The Typikon (Gk. Typikon, , from typos, "order" or "decreee"; Slav. Ustav, "rule") is a written rule detailing the services of the Church, how they are to be celebrated, and how the various liturgical cycles are combined on any particular day. Thus, the Typikon contains the directions for the use of all the other liturgical books of the Byzantine Rite.
It may be useful to distinguish a Typikon from an ordo. An ordo is a pattern for a liturgical services; each service, as celebrated in a particular Church, has its own ordo, and the entire collection of these patterns can be called the ordo of that Church at a given time. In the early Church, the ordo might be entirely traditional, and only recorded in traveller's accounts. But as the cycles of moveable feasts (the Paschal cycle) and immoveable feasts (the saints' days and commemorations) evolved, and a great body of hymnody was written for both sets of feasts, the ordo of the Byzantine Churches became too complicated to trust to memory - and thus the Typikon (a detailed ordo, in written form) came into being.
A very brief history of the Typikon in the Orthodox Church
One magnificent cathedral and two great monasteries exerted great influence over the liturgical life of the Byzantine churches in the first millenium:
The Church of Holy Wisdom (Gr. Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, was completed in 537. Famed throughout the Christian world, it was known simply as the Great Church. Its liturgy was oriented toward public services, celebrated in great splendor, and containing elements in which the Christian faithful could participate, and from which they could derive spiritual benefit: processions, ceremonial, the singing of hymns, and the chanting of particular psalms, chosen to fit the hour or theme of each service.
The Monastery of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified, near Jerusalem, was famous the the sanctity and learning of its monks. In order to help the monks achieve continuous prayer, the monastic liturgy emphasized an extreme sobriety and respect for tradition; the chanting of complete sections of the psalter, rather than select psalms; and a much smaller emphasis on the role of clergy, since few monks were ordained, and some monasteries had no clergy at all. Later, this monastery became noted for its hymn-writers, particularly Saint Andew of Crete (d. 720) and Saint John of Damascus (d. 780), who is traditionally credited with the composition of the Octoechos.
Meanwhile, monasteries arose in the cities as well as in the desert and countryside. These urban monasteries drew from both the cathedral traditions of the city around them, and the venerable traditions of the desert monasteries. The Monastery of the Studios, in Constantople, was one of the most influential of these urban monasteries. It too famous for its hymnographers, particularly Saint Theodore the Studite and his brother Joseph, who were tradtionally regarded as the authors of the Lenten Triodion and the Pentecostarion.
The Iconoclast controversies had led to the dissolution of the earliest urban monasteries and their traditions, and so the monks of the Studios combined the cathedral liturgy of the Great Church nearby, with the venerable traditions of the the Saint Sabbas monastery. The first complete Studite Typikon was written by the Patriarch Alexis for a monastery he established near Constantinople in 1034. It was this Typikon which was introduced into the Rus' lands by Saint Theodosius of the Kiev Caves monastery (d. 1074).
Thus, for many years, the Typikon of the Laura (monastery) of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified (the "Sabaite Typikon") and the Typikon of the Studious Monastery (the "Studite Typikon"), each with its own variations from place to place, were both widely used across the Byzantine Empire. But after the occupation of Constantinople by Latin crusaders (1204-1261), the traditional offices of the Great Church, which required a great number of clergy and singers, could not be reestablished; and the Studite office, which was "more complicated and solemn than that of the Sabaites", was abandoned as well. The Great Church adopted the Typikon of Saint Sabbas, which now incorporated some cathedral elements while remaining largely a monastic ordo, and this order of services became the common liturgy of Constantiniple; it was finally printed around 1545.
The Studite offices, however, continued to be used in the Slav lands. The Sabaite Typikon had been introduced in Kiev in the fourteenth century, and accepted by the more important Slav monasteries in the fifteenth. Finally, in the seventeenth century, the Patriarch Nikon of Moscow ordered a reform of the Russian Orthodox liturgical books, including the Typikon, to match Greek usage; these reforms led to near civil war, and the breaking away of the Old Believers who would not accept the Nikonian reforms.
From 1682, when the Sabaite Typikon was published in its final form in Russia, until 1888, the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches shared a common Typikon. But in 1888, a new edition of the Typikon was printed in Consta ntinople, prepared by the protopsaltis George Violakis, and issued with the approval and blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Violakis made extensive changes to the services -- especially Sunday Matins, where the Gospel was moved from its traditional location before the Canon, to a point between Ode 8 and Ode 9. The new "Violakis Typikon" was widely adopted throughout Greek-speaking Orthodoxy, while the Russian Orthodox Church and the some Greek monasteries continued to use the old Sabaite Typikon. The other Orthodox churches chose sides, or used some conbination of the two orders of services.
The Typikon of the Ruthenian Rite
In 1596, the Church of Kiev entered into union with the Catholic Church; it was followed in 1646 by the diocese of Uzorod. These churches formed the bases of the modern Ukrainian and Ruthenian Catholic Churches. As part of the terms of the union, they took with them their traditional liturgy, including both Sabaite and Studite liturgical traditions.
When the reforms of Patriarch Nikon took place a century later among the churches attached to Moscow, the Eastern Catholic churches of Kiev, Uzorod, Przemyzl, and L'viv were affected little if at all. They kept many pre-Nikonian liturgical traditions, in common with the Old Believers. But no official Typikon was printed for these churches of the "Ruthenian Rite", and the process of Latinization (changes due to direct liturgical influences from the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church) gradually made inroads on the traditions which the Ruthenians had taken with them into the Catholic Church. Few records exist from this era, but one contemporary account reports that the Rusins of Sub-Carpathia remained quite traditional in their liturgy until at least the end of the nineteenth century.
The question remains: what Typikon did the Eastern Catholics of those churches use? The Typikon used to order the services in Diocese of Uzorod at the turn of the twentieth century is still extant: the Sabaite Typikon of the Holy Synod of the Moscow. But we know from liturgical books of the era that the liturgical texts used by Eastern Catholics retained their pre-Nikonian (and sometimes Latinized) form.
In 1901, Dr. Alexander Mikita published a Typikon in Uzorod; a similar volume had been published in L'vov by Isidore Dolnitskij in 1899. These two volumes serve as witnesses to the state of the liturgy in those dioceses at the start of the twentieth century. Both are based on the Sabite tradition, but contain local traditions and adaptations.
Finally, the Ruthenian liturgical reforms of the 1940's provided for the removal of many of the identifiable Latinizations in the Ruthenian recension. But those renderings which were pre-Nikonian or otherwise traditional were retained.
The Ruthenian Typikon in the original languages
The Slavonic Typikon (both the Pre-Nikonian Old Rite and the Nikonian New Rite texts) can be found online at the Typikon Translation Project. This is an invaluable site for anyone working with the Typikon.
The Dolnitskij and Mikita commentaries on the Typikon provide information on local traditions used in the Ukrainian and Ruthenian Catholic Churches. Both are out of print, but the Mikita Typikon is available online, courtesy of Patronage of the Mother of God Catholic Church, Baltimore, Maryland.
The books of the Ruthenian Recension provide two volumes which complement and supercede certain aspects of the above:
- The Ruthenian Apostol provides a standard calendar for the churches of the Ruthenian Rite.
- The Ruthenian Ordo Celebrationis (Order of Celebration) provides detailed rubrics for the celebration of Vespers, Matins, the First Hour, and the three Divine Liturgies. An early translation is available online; a translation with notes and supporting materials is available from Eastern Christian Publications.
The Liturgikon in English
There is no complete translation of the Sabaite Typikon into English. A project to prepare one is underway: see The Typikon Translation Project.
Most English-speaking Churches prepare an annual order of services - sometimes containing the full liturgical cycle, and sometimes providing just enough for the Divine Liturgy and major feasts.
Father David Petras has prepared a Typikon for the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, in two parts: a Common Typikon containing "formats" of services for various ranks and combinations of feasts, and an Annual Typikon with details for each particular year. Both volumes are available from Eastern Christian Publications. amd follow the Gregorian calendar and Western Paschalion. (The Common Typikon includes a variety of useful information, including a capsule history of the church;s Typikon, on which the account above is based.)
St. John of Kronstadt Press provides a similar service for the Russian Orthodox Church, in the form of an annual liturgical calendar, and The Ordinary Order of Orthodox Services. These follow the Julian calendar and the Eastern Paschalion.