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Matins (also spelled Mattins, from the Latin, matutinae, "morning"), also called Orthros (from Greek, meaning "morning", "dawn" or "day break"), is the longest and most complex of the daily cycle services. Matins is celebrated in the morning, unless it is celebrated as part of a vigil in the evening.

Services of the Orthodox Church
Eucharist: Divine Liturgy | When the Eucharist cannot be served: Typika
Daily Cycle (Divine Office)
Vespers | Compline | Midnight Office | Matins
Little Hours (Prime,Terce,Sext,None) | Royal Hours | Mesorion
Other Services
Akathist Hymn | Paraklesis | Moleben
Great Blessing of Water | Artoklasia
Baptism-Chrismation Service | Holy Unction
Ordination Service | Marriage Service
Funeral Service | Memorial Service

General structure of Sunday Matins

While some sections of Matins follow the eight-tone cycle, others follow the eleven-part cycle of the Resurrectional Gospels (the eothina).

  • Sunday Matins, when served apart from a vigil opens with the Priest's exclamation "Blessed is our God..."
  • The choir responds "Amen." and the Priest reads "Glory to Thee..." & the prayer "Heavenly King..."
  • The Reader reads the Trisayion Prayers.
  • The Priest exclaims "For Thine is"...
  • The Reader reads "Lord have mercy" twelve times, "Glory. Both now." and Psalms 19 & 20.
  • The Priest censes the whole Temple during the readings of Psalms 19 & 20.
  • After Psalms 19 & 20 the Reader reads the Trisagion prayers.
  • The Priest exclaims "For Thine is..."
  • The Reader reads the Royal Troparia.
  • The Priest exclaims the first three petitions of the Fervent Supplication (Have mercy upon us O God..." and then exclaims "For Thou art a Good God..." The choir responds "Amen. In the name of the Lord, Father bless." The Priest exclaims "Glory to the Holy..."
  • The Reader with the fear of God exclaims "Glory to God in the highest.." (thrice), "Lord Thou shalt open my lips..." (twice) and then reads the Six Psalms (Three, Thirty-Seven, Sixty Two, Eighty Seven, Hundred and Two, and Hundred and Fourty Two.)Selected verses from each Psalm is read at the end of each Psalm. "Glory. Both now." "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Glory to Thee O God" "Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy." "Glory. Both now." is read in the middle of the Six Psalms.
  • The Deacon intones the Great Litany, at the end of which the Priest exclaims "For unto Thee..."
  • The Choir, in the Tone of the week, chants "God is the Lord" with its appointed verses. The Resurrectional Apolytikion follow (always twice) "Glory" that of the Saint, "Both now" the Theotokion in the Tone of the Saint's Apolyikion.
  • The Deacon intones the Small Litany, at the end of which the Priest exclaims "For Thine is the dominion..."
  • The Choir chants the Kathismata of the Tone of the week after the 1st and 2nd readings of the Psalter (the Psalter readings are not read in common practice).
  • The Choir straightaway after chanting the Kathismata chants the Evlogytaria.
  • The Deacon intones the Small Litany, at the end of which the Priest exclaims "For blessed is Thy name..."
  • The Reader reads the Ypakoi of the Tone of the week.
  • The Choir sings the Songs of Ascent of the Tone of the week, which is followed by the Prokeimenon and its verse.
  • The order of the Gospel is followed: the Deacon intones "Let us pray to the Lord...", the Choir responds "Lord have mercy." The Priest exclaims "For Holy art Thou our God..." The Choir responds "Amen" and then chants "Let everything that has breath..." (thrcie). The Deacon exclaims "That we may be vouchsafed to listen..." The Choir responds "Lord have mercy." (thrice). The Deacon then exclaims "Wisdom. Arise let us listen..." and the Priest exclaims "Peace be unto all." The Priest exclaims "From the Gospel according to..." The Choir responds "Glory to Thee O Lord..." and the Deacon exclaims "Let us attend!" The Priest now reads the appointed Resurrectional Gospel (Eothinon) for the Sunday (from the 11-week cycle of Resurrection Gospels). He reads it from the right side of the Holy Altar Table. After the Gospel reading the Choir chants "Glory to Thee O Lord.."
  • The Reader reads "Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ..."
  • The 50th Psalm is chanted, always in the 2nd Tone.
  • Then the following hymns are usually sung:

"Glory..." "Through the intercessions of the Apostles..." "Both now.." "Through the intercessions of the Theotokos..." "Have mercy on me, O God..." "Jesus having risen..."

  • On Sundays of the Triodion (excluding Palm Sunday, or a Sunday on which Annunciation might fall), the following hymns are sung in place of the four hymns just cited:

"Glory..." "The doors of repentance..." "Both now..." "Guide me in the paths of salvation..." "Have mercy on me, O God..." "When I think of the multitude of evil things I have done..."

  • The Priest exclaims "O God, save thy people and bless thine inheritance..." The choir responds with "Lord, have mercy" (12 times), and the priest replies with the exclamation "Through the compassions ..."
  • The Canon is now chanted in the following order: The Choir chants the 1st Ode of the Resurrectional Canon (Tone of the week), the Canon to the Cross and Resurrection, the Canon to the Theotokos (all in the tone of the week), and the Canon of the Saint of the day. They then chant the 1st Ode's sesonal Katavasia. The 3rd Ode is chanted in the exact same manner.
  • After the Katavsia of the 3rd Ode the Deacon intones the Little Litany, at the end of which the Priest exclaims "For Thou art our God..."
  • The Reader reads the Saint's Kontakion and Oikos, if there is one. The Choir then chants the Kathisma hymn that is appointed to be read After the 3rd Ode.
  • The Reader reads the following Odes of the Canon as follows: Ode 4 to Ode 8 (Resurrectional, Cross and Resurrection, Theotokos, Saint of day).
  • The Choir immediatly begins to chant the sesonal Katavasia of Odes 4 to 6.
  • The Deacon intones the Little Litany, at the end of which the Priest exclaims "For Thou art the King of Peace..."
  • The Reader reads the Resurrectional Kontakion & Oikos of the Tone of the week, followed by the Synaxarion of the Day from the Menaion (see after 6th Ode of Saint's canon).
  • The Choir chants the Katavasies of the 7th and 8th Odes.
  • The Deacon exclaims "The Theotokos and Mother of Light..."
  • The Choir sings "Higher in honour then the Cherubim..." with its verses. The 9th Ode of the Canon immediately follows, in the exact way the 1st Ode was chanted. During the 9th Ode, the Deacon censes the Temple.
  • The Deacon intones the Little Litany, at the end of which the Priest exclaims "All the choirs of angels bless Thee, and to Thee do we send up glory..."
  • The Choir chants "Holy is the Lord our God". After, they chant the Resurrection (Sunday) Exaposteilarion corresponding to the Matins Gospel that was read. Then "Glory ..." and the Exapostilarion of the saint, if there is one. Then "Both now ..." and the Exapostilarion of the feast, if there is one; if not, the Resurrection Theotokion Exapostilarion corresponding to the Gospel and the Sunday Exapostilarion that were read.
  • The Choir chants the Praises (Psalms 148-150) in the Tone of the week: "Let everything that has breath" and "Praise Him all His angels..."
  • The Reader reads the rest of the Psalms' verses up until the verse "To do in them..."
  • The Choir chants the Stichera of the Praises, inserting them between the last few verses of the Praises.
  • The Choir chants "Glory" and the corresponding Doxasticon to the Matins Gospel and the Sunday Exapostilarion.
  • The Choir chants "Both now... Most blessed art thou, Virgin Theotokos..."
  • The Choir chants the Great Doxology in the Tone of the week.
  • The Choir chants (if the current Tone is 1 - 4) "Today is salvation..." or (if it is tone Pl. 1st - Pl. 4th) "Having risen..."
  • The Deacon intones the Litany of Fervent Supplication, at the end of which the Priest exclaims "For a merciful..."
  • The Deacon intones the Litany of Completion, at the end of which the Priest exclaims "For Thou art a good God..."
  • The Priest exclaims "Peace be unto all..." and the Deacon intones "Let us bow our heads..."
  • The Priest reads silently the "Prayer at the Bowing of the Heads..." and then exclaims "Thine it is to have mercy..."
  • The Deacon intones "Wisdom", the Choir "Bless", the Priest "Blessed is the existing One..."
  • The Reader reads the prayer "Establish Lord God..."
  • The Priest exclaims "Most Holy Theotokos save us!"
  • The Reader reads "More honourable..." and "Glory. Both now" "Lord have mercy" (thrice) "Holy Father bless!"
  • The Priest reads the Dismissal "Glory to Thee our God... May He who has Risen from the dead, Christ our true God..."
  • The Reader reads "Come let us worship..." and the 1st Hour.
  • The Divine Liturgy is served.

Matins services

There are seven types of Matins:

Basic forms

  • Sunday Matins: the longest of the regular matins services. If this service is celebrated in its entirety it can last up to three hours. It usually contains a combination of canons taken from the Octoechos, Menaion, Triodion, and/or Pentecostarion. As a result, in parishes, abbreviations are often made. Often, this matins is part of a vigil (particularly in Slavic practice).
  • Daily Matins: there is no Gospel.
  • Feast-day Matins with Gospel.

Special forms

  • Lenten Matins: penitential material added (hymns and prayers).

Matins services related to the Paschal feast:

  • Great and Holy Friday Matins: there are twelve Gospel lessons; Antiphons are used (originating in a different office). The troparion sung at the 15th antiphon: Today is hung upon the cross... (Simeron krematai).
  • Great and Holy Saturday Matins. This contains some elements of the old cathedral office: procession with epitaphios, reading of three pericopes (OT, epistle, Gospel) at the end.
  • Paschal Matins. This is celebrated from Pascha Sunday until Thomas Sunday. The six psalms and the praises are not part of this service.


  • A handout given to seminarians participating in the 2004-2005 altar groups at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology
  • Orthros for Sunday: Resurrectional Hymns in the original Greek, with a new English translation by Spencer T. Kezios, Protopresbyter, published by Narthex Press, 2nd edition, 1998.

External links