The Preparatory Order of the Divine Liturgy
© Syrian Orthodox Dioceses of North America and Canada. Reproduced with permission. No part of the material may be reproduced in any form or by any means, without written permission from the publisher.
THE FIRST SERVICE
The celebrant stands with reverence before the central door of the sanctuary, stretches out his hands, makes the sign of the Cross and says:
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And upon us, weak and sinful ones, let mercy and compassion be showered in both worlds, forever and ever. Amen.
Make us worthy, O Lord God, Who are merciful and Lover of mankind, with awareness, awe and spiritual discipline, to stand before You is purity and holiness and to serve You as Lord and Creator to Whom worship is due from all, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now, always and forever. Amen.
Then the celebrant shall recite Psalm 51:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my sins. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sins; for I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sins are ever before me. Against You, You alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Your sight; for You will be justified in Your reproof, triumphant in Your judgments. For behold, You desire truth, and the hidden things of Your wisdom You have made known to me. Sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Satisfy me with Your joy and gladness, that my humble bones may rejoice. Turn Your face away from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence; and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Cast me not away from Your presence; and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation; and uphold me with Your glorious Spirit, then will I teach transgressors Your way, and sinners shall be converted unto You. Deliver me from bloodshedding, O God, You God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open You my lips, and my mouth shall show forth with Your praise; for You desire not sacrifice, You delight not in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Do good in Your pleasure unto Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem. Then shall You be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings, then shall they offer gifts upon Your altar.
The celebrant asks forgiveness of the clergy, saying: Barekhmor, I ask for forgiveness.
With outstretched hands, the celebrant asks forgiveness of the clergy and laity, saying:
Barekhmor. Pray for me, my brethren and beloved ones, that I may be worthy to offer the living and holy sacrifice on behalf of the whole Church community.
They answer, saying:
Barekhmor. May the Lord hear your prayers, be well pleased with your sacrifice, accept your oblations and make us partake with you.
When he enters into the sanctuary, he shall
He bows before the Table of Life, saying:
Into Your house, O God, I have entered, and before Your sanctuary I have worshiped, O Heavenly King, forgive me all wherein I have sinned against You.
He goes around the altar, kissing its horns and saying:
O Lord, our God, enlighten us, bind our festivals by chain, even unto the horns of Your altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to You; You are my God, I will exalt You. (Psalm 118: 27-28)
Here the curtain is drawn over the sanctuary.
In Your light we see light, O Jesus full of light, for You are the true light that enlightens the whole creation. Enlighten us by Your glorious light, O Radiance of the heavenly Father.
While lighting the candles on the left side, he shall say:
O Pious and Holy, Who dwells in the habitations of light, keep away from us the evil passions and hateful thoughts, and grant us that with purity of heart, we may do the works of righteousness.
The celebrant ascends the altar step. He uncovers the pates and the chalice. He puts the paten cover, the sponge and the spoon on the southern side of the altar, the celebrant's right-hand side. Then he puts the chalice cover, the shushefo (veil), the mshamshonitho (cup),10:1 the star, the gomouro, sometimes called besadio, (a small cushion), on the northern side of the altar, the celebrant's left-hand side. The celebrant holds the host10:2 with his two hands and says:
Like a lamb to the slaughter He was led and like a ewe before the shearer He was silent, and so He opened not His mouth, in His humiliation. (Acts 8.32, Isaiah 53:7) Lord, You have made Your abode for Your seat. Lord, prepare it with Your hands. The Lord shall reign forever and ever.
He puts the host on the paten, looking upward and saying:
O You First-born of the heavenly Father, accept this first-born from the hands of Your weak and sinful servant.
He mixes water with the wine in the mshamshonitho, not more than one third of water, and says:
Unite, O Lord, this water and this wine as Your divinity was united with our humanity.
He pours the mixture from the mshamshonitho into the chalice, saying:
Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on the wood between two thieves in Jerusalem, and was pierced in His side with a spear, and blood and water flowed from Him, the absolution of the whole creation. And he who saw it has testified and we know his testimony is true. (John 19: 34-35)
The celebrant covers the paten and the chalice, steps down, kisses the altar in the middle and begins to recite the Service of Penitence.
Deacon: Stomen kalos, Kyrie eleison (Stand well, Lord have mercy).
Celebrant: Let us all pray and beseech the Lord for kindness and mercy. Merciful Lord, have mercy upon us and help us. May we be worthy to raise to You praise, thanksgiving, glory, adoration and never-ceasing good exaltation continually, at all times and in all seasons.
Glory to the one merciful Father, Who answers the sinners who call upon Him; to the one compassionate Son, Who accepts the penitents who knock at His door; and to the one Holy Spirit Who absolves the debtors who seek Him. Unto Him is due glory, honor and worship at this time of forgiveness of penitence and at all feasts and times and hours and seasons through all the days of our life forever. Amen.
O peaceful, kind and humble God, the Lover of mankind, Who is pleased by mercy rather than sacrifice, and, Who loves a contrite heart more than whole burnt offerings, and accepts a humble spirit better than the blood and the savor of fat bullocks and lambs; accept at this time our spiritual sacrifice on Your rational altar. By means of this reasonable service, make us worthy to present ourselves unto You, on Your heavenly altar, spiritual sacrifices with a contrite heart and a humble spirit and become unto You a flock of glorious and spotless sheep. So that when we maybe transformed anew and become confirmed as a new creation in the new world, we may be worthy to sing praise in Your temple, among the rational and wise spirits with radiant lanterns of faith, to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
At Your door, O Lord, I do knock and, from Your treasury I do ask for mercy. I am a sinner of years who has strayed away from Your path. Grant me that I may confess my sins and renounce them and live by Your grace.
At whose door, but at Yours, shall we go knocking, O Compassionate Lord; and who is there for us to intercede to You about our transgressions, if Your mercy will not, O King, Whose honor the kings worship.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
O Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be unto us a high fortress and a refuge from the evil one and His forces who fight against us. Protect us under the wings of Your mercy, when the good ones shall be separated from the evil ones.
From eternity to eternity forever and ever. Amen.
May the voice of our prayer be a key that opens the doors of heaven, and may the archangels, from their arrays, say: How sweet is the voice of the earthly ones that the Lord may quickly grant their requests.
O merciful Lord, have mercy upon us and help us.
Lord, let the fragrance of our prayers be always well-pleasing to You, and the savor of our incense be for Your reconciliation and, by Your mercy, be reconciled with Your creation; now and forever and ever.
O Christ, Who accepted the sacrifice of Melchizedek the high priest, accept, O Lord, the prayer of Your servant and forgive the offenses of Your flock.
I have sinned against You, O You Who have pity on the sinners. Accept my supplication and forgive my transgressions, O Lord, the Lord of all, have mercy upon me.
O pure and spotless Lamb, Who offered Himself an acceptable offering to His Father for the redemption and expiation of the whole world, make us worthy to offer ourselves to You a living sacrifice that is well-pleasing to You after the manner of Your sacrifice on our behalf, O Christ our God, forever.
Kyrie eleison,Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy upon us. Our Lord, spare us and have mercy upon us. Our Lord, answer us and have mercy upon me.
Glory be to You our Lord, glory be to You our Lord, glory be to You our hope forever. Amen.
Our Father Who art in heaven...
This first service is called that of Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High who offered to God bread and wine. (Genesis 14:18, Psalm 110.4, Hebrews 5:6)
THE SECOND SERVICE
Celebrant: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And upon us, weak and sinful ones, may mercy and compassion be showered in both worlds forever and ever. Amen.
Make us worthy, O Lord God, that, with our hearts sprinkled and cleansed from all evil conscience, we may enter into Your sublime and exalted Holy of Holies. So may we stand in purity and holiness before Your holy altar and, in true faith, offer unto You rational and spiritual sacrifices all the days of our life, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever.
The celebrant takes off his choir robe, saying:
Remove from me, O Lord God, the filthy garments with which Satan has clothed me through the weakness of my evil deeds, and clothe me with the choice garments that befit the service of Your honor and for the glory of Your Holy Name, our Lord and our God, forever.
He puts a slipper on his left foot, saying:
Put on my feet, O Lord God, the footwear of the preparation of the Gospel of peace that I may tread upon the snakes, the scorpions and all the power of the enemy forever. Amen.
He puts the slipper on his right foot, saying:
Cast down, O Lord God, under my foot all pride which rises against Your knowledge, and, by the help which is from You, may I tread upon the passions of the flesh, forever. Amen.
He draws the sign of the Cross three times on the alb, then he puts it on, saying:
O Lord God, clothe me with the robe of incorruptibility by the power of Your Holy Spirit, and grant that I be pleasing unto Your will by virtuous and upright conduct all the days of my life, our Lord and our God, forever.
He draws the sign of the Cross twice on the stole, then he puts it around his neck, saying:
Gird me with strength unto the battle, and subdue under me them that rise up against me, defeat my enemies before me and I will silence them who hate me. (Psalm 18: 39-40)
He draws the sign of the Cross once on the tincture then he girds himself, saying:
Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Most Mighty, with Your glory and Your majesty. Your majesty triumphs. (Psalm 45: 3-4)
Before he puts the cuffs on his forearms, he shall say:
Make, O Lord, our members instruments of righteousness that are prepared for all good and right deeds; make us to be seen as pure temples and chosen vessels fit for the service of Your glory and for the praise of Your Holy Name, our Lord and our God, forever.
He puts a cuff on his left forearm, signing the Cross twice over it and saying:
Blessed is my Lord Who has trained my hands to war; and strengthened my arms like a bow of brass. (Psalm 18.34)
He puts the other cuff on his right forearm, signing it once and saying:
Let Your right hand help me up; and Your discipline bring me up. (Psalm 18.35)
If the celebrant is a prelate, he makes the sign of the Cross once on the masnaftho (head cover) and wears it, saying:
Who will show us He Who is Good that He may shine the light of His countenance upon us. O Lord, You have given gladness to my heart. (Psalm 4:6-7)
The celebrant draws the sign of the Cross three times over the phayno (cope), saying20:1:
Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness and Your righteous with glory. For Your servant David's sake, turn not away the face of Your anointed. (Psalm 13:9-10)
He puts on the cope, saying:
Adorn Your priests with salvation and Your righteous with glory. (Psalm 132:16)
If the celebrant is a prelate, he puts on the batrasheel (pallium), crossing it once and saying:
For in the day of trouble, He shall hide me in His shelter; in the shadow of His tabernacle He shall hide me; he shall set me upon a rock; and from now shall my head be lifted above my enemies. (Psalm 27:5-6)
When the prelate puts the cross around his neck he shall say:
Turn your eyes to Him and hope in Him and you shall not be disappointed. (Psalm 34:5)
When the prelate takes the crozier from the archdeacon, he says:
The Lord will send forth the scepter of His power out of Zion, and He will rule over your enemies. (Psalm 110:2)
When the prelate takes the hand cross from the archdeacon, he says:
Through You we shall stab our enemies and for Your Name's sake we will trample them who hate us. (Psalm 44:5)
The celebrant washes his hands, kneels on the altar step and recites the following prayer silently:
O Lord God Almighty, You Who forgives the human iniquities and wishes not the death of a sinner, to You I stretch out the hands of my heart and from You I ask forgiveness for all my unlawfulness as I approach Your altar, although I am unworthy. I implore You to keep my mind from all influences of the enemy, my eyes from looking lustfully, my ears from hearing vanities, my hands from serving foul deeds, my inner parts to be stirred in You so that my whole self may be near You, and from You, may I be given the gift of Your Divine Mysteries, O our Lord and our God, forever.
The celebrant kisses the altar. He ascends the altar step and uncovers the paten and the chalice. He puts the cover of the paten on his right side and that of the chalice on his left side and shall say:
The Lord reigns; He is clothed with majesty; the Lord is clothed with power and is strengthened. He has set in order the universe and it shall not move. Your throne is established of old; You are from everlasting. (Psalm 93:1-2)
The celebrant takes the paten in his right hand and the chalice in his left hand. He crosses his arms with the right above the left. He lifts the paten and his chalice above the tablitho (the altar board) and recites the following prayer silently:
Prayer of the Divine Dispensation
The memorial of our Lord, our God and our Savior Jesus Christ and all of His redemptive dispensations on our behalf; especially the message of the angel; His birth in the flesh, His baptism in the Jordan River and His fast of forty days, His voluntary passions and the raising of Him on the Cross, His life-giving death and His revered burial, His glorious resurrection, His ascension into heaven and His sitting on the right hand of God the Father. We, moreover, remember, at this time, upon this Eucharist set before us, first of all, our father Adam, our mother Eve, the Holy Mother of God, Mary, the prophets, the apostles, the preachers, the evangelists, the martyrs, the confessors, the just ones, the priests, the holy fathers, the true pastors, the orthodox doctors, the anchorites, the monks, those who are standing and praying with us and all those who ever since have pleased You from Adam and Eve until this day. We, also, remember our fathers, our brethren and our masters who have taught us correctly the word of truth; our own departed ones and all the faithful departed, particularly and especially those who are from our own blood, those who took part in the building of this place; all those who took part and are still taking part in supporting this place, as well as all those who have partnership with us, in word or in deed, in little or in much, especially the individual for whom and for whose sake this sacrifice is being offered, (N).
Here the celebrant remembers those he wishes.
If the Eucharist is offered for the Mother of God, the following prayer ought to be recited thrice silently:
We especially commemorate Mary, the Holy Mother of God, in whose honor this Eucharist is being offered that she may be, particularly and distinctly, an intercessor unto You on behalf of all who have taken refuge in the help of her prayers. O Good and Merciful God, through her prayers that are heard and petitions that are accepted, answer by Your grace the requests of those who have distinguished and honored her. Remove from them all temptations, chastisements and rods of wrath and blot out their offenses by Your compassion.
If the Eucharist is in honor of a saint: (Thrice)
We especially commemorate St. (N), in whose honor and for whom this sacrifice is being offered, that he may be unto You and intercessor on behalf of (N) who has taken refuge in the aid of his prayers and is present here to offer this oblation in his temple. You, O Merciful Lord God, answer his (her) requests by Your grace for he (she) has distinguished and honored his memorial and has offered vows and offerings in his temple. Remove from him (her), temptations, injuries, affliction, rods of wrath and sickness through the prayers of Your elect ones and all Your saints.
Or in short form: (Thrice)
And on behalf of Mor (N), the saint whom we commemorate today.
For a sick person: (Thrice)
On behalf of the soul of Your servant (N); have pity on him (her) by Your grace. Grant him (her) healing and health of soul and body through the prayers and the supplications of the all pure Virgin Mary and all Your saints.
For a penitent: (Thrice)
On account of the repentance of Your servant (N), on whose behalf this sacrifice is offered; yea, Lord God, pardon his (her) debts, forgive his (her) transgressions, grant rest to the spirits of his (her) departed ones and deliver him (her) from all injuries and evil afflictions throughout all the days of his (her) life.
For a faithful departed: (Thrice)
O God, accept this sacrifice, from my weak and sinful hands, for the soul of Your servant (N) who has departed from us. You, O Lord God, pardon his (her) debts and sins by Your compassion and grant him (her) rest and felicity in Your mansions of light with all those who have done Your will.
For the celebrant's relatives: (Thrice)
O God, in Your kindness, grant rest and good remembrance to my father, my mother, my forefathers, my brothers, my sisters, my relatives, my teachers, my masters and all those who have relationship with me, as well as all those who have asked of my weakness to remember them in the oblation offered to You, whose names are known to You.
A general prayer for all the faithful departed to be said every Sunday: (Thrice)
O God, accept this sacrifice, from my weak and sinful hands, on behalf of the souls of all the faithful departed, Your servants whose names are known to You. You, O Lord God, pardon their debts, forgive their transgressions and grant rest to their spirits in Your mansions full of light with all those who, since ever, have pleased Your will.
The celebrant places the chalice on the tablitho toward the east and the paten toward the west, and covers them with the shushefo, saying:
The heavens were covered with the brightness of the Glorious One and the whole creation is full of His glory. (Habakkuk 3:3)
He then descends the altar step and says the following:
Let us all pray and beseech the Lord for kindness and mercy. Merciful Lord, have mercy upon us and help us. May we be worthy to raise to You praise, thanksgiving, glory, adoration and never-ceasing good exaltation continually, at all times and in all seasons.
Unto that sweet fruit Who sprouted from the virginal womb and magnified and extolled His Mother's memory; unto that adorable Lord Who glorified His saints' festivals and the delight of their banquets throughout creation; and unto that living and life-giving Lord Who, by His sweet voice, quickens the dead and gladdens them in His pleasant glory. To Him is due glory and honor at this time of the general prayer of forgiveness and at all feasts, seasons, hours, times and through all the days of our life forever. Amen.
The celebrant burns incense, saying:
To the honor and glory of the Holy and Glorious Trinity, incense is offered by my weak and sinful hands. Let us all pray and beseech the Lord for mercy and compassion. Merciful Lord, have mercy upon us and help us.
The celebrant takes the censer from the thurifer and begins to incense, saying:
We worship and thank You, O Creator of the worlds and the Framer of creation, the Blessed Root Who sprang forth and came up out of the thirsty ground Mary, and by the scent of Whose glorious sweet fragrance the whole earth was filled, and Who dispelled the foul odor of paganism from all the regions by His glorious teaching. We offer You pure incense after the manner of the priest Aaron, who offered You pure incense by which he withheld the pestilence from the people of Israel. Yea, O Lord God, we beseech You to accept this fragrance of incense which we, in our weakness, offer to You for our sins and our iniquities and for our father Adam and our mother Eve, for the Holy Mother of God, Mary, for the prophets and the apostles, for the just and the righteous, for the martyrs and confessors, for the holy fathers and the doctors of true faith, for the anchorites and the monks, for the rich and the poor, for the orphans and the widows, for the distressed and the afflicted, for the sick and the oppressed and for everyone who has asked and bidden us to remember them in our prayers unto You, O Christ our God,and on behalf of the living and the dead for the rest of their souls in the heavenly Jerusalem. Glory and praise we shall raise up to You and to Your Father and to Your Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
The celebrant ascends the altar step and swings the censer toward the east, saying:
Praise the Lord, O ye righteous. With the sweet fragrance of incense, may there be remembrance of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
He brings the censer toward the west, saying:
Praise Him, all ye nations. With the sweet fragrance of incense, may there be a remembrance of the prophets, the apostles and the holy martyrs.
He brings the censer toward the north, saying:
Glory be to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. With the sweet fragrance of incense, may there be remembrance of the doctors, the priests, the just and the righteous.
He brings the censer toward the south, saying:
From the everlasting to everlasting. Amen. With the sweet fragrance of incense, may there be remembrance of the Holy Church and all her children.
He swings the censer circularly over the elements, twice to the left side and once to the right side, saying:
O High Priest and the Lord of Lords, Who entered and dwelt in His Holy Church on the altar, accepting the praises of the angels and the choicest sweet fragrance from all rational, incorporeal and perceptible beings.
Even now, O Lord, accept, with this sweet savor of incense, the praise of our mouths and the thanksgiving of our tongues, and through it, may we receive from You tranquillity for Your people, peace for Your flock, atonement for Your sheep and sweet smelling fragrance for Your Church. With it, grant rest and make good remembrance of Your Mother, Your saints and for all the faithful departed, O Christ the Son, Who are worshiped and glorified with His Father and His Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
The celebrant comes down from the altar step, bows his head and holds the middle edge of the shushefo and thrice censes the center of the altar, which symbolizes the Father, saying:
Adoration to the Compassionate Father.
He holds the edge of the shushefo, thrice ceases the northern corner of the altar andfolds the northern edge of the shushefo back, which symbolizes the Son, saying:
Adoration to the Merciful Son.
He holds the edge of the shushefo and thrice senses the southern corner of the altar which symbolizes the Holy Spirit, saying:
Adoration to the Holy Spirit.
May the just and the righteous, the prophets and the apostles, the martyrs and the confessors, the Holy Mother of God, Mary and all the saints, who since ever have pleased You, O Lord, be intercessors and suppliants unto You on behalf of the souls of all of us, and by their prayers and supplications may wrath cease from Your people, and have mercy upon Your flock and make Your peace and tranquillity prevail in the four quarters of the world. And, by Your grace, make atonement for the sins and transgression of our faithful departed, our Lord and our God, forever. Amen.
Then he thrice says: Kyrie eleison.
He concludes this service by saying: The Trisagion. The Lord's Prayer. The Nicene Creed.
This second service symbolizes the offerings as mentioned in the Book of Leveticus (1:2).
Here ends the two services which the celebrant says inaudibly behind the closed curtain, while one of the deacons reads the lesson of the day from the Old Testament.
10:1 Mshamshonitho, washing cup, is a small vessel in which the wine and the water are mixed at the offertory and then poured into the chalice. It is then filled with plain water in which the celebrant washes the tips of his fingers whenever he touches the Holy Body. It must be placed at his left.
10:2 On the festivals of our Lord, when a large number of the faithful wish to receive Holy Communion, the celebrant may use two hosts. But if more be needed, then the number of hosts must always be an odd number. They ought to be arranged in the shape of the Cross. But if the paten is small, then he may put them one on the other.
20:1 If a prelate is present, the celebrant should take the cope to him to be blessed. If another priest is present, then the celebrant must ask him to bless the cope. The priest draws the sign of the Cross twice over the cope and the celebrant once.
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