Fr. John Whiteford: Holy Week at Home, Part 1
April 12, 2020
What follows are numerous links to liturgical resources for praying the Holy Week services at home, as compiled by Fr. John Whiteford of St. Jonah Orthodox Church in Spring, Texas. An especially useful resource during this time of isolation and quarantine!
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For the benefit of the many Orthodox Christians who will find themselves unable to attend Holy Week services in person, I am presenting reader service options. This is part 1. In part 2, I will post Holy Saturday Vespers, the Midnight Office for Pascha, Paschal Matins, the Paschal Hours, and Paschal Typika.
Lazarus Saturday Eve
(Friday, April 10th)
- For those who want to do the service as it is appointed, here is the text for the Matins of Lazarus Saturday:
- If you are unfamiliar with what a Kathisma is, it is a section of the Psalter. There are 20 of them, and this is a chart that explains which are done when. If you have a liturgical Psalter, these Kathismas will be properly notated.
- In parish practice, instead of the 2 or 3 Kathismas that are appointed, usually, only one is done, and that Kathisma is usually abbreviated to consist of one psalm per stasis (each Kathisma having 3 of them). This is a chart with suggestions on which psalms to use, based on the tone of the week:
Technically, Holy Week does not have a tone, but what I have always done is continue with the sequence of tones through Holy Week, and so on Lazarus Saturday this year, you would use the selections for tone 1, but beginning with Palm Sunday, and through the rest of the week, it would be the selections for tone 2.
If you don't have a liturgical Psalter, or if you think your kids will not be able to make it through a longer service, you can skip the Kathismas entirely.
- Also, if doing Matins is more than you want to attempt, here is Small Compline, with the Matins canon inserted, so that you can get the meat of that service, in a much shorter and more simple service:
- For Lazarus Saturday morning, April 11th, here is the text of Typika:
Palm Sunday Eve
(Saturday, April 11th)
- For a more simple option, you could do the Akathist to the Passion of Christ, either inserting it into Small Compline, or using the Rule of St. Pachomius, and inserting it where it calls for the Jesus Prayer.
This can be done on Sunday evening, Monday evening, and Tuesday evening.
- During the days of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, you could try to read all four Gospels, which is what is done according to the Typikon during the hours, or at least try to read through one of them. The reason we do this liturgically, is because it was on these days that Christ taught in the Temple. In addition to reading the Gospels yourself, you could also listen to them being read by downloading the YouVersion Bible app on your phone, which is free.
Holy Week: Monday - Friday
- Holy Tuesday Matins, served on Monday Evening (April 13th):
- Holy Wednesday Matins, served on Tuesday Evening (April 14th):
- Holy Thursday Matins, served on Wednesday Evening (April 15th):
- On the Thursday Morning (April 16th):
You can do the 3rd, 6th, and 9th hours:
Followed immediately by Typika and Vespers:
Alternatively, you could do the Akathist for Holy Communion, as suggested above for the Akathist to the Passion of Christ:
- The Service of the Twelve Passion Gospels, served on Thursday evening (April 16th):
- If you do not have a Liturgical Gospel Book, the 12 Gospel Readings are laid out here:
If doing the Matins is too much for you, I would suggest you have your family at least read through the 12 Gospel readings. You can also do the Akathist to the Cross, as indicated above:
- The Royal Hours of Holy Friday, served in the morning (April 17th):
- Vespers for Holy Friday, served in the afternoon (April 17th):
- Holy Saturday Matins, served Friday Evening (April 17th):
The above text does not include the text of the actual Lamentations, but the Antiochian Archdiocese provides sheet music, with the text using a translation that is almost identical to what we normally use:
If that service is more than you feel capable of pulling off, you could do the Akathist to the Life Bearing Tomb, as indicated above:
Also, if you can read music, you will find a lot of sheet music for these services here:
Update: If you prefer ePub format, some of the above services have been converted to that format, and are available here:
Update 2: The Carpatho-Russian Diocese has a document that has some useful ideas for doing Holy Week at home, especially with children. It also has some icons at the end that with a color printer could be very useful for the services:
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This information is compliments of Fr. John Whiteford, and originally appeared on Fr. John's blog. The text here has been slightly edited for formatting.