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Aer – the large veil used to cover both the chalice and the diskos. Aer is Greek for air. One might speculate that it is so called from its use during the chanting of the Creed at the Liturgy when the celebrant “airs” it over the gifts, symbolic of the hovering of the Holy Spirit over the gifts. During the bishop’s Divine Liturgy, concelebrating priests hold the aer over the bishop’s head, symbolizing the oneness of faith in the Holy Spirit.

Ahnets (Slavonic for lamb) – it refers to the large bread or host prepared for the Eucharist at the Liturgy. It is stamped with a seal with the Greek letters: IC, XC, NIKA, meaning Jesus Christ conquers.

Akathistos Hymn – a poetic composition extolling the Mother of God. During the Great Fast this hymn is chanted in part with the Office of Little Compline on the Fridays of the first, second, third and fourth weeks of the Great Fast. The entire hymn is sung on the Friday evening of the fifth week of the Great Fast. Thus, the fifth Suturday of the Great Fast is called Akathistos Saturday. The word Akathistos is derived from the Greek verm meaning “not to sit.” Hence, during the singing of this hymn one stands. Today the Akathistos Hymn is comprised of an introductory Kontakion (a much later addition) followed by 12 kontakia and 12 ikosi which are chanted. The kontakia contain a short reference to an event in the life of the Blessed Virgin and each ikos contains 12 poetic exclamations lauding the Mother of God. The kontakia end with the chanting of Alleluia, and each ikos ends with the refrain: Hail, O Bride and virgin undefiled. The 12 kontakia and 12 ikosi are 24 hymns in all (one for each letter of the Greek alphabet). The religious mind of the peoples of Rus’ have composed many other Akathista honoring the Cross, Saint Nicholas and many others. In 1905 the monks of Saint Basil the Great published a volume with 25 Akathista (second edition) in Church Slavonis. In 1911 a professor at the Greek Catholic Seminary in Presov, Father John Kizak, compiled a similar volume of 22 Akathista in Church Slavonic.

Alleluia – Hebrew for Praise the Lord.

Alleluiarion – refers to the Alleluia together with a psalm refrain and a psalm verse called stichos. One might refer to the Alleluia of the day, the Alleluia of the tone or the Alleluia of the feast.

Amen (Hebrew so may it be) – it is used to affirm or confirm a truth or a promise of God. It is used at the conclusion of prayers to affirm the praise we give to God. It is used as a sign of the fulfillment of God’s promise. It generally ends all prayers.

Amvon – the elevated half circle reaching out into the church nave. It is that part of the solea from which the deacon chants the ekteniya and reads the Gospel. The priest preaches the homily from the amvon. According to Saint Herman, Partiarch of Constantinople, it signifies the stone which sealed the Lord’s grave, which the angel removed and from which same stone the myrrh bearing women proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Traditionally, only priestts and deacons, who represent the angels, ascend the amvon. Subdeacons and readers do not ascend the amvon, but only the step before it.

Amvon of the Hierarch – an elevation usually with two steps reaching out into the very middle of the church. In the church books it is called the place of vesting or the place of preparation. On this amvon the bishop is cested, celebrates Moleben, Panakhida, etc. At the Divine Liturgy the bishop remains there until the Little Entrance. A seat is placed on the amvon for the bishop. It is called katedra. Here the bishop is seated at times, notably during the chanting of the Hours.

Analogion (to read) – this is a stand about five feet in height, with a slopped top, covered with the cloth, used for readings or for an icon or the Book of Gospels when placed in the church’s nave for veneration by the faithful.

Anamnesis (to cause to remember; the means for causing someone to remember; a reminder) – the moment of the anaphora which commemorates the ever present sacrifice of Christ at the throne of God the Father: Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension and glorification. The saving action of the Lord Jesus is not merely a moment locked into past history, but rather it is the ever present, continuing offering to the Father in which we are priviledged to participate. It is this reality which enables us to partake of the sacred mysteries of his precious Body and Blood.

Anaphora (offering and relation in the sense of narrative) – it refers to that part of the Divine Liturgy wherein we praise the Father and bring to mind the redemptive work of JEsus Christ, the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the memory of Christ by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit of bread and wine into his Body and Blood. One may compare this term to the corresponding term canon of the Roman Mass.

Antidoron (instead of the gift) – antidoron refers to the unconsecrated bread distributed to the faithful at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy. The Slavs sdobped the word, hence, Antidor in Slavonic.

Antimension – in Greek it literally means that which takes the place of the table. The Antimension is a piece of cloth (about 10″ X 18″) depicting the burial scene of JEsus Christ. Relics of saints are enclosed in it. The bishop takes care to consecrate the antimensia for the needs of the churches on Holy Thursday. An antimension is placed on the center of the holy table (altar) direcly under the Book of Gospels. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated on it. Its purpose is to make an altar out of any unconsecrated table.

Antiphon – in Greek it literally means against the voice. It refers to the psalm text in the Liturgy, but more so to the manner in which it is sung, namely, in two choirs or two sides of the church alternating the verses. There are different types of antiphons. At the Divine Liturgy the typical psalms are often sung. These antiphons are called typical because they typify the Savior. These are Psalm 102 and Psalm 145. The Beatitudes are included here as being typical because in them Christ promises happiness in the keeping of his teachings.

At the Office of Orthros or Utrenya (the Morning Office), we sing antiphons that are called gradual (in Slavonic steppenny) in honor of the Trinity. These are taken from the 15 psalms (Psalm 119-133). These antiphons precede the reading of the Gospel at the Morning Office on Sundays and Holy Days.

Apodosis (giving back; Slavonic – otdanije) – the last day of the postfeast on which the feast closes. The office of the feast is repeated in varying degrees on this day.

Apolysis (dismissal; Slavonic – otpust) – it is the concluding prayer said by the celebrant at the Divine Liturgy as well as at other divine services.

Apolytikion (dismissal hymn) – this is the troparion of the day occuring at the end of the Office of Vespers. It is the same as the troparion of the day or of the feast, but is so termed here because of its position in the vesper service. On major feast days the apolytikion is sung as follows:

1. three times at the end of Vespers before the blessing of the bread, wheat, wine and oil, during which the priest incenses the tetrapod (or table) on which the above items are placed.

2. Three times at the beginning of the Morning Office before the Great Doxology.

4. At the Divine Liturgy after the Little Entrance (or during the Little Entrance with psalm verses when the feast has its own antiphons).

5. At Great Compline and at the Hours.

Aposticha (Slavonic – stikhiry na stikhovne) – stikhera accompanied by verses (stichoi) taken from the psalms. These are taken at the end of Vespers on feasts as well as on ordinary days and at the end of the Morning Office on ordinary days when the Great Doxology is not sung.

Apostoios (apostle) – in church books it refers to the actual book containing the letters (epistles) of the New Testament. Thus, one will note in this book, during the Liturgy, the word Apostle refers to the reading itself. In churches of the western tradition, the word epistle is used because the readings at the Mass are from other books of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, whereas in the Byznatine Churches the readings at the Divine Liturgy are solely from the letters of the New Testament which were penned by apostles.

Aprakos – in Greek usage it is a book of gospels in which the readings from the Sacred Scriptures appear in the order in which they are read beginning with the fest of Pascha.

Artopharion – the tavernacle wherein the Holy Gifts are reserved for the sick and for the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.

Artos (the old Greek word for bread) -the artos refers to that round loaf of bread blessed at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy on Pascha. It is covered with a round plate on which an icon of the resurrected Lord is depicted. It is placed on the tetrapod or on an analogion (stand) in the center of the church. The faithful venerate the icon on the artos on Pascha and all throughout the Week of Light. On the Saturday of the Week of Light it is broken and distributed to the faithful. It reminds us of the presence of the Lord with his disciples and his appearances to them in the days folowing his resurrection.

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Canon – a series of nine canticles, each with an irmos and a number of troparia. The canon is sung at the Morning Office. The nine canticles are based on the nine songs of sacred Scripture:

  • The Song of Moses (Exodus 15, 1-19)
  • Another Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32, 1-43)
  • The Prayer of Hannah (1 Kings or 1 Samuel 2, 1-10)
  • The Prayer of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3, 1-19)
  • The prayer of Isaiah (Isaiah 26, 9-20)
  • The Prayer of Jonah (Jonah 2, 3-10)
  • The Prayer of the three holy children (Daniel 3, 26-56)
  • The Song of the Theotokos (Luke 1, 46-55) and the Prayer of Zachariah (Luke 1, 68-79)

Catechumens – literally, those who are being catechized, i.e. under instruction in the truths of the faith.

Cherubicon – the hymn of the cherubim sung at the Divine Liturgy. Although its words are few, over the centuries all the music to which it has been set is more lengthy than any other hymn. This is so in order to accomodate the time needed to perform the liturgical actions that take place during its singing, namely, the long prayer of the priest celebrant, the incensing of the entire church, and at the bishop’s liturgy, the completion of the prayers of the proskomedia at the prothesis. The sprint of the East does not tolerate quiet moments at official services of communal prayer. It seems that at one time it served as a refrain of Psalm 23, The earth is the Lord’s… before the Great Entrance. This is the psalm that describes the Lord’s solemn entrance into Sion.
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Diakonikon – a small table on the southern wall of the sanctuary where sacred vessels were kept in ancient times. Today, church books prescribe that the prinest vest there. The table is called diakonikon because of its being situated near the deacon’s southern door of the iconostasis.

Diptychs (derived from the Greek word meaning double) – the two conjoined tablets on which the names of the living and the dead are written for commemoration in the Divine Liturgy. In a transferred sense, it may mean simply the commemoration of the living and the dead.

Diskos (Greek for tray) – a small circular dish with a stand used to hold the bread that is used at the celebration of the Eucharist.

Dogmatikon – a term used for the eight theotokia sung at the entrance during Great Vespers. They are so termed because of their content, that is, the dogmas concerning the two natures in Christ and how these bear on the person of the Virgin Mary.

Doxastikon (glory) – a troparion or sticheron inserted after the verse: Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. On many occasions no doxastikon is prescribed, in which case the second half of the Glory: now and for ever and ever. Amen, follows immediately upon the first.

Doxology (Slavonic – slavoslovije) – in general, this can refer to any prayer glorifying God. It is used specifically, however, to refer to an ancient prayer chanted or sung at the Morning Office’s end. It begins with the words: Glory to God in the highest. Originally there were two separate hymns, now fused together, but joined differently in their great and little forms.

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Eisodikon (vkhidne) – an entrance hymn. It specifically refers to the verse chanted at the Little Entrance of the Divine Liturgy after the deacon intones: Wisdom, be attentive!

Ekphonesis (Slavonic – vozhlas) – the raising of the priest’s voice to sing aloud the end of certain prayers he was praying in a low voice.

Ekteniya (litany) – the Divine Liturgy acknowledges four such main litanies: the Ekteniya of peace (Myrna Ekteniya) or the Great Ekteniya (Velyka Ekteniya), chanted at the very beginning of the Divine Liturgy; the Small Ekteniya (Mala Ekteniya), the Ekteniya of the Fervent Supplication (Suhubaya Ekteniya) and the Ekteniya of Supplication (Prokhalna Ekteniya).

Epiclesis (Greek for invocation) – it refers to the prayer during the Divine Liturgy in which the priest prays God to send his Holy Spirit to change the gifts of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ and the faithful present into the Mystical Body of Christ.

Epigonation (Greek for over the thigh) – part of the priest’s vestment worn with the blessing of the bishop denoting an honor conferred on archimandrites, hegumens, protopresbyters and others.

Epitrachelion – the stole worn over the neck and shoulders and covering the front of the person of the priest. It is symbolic of the grace of the Holy Spirit flowing upon and from him. On the part at the back of the beck is a cross to remind the priest of the cross he is to carry and also of the mysteries he accomplishes in the Spirit flowing from the Cross of Christ. The priest wears this part of the vestment every time he officiates at a divine service.

Exapteryga (six winged) – these are the liturgical fans which are set upon the end of staffs. They are so termed because the figure of the seraph appears upon them. They are carried in procession, especially at the pontifical services; in particular, they are held over the Gospel while it is being proclaimed in the course of Matins or the Divine Liturgy, over the Holy Gifts at the Great Entrance in the Divine Liturgy, and they are carried in procession before the Holy Cross in September 14.

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Greek Chant – this is the name given to a particular type of church music in the Church of Rus’. It is divided into two parts: unlined or staffless in used from the end of the 11th century up to the 14th century; and staffed notation used from the middle of the 17th century to present. The former remains undeciphered and is a matter for scholarly research. The latter form of Greek Chant originated and flourished in the 17th century in that territory which is now Ukraine. One of its chief proponents was a deacon named Meletius. In 1655 the Russian Czar Alexius Michailovich summoned him to instruct singers in this chant. Patriarch Nikon was a supporter of this movement. Characteristic of Greek chant is its vivacity, freshness of religious spirit, free flowing melody, light tempo and soft suitability to church services.

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Icon (Greek – image) – a flat painted sacred picture, sometimes covered with embossed metal except over the arms and face. The painting of icons has a theology of its own.

Iconostasis – the wall of icons separating the sanctuary from the main body of the church.

Idiomelon – literally in Greek it means a hymn having a special melody peculiar to itself. In Slavonic it is called samohlasny. Since we have lost the original significance of the tone (hlas), idiomela now serve as a model for singing hymns (stichera). There are eight idiomela models.

Ileton – a cloth used to enfold to enfold the antimension. When the antimension is placed beneath the indition, it is left on the holy table under the Gospel Book.

Indiction (Latin – indictio – setting as of a date; awarding as of a pension or scholarship; prescription as of medicine) – the Roman name of September 1. In greek and Slavic church books indiction means the beginning of the new year.

Indition (to dress) – the outer cloth on the altar. It should always be of a bright color and good quality.

Irmos (a chain or a link) – a little applied to the opening stanza in each canticle of the canon. In the original Greek text, all the remaining troparia or stanzas in the canticle follow the same rhythmic pattern of the irmos. In content it acts as a link-verse, joining together those that follow. The other stanzas in the canticle are called troparia from the Greek verb (trepo) meaning to return. The Troparia “return” or turn back to the irmos for their length, their tone and train of thought.

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Katapetasma (curtain; Slavonic – zavisa) – it refers to the curtain behind the Holy Doors of the iconostasis.

Katasarkos (Slavonic – katasarka) – it is the name given to the cloth immediately touching the holy table. The word means incorrupt, being a reference to the cloth that covered the incorrupt body of Jesus Christ.

Kinonikon (Slavonic – prychasten) – a Communion hymn taken from Sacred Scripture sung at the Divine Liturgy.

Kontakion (a pole) – originally the kontakion was a long poem designed for singing in church. It seems that the text was rolled up on a pole and hence its name. It consisted of a short preliminary stanza and was followed by some 18 to 24 strophes, each known as an ikos. The preliminary stanza and every ikos concluded with the same refrain. In the course of time, the kontakion was replaced by the canon, and in some liturgical books today all that remains, is the short preliminary stanza (to which the term kontakion is now more particularly attached) followed by the first ikos. These are to be found between Canticles Six and Seven of the canon at Matins. The kontakion, without the ikos, is also read or sung at the Divine Liturgy after the Small Entrance and during the Hours. The most celebrated among the authors of kontakia is Saint Romanos the Melodist, who died in 556.

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Liturgy (a public duty or office) – although this term is used to dignify public workship in general, it is used most often for the Eucharistic service, i.e., The Divine Liturgy.

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Mystery (something hidden or a secret; hence, something confined) – the ordinary word for a sacrament.

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Orarion – the long and narrow part of the deacon’s vestment which is worn over the sticharion. The origin of the word is not clear. Some say it comes from latin as (oris) meaning mouth, hence orarium in latin is a long towel worn over the shoulders for the wiping of lips at Holy Communion. Others contend it comes from the latin verb orare meaning to pray. The Greeks say it comes from the Greek word orao (look or notice) since the deacon calls the faithful to be attentive at prayer. Some assert that it is derived from ora (hour; time) since the deacon announces when it is time to offer the sacrifice.

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Panakhida (an all night song) – today it refers to an Office of the dead.

Pentacostarion – the book containing the services for the fifty days from Pascha to the Feast of All Saints which falls on the Sunday after Pentecost Sunday. This book is also called the Flowery Triodion.

Pericope (Slavonic – zachal; literally a cut or a section) – the New Testament is divided into pericopes. For example, Matthew has 116, Mark 71, Luke 114 and John’s Gospel has 67.

Phelonion – in antiquity, the common outer long garment, without sleeves, covering all sides of the body. In the Byzantine tradition it is the outer vestment of the priest.

Polyeleos (From Greek meaning much mercy) – a term applied to Psalms 134 and 135 which constitute the third reading from the psalter at Matins on Great Feasts, on some Sundays in some usages, and on certain saints’ feasts. (Hence, in a transferred sense, polyeleos refers to a class of feasts, designated in this book by the sign +). The two psalms are not sung in full, but only a few verses, with Alleluia being sung after each verse. The term polyeleos arises from the repetition of the word mercy in Psalm 135.

Postfeast (Slavonic – poprazdnenstvo) – the period immediately following a feast, during which the observance of the feast continues. This period varies in length. Some feasts have a posfeast that lasts a week (hence the western term octave), while others have a postfeast for but a day. Pascha has a posfeast of 40 days.

Prayer Behind the Amvon (Slavonic – Zaamvonna Molytva) – this prayer, said in the concluding part of the Divine Liturgy, takes its name from the place where it is read, i.e., behind the amvon in the midst of the congregation. Its content is a summation of some of the inaudible prayers of the Divine Liturgy. It seems that it was intended originally to acquaint the faithful with the content of those prayers.

Prefeast – one or more days of preparation immediately preceeding a feast. Christmas has five days of prefeast and Theophany only four. The remainder of the Great Feasts have a prefeast of one day only.

Presanctified, Liturgy of the – the form of the Liturgy that is celebrated on days in the Great Fast other than Saturday and Sunday. It is combined with Vespers and contains no consecration, communion being given from the Holy Sacrament consecrated on the previous Sunday.

Prokimenon (what is set forth, that is, what is appointed to be read) – verses from the psalter which are sung immediately before the reading from Holy Scripture.

Prophonisimon – this term literally means “a first signal.” It is the term given to the pre-lenten cycle which begins with the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee and concludes with Cheesefare Sunday. We might say the word prophonisimon is the overture to the Great Fast.

Proskomedia (offering) – it refers to that part of the Divine Liturgy where the gifts are prepared. It is called offering, because the faithful in former days offered (brought) the bread and wine for the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Prosphora (offering bread) – the loaf of bread on which is stampted IC XC NIKA (Jesus Christ conquers) used at the Divine Liturgy.

Prothesis – the service of preparation of the bread and wine to be used in the Eucharist. This takes place at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy at a special table on the northern wall of the sanctuary.