom and we find ourselves standing with Christ after the General Resurrection. If we are with Christ then how can we fast? Did he not say that the “Children of the Kingdom cannot fast while the Bridegroom is with them.” One understands then why the Eucharist is incompatible with Great Lent, incompatible with fasting. Great lent is the period of our pilgrimage: we are on our way to return to the heavenly kingdom, we haven’t reach there yet, let alone celebrate as though we are sitting around the Great Table laden with the fatted calf.
In spite of this understanding, Holy Communion is still distributed to the faithful during the fasting days at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. This is not a Liturgy in the normal sense where the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Basically all that we do is distribute to the faithful, the holy Gifts which have been consecrated on the previous Saturday or Sunday. That is why the service is called the Presanctified. On the previous Saturday or Sunday the Priest takes out an extra Lamb from a different prosphoron (bread) than the one used for the day. After the consecration of the Gifts he takes this extra Lamb and dips it into the Blood and then places it in a special container to be saved for its use on the Wednesday or Friday during the service of the Presanctified.
Because we do not celebrate the Liturgy during weekdays of Great Lent we do not celebrate saints whose feasts fall on the weekdays. Thus, because we do not celebrate saint's feasts during these days, the Apolytikion and Kontakion hymns of the saint of each day are replaced with hymns appropriate with the character of Lent.
With the services of the Hours there are two places in each Hour where the hymns to the saint of the day is to be read outside of Lent, but because of the reason already mentioned these are replaced with Lenten hymns. This applies for all the Hours even the Ninth hour which you say was left untampered with.
Let's see where these changes are made. After the reading of the Psalms of each Hour the rubrics (the words in small print often in red) assign that the Apolytikion Hymn of the saint is to be read. From what I've seen of translations of the Hours in English online the rubrics are not written in which would account for you thinking that certain Troparia have been removed. The first rubrics of the First Hour after the psalms say that if we sing "God is the Lord and hath appeared unto us" which is sung at Matins after the Six Psalms and indicates that a (saints) feast can be celebrated then we sing "Glory" followed by the Apolytikion Hymn of the day (Saint) then "Now and forever" and "What shall we call thee, O full of grace". But if we sing "Alleluia" meaning that we are in a period when a feast cannot be celebrated like the weekdays of Great Lent then we sing instead of the hymn of the day the following: "Hear my voice in the morning, O my King and my God" sung three times with the appropriate verses then "Glory...Now and forever... ""What shall we call thee, O full of grace". Again after the "Trisagion and the Lord's prayer" the rubrics say that: if we do not sing "Alleluia" then the Kontakion Hymn of the saint or the feast is read. but if Alleluia is sung then the following: On Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday: "The Most glorious Mother of God..." On Wednesday and Friday: "Hasten to our aid before we be enslaved..."
The same applies to all the Hours.
At the Third Hour after the psalms the hymn of the saint or feast is sung outside of lent followed by the Theotokion " O Theotokos; thou art the true vine..." or during Lent the following: "O Lord, who didst send down Thy Most-holy Spirit at the third hour upon Thine apostles..." with the appropriate verses followed by the Theotokion "O Theotokos; thou art the true vine..." and "Blessed is the Lord God, blessed is the Lord day by day...". After the Trisagion the Kontakion hymn of the feast, but in Lent we say " Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God..."
At the Sixth Hour after the psalms the hymn of the saint or feast is sung outside of lent then the Trisagion followed by the Kontakion hymn of the feast, but in Lent after the psalms we say: "O Thou Who on the sixth day and in the sixth hour..." with the appropriate verses followed by "Glory...Now and forever" and the Theotokion "Seeing that we have no boldness on account of our many sins..." and "Let Thy compassions quickly go before us, O Lord". After the Trisagion "Thou hast wrought salvation in the midst of the earth..."
At the Ninth Hour the hymn of the saint or feast is sung outside of lent then the Trisagion followed by the Kontakion hymn of the feast, but in Lent after the psalms we say: " O Thou Who at the ninth hour for our sake didst taste of death in the flesh..." with the appropriate verses followed by "Glory...Now and forever" and the Theotokion: "O Good One, Who for our sake wast born of a Virgin..." and "Deliver us not up utterly, for Thy holy name's sake...". After the Trisagion "Seeing the author of life hanging on the Cross..." "Glory... In the midst of two thieves..." "Now and forever... When she who bare the Lamb and Shepherd and Saviour of the world beheld Him on the Cross..."
Thus without the guidance of the rubrics it is indeed confusing which hymns are to be read. I don't have the Hours on my website other than the Ninth Hour so I suppose my next project is to translate these into English with the appropriate rubrics.
Hope I have been of help.

With love in Christ
Fr. Christopher