This year, the feast of the Annunciation (March 25) falls on Great and Holy Friday. When this happens:
- The service of Vespers with Divine Liturgy on the evening of Great and Holy Thursday includes hymns (stichera) for the eve of the Annunciation.
- The service of Vespers on Great and Holy Friday has a Divine Liturgy added to it, and there are hymns and readings for the Annunciation as well as for Great Friday.
In 2005, our bishops provided books for these services; unfortunately, the results were not what they could have been because
- the materials were supplements, directing priests, cantors, and faithful to switch back and forth between the usual Holy Week books and the supplements
- there was a mix of old translations, and the new ones that would be promulgated in 2007
- new music was released with very little time to prepare
Over the past year, the Inter-eparchial Liturgy and Music Commissions prepared complete service books for these two services, matching what is in the green Divine Liturgy books for the two Divine Liturgies, and for the Annunciation. The translations are consistent throughout. That means that for a small number of stichera, the books use a new translation of the hymns for Great and Holy Thursday and Great and Holy Friday, with musical settings by the Inter-Eparchial Music Commission. These books are being send to each parish in the Byzantine (Ruthenian) Catholic Church over the next week or so.
On THURSDAY, March 3, the Metropolitan Cantor Institute will give a two-hour presentation on these services and the service books that are being distributed, teaching the new music and showing cantors how the books can be used most effectively. I STRONGLY encourage all cantors in the Greater Pittsburgh area to attend this class, which will be held at St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Munhall, PA from 7-9 PM Eastern.
This class will also be live-streamed on the cathedral website at
though I cannot predict how usable the audio will be. Therefore, we will also be recording the class and post the audio and additional materials on the MCI website at mci.archpitt.org.
CANTORS: please set aside some time to prepare for these services. They are among the most solemn of the year, and I think you will find the music and books are quite usable (and even make sense!) IF you prepare adequately. As always, if you have questions, please write me at email@example.com; and questions of general import will be posted with their answers on the MCI website.
P.S. I do not currently have PDF files for these service books. They will be posted if I can get access to them in advance of Holy Week.