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Matins

The morn­ing ser­vice of the Church is called Matins. It opens with the read­ing of six morn­ing psalms and the inton­ing of the Great Litany. After this, vers­es of Psalm 118 are sung:

God is the Lord and has revealed him­self unto us.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

The Tropar­i­on is then sung and, if it be a monastery, var­i­ous groups of psalms which dif­fer each day are read. Once again there are hymns on the theme of the par­tic­u­lar day. On major feast days, spe­cial prais­es and psalms are sung, which on the Lord’s Day sing of Christ’s res­ur­rec­tion from the dead. On major feasts and on Sun­days, the Gospel is also read.

After the Gospel there is a long inter­ces­so­ry prayer fol­lowed by a set of hymns and read­ings called the Canon. These songs are based on the Old Tes­ta­men­tal can­ti­cles and con­clude with the song of Mary, the so-called Mag­ni­fi­cat (Lk 1:46–55). The Great Dox­ol­o­gy is chant­ed fol­lowed by the morn­ing lita­nies. The tropar­i­on is also repeat­ed once again before the con­gre­ga­tion is dis­missed to begin the activ­i­ties of the day.

The Matins ser­vice of the Church unites the ele­ments of morn­ing psalmody and prayer with med­i­ta­tion on the Bib­li­cal can­ti­cles, the Gospel read­ing, and the par­tic­u­lar theme of the day in the giv­en vers­es and hymns. The themes of God’s rev­e­la­tion and light are also always cen­tral to the morn­ing ser­vice of the Church. Some­times, par­tic­u­lar­ly in church­es of the Russ­ian tra­di­tion, the matins and the ves­per ser­vices are com­bined to form a long vig­il ser­vice. On spe­cial feast days, the bless­ing of bread, wheat, wine, and oil is added to the Ves­pers, even when it is served sep­a­rate­ly from Matins. The faith­ful par­take of the blessed food and are anoint­ed with the oil as a sign of God’s mer­cy and grace.