Liturgical Books

Theoretically, the liturgy of the Byzantine Rite could be conducted with just two books:  one containing the parts for the priest (and deacon), and one containing the parts for the people (cantors, choir and congregation).  But the sheer size of these books would make them entirely impractical.  This page describes the liturgical books of the Byzantine Rite. The individual books and their contents are described in separate articles.

Service books

Five books contain  the ordinary parts of the service:

Three books contain the Scriptural readings used in the services:
A single book contains all the hymns which recur in an eight-week cycle throughout the year:
Three books contain the parts of the services for the liturgical year:
Finally, the Typikon provides rules for the celebration of each service, what to do when several feasts fall on the same day, and so on.  (At least some knowledge of the Typikon is essential in setting up the services.)

Anthologies and prayer-books

In a monastery or cathedral, where the entire round of services is celebrated daily, all the books described above are required by those who take part in the liturgy.   However, in a parish church or in the home, a book containing only the most important services and the principal feasts may be easier to use.  Such a book is called an Anthologion in Greek, or a Sbornik in Slavonic.  It often contains private prayers and devotions, in addition to strictly liturgical material.

Chant books

In the first millenium, a variety of Greek chant books were used:

The collection of chant books changed slowly among the Slavs, to include the Kontakarion (with all the hymns of the troparion / kontakion variety, such as sessional hymns and communion hymns), and eventually the square-note chantbooks of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.  Like the other liturgical books, the chantbooks often developed into anthologies of assorted material, to meet the needs of particular churches.

Meanwhile, on both sides of the Carpathian Mountains, the melodies which became known as prostopinije were collected into volumes usually entitled Irmologion - hand-written at first, and later printed.  For more information, see Prostopinije Chant Books.

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