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Typika (Gk. typiká; Slav. izobrazítelnaya) is the principal evening worship service of the Christian Church. As celebrated in the Byzantine Rite, it serves as the beginning of the liturgical day, and has as its principal theme a commemoration of Christ, the never-setting Light of the world.

Depending on local tradition and circumstances, Vespers is normally celebrated between 4 PM and 8 PM; ideally, it is celebrated so that the lamps of the church are lit as darkness falls and the Hymn of the Evening ("O joyful Light") is sung.

Outline of the service

Psalms 102 and 145
"O only-begotten Son and Word of God"
The Beatitudes
Troparia and verses
Nicene Creed 
Prayer for forgiveness
The Lord's Prayer
Prayer to the Holy Trinity
"Blessed be the name of the Lord"
Psalm 33
"It is truly proper"
The Nicene Creed, "Blessed be the name of the Lord" and Psalm 33 are omitted
if the Liturgy is to be celebrated later.

Combining Typika with Other Services

On the vigils of the Nativity and Theophany, the Hours and Typika are combined, with additional prayers, into a special service called the Royal Hours.

Texts and sources

The official Church Slavonic texts for Typika can be found in the Ruthenian Časoslóv, where it is grouped with the Hours..  Depending on the day, these texts must be supplemented from the Octoechos, the Triodion, the Pentecostarion, and the Menaion.

There is no official English text for Typika as such, but since it is almost entirely drawn from the hymns of the Divine Liturgy, this is not an obstacle to celebration.  

Typika in the Parish and Home

In Europe in the last century, Vespers was celebrated in church on Saturday evenings, as well as on the vigils of feasts; in some places, it was celebrated on Sunday evenings as well. Even daily Vespers was sometimes held in village or city churches.

Unfortunately, in this country Saturday evening Vespers is seldom celebrated, being displaced by an evening Divine Liturgy, or omitted entirely. Parishes which desire to restore a richer liturgical cycle might  fittingly begin with celebrating Great Vespers each Saturday evening. (In those parishes where eliminating a Divine Liturgy is not presently feasible, it might be desirable to hold a Vigil Divine Liturgy instead, beginning with Vespers as on the eves of Nativity and Theophany.)

Great Vespers takes about an hour to celebrate if the Psalter and Old Testament readings are used -  perhaps 45 minutes if they are omitted, and a bit longer if Litija is held. The number of stichera sung as the Lamplighting Psalms can be reduced if necessary, but the wholesale elimination of the chanted verses of the Lamplighting Psalms (as is done in some places) should be discouraged.

Vespers can be celebrated, in whole or in part, as evening prayer in the home, following the rubrics for Reader's Services.

Recommended reading

More about: Liturgy - Daily cycle of services