Good Afternoon Cathedral Community,
Tonight we will celebrate the service of Compline with the Great Canon at 6pm. Although this service is long, it is one of the most beautiful and introspective services during the Lenten season. You can follow along with us during the live stream using the text here. https://www.agesinitiatives.com/dcs/public/dcs/p/s/2020/04/01/co4/gr-en/index.html Tonight’s we will pray the service of Compline with a canon inserted into the middle.
Compline (ἀπόδειπνο) is a service done after dinner. ἀπό (after) + δείπνο (supper) = ἀπόδειπνο. The Compline service is typically done in monasteries— sometimes together in the church, and sometimes as private prayer in their cells. Many parishes do a form of Compline during Lent, and some people read parts or the whole Compline service as their evening prayer before bed. If you have “My Orthodox Prayer Book” by the Archdiocese Religious Education Department you can find a selection of prayers from Compline to use in your personal prayers.
The Compline service can have other liturgical parts inserted into it, such as canons or kontakia. In this way, Compline can serve as a shell for new material or new services. The Service of the Akathist Hymn on Friday evenings during Lent is simply Compline with a canon for the Theotokos inserted into the middle. Tonight’s service is simply Compline with a canon by St. Andrew of Crete inserted into the middle.
A canon is a long poem of odes typically found in the Orthros service (the morning prayer service). Canons introduce a melody and add hymns (called “troparia”) following the same melody, with refrain verses interspersed. Since many people are familiar with the Akathist Hymn, here is how that canon starts.
Tonight we will add the Great Canon, composed by St. Andrew of Crete, into the Compline Service. This canon is unique in that it is very long (250 troparia!), it contrasts many Biblical images of good and bad, and it is a dialogue between the person praying it and his/her own soul. Some people will cross themselves or do a prostration during each refrain. The canon starts like this.
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKinney, Texas has outlined some general themes that we can pay attention to while praying this canon.
I hope this outline and explanation of the service was helpful. Join us tonight at 6pm by going to our parish website: https://annunciationbaltimore.org/Live-Stream.
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