Entrance (liturgical)

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Orthodox subdeacon and priest making the Great Entrance during the Divine Liturgy. Pokrov14.11.08.jpg
Orthodox subdeacon and priest making the Great Entrance during the Divine Liturgy.

In Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches, an entrance is a procession during which the clergy enter into the sanctuary through the Holy Doors. The origin of these entrances goes back to the early church, when the liturgical books and sacred vessels were kept in special storage rooms for safe keeping and the procession was necessary to bring these objects into the church when needed. Over the centuries, these processions have grown more elaborate, and nowadays are accompanied by incense, candles and liturgical fans. In the liturgical theology of the Orthodox Church, the angels are believed to enter with the clergy into the sanctuary, as evidenced by the prayers which accompany the various entrances.

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 200–260 million members. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops.

Byzantine Rite Whole of the worship life of the Eastern Catholic Churches

The Byzantine Rite, also known as the Greek Rite or Constantinopolitan Rite, is the liturgical rite used by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Greek/Byzantine Catholic churches, and in a modified form, Byzantine Rite Lutheranism. Its development began during the fourth century in Constantinople and it is now the second most-used ecclesiastical rite in Christendom after the Roman Rite.

Procession organized body of people walking in a formal or ceremonial manner

A procession is an organized body of people walking in a formal or ceremonial manner.


The bishop has the right to enter and leave the altar (sanctuary) through the Holy Doors at any time, and is not restricted to the liturgical entrances, as the priest and deacon are.

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

Sanctuary sacred place

A sanctuary, in its original meaning, is a sacred place, such as a shrine. By the use of such places as a haven, by extension the term has come to be used for any place of safety. This secondary use can be categorized into human sanctuary, a safe place for humans, such as a political sanctuary; and non-human sanctuary, such as an animal or plant sanctuary.

Divine Liturgy

During the course of the Divine Liturgy (Eucharist), there are two entrances. Both of the Entrances, as well as the ritual of the Liturgy of Preparation, are viewed by liturgical scholars as later additions to the Liturgy, and may not have been used by Saints Basil the Great or John Chrysostom, the authors of the most commonly used forms of the Divine Liturgy.

Divine Liturgy

Divine Liturgy or Holy Liturgy is the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine Rite, developed from the Antiochene Rite of Christian liturgy which is that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox, the Greek Catholic Churches, and the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. Although the same term is sometimes applied in English to the Eucharistic service of Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, they use in their own language a term meaning "holy offering" or "holy sacrifice". Other churches also treat "Divine Liturgy" simply as one of many names that can be used, but it is not their normal term.

Liturgy of Preparation

The Liturgy of Preparation, also Prothesis or Proskomedia, is the name given in the Eastern Orthodox Church to the act of preparing the bread and wine for the Eucharist. The Liturgy of Preparation is done quietly before the public part of the Divine Liturgy begins, and symbolizes the "hidden years" of Christ's earthly life.

John Chrysostom important Early Church Father

John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, and his ascetic sensibilities. The epithet Χρυσόστομος means "golden-mouthed" in Greek and denotes his celebrated eloquence. Chrysostom was among the most prolific authors in the early Christian Church, exceeded only by Augustine of Hippo in the quantity of his surviving writings.

Little Entrance

The Little Entrance occurs during the portion of the service known as the Liturgy of the Catechumens, in preparation for the scriptural readings. The priest takes the Gospel Book from the Holy Table (altar), and hands it to the deacon (if there is no deacon, he carries the Gospel Book himself.) They go counterclockwise around the Holy Table and out the North Door of the Iconostasis, and come to stop in front of the Holy Doors, while the priest prays silently the Prayer of the Entrance:

Priest person authorized to lead the sacred rituals of a religion (for a minister use Q1423891)

A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities. Their office or position is the priesthood, a term which also may apply to such persons collectively.

Gospel Book shorter collection of Bible verses divided after the Sundays and holidays of the lithurgical calendar

The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament – normally all four – centering on the life of Jesus of Nazareth and the roots of the Christian faith. The term is also used of the liturgical book, also called the Evangeliary, from which are read the portions of the Gospels used in the Mass and other services, arranged according to the order of the liturgical calendar.

Altar structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes

An altar is a structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are found at shrines, temples, churches and other places of worship. They are used particularly in Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto and Taoism. Judaism used such a structure until the destruction of the Second Temple. Many historical faiths also made use of them, including Roman, Greek and Norse religion.

O Master, Lord our God, Who hast appointed in heaven ranks and hosts of Angels and Archangels for the ministry of Thy glory: Cause that with our entrance may enter also the holy Angels with us serving Thee, and with us glorifying Thy goodness. For unto Thee are due all glory, honour and worship, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen. [1]
The Little Entrance during the Divine Liturgy (Church of the Protection of the Theotokos, Dusseldorf, Germany). Dues1Sept21 2009.jpg
The Little Entrance during the Divine Liturgy (Church of the Protection of the Theotokos, Düsseldorf, Germany).

The deacon presents the Gospel Book for the priest to kiss (if the bishop is present, it is presented to him instead) The deacon then points to the Holy Doors with his orarion, and bowing says to the priest, "Bless, Master, the holy entrance." The priest blesses with his hand and says, "Blessed is the entrance of Thy holy ones, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages." When the choir finishes singing the Third Antiphon (usually the Beatitudes), the deacon (or priest) lifts up the Gospel Book and says, "Wisdom! Let us attend!" (if it is a Great Feast of the Lord, he first says a special entrance verse, usually taken from the Psalms) The choir then sings the Entrance Hymn: "Come let us worship and fall down before Christ! O Son of God, save us who sing to Thee: Alleluia!" and the Troparia and Kontakia of the day. Meanwhile, the deacon and priest go in through the Holy Doors, the deacon replaces the Gospel Book on the Holy Table, and both he and the priest kiss the Holy Table. The priest silently says the Prayer of the Trisagion.

Orarion long, narrow stole decorated with crosses worn by deacons and subdeacons of the Eastern Orthodox church

The Orarion is the distinguishing vestment of the deacon and subdeacon in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Churches and Eastern Catholic Churches. It is a narrow stole, usually four to five inches (127 mm) wide and of various lengths, made of brocade, often decorated with crosses embroidered or appliquéd along its length. It is usually trimmed with decorative banding around the edges and fringe at the two ends.

Antiphon call and response, especially in Christian music and ritual

An antiphon is a short chant in Christian ritual, sung as a refrain. The texts of antiphons are the Psalms. Their form was favored by St Ambrose and they feature prominently in Ambrosian chant, but they are used widely in Gregorian chant as well. They may be used during Mass, for the Introit, the Offertory or the Communion. They may also be used in the Liturgy of the Hours, typically for Lauds or Vespers.

Beatitudes literary genre of the Bible

The Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Each is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative. Four of the blessings also appear in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke, followed by four woes which mirror the blessings.

This entrance is quite elaborate when the bishop is present and a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy is being served, since it is at this time that the bishop himself also enters the sanctuary for the first time. Until that point he has been standing upon the episcopal kathedra (ambo) in the center of the church. Also, when a bishop is to be consecrated, the rite takes place at the Little Entrance. This is also the point in the Liturgy when the bishop will bestow ecclesiastical awards and honours.

Ambon (liturgy)

The Ambon or Ambo is a projection coming out from the soleas in an Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic church. The ambon stands directly in front of the Holy Doors. It may be either rounded or square and has one, two, or three steps leading up to it.

After the troparia and kontakia, the choir begins the Trisagion: "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us!" The chanting of the Trisagion at the Little Entrance is said to have been miraculously revealed to St. Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434 -447). [2] On certain Great Feasts of the church year, the Trisagion is replaced by another hymn, taken from Galatians 3:27 "As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ! Alleluia!" On Feasts of the Cross, the Trisagion is replaced by the hymn, "Before Thy Cross, we bow down in worship, O Master, and Thy holy Resurrection we glorify!" During the Trisagion, or its alternate hymn, the priest and deacon go to the High Place (seats for the bishop and priests to the east of the Holy Table) to prepare for the reading of the Epistle and Gospel.

The Little Entrance symbolizes the Incarnation of Christ and his baptism in the Jordan River: the deacon representing John the Baptist, and the priest representing Christ. Because the first coming of Christ was in humility, the priest is instructed in the rubrics to make the entrance with his hands at his side.

Great Entrance

Orthodox priest and deacons praying the Cherubic Hymn at the beginning of the Great Entrance. Erzpriester16.11.08.jpg
Orthodox priest and deacons praying the Cherubic Hymn at the beginning of the Great Entrance.

The Great Entrance occurs at a later point during the Divine Liturgy, near the beginning of the Liturgy of the Faithful, when the Gifts (bread and wine) to be offered are carried from the Chapel of Prothesis (a table on the north side of the sanctuary sometimes occupying its own apse), to be placed on the Holy Table.

This entrance is made during the chanting of the Cherubic Hymn The Cherubikon that accompanies the Great Entrance was apparently added by the Emperor Justin II (565 - 578) [3] However, the Divine Liturgies celebrated on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday have their own unique Cherubic Hymns.

When the Choir begins the Cherubic Hymn, the deacon begins a censing of the sanctuary, iconostasis, clergy and faithful while the priest prays a long silent prayer known as the "Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn". After the prayer and the censing are finished, the priest and deacon make three metanias (bows) in front of the Holy Table, raise their hands, and say the Cherubic Hymn three times (the priest saying the first half and the deacon(s) saying the second half), each recitation followed by another metania. They then kiss the Holy Table, and bow to each other. The deacon goes behind the Holy Table to the Table of Oblation (Prothesis) and the priest comes out of the Holy Doors to bow to the people, asking their forgiveness. He then goes to the prothesis, censes the offering, and places the Aër (a large veil which covers the diskos and chalice) on the deacon's left shoulder—if there is no deacon, he places the veil over his own back so that it makes a cape covering his shoulders—and gives the diskos (paten) to the deacon, while he carries the chalice. The deacon, still holding the censer, raises the diskos so that it is at the level of his brow. The procession forms with servers (acolytes) holding candles and (depending upon the jurisdiction) ceremonial fans.

Great Entrance at an outdoor hierarchical Divine Liturgy. In the center the protodeacon with the diskos is kneeling in front of the bishop. Patriarkh so svitoi.JPG
Great Entrance at an outdoor hierarchical Divine Liturgy. In the center the protodeacon with the diskos is kneeling in front of the bishop.

As soon as the choir finishes the first half of the Cherubic Hymn the procession goes out the North Door, into the nave and halts in front of the Holy Doors. During the procession, the deacon and priest make a series of intercessions formulated according to local custom. During the last intercession, the priest blesses the faithful with the chalice. The choir sings, "Amen." and chants the second half of the Cherubic Hymn, during which the clergy enter the sanctuary through the Holy Doors and place the gifts on the Holy Table. The priest removes the smaller veils from the diskos and chalice and censes the gifts, saying special prayers together with the deacon

The Great Entrance symbolizes the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.


Orthodox priest and deacon making the Entrance with the censer at Great Vespers. Eastern vespers entrance.jpg
Orthodox priest and deacon making the Entrance with the censer at Great Vespers.

There is also an Entrance made during Great Vespers (served on Sundays and feast days). This follows exactly the same format as the Little Entrance at Liturgy, except that the censer is carried instead of the Gospel Book, and the silent prayer said by the priest is different:

In the evening, and in the morning, and at noonday we praise Thee, we bless Thee, we give thanks unto Thee, and we pray unto Thee, O Lord of all: Direct Thou our prayer before Thee as incense, and incline not our hearts unto words or thoughts of wickedness: but deliver us from all who seek after our souls. For unto Thee, Lord, O Lord, lift we up our eyes, and in Thee have we trusted. Put us not to shame, O our God. For unto Thee are due all glory, honour and worship, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. [4]

If there will be a reading from the Gospel during Vespers that day, as occurs during Holy Week or the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the deacon will carry the Gospel Book instead of the censer.

This entrance occurs during the singing of the dogmatikon that concludes the verses of Lord I have cried (Psalm 140 LXX, etc.) and immediately prior to the singing of O Gladsome Light . This entrance is not performed during either Daily Vespers (the ordinary weekday celebration of Vespers) or Little Vespers (an abbreviated form of Vespers served before an All-Night Vigil).

Presanctified Liturgy

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is celebrated on Wednesdays and Fridays during Great Lent and is a Vespers service combined with the distribution of Holy Communion that had been consecrated the previous Sunday. The Little Entrance here is the same entrance of Great Vespers; however, when a Gospel reading is prescribed (during Holy Week or on feast days), the Gospel Book is used instead of the censer. The Great Entrance is performed in absolute silence (rather than the choir singing, as at the normal Divine Liturgy). while all prostrate themselves. The reason for this is because the elements carried in the Great Entrance are not simply bread and wine (as at the normal Liturgy), but have already been Consecrated, and are believed to be the actual Body and Blood of Christ.

Paschal season

During Bright Week—the week beginning on Pascha (Easter Sunday)—the Holy Doors remain open the entire week, and whenever the priest or deacon enter or leave the sanctuary during services they always do so through the Holy Doors. This is a practice that is unique to Bright Week. In Greek practice, the Paschal services of Bright Week are repeated on the Apodosis ("leave-taking") of Pascha—the day before Ascension—and so this practice will be repeated on this day also.

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Great Lent observance in Eastern Christianity

Great Lent, or the Great Fast, is the most important fasting season in the church year in the Byzantine Rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Byzantine Rite Lutheran Churches and the Eastern Catholic Churches, which prepares Christians for the greatest feast of the church year, Pascha (Easter).

Easter Vigil

Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a service held in traditional Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Historically, it is during this service that people are baptized and that adult catechumens are received into full communion with the Church. It is held in the hours of darkness between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Day – most commonly in the evening of Holy Saturday or midnight – and is the first celebration of Easter, days traditionally being considered to begin at sunset.

In the Byzantine Rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches, Orthros (Greek or Oútrenya is the last of the four night offices, which also include vespers, compline, and midnight office. In traditional monasteries it is held daily so as to end at sunrise. In many parishes it is held only on Sundays and feast days. It is often called matins after the office it most nearly corresponds to in Western Christian churches.

Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts

The Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is a Byzantine Rite liturgical service which is performed on the weekdays of Great Lent wherein communion is received from Gifts that are sanctified (consecrated) in advance, hence its name; this Divine Liturgy has no anaphora.


A paten, or diskos, is a small plate, usually made of silver or gold, used to hold Eucharistic bread which is to be consecrated during the Mass. It is generally used during the liturgy itself, while the reserved sacrament are stored in the tabernacle in a ciborium.

The Little Hours or minor hours are the canonical hours other than the three major hours.

Easter Saturday Saturday 6 days after Easter Sunday. Sometimes confused with Holy Saturday

Easter Saturday, on the Christian calendar, is the Saturday following the festival of Easter, the Saturday of Easter or Bright Week. In the liturgy of Western Christianity it is the last day of Easter Week, sometimes referred to as the Saturday of Easter Week or Saturday in Easter Week. In the liturgy of Eastern Christianity it is the last day of Bright Week, and called Bright Saturday, The Bright and Holy Septave Saturday of Easter Eve, or The Bright and Holy Septave Paschal Artos and Octoechoes Saturday of Iscariot's Byzantine Easter Eve. Easter Saturday is the day preceding the Octave Day of Easter.

Acolouthia in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, signifies the arrangement of the Divine Services, perhaps because the parts are closely connected and follow in order. In a more restricted sense, the term "acolouth" refers to the fixed portion of the Office. The portions of the Office that are variable are called the Sequences. While the structure and history of the various forms of the Divine Office in the numerous ancient Christian rites is exceedingly rich, the following article will restrict itself to the practice as it evolved in the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.


The Aër is the largest and outermost of the veils covering the Chalice and Diskos (paten) in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite. It is rectangular in shape and corresponds to the veil used to cover the chalice and paten in the Latin Rite, but is larger. It is often made of the same material and color as the vestments of the officiating priest, and often has a fringe going all the way around its edge. Tassels may also be sewn at each of the corners.

Gospel (liturgy) a particular reading from a Christian holy book

The Gospel in Christian liturgy refers to a reading from the Gospels used during various religious services, including Mass or Divine Liturgy (Eucharist). In many Christian churches, all present stand when a passage from one of the Gospels is read publicly, and sit when a passage from a different part of the Bible is read. The reading of the Gospels, often contained in a liturgical edition containing only the four Gospels, is traditionally done by a minister, priest or deacon, and in many traditions the Gospel Book is brought into the midst of the congregation to be read.

Epitaphios (liturgical)

The Epitaphios is a Christian religious icon, typically consisting of a large, embroidered and often richly adorned cloth, bearing an image of the dead body of Christ, often accompanied by his mother and other figures, following the Gospel account. It is used during the liturgical services of Good Friday and Holy Saturday in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, as well as those Eastern Catholic Churches, which follow the Byzantine Rite. It also exists in painted or mosaic form, on wall or panel.

The All-night vigil is a service of the Eastern Orthodox Church consisting of an aggregation of the three canonical hours of Vespers, Matins, and the First Hour. The vigil is celebrated on the eves of Sundays and of major liturgical feasts.

Eastern Orthodox worship

Eastern Orthodox worship in this article is distinguished from Eastern Orthodox prayer in that 'worship' refers to the activity of the Christian Church as a body offering up prayers to God while 'prayer' refers to the individual devotional traditions of the Orthodox.

Vesting Prayers are prayers which are spoken while a cleric puts on vestments as part of a liturgy, in both the Eastern and Western churches. They feature as part of the liturgy in question itself, and take place either before or after a liturgical procession or entrance to the sanctuary, as depends on the particular liturgical rite or use which is being observed.

Matins Gospel readings from the Gospels at Matins in the Eastern Churches

The Matins Gospel is the solemn chanting of a lection from one of the Four Gospels during Matins in the Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic churches which follow the Byzantine Rite.

Lity in the Eastern Orthodox Church

The Lity or Litiyá is a festive religious procession, followed by intercessions, which augments great vespers in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches on important feast days. Following a lity is another liturgical action, an artoklasia, and either of these terms may be used to describe both liturgical actions collectively.

Entrance prayers

The entrance prayers are the prayers recited by the deacon and priest upon entering the temple before celebrating the Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite.


  1. Hapgood, Isabel F. (tr.) (1922), Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church, Englewood, NJ: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese, p. 83
  2. St. John Damascene, Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, III, 10
  3. F. E. Brightman, Liturgies Eastern and Western (Oxford University Press, 1965), p. 532.
  4. Hapgood, op. cit., p. 6.