The Annual Typikon

Every year, the Byzantine Seminary Press publishes an Annual Typikon, a loose-leaf booklet which explains, for each day of a particular year, how the liturgical services of that day are to be celebrated. It also contains a small treasury of information about Byzantine liturgy and spirituality, in a compact format.

Order the Annual Typikon

Every parish should have a copy of the current annual typikon, and cantors should be familiar with its contents and how to use it.

How the annual typikon is organized

The annual typikon contains a separate entry for each day of the year, from January 1 through December 31, describing the services of the day. Here is a typical entry from the 2017 annual typikon:

THURSDAY, JANUARY 26

Our Venerable Father Xenophon and His Wife Mary. Our Holy Father Joseph, Archbishop of Thessalonica
Format 1. Common 8 (Venerables). JAN 352-354; JK 124.
Epistle, James 4:7-5:9; Gospel, Mark 11:27-53

Let's look at each part individually.

The saint(s) of the day

The first line (in bold) gives the names of the saints of the day, using their "official" names in church tradition. Each day, the Church chooses several saints to bring to our attention, as examples and as reminders of particular ways the Holy Spirit has been at work in the world. In most cases, saints are commemorated on the day they died and completed the struggles of this life. On most days, there are several saints assigned to a particular day, and the most significant ones are listed first.

(Exception: Sometimes a more recent saint, or one who is well-known in a particular region or local church, is listed later, but may be ranked higher. This will be addressed below.)

Very specific words are used in referring to certain saints; these words identify the type of person who is being commemorated:

Some days also have commemorations of historical events, such as the dedication of an important church. If the day is a major feast, the feast will be listed first, sometimes in capital letters; and if it is a day of preparation for a feast (a "pre-festive day") or the continuation of a feast (a "post-festive day"), that will be noted as well.

The format

The "format" refers to a summary or common patterns for liturgical services found in a second book called the Common Typikon. See the article on the Common Typikon for a list of these formats, which are numbered from 1 (ordinary saint on a weekday) to 26 (Major saint on a weekday in the Paschal season).

Each entry in the annual typikon either says which format to use, or provides complete details of the day's services.

The common(s)

Not every church has a complete set of liturgical books, especially the Menaion with proper hymns for each day of the year. For those circumstances, there are sets of "common" hymns for each class of saint: a set for the angels, for the Mother of God, for apostles, and so on, to be used when the class of saint is known but the exact hymns are not available. The "Commons" referred to here (for example, "Common 8 (Venerables)" are hymns for the Divine Liturgy found in the Common Typikon. You can also look up these hymns by class of saint in the back of the Divine Liturgies book.

When two saints or classes of saints are commemorated (for example, in Format 3), the commons that are specified can help make it clear which of the saints are the ones to be commemorated liturgically. (Very often, the "extra" saints of the day are only remembered publicly in churches dedicated to them, or in regions with a special devotion to them.)

Where to find the hymns for the day

The Format and Commons are followed by a list of the pages in various editions of liturgical books where the hymns for the saint(s) of the day can be found. These books are listed by their abbreviations, which are given in a table at the front of the annual typikon. Books from various traditions are used, since the annual typikon is used by a variety of local Churches.

Readings for the day

Throughout most of the year, on weekdays, the Bible is read continuously at the Divine Liturgy (that is, each day's reading starts where the previous day left off), with readings for greater feast days either being added to, or replacing, the continuous readings. So the annual typikon lists an epistle and Gospel reading (sometimes more than one) for each day on which the Divine Liturgy can be celebrated.

Tone of the week

Each Sunday, the tone of the new week is provided, along with the Gospel to be read at Matins (usually one of 11 Resurrection Gospels):

Resurrection Tone 4. Matins Gospel 7 (John 20:1-10).

The tone of the week (Resurrection Tone) is used from Sunday (starting on Saturday evening) through the afternoon of the following Saturday.

When a feast-day falls on Sunday, and the tone of the week is not used on Sunday because of the feast, it will be listed on the first day that it is used (generally Monday).

Additional information

Very often, entries in the annual typikon will have added information concerning the celebration of Vespers or Matins, ceremonies proper to particular days, rubrics for processions, historical or theological comments, and so on.

For all Sundays and major feasts, the regular typikon entry is followed by a gray box containing the details of the Divine Liturgy for the day. Cantors should always consult this first, since it neatly summarizes how the Divine Liturgy is celebrated.