Traditions of Praying the Hours

Dear brothers and sisters,

I have previously reposted Vladimir Basenkov’s excellent article “Edinovertsi’s Treasure: The Rule of Home Prayer”, regarding the culture and praxis of home prayer and worship according to Old Rite tradition, and encourage anyone who has not read it to do so.

Reflecting on the desire of our young parish brothers to pray together and their realisation that most of the services of the Church may be accomplished without clergy, I would like to re-share a little of the above article regarding the praying of the various hours of prayer using the lestovka (or other prayer rope), or by reading the Psalter – which many of our parishioners make a key part of their spiritual-life (with our Slavonic style Psalters having penitential troparia and prayers at the end of each kathisma).

I very much hope that over the next month, I am able to have some teaching time with some of our parishioners, so that they feel confident to come together to celebrate services other than the hours and compline (which are so simple in their format), giving them the skills to combine the variables of the day with the static texts of the daily services.

For now, I would just like to remind parishioners that apart from using the horologion/chasoslov, there are other ways that the faithful have traditionally marked the hours.

“…the practice of replacing the daily cycle of services with the Jesus Prayer with bows and without has very ancient roots. Laboring in isolation from civilization, monks prayed with the help of a verveets (an ancient prayer rope). By the way, this custom has survived to this day—for example, in Athonite monasteries, sometimes the monks pray certain parts of the daily cycle with the help of the Jesus Prayer, whether in their cells or together.”

The rule of prayer on the lestovka/prayer-rope without bows: 

  • For Vespers: 600
  • For Great Compline: 700
  • For Small Compline: 400
  • For Midnight Office: 600
  • For Matins: 1,500
  • For the Hours: 1,000; with the Inter-Hours: 1,500

And with bows: 

  • For Vespers: 300 bows
  • For Great Compline: 300 bows
  • For Small Compline: 200 bows
  • For Midnight Office: 300 bows
  • For Matins: 700 bows
  • For the First Hour: 150 bows
  • For the Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hours: 500 bows; for the Hours with the Inter-Hours: 750 bows

If you decide to pray the Psalms, then the guidelines are as follows: 

  • For Vespers: 2 Kathismas
  • For Great Compline: 2 Kathismas
  • For Small Compline: 1 Kathisma
  • For Midnight Office: 2 Kathismas
  • For Matins: 5 Kathismas
  • For the First Hour: 1 Kathisma
  • For the Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hours: 3 Kathismas

Posted in Prayers.