by Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) of San Francisco and the West


The Orthodox Church in America

The Bishop of San Francisco and the West

650 Micheltorena Street, Los Angeles, CA 90026-3629

Telephone: (213) 913-3615; Facsimile (213) 913-0316


Wednesday, June 26, 1996

The Tikhvin Icon


All Members of the Honorable Presbytery, Diocese of the West


Dear and esteemed Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers!


The Lord's blessing be upon you!


At our recently concluded Diocesan Assembly, I distributed the instructions that are attached to this Letter. Since then, I have corrected the misprinting of "West" for "East" in a couple of places, added one new paragraph, and the corrected document is attached. I would like to emphasize that the guidance in this Letter may not obtain elsewhere, and, as always, when serving in other dioceses, the local ordo must be consulted in every case. For example, others may now put great store in reversing the order of the Priests at Entrances, and in arranging accompanying sacred items before and after the Gospel and/or the Gifts, so that, for example the Dikiri goes in front and the Trikiri behind; one Fan in front, one Fan behind; and so forth. (This entails, in fact, making two processions out of one: there is the main procession of the Gospel and those accompanying it, Deacons, Subdeacons, and other servers, and then another procession, that of the Presbyters, following along behind it.) The traditional procession, as I have indicated it, is one procession, hierarchically arranged, so that everything proceeding (not "processing" — that is done with meats and cheese) before the Gospel leads up to it, in ascending order: the Candle, the Crozier, the Censer, the Dikiri and Trikiri, the Fans — and everything following it follows in descending order, the most Senior Priest being closest to the Holy Gospel. And other hierarchs may very well require that every Priest get a separate blessing and kiss the Hierarch's hand before such actions as beginning the Hours or going into the Altar. Some may require that, after the Consecration, the senior Priest would wait for the serving hierarch to conclude his own "Among the first," before intoning full voice: "Among the first," naming the serving hierarch.

One final note: when our Primate, Most Blessed Metropolitan Theodosius, honors and blesses us with a visit, every detail must be double-checked with the person having this knowledge and responsibility in His Beatitude's entourage. The customary actions are frequently altered when the First Hierarch of an Autocephalous Church is serving: for example, after the Little Entrance, when the singers have sung the concluding "Eis polla eti, Despota," then the serving Clergy in the Altar themselves sing, "Eis polla eti Despota," and then the singers sing it a third time. I do not consider this appropriate for me as a diocesan hierarch. The Senior Priest (Archimandrite, Protopresbyter, etc.) standing closest to His Beatitude will, indeed, intone aloud "Among the Fi rst" for His Beatitude.

Throughout Hierarchical Services (and all other Services in our Church), it cannot be over-emphasized that while every person in the Temple is there to worship and serve God, those set aside and, especially, those ordained, are there to worship God and to serve God and to lead AND SERVE the Faithful. To not serve, but distract the Faithful by ineptitude; improprieties such as conversing with, or, worse, admonishing Sacred Servitors during the course of the Service; wearing "remarkable" vestments; showing restlessness, impatience, or inattention; is to sin notably against The Apostle's injunction that all would be done "decently and in order."

The Divine Eucharist when celebrated according to the Hierarchical Order is the highest realization possible of the entire life of the Diocese/Church, when it is served with reverence, propriety and Faith.

Invoking the Lord's blessing and assuring you all of my prayers,

With love in Christ,


+ Tikhon


cc: His Beatitude

Members of the Holy Synod


Atch: "A Few Points about Hierarchical Services"



What Priests Do & Clarification of a Few Other Matters



There exist several extensive guides in Russian[1], and at least one extensive guide in English[2], to the rituals accompanying the hierarchical celebration of the Divine Liturgy and other services. These all substantially agree; however, they cover almost everything and everybody and are chiefly of value to the "novice" hierarch. Moreover, these instructions usually assume a full complement of clergy — several Deacons; Subdeacons, and miscellaneous church servitors, while in most parishes in the U.S. and in the Diocese of the West there may be no Deacon at all, and the few church servitors present, some specially "conscripted" for a Hierarch's visit, may be completely inexperienced in serving at all. I remember the difficulty I had, as a novice Deacon, preparing for my first hierarchical Services, both when the Hierarch was accompanied by an experienced Deacon and when "everything" depended on me. I used Father Rostislav Gan's well known guide, mostly, but the only way I could make sense of it was to go through and use different color underliners to single out the various Deacons' roles: Green for the 1st Deacon, Blue for the 2nd, Red for the 3rd, and Yellow for the 4th and 5th. Then I had to combine all these and keep some for myself and apportion others to Subdeacons and Servitors. These instructions all, for example, direct the junior Deacons to do the vesting of the hierarch — obviously Subdeacons, at best, and raw "altar boys" often, carry out this complicated responsibility.

Since myself becoming a Hierarch, however, and observing the whole of the services from an entirely different view, I've learned that it is actually the Priests that have the most difficulty serving properly at hierarchical services. Why? I have to assume that any Priest or Rector would have access to at least the Abridged Typikon and had conscientiously sought to learn what to do before concelebrating with (his) hierarch, but that he was unable to isolate and/or comprehend his part. So I've decide to abstract the Priest's "parts", to try to help the Priests serve without appearing to be completely "at sea," or spoilers of the liturgical order.





  1. Priests do not stand beside Hierarchs at any services at all, including Divine Liturgy. (Deacons, if any, stand beside Hierarchs, and a little to their rear. Other Hierarchs stand next to Hierarchs and face in the same direction.)
  2. Priests do not face in the same direction as Hierarchs. (Nor, at a conciliar celebration with only Priests serving together without an Hierarch, does any Priest but the 1st in rank stand in the center, facing east toward the Altar Table - all the rest are arrayed in two lines, extending to the East, facing each other north and south in opposite rows.)
  3. The most important principle for Priests to keep in mind at a Hierarchical service is that they are not beautifully vested ornaments, they are priests. One of the things that means is that they are required and obligated to pray all the prayers that they pray when they are serving Divine Liturgy all alone. And just as they are obligated and required to pray from the Service Books that were given to them with the cry "Axios" at their Ordination to the Priesthood, and not pray from memory, when serving alone, so too are they obligated and required at a Hierarchical celebration. Only the Hierarch prays these prayers audibly, but all, Priest and Hierarch must pray them.[3]
  4. One of the most important principles of serving at a Hierarchical service that applies to all servitors: Priests, Deacons, Subdeacons, Readers, etc., is that economy is exercised in the bestowing of Hierarchical blessings; that is, wherever possible ( and it is often possible), the blessing of two or more persons is combined into one blessing (with both hands) by the Hierarch. Here are two examples:


  • When Priests come out of the Altar to stand with the Hierarch, they do not each bow separately toward the East and then bow to get their own individual blessings from him, but they all at the same time face the East, cross themselves, bow to the West and then turn and bow to the Hierarch, whereupon he blesses them all at once.
  • When Priests come out of the Altar to stand with the Hierarch, they do not each bow separately toward the East and then bow to get their own individual blessings from him, but they all at the same time face the East, cross themselves, bow to the West and then turn and bow to the Hierarch, whereupon he blesses them all at once.
  • Towards the conclusion of the singing of Ton Despotin after the Hierarch has been completely vested, the Priest that is going to give the blessing for the reading of the Hours comes out from the Altar, and, at the same time, the Reader comes down from the kleros, and they both take up their positions: the Priest standing a little toward the East from the Hierarch, facing the North - the Reader standing about three or four paces to the Northeast of the Hierarch while facing Southeast, and they both wait while the Arch- or Protodeacon, with Subdeacons on either side of him holding Dikiri and Trikiri censes the Hierarch "3 times 3" (these bow three times). When they have finished that, they turn and face the East AND WITH THEM THE PRIEST AND READER TURN AND FACE THE EAST, all of them make the sign of the Cross, all of them bow to the West and all of them at the same time turn and bow to the Hierarch, who blesses them all at the same time with two hands. That is the blessing for the Archdeacon and Subdeacons to return to their places and that is the blessing for the priest to exclaim: "BLESSED IS OUR GOD..." to begin the reading of the hours. There are no other special blessings extended to the Priest and/or the Reader at that time, nor should they approach the Hierarch to kiss his hand.



Everyone that is going to serve or who hopes to serve with the Hierarch must be present in the Church upon his arrival and receive his blessing at the time he gives the Cross to be kissed.

Only the Priest who is going to do the Proskomedia and one Deacon read their Entrance Prayers before the Hierarch does so, and only they put on any sacred vestments at all before the Hierarch's arrival. The practice of putting on all vestments except the Phelonion before the Hierarch arrives and then at that time meeting him while wearing a Greek-style Rason over them, hiding them, is not to be tolerated.

How does that junior Priest do the Proskomedia? He does it only up to a certain point, and he does it incompletely. He prepares the Lamb and places particles on the Diskos as usual; however, if there are not going to be two separate Prosphora from which the Hierarch is to cut out his particles, then this Priest must take out his own commemorations and those asked for by the people from the underside, or at least the lower portion, of the fourth and fifth Prosphora, leaving the upper portion for the Hierarch. The Star-Cover, the Small cloth Covers, and the Aer are placed over the Proskomedia without any prayers and without any censing of them, Neither is the prayer, "0 God the heavenly bread," read. However the Dismissal of the Proskomedia, from "Glory to Thee, O Christ God our Hope, Glory to Thee" may be read. (The Hierarch reads the Prayer: "O God the heavenly Bread," during the Great Litany. He does the rest at the time of the Great Entrance.)

Close to the time of the Hierarch's anticipated arrival, the Altar Curtain is opened. The Priests stand at the Altar Table according to rank: the Senior Priest stands on the right (South) side of the Altar Table, facing North. Opposite him and facing him on the other side of the Altar Table is the next ranking Priest. On the right hand side of the Senior Priest is the third ranking Priest, and opposite him on the other side of the Altar is the fourth ranking Priest. On the right hand side of the third ranking Priest is the fifth ranking Priest, and so forth. They all cross themselves, bow to the East, kiss the edge of the Altar Table and go out to meet the Hierarch, those on the South side of the Altar Table go out the South Deacon's Door: those on the North side go out the North Deacon's Door. They go out according to seniority: the Senior Priest on the South side goes out the South Door first - behind him is the third ranking Priest; and so forth: the "next" ranking Priest, standing first on the North side of the Altar goes out the North Door first, followed by the fourth ranking Priest. These all go out in single files and stand near the Western entrance to the Church. If there is going to be a greeting of the Hierarch by a lay person, such as the Elder, then that takes outside the Church building, since this is a non-liturgical, non-ecclesiastical event not prescribed in any Orthodox service book. Behind these Priests, the Priest who has been doing the Proskomedia comes, carrying the Hand Cross on a Salver that is covered with a fine cloth, usually velvet or brocade. The Cross lies on the Salver with its top pointing to that Priest's right hand side, so that when the time comes the Hierarch can pick it up with his right hand alone without any unseemly contortions. The Priests array themselves exactly as they were arrayed at the Altar Table. Between the two most Senior Priests, closest to the Doors, the Priest with the Hand Cross stands, facing the Doors in anticipation of the Hierarch's arrival. (Between him and the Doors there stand the Altar Servitors (or Subdeacons, or Deacons) with the Mantiya and Liturgical Staff.)

When the Hierarch arrives, and after he has been clothed in his Mantiya and has exchanged his walking Staff for the Liturgical Staff, then the Rector of the Parish (or the Dean, if it is a Cathedral) may approach the Hierarch with a word of greeting. The Priest with the Hand Cross on the Salver then immediately steps up to the Hierarch. As the Hierarch places his hand on the Cross to lift it, that Priest kisses his hand. Each Priest in order: Senior, next, third, fourth, fifth, etc., then comes and kisses the Cross and the hand that holds it and goes back to his place. When all have kissed it, then the Priest holding the Salver comes back to the Hierarch, kisses the Cross and the Hierarch's hand again as the Hierarch returns the Cross to the tray and steps aside. (The Hierarch will now bless the Archdeacon to begin intoning his introduction to the vesting prayers.)[5]

When the Hierarch led by the Arch- or Protodeacon proceeds to the foot of the Ambo to read the Entrance Prayers, all the Priests come behind him, maintaining their formation and position. When the Hierarch reaches the foot of the Ambo, the Priests are behind him in two single files behind one another, the junior-most Priests closest to him, and all are facing East with him throughout the reading of those prayers. (The Priest that is holding the Salver, however, goes right back into the Altar and places the Cross on the Altar Table and continues taking out particles from Prosphora.)

(After the Hierarch ascends the Soleas and after he has completed his prayers, then the Choir will sing "Ton Despotin," as he blesses the entire congregation from the Soleas with his right hand and the Liturgical Staff.) When the Hierarch arrives on his vesting platform and is standing facing the East, then all the Priests cross themselves, bow to the East, and then come one by one to bow to the Hierarch and receive his blessing. They kiss his hand and go into the Altar, having thus received their blessings to get vested.

The next action involving a Priest is the reading of the Hours: that was already described, above. It must be kept in mind that, until the rest of the Priests come forth from the Altar, the Priest leading the reading of the Hours stands on the place of the Senior Priest throughout the reading of the Hours; however, as soon as all the Priests come out of the Altar to stand at their places, that Priest moves to his own place according to his rank relative to the rest of them.

Towards the end of the reading of the Hours,[6] the Priests arrange themselves in the Altar according to rank around the Altar Table as before. When all are in place, then they cross themselves, kiss the edge of the Altar Table, bow to the East, and go out the North and South Doors as before. When they arrive at their places facing each other between the Hierarch and the Ambo, then they all cross themselves together, bow to the East together, and bow to the Hierarch.

After the Arch- or Protodeacon's bidding, "It is time to act for the Lord, bless Master," the Hierarch will say, while blessing with both hands, "Blessed is our God, always now and ever and unto the ages of ages," and the Senior Priest immediately bows to the Hierarch from the waist, and approaches him, hands extended to receive the Hierarch's hand and kiss it, whereupon he goes immediately into the Altar. No other Priests take a blessing at this time, nor, later, do any other Priests approach the Hierarch to kiss his hand prior to their entering the Altar.

By the time the Senior Priest has arrived to stand in front of the Altar Table and the Subdeacons have opened the Holy Doors, the Arch- or Protodeacon has arrived on the Ambo and is standing before the Icon of the Lord. The Senior Priest and the Arch- or Protodeacon cross themselves three times, and each time they bow from the waist towards the East, then the Priest kisses the edge of the Altar Table. They both turn together toward the Hierarch. He blesses them with both hands. They bow as he blesses them. The Priest and Arch- or Protodeacon turn back towards the East and the Priest lifts up the Holy Gospel Book, the Arch- or Protodeacon intones, "Bless, Master!" The Priest makes the sign of the Cross on the Antimension with the Holy Gospel Book, kisses the top of the Book, places it back on the Altar Table and turns to bow again to the Hierarch (as does the Arch- or Protodeacon and the Book-bearer.) The Archdeacon begins the Great Litany.[7]The Senior Priest goes immediately to his place on the South side of the Altar Table.

At the Exclamation of the Great Litany the Senior Priest crosses himself, bows to the East, kisses the edge of the Altar Table and then bows, together with the Archdeacon (and second Deacon that has arrived by then on the Ambo) to the Hierarch. Together with them and at the same time, the next ranking Priest crosses himself, bows to the East and bows to the Hierarch. The Hierarch, in line with the principle of economy, blesses all of them at the same time. The next ranking Priest does not approach him to kiss his hand, but goes immediately into the Altar through the North Door. When he arrives in the Altar, he goes to his place at the North side of the Altar Table; he crosses himself, bows to the East, kisses the edge of the Altar Table and bows to the Hierarch, who does not bless him again at this time.

No one goes through the Holy Doors to the Altar before the Hierarch has done so.

A few Hierarchs of the Church of Russia - Metropolitan Pitirim, for example, blessed their Clergy to always bow during Litanies whenever the Hierarch's name was mentioned. I don't approve of that custom, or rather, innovation. It should not be done whether I am serving or not serving. (But the Arkhieratikon does prescribe that the Clergy would all sing together at the petition for the Hierarchy during the Fervent Litany, "Lord, have mercy," three times. This I must, of course, allow.)

At the Exclamation of the 1st Little Litany, the next ranking Priest performs exactly the same actions as the Senior Priest had performed at the Exclamation of the Great Litany.

Likewise, at the Exclamation of the 1st Little Litany, the 3rd ranking Priest crosses himself with the rest, bows to the East with the rest, and bows to the Hierarch with the rest before going into the Altar through the South Door. He likewise arrives a this spot, crosses himself, bows to the East, kisses the edge of the Altar Table and bows to the Hierarch.

At the Exclamation of the 2nd Little Litany, it is the 3rd Priest who makes the exclamation and does the above-described actions, while all the rest of the Priests, if any are left outside, cross themselves, bow to the East, and bow to the Hierarch as he blesses with both hands that Exclamation (together with everyone else, Deacons, Subdeacons, Book-bearer, Light-bearer, and Staff-bearer still outside the Altar at that point). All go into the Altar at this point, and all the remaining Priests go their places, cross themselves, bow to the East, kiss the edge of the Altar Table and bow to the Hierarch. If anybody is left outside the Altar at this point besides the Hierarch and his Flock, something is wrong.

For the Entrance, the Senior Priest is going to have to come in front of the Altar Table to hand over the Gospel Book to the Archdeacon, and that is the only reason he goes before the Altar Table prior to leaving the Altar. This is done sometime during the 3rd Antiphon that is prescribed on that occasion. (If it is the Beatitudes that are prescribed, as 3rd Antiphon of the Typica, and if in that parish the prescribed Troparia on the Beatitudes are sung, then this should be done some time before the Choir reaches "Glory," as the Arkhieratikon directs.) The Senior Priest, then, comes before the Altar Table. He and the Archdeacon cross themselves three times, bowing each time towards the East. They then turn and bow to the Hierarch. Then they turn back East, both kiss the edge of the Altar Table. The Senior Priest picks up the Gospel Book and hands it to the Archdeacon and proceeds immediately behind the Archdeacon around the Altar Table, through the High Place, out the North Door, down the stairs, and around behind the Hierarch (in our Diocese) to stand at his place, in front and to the right of the Hierarch, facing North. All the rest of the Priests in the Altar at their places, cross themselves, bow to the East, kiss the edge of the Altar Table, bow towards the Hierarch, from their places, and go in strict order of rank, seniors first, out the North Door behind the Senior Priest.[8] And all go to take up their places. That means that the next ranking and the 4th ranking Priest stop at their places when they come to them, and the Senior, the 3rd, and the 5th ranking Priests must go around, following the Gospel Book, behind the Hierarch to their places. When all arrive at their places, then all cross themselves and bow to the Hierarch. When the clergy singing reaches, "And fall down before Christ," the Hierarch and everybody else bow deeply. When the Hierarch blesses towards the East with the Dikiri and Trikiri, all the clergy bow.

The Priests stay at their places until the Hierarch has ascended the Ambo and blessed the people from the Ambo with Dikiri and Trikiri.

The Hierarch, going into the Altar, kisses the little Icons on both sides of the Holy Doorway, while the Priests that are going to stand on the South side of the Altar Table only kiss the little Icon on the South side of the Holy Doorway on their way int o the Altar, and those going to stand on the North side only kiss the little Icon on that side of the Holy Doorway. Priests take up their positions and should be on their spots about the time the Hierarch in his censing has reached the High Place, or at least the Table of Oblation. It is received practice for the Priests to wait before crossing themselves, bowing to the East and kissing the edge of the Altar Table until the Hierarch is through censing in the Altar and has gone outside it to cense.

At the Trisagion, the Priest standing nearest to the Hierarch on the North side of the Altar Table has to hand the hand cross to the Hierarch before the latter goes out with that hand cross and the dikiri to pray "Look down from heaven, O God …" This is done at the end of the first time that the clergy sing "Holy God..." That Priest has to pick up the cross with both hands, at the ends of it, and present it, face down, to the Hierarch, the handle or bottom end pointing toward the Hierarch.

During the Alleluiarion, the Senior Priest must go before the Altar Table with the Archdeacon. They cross themselves three times, making three reverences, kiss the front edge of the Altar Table, bow to the Hierarch, and then the Senior Priest picks up the Holy Gospel Book and hands it to the Archdeacon and goes back to his place beside the Hierarch at the High Place.

At the conclusion of the reading of the Gospel and after the Hierarch has kissed it, the Senior Priest takes it from the hands of the Archdeacon and places it upright between the Antimension and the Tabernacle.

During the "Fervent" Litany, when the Deacon reaches the petition for the Hierarch, the Senior and next ranking Priests cross themselves, bow to the East, kiss the edge of the Altar Table, open the lower third of the Antimension and bow to the Hierarch.

The exclamation of the "Fervent" Litany may be assigned to the Senior or to the 4th ranking Priest, or the Hierarch may pronounce it himself (as is prescribed in the Arkhieratikon); however, the exclamation of the 2nd Litany for the Faithful is always done by the Hierarch.

During the Litany for the Catechumens, at the petition, "That He may reveal unto them the Gospel of Righteousness," the 3rd and the 4th ranking Priests cross themselves, bow to the East, kiss the edge of the Altar Table, and open the upper third of the Antimension, and again bow, to the Hierarch.

Also during the Litany for the Catechumens, the Priest that did the Proskomedia should cross himself, bow to the East, kiss the edge of the Altar Table, bow to the Hierarch, and go to the Table of Oblation. There he must remove the Aer, small Covers, and the Star Cover, and place them aside, neatly and conveniently for the Hierarch. He must make sure the cutting plate with two prosphora on it is in front of the Chalice and Diskos, along with the small spear.

At the Great Entrance (as opposed to the Little Entrance) there is a reason for all the Priests to come before the Altar Table and bow to the people: that is to ask their forgiveness. After the Hierarch has gone to the Table of Oblation, then the Priests come by pairs before the Holy Altar Table. First come the Senior and next ranking Priest. They cross themselves, bowing each time, and kiss the edge of the Altar Table. Then they turn and bow to the people before going to line up preparatory to kissing the Hierarch's shoulder. And so do the rest of the Priests. If there is an odd number of Priests, then three of them may do this at once, so that one Priest will not have to do it alone.

For the Great Entrance, as many things as possible are borne forth. Priests should pick up the Hand Cross(es) first. When the Hierarch hands off the Chalice to the Senior Priest, he will take the Hand Cross(es) from the hands of the Priests, saying, "Thy Priesthood may the Lord God remember …" And after he has kissed it he will hold it for the Priest to kiss. The Priest will kiss it and the Hierarch's hand as the Priest receives it back, answering, "Thine Episcopate may …" The Hierarch will hand other sacred and semi-sacred items to the rest of the Priests, such as the Spear, the Spoon, the Cutting Plate, and even the Proskomedia sponge and cloth, if necessary. The actions are the same as for the Crosses. The Priests all go out the North Door and stand in rows at the foot of the Soleas, the Priest holding the Chalice in front. After the Bishop has placed the Paten on the Altar, that Priest must ascend the Amvon and hand the Chalice to the Hierarch, saying quietly, "Thine Episcopate …"

After the Consecration, while (in the Diocese of the West) the Hierarch is commemorating the Primate aloud, the 1st Priest quietly reads the same commemoration, but of the serving Hierarch. And when he has read that prayer, he kisses the Hierarch's hand, then the icon on the Hierarch's miter, then the Hierarch's hand again.

Before communing himself, the Hierarch will ordinarily pray first the confessional prayer: "O Lord, forgive, pardon, and remit my sins, both voluntary and involuntary, or word and of deed, of the mind and of the intention, during this Service, and during the day or the night: all forgive for Thou art good and lovest mankind." Then he will make a complete reverence. All the clergy should likewise make a complete reverence at their places. Next the hierarch will ask for forgiveness of the clergy. The proper answer is "Forgive us also, Rt. Reverend Master, and bless us." Next the hierarch will say, "Behold, I draw near to Christ …" And he will proceed to commune himself. When the Priests come to be communed, they must make a full reverence, kiss the edge of the Altar Table, place their hands, folded and palms up, on the Altar Table, saying "Give (or impart) …" When the Hierarch places the Holy Body in the Priest's hand, the Priest kisses the Hierarch's right hand and the Hierarch's left shoulder only, and answers "Is now and ever shall be," to the Hierarch's words. Priests do not proceed past the Hierarch and behind him to the right or South side of the Altar Table. No, they go clockwise, to the left. The 1st Priest goes all the way around the Altar Table, and the next come in order after him. At no time does anyone walk around behind anyone while holding the Holy Body in their hand; that is, between the Priest holding the Body of Christ and the Holy Altar table, there can never be any separation.

Priests that are going to preach either at this point or any other point in the Divine Liturgy must come to the Hierarch for a blessing before and after their sermon. Only when a sermon is given at the time of the clergy's Communion may servers and other clergy stay in the Altar during the Sermon. At all other times: after the Gospel, or at the end of the Liturgy, all must go out of the Altar to listen to the sermon.

Before and after the Prayer before the Ambo, the Priest doing that must cross himself, bow to the East, kiss the edge of the Altar Table, and bow to the Hierarch.

The Hierarch gives the Dismissal with Dikiri and Trikiri. All the Priests and other clergy must exit the Altar before that and stand at the foot of the Ambo, in order, for the blessing. The 1st Priest should take out the Hand Cross, in order to hand it to the Hierarch after the blessing, or at the end of any Molieben that might be served then.

Unless the Hierarch has given specific instructions to the contrary, no one unvests until the Hierarch returns to the Altar and blesses that unvesting. Likewise, after unvesting, no one leaves the Altar and Church until blessed to do so by the Hierarch.

The Hierarch should leave the temple as he arrived there. This means that, after being unvested in the Altar, his Mantiya is put on him; he exits through the Holy Doors (and they, but not the Curtain, are then closed); he takes his Crosier; he venerates the icons, and then he proceeds to the Western Doors of the Temple. The Presbytery should accompany him, wearing their Ryassas (Mantiyas, if they are monks), and line up as usual in two rows when he reaches those doors. The singers will be singing "Ton Despotin" or a prolonged arrangement of "Eis polla eti, Despota" during this time, and they will conclude their singing about the time the hierarch reaches the Western Doors. He will turn and bless with both hands, saying, "May our Lord Christ strengthen you all through His Grace and Love of mankind, always, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen." Then all the Priests will get a final blessing, one by one, following the order they followed when greeting with the Hand Cross. Then the Subdeacons will remove the Mantiya and exchange the walking stick for the Crozier.


Bishop Tikhon


[1] These are found in, for example, Nikolsky's Ustav, Bulgakov's Nastol'naya Kniga, and Shveygel's Arkhiereyskoye Sluzhenie, and his Arkhiereyskie Sluzhby, as well as Fr. Rostislav Gan's Pesnopeniya Vsenoshchnago Bdeniya i Liturgii.

[2] The Abridged Typikon, published by a deanery of the Moscow Patriarchy's parishes in the U.S.

[3] The same principle obtains at a conciliar celebration of Priests without a Hierarch: only the senior Priest prays audibly, but all must pray those prayers.

[4] Unfortunately, it has often happened that the Priest and Reader have stayed at their places in the Altar or on the Kleros while that censing takes place, until, perhaps, the Hierarch or the Archdeacon or someone else contacts them and tells them, "Now's the time to go out and begin the Hours," whereupon the Priest comes rushing out, bows to the Hierarch and extends his hands to receive the Hierarch's hand and kiss it. Then they both stand and wait for the Reader to come out and arrange his books and papers and then come over to get his own blessing from the Hierarch. Then the Reader goes to his stand and nods to the Priest as if to say, "OK, now go ahead, you can give the blessing."

[5] Nowadays, the Arch- or Protodeacon intones "Wisdom!" and "It is truly meet," or the 9th Song of the Canon if it is a Great Feast or the season of a Great Feast while the Hierarch proceeds to the foot of the Ambo. According to the Arkhieratikon, however, it is the Hierarch that should exclaim "Wisdom," whereupon the Archdeacon intones "It is truly meet to bless thee, O Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure and the Mother of our God." Then the Hierarch intones, "Most Holy Theotokos, save us," whereupon the Archdeacon continues, "More honorable … etc." At any rate the Arch- or Protodeacon must intone in tune with the singing of the Choir.

[6] "Towards the end" in the Diocese of the West, and most other places, means during the reading of the Prayer of the Hours: "O Thou Who at all times and every hour …"

[7] And the Book-bearer goes to stand next to the Hierarch or behind him. Or he may go directly to stand in front of the Hierarch facing him with the book opened to the page whereon is printed "O God, the Heavenly Bread," according as the Archdeacon may have directed him. The Book-bearer, in line with the principle set forth at the beginning of this piece, comes out of the Altar and stands before the Icon to the North of the North Door at the same time as the Archdeacon arrives at the Icon of the Lord.

[8] All sacred accoutrements go out the Altar in front of the Gospel Book and none behind it.