Antiphon a general title for a hymn or a section of the Psalter;
the title describes the manner in which the hymn or Psalter are to be chanted,
i.e., by two choirs in turn.
Kathisma one of the twenty sections into which the Psalter is
divided in the liturgical use of the Orthodox Church. Each Kathisma is composed
of a number of Psalms, e.g., Kathisma #1 = Psalms 1-8, Kathisma #2 = Psalms
Kathisma Hymn (Sedalen) a hymn sung as an introduction to
"sitting," i.e., a period of rest following such things as the
lengthy chanting of the Psalter, the singing of the Polyeleos, or the
singing of several Odes from the Canon at Matins.
Polyeleos The Psalms of "much oil" or "many
mercies" (Psalms 135-136) sung during Resurrectional and Festal Matins.
Canon a principal element in Matins (although it may also
appear elsewhere); a lengthy hymn composed of nine odes, with each ode being
made up of many hymns (usually 12-14), the number and source of which are
regulated by the Typikon. At least theoretically each ode takes its theme from
the Biblical canticle (e.g., Ode 1 is patterned after Exodus 15:1-19, the
Canticle of Moses) which serves as its prototype.
Irmos a word meaning "link" in Greek. The Irmos is
the theme-song and the first hymn of each ode of a Canon. It has a
double function: it "links" the ode thematically with the Biblical
canticle which serves as its prototype, and, by establishing the meter and
melody for all the other hymns (troparia) of the ode, it is the first
"link" in their chain.
Troparion one of the oldest titles used in the Orthodox Church for
a particular piece of composed hymnography. In Greek the word means "a
sign of victory" or a "way of life," and in general implies that
the composed hymn is a succinct summary of the event or saintly person being
celebrated in the Church. As a title, Troparion can be applied to virtually any
composed hymn used in Orthodox worship. Present use, however, usually limits it
to the hymn sung after the Lords Prayer at Vespers, after "God is the
Lord" at Matins, and after the Little Entrance at the Divine Liturgy. It
also denotes the hymns that follow the Irmos in the ode of a canon.
Katavasia in Greek this word implies the act of
"descending" or "coming down." It is the name given to the
hymn that concludes the ode of a Canon. During the singing of the
Katavasia the two choirs are to "descend" from their places (the kliros)
and assemble in the center of the church. The Katavasia may be the Irmos
from another canon, or, as on Pascha, it may be the Irmos of the given
ode repeated. These matters are regulated by the Typikon.
Hypakoe perhaps the most ancient title used by the Church to
denote a piece of composed hymnography. In Greek this word
means "to be obedient," "to hear," "to respond."
Presently, the Hypakoe is the particular title of a hymn sung during Resurrectional
Matins. It varies according to the tone of the week from the Octoechos and
comes after the Resurrectional hymns which are sung together with the refrain
from Ps. 119: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy statutes." The
Hypakoe of Pascha is the one most commonly known. It is sung after the third
ode of the Paschal Canon, during the Paschal Hours, and again after the Little
Entrance at Divine Liturgy.
Stikheron another general title referring to a composed hymn
written in verses. Such hymns occur throughout Orthodox worship, e.g.: they are
inserted at the places appointed by the Typikon during the chanting of
"Lord, I call" (Psalms 141, 142, 130 and 117) at Vespers. They are
usually associated with Psalmody.
Automelon (samopodoben) a stikheron having its own
meter and melody and serving in turn as a model for other stihhera.
Idiomelon (samoglasen) a stikheron having its own
meter and melody which never serve as a model for other stikhera.
Prosomoia (podoben) a stikheron whose meter and
melody are taken from those of an automelon.
Apostikha stikhera that appear together with selected Psalm
verses before St. Simeons Prayer at Vespers as well as near the end of Daily
and Lenten Matins.
Lity (litia) a word implying a fervent, prolonged
prayer. It generally designates the
procession to the narthex of the church for petitions, hymns and the blessing
of loaves, which is a typical feature of the latter part of Great Vespers on
Theotokian a hymn to the Theotokos that usually concludes a larger
body of hymnography, e.g.: troparia at the end of Vespers, stikhera
on "Lord, I call," apostikha, etc.
Stavrotheotokian hymns to the Theotokos that refer to her standing at the
Cross of Christ. They are typically found in the Octoechos in the hymnography
for Wednesdays and Fridays.
Dogmatikon those Theotokia that conclude the stikhera
on "Lord, I call" at Great Vespers on the eves of the Lords Day.
Their title comes from the fact that they are usually succinct presentations of
the dogma of the Incarnation, with particular stress on the ever-virginity and
motherhood of Mary.
Verses on the
Praises stikhera inserted at
those places appointed by the Typikon during the chanting of the Psalms of Praise
(148-150) at Matins.
Gospel Stikhera hymns sung during Resurrectional Matins at
"Glory" of the Verses on the Praises. There are eleven
Gospel Stikhera, and they vary from week to week depending upon which of
the eleven Gospel lessons for Sunday Matins is read.
Exapostilarion a Greek word implying "to dismiss," which is used for the title of a short hymn that comes at the end
of the Canon at Matins. In Slavonic service books this hymn is
called the Svetilen or "song of light." For Sunday Matins,
after the brief "Holy is the Lord our God," there are eleven other
Exapostilaria one for each week depending upon which of the eleven Gospel
lessons of Sunday Matins is read.
Kontakion derived from a Greek word that made reference to a
wooden stick around which a parchment was wrapped. Originally, the Kontakion
was a hymn of many stanzas (18-24) whose lengthy text indeed required the use
of a scroll. St. Roman the Melodist (+556) is the most famous composer of such
lengthy, free-style hymns. The hymns in their original, lengthy form have all
but fallen into disuse in Orthodox worship. What now remains in the liturgical
books as Kontakia are merely the short, preliminary stanzas of the
earlier and longer hymns. The Kontakion is sung after
ode 6 (together with the Ikos, or first strophe of the more ancient, lengthy
kontakion) of the Canon at Matins, during the Hours, and after the Troparia
at the Divine Liturgy.
Akathistos a long hymn of 24 stanzas, similar to the ancient Kontakion.
Greek word itself means that the hymn is to be sung while everyone stands. Many
Akathistos hymns have been composed for saints and even particular icons. They
are generally used for devotional purposes and may be inserted after the ode 6
of the Matins Canon during the celebration of a feast (for which an
Akathistos has been composed). The Akathistos to the Theotokos is in regular
liturgical use and is prescribed in the Triodion for the 5th Saturday of Great
Lent. In Greek and Antiochian use this Akathistos is divided into sections and
spread throughout the Friday evenings of Great Lent.
Prokeimenon the Greek word implies something that is "set
before" or "introduces." The Prokeimenon was originally an
entire Psalm that served to "introduce" the reading of Scripture that
followed it. One verse from the Psalm was selected as the refrain to the
chanting of all the others. In current liturgical use, the Prokeimenon is
reduced to the refrain and one to four verses of the Psalm being employed.