Liturgy of Hours

zhamagig

Liturgy of the Hours

The Daily Services in the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian Catholic Church are made up of nine services. The daily cycle of prayer begins with the Night Service, according to the ancient belief that a new day begins at nightfall.

The Night Service (midnight) Dedicated to the praising of God the Father. Themes of the service are: thanksgiving to God for the blessing of sleep and asking that the remainder of the night pass in peace and tranquility, and that the next day be spent in purity and righteousness.

The Morning Service (dawn) Dedicated to the praising of God the Son. Symbolizes the Resurrection of Christ and his appearance to the Myrrh-bearing Women.

The Sunrise Service (6:00 a.m.) Dedicated to the praising of the Holy Spirit. Symbolizes the appearance to Christ to the disciples after the Resurrection.

The Third Hour (9:00 a.m.) Dedicated to the Holy Spirit. Symbolizes Eve’s original tasting the forbidden fruit and eventual liberation from condemnation through Jesus Christ. The service has a profound penitential meaning.

The Sixth Hour (noon) Dedicated to God the Father. Symbolizes Christ’s Crucifixion. The prayers at the service ask for God’s help towards feeble human nature.

The Ninth Hour (3:00 p.m.) Dedicated to God the Son. Symbolizes Christ’s death and liberation of humanity from the power of the Hell.

The Evening Service (before sunset) Dedicated to God the Son. Symbolizes Christ’s burial, asks God for a quiet night and a peaceful sleep.

The Peace Service (after sunset) Dedicated to the Holy Spirit. Symbolizes Christ’s descent into Hell and liberation of the righteous from torments.

The Rest Service (before retiring for sleep) Dedicated to God the Father. In early times it was the continuation of the Peace Service.

In ancient times all nine services were offered every day, especially in monasteries. At present the following services are conducted in churches daily for the majority of the year:
•    In the morning: Night and Morning Services together
•    In the evening: Evening Service

During Great Lent, all of the services are offered on weekdays (except Saturday and Sunday) according to the following schedule:
•    In the morning: Night, Morning and Sunrise Services
•    In the afternoon: Third, Sixth, Ninth Hours
•    In the evening:
o    Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: Peace Service
o    Wednesday, Friday: Rest Service
o    Saturday, Sunday: Evening Service

The book which contains the hymns which constitute the substance of the musical system of Armenian liturgical chant is the Sharagnots, a collection of hymns known as Sharakan. Originally, these hymns were Psalms and biblical Canticles that were chanted during the services, similar to the Byzantine Canon. In addition, the eight modes are applied to the psalms of the Night office, called ganonaklookh (Canon head).  The Liturgy of the Hours is published by the Armenian Church in a special book called Zhamagirk.