To the Right Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy; Choir Directors, Chanters and Faithful of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West:
Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. In her daily cycle of services, the Orthodox Church gathers together several components for accurate and uplifting prayer to our Savior Jesus Christ. One of these elements is the referencing of service books such as the Menaion, the Octoechos and the Lenten Triodion. Our clergy, choir directors and chanters must often juggle these books and pick the correct changeable verses and hymns to be used during worship. This preparation of the divine services ensures accurate commemorations of the feasts of our Lord, His Holy Mother and His venerable saints. However, confusion often seems constant, as we frequently do not know exactly which hymns we chant during certain days, weeks or seasons throughout the year; and how we rank their importance when arranging services such as Great Vespers and Orthros. When the clergy and chanters are confused, most often the laity follow suit.
To remedy this problem, the website of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West will be publishing “Weekend Services Texts”, which are word-for-word compilations of Saturday Great Vespers and Sunday Orthros. The Texts will be made available online early each week, and are compiled from translations published or sanctioned by the Antiochian Archdiocese and this Diocese. These are to be downloaded and used in all parishes from this point forward. These are the only texts approved for use within our Diocese for these services.
However, each parish is to still keep Archdiocese publications at its chanter stands, especially the music, such as the “Byzatine Project” series by the late Professor Basil Kazan. These supplement the Texts that the Diocese publishes every weekend.
The Diocese publishes these Great Vespers and Orthros Texts to create more uniformity—and to eliminate confusion and mistakes—in our Holy Orthodox Church services. These Texts provide greater ease for the clergy and chanters, as they do not have to shuffle through the various books needed for complete and accurate weekend services. Also, our laity can print out the Texts and follow along with clergy and chanters. Thus, with chaos eliminated from the chanter stands and choir lofts—and with the laity better equipped to participate—our worship will be more prayerful, uplifting and unified. Our “liturgia” will be in accordance with the instruction of St. Paul, who says, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
May the Lord God continue to bless and perfect the “work of the people” of this Diocese inside our churches.
Your Father in Christ,
+ METROPOLITAN JOSEPH
Metropolitan of New York and all North America
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America