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The Typikon (Greek: τυπικόν/typikon, pl. τυπικά/typika, lit. "following the order"; Slavonic: ѹставъ/ustav) is a book of directives and rubrics that establishes in the Orthodox Christian Church the order of divine services for each day of the year. It assumes the existence of liturgical books that contain the fixed and variable parts of these services. In monastic usage, the typikon of the monastery includes both the rule of life of the community and the rule of prayer.

There are a number of major typikon traditions, but there are also many local variations, often codified into an official typikon.

Origin of the Typikon of St. Savas and the Studite Typikon

The liturgical books presently used by the Orthodox Church have originated either in monasteries or have been greatly influenced by monastic practices. The services of the daily cycle of worship used today in the Orthodox East reflect monastic usages and traditions, especially those of the two monastic centers that produced and developed them, the Holy Lavra of St. Savas of Jerusalem and the Monastery of Studion in Constantinople.

The liturgical tradition originating with The Typikon of St. Savas — produced by the Lavra in its initial stages — was influenced by the customs and practices of the monastic communities in the Near East, Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor. Under St. Theodore, the Studion Monastery in Constantinople became the center of monastic revival and reform in the imperial city. During the times of the iconoclastic controversy, the Palestinian monastic typikon came to the Constantinople monasteries. In the Studion Monastery, a synthesis occurred as elements of the Cathedral Office of Constantinople were added to the Palestinian typikon. In time, this Studite synthesis was further modified by Palestinian monks to produce a revised Typikon of St. Savas that remained in general use until the nineteenth century.

The Typikon of the Great Church

The difficulty of using a monastic typikon at the parish level came to a head as the nineteenth century began, and abbreviations and omissions of the services became widespread. Accordingly, the Ecumenical Patriarch authorized the revision of the typikon for parish use. This revision became known as Ecclesiastical Typikon according to the Style of the Great Church of Christ, and was published in 1838. This revision was further revised by Protopsaltis George Violakes in the Typikon of the Great Church of Christ, published in 1888.[1]

Bishop Kallistos notes:

"Violakis made extensive and often ill-advised changes, especially in the order of the service for Matins on Sunday: for example, the katavasiai are appointed to be sung all together at the end of Canticle Eight of the Canon, instead of occurring one at the end of each canticle; and the reading of the Gospel is moved from its old position before the Canon, and awkwardly inserted between Canticles Eight and Nine. Thus Canticle Nine is separated from those which precede it, and the whole structure of the Canon is unhappily obscured." [2]

He goes on to note, however:

"In making these and other changes, perhaps Violakes was not innovating but simply giving formal approval to practices which had already become established in parishes. Presumably the Gospel was moved nearer to the end of the service because so few of the congregation arrived in time for the earlier parts of Matins!"[3]

Divergence of Slavic and Byzantine Practice

To meet the needs of the Slavic world, translations for a Slavic typikon originated as soon as missions to the Slavic world began. With the revisions originating in the Mediterranean world coupled with the Mongol invasions, the Slavic typikon lost its conformity to the that standard in the Byzantine world. This was recognized by the Church of Russia in the seventeenth century. It was this revision effort of the Slavic typikon — along with the service books — that resulted in the Old Believer controversies under Czar Alexis and Patriarch Nikon of Moscow.

The primary differences between the liturgical practice of the Byzantine and Slavic worlds stem from their origins in the Savaite and Studite typika, respectively, along with subsequent revisions. However, for the most part, the Greek, Romanian, and Slavic Typikons were closely aligned until the publication of the Violakes edition of the Typikon of the Great Church in 1888.[4]

For more information on this, see Some differences between Greek and Russian divine services and their significance, by Archbishop Basil Krivoshein of Brussels and Belgium


  1. The Festal Menaion (Tr. Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, Faber and Faber, London, 1984), p. 543.
  2. The Festal Menaion (Tr. Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, Faber and Faber, London, 1984), p. 543.
  3. The Festal Menaion (Tr. Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, Faber and Faber, London, 1984), p. 543.
  4. The Festal Menaion (Tr. Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware, Faber and Faber, London, 1984), p. 542.

External links that Discuss the Typikon

External links with Rubrics based on the Typikon

External links with Translations of the Typikon