The Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great

The Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great is a form of the Eucharist or Divine Liturgy that is served on specific days in the liturgical year of the Byzantine Churches. The full title is "the Divine Liturgy of our holy father Basil the Great" (in Slavonic, Božéstvennaja Liturgíja vo svjatích otcá náseho Vasílija Velíkaho).

At one time, this form of the Eucharist was the ordinary one used on Sundays and feast days according to the usage of Constantinople. Over the centuries, its use in the churches of the Byzantine Rite became restricted to:

When the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil is celebrated in the evening, it is combined with Vespers to form a Vigil Divine Liturgy.

The Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil, as celebrated today, is very similar to the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, differing primarily in the priest's prayers, and in the use of a different hymn to the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary at the end of the anaphora. Since the priestly prayer of the anaphora is longer in the Liturgy of Saint Basil, the musical settings for the people's responses are usually more ornate as well.

Although the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil is longer, and associated in the minds of the faithful with the Sundays of Lent, it is not a penitential liturgy; rather, it is a more conservative order of service, which also emphasizes and expands on the whole story of salvation history. This accounts for its use in the Great Fast (which is very old-fashioned, liturgically speaking), and for evening services at which baptisms were traditionally performed (Holy Saturday, and the eves of the Nativity and Theophany).

Outline of the service

The following table shows the principal parts of the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great. The variable parts of the service are shown in italics.

The Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great
Vesting and proskomedia
The faithful assemble in church
Incensation of the church
Blessing by priest: "Blessed is the Kingdom..."
Litany of Peace
First Antiphon or Typical Psalm
Second Antiphon or Typical Psalm

"O Only-begotten Son and Word of God"
Third Antiphon, or the Beatitudes
Troparia and kontakia appointed for the day
Trisagion ("Holy God")
Prokeimenon
Epistle reading
Alleluia
Gospel reading

Sermon
Litany of Fervent Supplication
(Litany for the Deceased)
(Litany for the Catechumens)
(Litany of the Faithful)
Great Entrance
Litany over the Gifts
The Symbol of Faith (Creed)
The Anaphora of Saint Basil the Great
Prayers before Holy Communion
Holy Communion
Thanksgiving after Holy Communion
Prayer before the ambon
Blessing by priest
Dismissal

For a detailed explanation of the service, see the following articles:

Preparation - Enarxis - Readings - Great Entrance - Anaphora of Saint Basil the Great - Holy Communion - Dismissal

On certain days, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated in the evening, preceded by Vespers. Follow the links for more information:

Texts and sources

The official Church Slavonic texts for the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great be found in the Ruthenian Liturgikon or Služébnik (the principal service book for the priest and deacon) . The readings are contained in the Gospel Book and the Apostol.  The Apostol also contains the prokeimena, alleluiaria, troparia, and kontakia to to be chanted during the service, and the people's parts of the Divine Liturgy.

In 2007, the Council of Hierarchs of the Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh published official books in English for the Divine Liturgies of Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Basil the Great ((one book for each service for the clergy, and a third book, with music, for the people, covering both Liturgies)). The people's book for the Divine Liturgies can be found on the official publications page.

The Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great in the Parish

In most parishes of the Byzantine Catholic Church, the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil is most closely connected with the Sundays of the Great Fast. However, it is becoming better known as part of the evening service on the days mentioned above. As mentioned above, it should not be considered a penitential liturgy' instead, the longer prayers which recount the events of salvation history are intended to serve as a reminder of all that God has done for us.

The Liturgy of Saint Basil is also connected, in parish life, with the more elaborate melodies used for the responses at the Anaphora, and for the singing of "In You, O Woman Full of Grace."

Recommended reading

Much of the recommended reading for the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom also applies to the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil, due to the similarity of the two services.