GlossaryAmbon – a raised platform before the holy doors, usually in the form of a half circle.
Anamnesis – literally “remembrance;” the remembrance of God’s works of salvation expressed in the Anaphora, following the words of institution and before the Epiklesis.
Anaphora – the great prayer of thanksgiving at the heart of the Divine Liturgy; this prayer
includes a remembrance of the saving command and acts of Christ and an invocation of the Holy
Antiphon – a psalm sung with a composed refrain.
Bow – an inclination of the head at the shoulders while making the sign of the cross; a profound
bow includes the extending of the hand to the knees or to the ground.
Canon – a poetical composition of nine odes, each made up of several troparia; it is sung at
Matins and at other services; the theme of each ode is taken from a corresponding biblical
Catechumen – a person undergoing official preparation for baptism.
Cherubikon – a hymn sung at the Great Entrance.
Departed, Liturgies for the – services that include hymns and petitions specifically for the faithful
departed; such propers of the liturgy are not included on Saturday evenings, Sundays, on great
feasts, and throughout Bright Week.
Divine Liturgy – the title generally given to the Eucharistic liturgy.
Dogmatikon – a sticheron sung to the Mother of God at the end of the Lamp-Lighting Psalms,
composed on the theme of the dogma of the Incarnation.
Enarxis – the beginning of the Divine Liturgy including the great incensation, the Litany of Peace,
and the antiphons.
Entrance Hymn – the final verse of the Third Antiphon, usually Psalm 94:6 that is sung at the
Little Entrance with the gospel book; on feasts of our Lord, Psalm 94:6 is replaced by another
psalm verse proper to the feast.
Epiklesis – the invocation of the Holy Spirit during the Anaphora of the Divine Liturgy asking God
to change the elements of bread and wine as well as the faithful who will partake of the body and
blood of Christ.
Eucharist – literally “thanksgiving;” a general term for the Divine Liturgy and for the gifts of
Christ’s body and blood that are received.
Great Entrance – a procession through the northern door and the holy doors with the gifts of
bread and wine about to be consecrated.
Great Incensation – the incensation of the entire church including the holy table, the sanctuary,
the icon screen, the icons throughout the church, the faithful, and those serving in the sanctuary.
Holy Doors – the central doors of the icon screen on which are depicted icons of the
Annunciation and/or the four evangelists.
Holy Table – the table of sacrifice in the center of the sanctuary; on the holy table are the
tabernacle, the gospel book, and the hand cross; beneath the gospel book is kept the
antimension on which the gifts of bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ.
Hymn of the Incarnation – the theological troparion to Christ, beginning “O only-begotten Son,”
usually sung at the end of the Second Antiphon; attributed to the Emperor Justinian (527-565).
Icon Screen – the screen adorned with holy icons, joining the sanctuary to the nave; the holy
doors are in the center; the northern door and the southern door are also called “deacons’
Irmos – the initial stanza of an ode in the Canon of Matins connecting a biblical hymn to the
celebration of the day; the irmos of the Ninth Ode of the Canon replaces “It is truly proper” on
Kontakion – a hymn sung after the troparion or troparia of the Divine Liturgy; this hymn is taken
from the Canon of Matins and expresses poetically the theme of the day’s commemoration.
Lamb – the square central portion of the Eucharistic bread sealed with the letters IC XC NIKA
(“Jesus Christ Conquers”); John the Baptist points to Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29,36).
Lamp-Lighting Psalms – the central psalms of Vespers; Psalms 140, 141, 129, 116.
Leave-taking – the final day of the extended celebration of a great feast on which the proper
hymns of the feast are repeated.
Litany – a series of petitions generally proposed by the deacon with a short congregational
Little Entrance – a procession through the northern door and the holy doors with the holy gospel
Magnification – a hymn glorifying the feast or saint of the day; in the Divine Liturgy, it usually
begins with Mary’s words “Extol, O my soul” (cf. Luke 1:46) and precedes the Irmos.
Matins – the principal morning liturgical service of the Church.
Mirovanije – literally “anointing with oil;” the practice of anointing the congregation with olive oil
and the distribution of bread that were blessed at Vespers for certain feasts.
Moleben – a devotional prayer service that includes portions of Matins; a brief Moleben for
general intentions is included in this book.
Narthex – literally “small case;” also called the “vestibule,” a room of transition from leaving the
world to entering the nave; special hymns and petitions at Vespers for certain feasts and rituals
for catechumens are offered in the narthex.
Nave – literally “ship;” the main body of the temple between the narthex and the sanctuary where
the faithful gather to worship.
Panachida – literally “all night;” a brief memorial service for the deceased, derived from the
longer wake service of prayer and psalmody that was offered throughout the night in the
presence of the bodily remains; it may be sung at a funeral, at the anniversary of a death, or at
any other appropriate occasion.
Pascha – literally “Passover;” the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; this
term is also used to designate the 40-day season of celebration which begins on the Sunday of
Resurrection and concludes on the day before Ascension Thursday.
Pentecostarion – a liturgical book containing the proper hymns for Vespers, Matins, and other
services throughout Pascha and to the Sunday of All Saints; this term is also used to designate
the 50-day period from the Sunday of Resurrection to Pentecost Sunday.
Pre-feast – a day or days of vigil that have proper hymns before a great feast.
Post-feast – a day or days that have proper hymns extending the celebration of a great feast.
Prokeimenon – literally “placed before;” a verse, usually from the Psalms, sung as a refrain with
one, two, or three verses of the same psalm.
Sanctuary – the “holy of holies;” the area of the church that includes the holy table and the table
of preparation, designated by the icon screen; also called the “altar.”
Sticheron – literally “verse;” a generic term for ecclesiastical hymns sung alternately with psalm
verses, particularly at the Lamp-lighting Psalms of Vespers and the Psalms of Praise at Matins.
Table of Preparation – a table at the north side of the sanctuary on which the gifts of bread and
wine are prepared for the Eucharistic sacrifice.
Theotokion – a liturgical hymn in honor of the Theotokos.
Theotokos – literally “birth-giver of God;” the main title of the Ever-virgin Mary, Mother of God,
defined at the Council of Ephesus in 431.
Triodion – a liturgical book containing the proper hymns for Vespers, Matins, and other services
from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee to Holy and Great Saturday.
Troparion – literally “refrain;” at the Divine Liturgy, a hymn that concludes the Third Antiphon;
this hymn expresses the theme of the day’s commemoration; it is also sung at Vespers and
Typical Psalms – portions of Psalms 102 and 145 and the Beatitudes (Gospel of Matthew) from
the communion service that occasionally replace the three antiphons at the Divine Liturgy.
Typikon – literally “order;” a guide to the proper celebration of the liturgical services of the
Church; this guide explains what hymns, readings, and rituals are proper in every liturgical
Vespers – the principal evening liturgical service of the Church.
Vigil Divine Liturgy – a Divine Liturgy celebrated on the evening before a feast day or Sunday
using the proper texts of the feast or Sunday.
(This glossary is under construction. Please sent suggestions for additional terms, as well as
any comments or questions, to Plainchanter@gmail.com.