An Algorithm for Determining which Troparia and Kontakia to Read During the Hours on a Sunday

As an IT professional, I tend to understand liturgics best when I can envision them as pseudo computer code. For example, the rubrics for determining which troparia and kontakia to read during the Prayers of the Hours on Sundays is complex, but there are only ten defined patterns.

The following algorithm gets you the right pattern in the least amount of steps (I think).

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Variables

There are four hours:

  • 1st
  • 3rd
  • 6th
  • 9th.

Each of the prayers of the hours has a space for two troparia and one kontakion.

  • Troparion 1
  • Troparion 2
  • Kontakion

We can make a table of these variables that looks like this:

1st Hour3rd Hour6th Hour9th Hour
Troparion 1
Troparion 2
Kontakion

Each of the troparia and kontakia can be one of several types.

  • Sunday/resurrection: There are eight sets of resurrectional troparia/kontakia (hymns) to correspond with the eight tones.
  • Feast: Feast days have their own sets of hymns. These are found in the Menaion, the Triodion, or the Pentecostarion depending on what period of the year this Sunday falls.
  • Saint: Many saints have their own sets of hymns. Almost all are found in the Menaion, except those whose commemorations are during the periods covered by the Lenten Triodion (like St. Gregory Palamas, who is always commemorated on the 2nd Sunday of Great Lent) and the Pentecostarion.
  • Menaion: This simply means whichever feast or saint is commemorated this day in the Menaion.

The Algorithm

Using the information above, we can construct a series of simple if/then/else statements to determine which type of hymn goes in which slots. I used the information in The Order of Divine Services according to the usage of the Russian Orthodox Church by Peter Fekula and Matthew Williams to compile the following.

If this day is the Apodosis of a Great Feast

  1st Hour 3rd Hour 6th Hour 9th Hour
Troparion 1 Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Troparion 2 Feast Feast Feast Feast
Kontakion Feast Sunday Feast Sunday

Else, if this day is NOT the Apodosis of a Great Feast

If this day is during a Forefeast or Afterfeast

If this is a Polyeleos or Vigil Service

(and not the apodosis of a Great feast, but during a forefeast or afterfeast.)

  1st Hour 3rd Hour 6th Hour 9th Hour
Troparion 1 Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Troparion 2 Feast Saint Feast Saint
Kontakion Feast Sunday Saint Feast
Else, if this is a Doxology Service

(and not the apodosis of a Great feast, but during a forefeast or afterfeast.)

  1st Hour 3rd Hour 6th Hour 9th Hour
Troparion 1 Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Troparion 2 Feast Saint Feast Saint
Kontakion Feast Sunday Saint Feast
Else, if this is a Simple, Double, or Six-stichera Service

(and not the apodosis of a Great feast, but during a forefeast or afterfeast.)

  1st Hour 3rd Hour 6th Hour 9th Hour
Troparion 1 Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Troparion 2 Feast Saint Feast Saint
Kontakion Feast Sunday Feast Sunday

Else, if this day is NOT during a Forefeast or Afterfeast

If this is a Vigil Service
If this is a Feast of the Theotokos

(and not the apodosis of a Great feast, and not during a forefeast or afterfeast, and a vigil-rank feast.)

  1st Hour 3rd Hour 6th Hour 9th Hour
Troparion 1 Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Troparion 2 Menaion Menaion Menaion Menaion
Kontakion Sunday Menaion Sunday Menaion
Else, if this is NOT a Feast of the Theotokos

(and not the apodosis of a Great feast, and not during a forefeast or afterfeast, and a vigil-rank feast.)

  1st Hour 3rd Hour 6th Hour 9th Hour
Troparion 1 Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Troparion 2 Menaion Menaion Menaion Menaion
Kontakion Menaion Sunday Menaion Sunday
If this is a Doxology or Polyeleos Service

(and not the apodosis of a Great feast, and not during a forefeast or afterfeast)

  1st Hour 3rd Hour 6th Hour 9th Hour
Troparion 1 Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Troparion 2 Menaion Menaion Menaion Menaion
Kontakion Menaion Sunday Menaion Sunday
Else, if this is a Six-Stichera Service

(and not the apodosis of a Great feast, and not during a forefeast or afterfeast)

  1st Hour 3rd Hour 6th Hour 9th Hour
Troparion 1 Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Troparion 2 Menaion Menaion Menaion Menaion
Kontakion Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Else, if this is a Double Service

(and not the apodosis of a Great feast, and not during a forefeast or afterfeast)

  1st Hour 3rd Hour 6th Hour 9th Hour
Troparion 1 Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Troparion 2 1st Saint 2nd Saint 1st Saint 2nd Saint
Kontakion Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Else, if this is a Single Service

(and not the apodosis of a Great feast, and not during a forefeast or afterfeast)

  1st Hour 3rd Hour 6th Hour 9th Hour
Troparion 1 Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday
Troparion 2 Menaion Menaion Menaion Menaion
Kontakion Sunday Sunday Sunday Sunday

Conclusion

I’m not sure if this presentation makes things any easier, but coming up with this helped me to understand it better. If you’re having trouble understanding a liturgical concept, you might want to try writing it out as if you were going to teach someone else.

What other techniques have helped you to learn liturgics? Leave a comment below.

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