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Α’κολουθι’α του~ A’ναγνω’στου, η’γουν τα Συλλειτουργικα’ …

“The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God.” — St. John of Damascus from his Treatise on Images

Α’κολουθι’α του~ A’ναγνω’στου, η’γουν τα Συλλειτουργικα’ …Akolouthia tou Anagnōstou, ēgoun ta Sylleitourgika
Enetiēsin [Venice]:Para Dēmēt[]ō Theodosis tō [] Iōanninōn, 1762
BX350 A2 1762

This is a collection of the daily Office for the non-feast days of the Byzantine Rite. The opening, Akolouthia, provides the fixed prayers and chants. Psaltirion follows, then the Octoechos – hymns keyed to the eight modes of Byzantine ecclesiastical music. The final portion, the Eirmologian, is a set of canons sung during the services.

Printer Demetrios Teodosios specialized in books of Greek liturgy. He worked for the Glikis press in Venice before opening his own press through financial support from the Greek merchant Pano Maruzzi, who became Russian Ambassador to Venice in 1768. Teodosio’s press produced works aimed at supporting Orthodox Christianity, as well as secular works in various Balkan languages and Armenian. He was the principal Venetian publisher of works in Cyrillic. In this volume each piece is decorated: woodcut title devices; a woodcut vignette of King David; three full-page woodcuts of St. John of Damascus, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection; a cartouche of Christ, Mary, John the Evangelist, and angels; fleuron borders; and more.

“For I think that in the words of this book all human life is covered, with all its states and thoughts, and that nothing further can be found in man. For no matter what you seek, whether it be repentance and confession, or help in trouble and temptation or under persecution, whether you have been set free from plots and snares or, on the contrary, are sad for any reason, or whether, seeing yourself progressing and your enemy cast down, you want to praise and thank and bless the Lord, each of these things the Divine Psalms show you how to do, and in every case the words you want are written down for you, and you can say them as your own.” — Athanasius of Alexandria, in a letter to Marcellinus interpreting the Psalms

“The deepest abyss surrounds us. There is no redeemer. We are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Save your people, O our God, for you are the strength and restoration of the weak.” — from the Octoechos

The Octoechos contains an eight-week cycle, providing texts to be chanted for every day of the week at Vespers, Matins, Compline and (on Sundays) the Midnight Office. Each week, the hymns are sung in a different liturgical Mode or Tone. The origins of this book go back to compositions by St. John of Damascus (676-749).

Born into a Christian family held in high esteem by its Muslim countrymen, John’s father held a high hereditary office which answered to the caliph, Abdul Malekunder, as head of the tax department for Syria. John’s father arranged for him to be tutored by a Sicilian monk, a prisoner of the wars taking place on the coasts of Italy. John was instructed in algebra and geometry. He succeeded his father in his public office. During this time, the first edict against the veneration of images and their exhibition in public places was issued by Emperor Leo the Isaurian. John began writing against the monarch, ardently defending the veneration of icons, earning him a reputation for his use of a simple writing style which enabled common people to respond. Leo took possession of a manuscript of John’s complaint and forged a letter from John indicating betrayal. Despite John’s protestations of innocence, the caliph discharged him from his post, ordering his right hand to be severed. His hand was miraculously restored after fervent prayer before an icon of the Theotokos. John retired to the Monastery of Saint Sabbas near Jerusalem, where he continued to write commentaries, hymns (including one of the Christmas canons and the Paschal canon, still sung in the Christian Orthodox Church today), and apologetica. He died on December 5th. His feast day in honored in the Christian Orthodox Church on December 4th.

The earliest known dated manuscript on “Western” paper is a commentary by Ioannes Zonaras on the Octoechos, scribed somewhere in an unknown area of the Eastern Mediterranean in 1252. The Octoechos was first printed in 1494 in present-day Montenegro, the first incunabulum printed in Cyrillic in Southeast Europe. It was later printed in Kiev, in Moscow, and, in the West, by Montenegrin printer Božidar Vuković and his son Vincenzo in Venice in the 16th century.

“Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication. If Thou shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, O Lord, who shall stand? For with Thee there is forgiveness. For Thy name’s sake have I patiently waited for Thee, O Lord; my soul hath waited patiently for Thy word, my soul hath hoped in the Lord. From the morning watch until night, from the morning watch let Israel hope in the Lord. For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption; and He shall redeem Israel out of all his iniquities.” — Psalm 130

This collection, or, Sammelband, was most likely assembled for use by monks in their daily practices of the divine office.

Rare Books copy bound in contemporary gilt chestnut morocco, inner and outer rule frames, daisies in the corners, central diamond made up of four impressions of a fleuron, spine gilt-ruled with daisies in each compartment, blue edges with gilt daisies, two brass posts, evidence of leather clasps.

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