The Menaion

The Menaion  is a liturgical book containing the proper hymns and prayers for the saints' feasts and commemorations on the fixed calendar - that is, those which fall on the same date each year.  There is one Menaion volume for each month of the liturgical year, from September to August.  The feasts of the Lord, the Theotokos, and the saints, and the various historical commemorations that make up the fixed calendar, form a counterpoint to the moveable feasts of the Paschal cycle, so that every liturgical year partakes of "both old and new."

Strictly speaking, each volume of this liturgical book is a Menaion, and the entire collection is known as Menaia (Gk. Minaia, from  min, "month"; Slav. Minéya).    But since the directions in the various service books call  for hymns to be taken "from the Menaion", the word for an individual volume has come to refer to the entire collection as well.

Since a full set of Menaia is quite cumbersome, a smaller volume containing only the greater feasts of the fixed calendar is sometimes used instead;   this abridged service book is called a Festal Menaion (Slav. Prázdičnaya Minéya) .

A volume called the General Menaion (Slav. Obščaya Minéya) contains common services for each of the classes of saints. These services can be used for saints not listed in the Menaion, or whose feasts are celebrated with more solemnity than appointed in the calendar (for example, on the feast day of a church's patron saint).

The Menaion normally contains only a very brief account, if any, of the life of each saint or event commemorated.  The stories of the saints and commemorations are contained in the Menologion.

Contents of the Menaion

A Menaion volume contains an entry for each day of the month, with the names of the saints commorated, the class and rank of the commemoration, and the hymns to be used.  Minor feasts may only have a few proper hymns, or a pointer to the common service in the General Menaion, while the entry for a polyeleos- or vigil-rank feast may have several pages of hymns.    

A Festal Menaion will normally include at least those of the Twelve Great Feasts that fall on the fixed calendar:

The Birth of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary  (September 8)
The Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross  (September 14)
The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple  (November 21)
The Nativity of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ  (December 25)
The Holy Theophany of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ  (January 6)
The Meeting of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ with the elder Simeon  (February 2)
The Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos  (March 25)
The Transfiguration of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ  (August 6)
The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos  (August 15)

A Festal Menaion may also contain other great feasts such as September 1, the first day of the liturgical year, and June 29, the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

The General Menaion includes common offices (sets of hymns for each service) for each of the classes of saints:

Common of the Theotokos
Common of a Prophet
Common of an Apostle
Common of two or more Apostles
Common of a Hierarch 
Common of two or more Hierarchs
Common of a Venerable or Fool for Christ
Common of two or more Venerables or Fools for Christ
Common of a Martyr
Common of two or more Martyrs
Common of a Priest-Martyr
Common of two or more Priest-Martyrs
Common of a Venerable Martyr
Common of two or more Venerable Martyrs
Common of a Woman-Martyr
Common of a Venerable Woman-Martyr
Common of two or more Women-Martyrs or Venerable Women-Martyrs
Common of a Venerable Woman
Common or two or more Venerable Women
Common of Confessors
Common of  Unmercenary Healers

("Venerable" as a class of saints refers to monastic saints - monks or nuns.)

The Menaion in Church Slavonic

The Velikij Sbórnik included the materials from the Menaion for Vespers, Matins and the Divine Liturgy for all of the greater feasts in the fixed calendar, as well as a (partial) General Menaion.

No new Menaion was published as part of the Ruthenian reforms of the 1940's;  however, some parts of the General Menaion can be found in the Ruthenian Časoslóv, and the Ruthenian Apostol contains an updated calendar and the hymns of the Divine Liturgy for each saint and commemoration in the fixed calendar.

The Menaion in English

In 1969, Mother Mary and Archimandrite (now Bishop) Kallistos Ware published a ground-breaking Festal Menaion in English, which included outlines of the festal services, and extensive rubrics for the nine Great Feasts on the fixed calendar.

The hymns of the Divine Liturgy for the greater feasts can be found in Msgr. William Levkulic's The Divine Liturgy: A Book of Prayer (1978), and the publications of Monsignor Lekvulic and the Byzantine Seminary Press, taken together, provide much of the hymnody for the great feasts.

In 1985, the Sisters of Saint Basil the Great, Uniontown, Pennsylvania published a Festal Menaion containing thirty-seven feasts, as well as services for several monastic patronal feasts   Like the other Uniontown publications, it has only a bare minimum of rubrics, and canons in particular are usually presented in abbreviated form.  However, because of its broad usefulness, it has become a standard reference in the Byzantine Catholic Church for those parishes celebrating services beyond the Divine Liturgy.

The Metropolitan Cantor Institute has prepared a twelve-volume Menaion for the Divine Liturgy.  Each volume has the month's commemorations from the Ruthenian Apostol, with troparia, kontakia, prokeimena, alleluia and communion hymns, all set to the traditional prostopinije melodies.  The MCI has also prepared texts and music for Matins and Vespers on the greater feasts, and Vespers material for many additional saints whose feast days have fallen on Saturday evenings in the past few years.  Consult the Liturgical Calendar to see which services are available.

A Menaion in monthly volumes, according to the Melkite usage, has been published by Sophia Press.

A complete Menaion in the Great Russian usage is available from Saint John of Kronstadt Press.  The services use Jacobean (King James-style) English, but are exceptionally complete, and are available as both loose-leaf services and bound volumes.

No complete General Menaion has appeared in print in English since Nicholas Orloff's somewhat uneven The General Menaion (1899).  Such a volume is badly needed.

A General Menaion following the Great Russian usage is available on-line, courtesy of St. Sergius of Radonezh Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Parma, Ohio.