Prayer book

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A prayer book in the Orthodox Church is a book of prayers, usually designed for private devotional use by laity.


Before the advent of printing, prayer books were written by hand and were often richly decorated with initials and miniature illustrations telling stories in the lives of Christ or the saints, or stories from the Bible. Because of the cost involved, such prayer books were usually only used by clergy, monastics, or the wealthy.

With the advent of printing, prayer books became accessible to the average laymen and have been an important aspect of Orthodox piety ever since.

Prayer books available in English

The Jordanville Prayer Book: good translation (for the most part) and reasonably complete. It uses the Psalter According to the Seventy produced by Holy Transfiguration Monastery. For ROCOR parishioners, this is the best one to use, because of the translation. The edition currently available is the work of Fr. Lawrence (Campbell). This book is very similar to the one published by Holy Transfiguration. The main difference is that there are many additional morning and evening prayers.

A Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians (translated from the Greek and published by Holy Transfiguration Monastery): follows Athonite Greek usage; contains Morning Prayers and Prayers at Mealtime, and the complete service of Small Compline, Vespers, Matins, and the Divine Liturgy, together with the principle hymns of the feasts of the year, and the complete Service of Pascha. Also included are the Akathist Hymn to our Sweet Lord Jesus Christ, the Akathist Hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos, a supplicatory canon to our Lord Jesus Christ, both the Small and Great Supplicatory Canons to the Most Holy Theotokos (translated to fit the Greek melodies), a supplicatory canon to the Guardian Angel, and the Communion Prayers.

An Orthodox Prayer Book (bilingual; modern English translation by Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash) from the Greek and originally published by Oxford University Press; revised 2nd edition by Nigel Lynn Publishing on behalf of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain): follows the standard settings of Greek morning prayers, evening prayers and small Compline as found in the Synekdemos. This translation is harmonious with the Oxford University Press edition of the Divine Liturgy (published with the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch) and with the wide range of liturgical material published on Fr Ephrem's web-site.

The Old Orthodox Prayer Book, or as it is commonly referred to, "The Old Believer Prayer Book": This prayer book has a lot of useful instructional material, and a lot of services that are set up such that they can be done as reader services (such as a Moleben). It also has the Slavonic text and the English text on facing pages. The disadvantage to it is the Slavonic text is not the standard text used by the Church (being the Old Rite) and so it differs in wording and often in structure. Nevertheless, it is quite useful. This prayer book was produced for use by the Old Rite community in Erie, Pennsylvania (ROCOR).

The St. Tikhon's Orthodox Prayer book (Slavonic/English Edition): This prayer book is particularly useful in parishes in which both English and Slavonic are used.

The Pocket Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians, published by the Antiochian Archdiocese, is a popular, but more abbreviated version of the Prayer Book, though it contains some prayers not typically included in other prayer books.

Daily Prayer for Orthodox Christians, by Fr. N. Michael Vaporis, originally published in 1986 and recently reprinted by Holy Cross Orthodox Press (a publishing arm of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America) is a bilingual Greek/modern English prayer book containing selections from The Synekdemos, including Morning and Evening Prayers, Small Compline, the Service of Preparation for Holy Communion and Thanksgiving Following Holy Communion.

A Prayer Book: An Anthology of Orthodox Prayers, by Fr. Peter A. Chamberas, is a bilingual Greek and modern English prayer book published by Alexander Press containing Morning, Afternoon, Evening and Midnight prayers, plus 50 pages of prayers for various needs.

My Prayer Book, published in 2003 by the Attendants of Hieromonk Spyridon of New Skete, Mount Athos, Greece, is a modern English translation of common Greek Orthodox prayers in their traditional form. The text is available online here.

Orthodox Prayer Book, published by Holy Protection Monastery in Lake George, Colorado, is a modern English prayer book containing the common morning and evening prayers used in the Russian tradition, plus prayers for loved ones and various needs, Canons to Our Guardian Angel and for Repentance, Paraklesis to the Theokotos, and prayers before and after Holy Communion.

Orthodox Christian Prayerbook, published by the Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, is an adaptation of the Book of Hours, or ''Horologion'', for use by the laity. It contains Vespers, Small Compline, the Midnight Office, Daily Matins and First Hour, Third Hour, Sixth Hour and Typica, and the Ninth Hour adapted for use without clergy. The translation used is a modern English revision of the texts used by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

Orthodox Prayers for Everyday is another adaptation of the Hours for use by the laity throughout the day. Complied and translated by Maureen Girard and published by Regina Orthodox Press, it also contains the Paschal Hours, Morning Prayers, Prayers Before Sleep, and Prayers Before Holy Communion. The translation used is a comprehensible mix of old and modern English.

A Manual of Eastern Orthodox Prayers, published by St. Vladmir's Seminary Press, is for use of laity. It contains Morning and Evening Prayers, Prayers for Different Occasions, Anthems and Hymns of the Greater Feasts and Saints' Days, the Slavonic and Greek Order of Confession, Prayers Before and After Holy Communion, and a Church calendar.

Come To Me, published by Christ the Saviour Seminary Press in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is a publication of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese. It contains Morning and Evening Prayers, Prayers for Different Occasions, the diocesan text of the Divine Liturgy, the full text of Troparion/Kontakion and Prokeimenon of each Sunday, Special Hymns, the Order for Confession, and Prayers Before and After Holy Communion. The book also contains a number of instructional and catechetical articles on Confession and Communion, Reading the Bible, living an Orthodox life, as well as meditations on Holy Communion.


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