September 17, 2020

Homily Six on the Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church: "The Horologion" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Sacred Liturgical Books of the Orthodox Church:
The Horologion

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
Last Sunday, in a short Eucharistic sermon, I referred to the liturgical book called the Euchologion. If the Euchologion is a book used by the Clergy of all degrees and helps them in the healing work they do, the Horologion is a book which belongs to the Chanters, Readers, Monks, and all Christians. Thus, while the Euchologion is located in the Holy Altar, the Horologion is located on the analogion of the Chanters. Both of these liturgical books are the most useful books and necessary for the worship of the Church.

The word "horologio" refers to something that tells time, hence the Greek word rologi (
ρολόγι) which means "watch", that tells us the time for both day and night. However, the liturgical book known as the Horologion received its name from the fact that in the beginning it had the Services of the Hours, that is, the services that include psalms, hymns and prayers that are read during the first, third, sixth and ninth hours, according to the Byzantine typikon, that is with the 6th and 9th in the morning, the 12th at noon and the 3rd in the evening. However, this liturgical book, the Horologion, over time included, in addition to the Services of the Hours, other services, which is why it was called the Great Horologion.

When one carefully reads the Great Horologion which is in ecclesiastical use today, one understands that it is divided into three parts and the appendix.

The first part contains the services of prayers throughout the day and night, that is, the Midnight with the morning prayer, Matins with the first hour and its half hour, the third hour with its half hour, the sixth hour with its half hour, and the Service of the Typikon, as well as the prayer before and after the midday meal, the ninth hour with its half hour, Vespers with the prayer before and after supper, and the Apodeipnon both Great and Small.

The second part of the Horologion contains the apolytikia and the kontakia of the immovable feasts, but also of the Saints who celebrate every day all year round. Also, it includes all the troparia and kontakia of the Triodion, of the Pentecostarion, the resurrection troparia that are sung every Sunday, the Theotokia and the hypakoes of the
Octoechos, all the apolytikia that are sung daily, and the Theotokia with the apolytikia when a Saint is not celebrated.
The third part of the Horologion includes various Services and Canons, such as the Service of the Akathist Hymn, the Services of the two Supplicatory Canons to the Most Holy Theotokos, the Service of Divine Communion, the Canon to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Canon to the Guardian Angel, the Canon to the Heavenly Powers, and all the Saints. It also includes the twenty-four oikos' of the noetic Ladder, the Honorable Cross.

The Appendix includes various other texts, such as the Gospel of Easter, the Catechetical Homily of Saint John Chrysostom, the Creed of Athanasius the Great, a short synopsis of the Holy Canons, the Paschalion of certain years and other things.

It becomes obvious that the Great Horologion is a very necessary book, not only for the Chanters, but also for the Clergy, the Monks and the Christians. That is why many Christians, especially in ancient times, and in fact those who came from parts of Pontus and Asia Minor, always had the Great Horologion at home and read the services and prayers they needed. It is, in a way, the unceasing prayer of the Church and of Christians.

Also, the so-called Small Horologion is published, which is a short selection of the Great Horologion and called a Synopsis, because it is a synopsis or summary of the Great Horologion, and an even smaller selection is published, which is called a Synekdemos due to it being small so Christians were able to carry it around with them, when they traveled. This book accompanied them in all phases of their lives, which is why it was named Synekdemos.

This liturgical book called Great Horologion, Synopsis and Synekdemos shows the need for man, especially the Christian, to pray at all times, day and night, but also during his travels. A Christian cannot live without God, without prayer, which is the breath of the soul. Just as the body needs respiration with which it receives oxygen to live, so does the soul need its own respiration to receive oxygen. If we do not pray, we feel a spiritual suffocation.

Also, this book, the Great Horologion, shows how the time of our life is sanctified and how through time we gain the eternal, how the eternal is connected with time.

We must learn to pray when we wake up in the morning from sleep, when we leave our house, because we will encounter many dangers, before and after eating, at night before bed, and throughout many other times of the day.
Moreover, apart from these prayers of the Great Horologion, of the Synopsis and of the Synekdemos, we also learn of the Saints we celebrate every day, but also the importance of the Great Feasts, because it is also a very short Synaxarion.

A Christian sanctifies all the time of his life with prayer. He comes in contact with Christ, the Panagia and the Saints.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.