At St Timothy, we worship in English, chanting most of the services. The choir provides the lead, but it is our custom for the congregation to participate fully. As the years go by, the words and melodies become familiar and beloved. We looked forward to special hymns on certain feasts days as eagerly as looking forward to Christmas carols in December.
Orthodox worship is scriptural: In our services, you will hear a wide variety of paraphrases, references, and allusions from both Old and New Testaments. We “pray the Bible”!
Our worship can at first be perplexing, especially to visitors accustomed to Protestant and Roman Catholic services. If something we do or say seems odd to you, please ask us about it. Many of us have had similar reactions when we began to learn about Orthodoxy.
In Orthodoxy, the liturgical day begins in the evening, so the Saturday evening Vespers service calls us to contemplation of the saint or feast to be commemorated on Sunday. Vespers itself begins with Psalm 103 — Bless the Lord, O my soul ...— and includes several sets of petitions and two major sets of hymns. We celebrate Vespers every Saturday at 6:00pm.
Orthros, also called Matins, is a morning prayer service in preparation for the Divine Liturgy. Its Gospel reading is always one of the accounts of Christ’s Resurrection.
We celebrate Orthros every Sunday morning at 9:00. Typically, several people attend Orthros, and more and more people arrive to church as we get closer to the beginning of Divine Liturgy, by when the church is full. Divine Liturgy begins at the end of Orthros; there is no break or pause between them. (The priest chanting “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!” marks the beginning of Divine Liturgy.)
The primary worship service of Orthodoxy, the Divine Liturgy is a Eucharistic service. The first portion is the Liturgy of the Word, in which the Epistle and Gospel is proclaimed and the homily preached. During the second portion, the Liturgy of the Faithful (or Liturgy of the Eucharist), the bread and wine are offered, consecrated, and communicated to the faithful. Orthodox know, through God’s revelation, that the gifts truly become the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which we accept in faith without dogmatizing a particular formula or method of how this is affected.
On most Sundays, the service we use is the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. During Lent, the Divine Liturgy of St Basil is celebrated. Their essential structures are the same.