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 feast 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. The Saturday evening Vespers service calls us to contemplate the saint or feast 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 6:00 pm.
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 8:15. Although several people are regulars at Orthros, most people arrive as we get closer to the beginning of Divine Liturgy, by which time 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 part is the Liturgy of the Word, in which the Epistle and Gospel are proclaimed and the homily preached. During the second part, the Liturgy of the Faithful, the priest offers the bread and wine for consecration. Orthodox know, through God’s revelation, that the gifts become the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We accept this 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, we celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St Basil. Their essential structures are the same.