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Who Reads the Gospel?

ilyazhito

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I've read the liturgical directions for different services on reading the gospel, and have noticed that the deacon does it during the Divine Liturgy, but at most other times, including Matins, it is the priest. Is there any liturgical reason for this?
 

Fr.Andrei

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This may not be completely relevant to your question, but I was taught in the Russian/Ukrainian tradition, the priest always reads the Sunday Matins Gospel on the Altar table. The reason for this is that the Altar represents the Tomb of Lord. I am pretty sure this information came from Auxiliary Bishop Luke of ROCOR.
However, if a bishop is presiding the deacon brings him the Gospel to be read in the center of the church. This is also done at Feast Day Matins, even if a priest is presiding instead of a bishop.
 

ilyazhito

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Interesting. I never heard that explanation before. I might ask my question on deacon.ru, but I have no idea what the liturgical specialists there might reply.
 
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This may not be completely relevant to your question, but I was taught in the Russian/Ukrainian tradition, the priest always reads the Sunday Matins Gospel on the Altar table. The reason for this is that the Altar represents the Tomb of Lord. I am pretty sure this information came from Auxiliary Bishop Luke of ROCOR.
However, if a bishop is presiding the deacon brings him the Gospel to be read in the center of the church. This is also done at Feast Day Matins, even if a priest is presiding instead of a bishop.
I was in a ROCOR parish. When the deacon served, the gospel was always read in the nave by the priest. If the deacon was absent, from the altar (really at the Royal doors facing the people). Vigils were regularly served, not just for feasts.
 

ilyazhito

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I was in a ROCOR parish. When the deacon served, the gospel was always read in the nave by the priest. If the deacon was absent, from the altar (really at the Royal doors facing the people). Vigils were regularly served, not just for feasts.
The priest was reading the Gospel at the Divine Liturgy with a deacon present? That is unusual, but sometimes happens if the Gospel is read in multiple languages at the same service (deacon in English, priest in Slavonic). In ROCOR and OCA, I've always seen the deacon reading the Gospel at the Divine Liturgy, except for one time where a deacon served while sick.
 
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The priest was reading the Gospel at the Divine Liturgy with a deacon present? That is unusual, but sometimes happens if the Gospel is read in multiple languages at the same service (deacon in English, priest in Slavonic). In ROCOR and OCA, I've always seen the deacon reading the Gospel at the Divine Liturgy, except for one time where a deacon served while sick.
Talking about matins at vigil.
 

Fr.Andrei

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I understand that. My parish is OCA. We generally don't do vigils. I would like to do Matins every Sunday and Feast, but lack the manpower. There is one chanter, like me, he's not young. So we offer Matins during the period of the Nativity Fast, also during the Lenten and Paschal Triodia. Not to either brag or complain, but few of the other Orthodox churches in the area offer Matins at any time.
 

Fr.Andrei

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Also, we do Matins the morning of most of the Major Feasts of the Lord and Theotokos.
 

ilyazhito

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Talking about matins at vigil.
I was trying to figure out your post. Now it makes more sense.

The big question is why there are two different people reading the Gospel at different times. The Gospel is not always part of Matins, but rather it is added to Matins at feasts of doxology rank or higher, but it is always a core part of the Divine Liturgy. Is there a reason why the priest (or bishop) reads the Gospel at Matins, but the deacon does it for the Liturgy?

My guess is that the anaphora is a more important task for the priest at the Liturgy, so the Gospel, as a routine part of the Liturgy, is the deacon's job, to free the priest from overwork. At Matins, the Polyeleos/Evlogitaria, Prokeimenon, Gospel sequence is the signature moment, so it would make sense in that regard for the priest to be a part of that activity.
 

Deacon Lance

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I was trying to figure out your post. Now it makes more sense.

The big question is why there are two different people reading the Gospel at different times. The Gospel is not always part of Matins, but rather it is added to Matins at feasts of doxology rank or higher, but it is always a core part of the Divine Liturgy. Is there a reason why the priest (or bishop) reads the Gospel at Matins, but the deacon does it for the Liturgy?

My guess is that the anaphora is a more important task for the priest at the Liturgy, so the Gospel, as a routine part of the Liturgy, is the deacon's job, to free the priest from overwork. At Matins, the Polyeleos/Evlogitaria, Prokeimenon, Gospel sequence is the signature moment, so it would make sense in that regard for the priest to be a part of that activity.
The reading of the Resurrection Gospel at Matins comes from Jerusalem where it was the prerogative of the Patriarch. As the Typicon of St Sabbas spread it was relegated to the priest.
 

ilyazhito

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Wow. I'd never heard that explanation before.

Did the deacon always read the Gospel at the Liturgy? It would be interesting to find out how that practice arose.
 

brlon

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In "Epistula ad Leudefredum", Saint Isidore (bishop of Seville, (ca 560 - 636)), writing to Leudefredus (bishop of Cordoba), ascribes the reading of the Gospel and epistle (Apostle) to the deacon and, furthermore, writes that it is the duty of the 'archdeacon' to take a care as to which of the deacons is to read.

Inter alia, he describes the function of the deacons as assisting the priests and in everything which is done in the sacraments of Christ.; the function of the priests is to 'perform' the sacrament of the Lord's Body and Blood at the Lord's altar, to offer prayers, and to bless the people.

Needless to say, there is some disputation as to the authenticity of the letter.
 

ilyazhito

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Interesting. I wonder if there is earlier documentation on deacons reading the Gospel at the Liturgy. Curiously, the deacon reads the Gospel, but almost always it is the priest (or bishop) who gives the homily.
 

brlon

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Interesting. I wonder if there is earlier documentation on deacons reading the Gospel at the Liturgy. Curiously, the deacon reads the Gospel, but almost always it is the priest (or bishop) who gives the homily.
I wondered whether that might be the reason - fulfilling the deacon's function of service to the priest.
 

Shanghaiski

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There are apparently also times when the priest reads (when a deacon is serving) in a supplicatory or blessing service, and I believe during Holy Week services, if I recall correctly.
 

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There are apparently also times when the priest reads (when a deacon is serving) in a supplicatory or blessing service, and I believe during Holy Week services, if I recall correctly.
At Molebens yes because they are structured after Matins. During Holy Week it depends. The deacon reads the Gospel at Presanctified Liturgy, Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, and at Vespers on Holy Friday.
 

ilyazhito

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I agree with that, because I have seen deacons reading the Gospel at Vesperal Liturgy or Vespers, on the rare occasion that Vespers has a Gospel reading. The exception to this is Agape Vespers on the afternoon of Pascha. At Molebens, I get that, because they are a simplified version of Matins.
 
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