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All-night vigil

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Title: All-night vigil  
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Subject: Great Lent, All-Night Vigil (Rachmaninoff), Vigil, Acolouthia, Eastern Orthodox worship
Collection: Eastern Catholicism, Eastern Christian Liturgy, Liturgy of the Hours, Oriental Orthodoxy, Prayer
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All-night vigil

For the musical setting by Rachmaninoff, see All-Night Vigil (Rachmaninoff)

The All-night vigil is a service of the Eastern Orthodox Church (and Eastern Catholic Church) consisting of an aggregation of the three canonical hours of Vespers, Matins, and the First Hour. The vigil is celebrated on the eves of Sundays and of major liturgical feasts.[1]

The vigil has been set to music most famously by Sergei Rachmaninoff, whose setting of selections from the service is one of his most admired works. Tchaikovsky's setting of the all-night vigil, along with his Divine Liturgy and his collection of nine sacred songs were of seminal importance in the later interest in Orthodox music in general, and settings of the all-night vigil in particular.[2][3][4] Other musical settings include those by Chesnokov, Grechaninov, Ippolitov-Ivanov, Alexander Kastalsky,[5] Hilarion Alfeyev, Clive Strutt and Einojuhani Rautavaara. It is most often celebrated using a variety of traditional or simplified chant melodies based on the Octoechos or other sources.


  • Order 1
    • Great Vespers 1.1
    • Matins 1.2
  • Notes 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


When celebrated at the All-night vigil, the orders of Great Vespers and Matins vary somewhat from when they are celebrated by themselves.[6][7] In parish usage, many portions of the service such as the readings from the Synaxarion during the Canon at Matins are abbreviated or omitted, and it therefore takes approximately two or two and a half hours to perform.

The Psalms cited below are numbered according to the Septuagint, which differs from that found in the Masoretic.

Great Vespers

  • Great Censing of the entire church, done in silence
  • Opening exclamation by the priest: "Glory to the holy, consubstantial, life-creating, and undivided Trinity, always, now and ever, and unto ages of ages"
  • "Come let us worship God our king"
  • "Psalm of creation", Psalm 103, sung (in modern practise only selected verses)
  • Great Litany
  • First Kathisma (entirely on Sundays) or the 1st stasis on weekdays
  • Little Litany
  • "Lord I have cried" (psalms 140,141,129, 116), with appointed stichera, ending with the Dogmatic Theotokion, a hymn addressed to the Theotokos
  • Entrance
  • Phos Hilaron ("O gladsome light")
  • Prokeimenon for the day
  • Old Testament readings (if appointed)
  • Augmented Litany
  • The prayer, "Vouchsafe, O Lord"
  • Litany of Askings
  • Litia (on Sundays and certain feastdays)
  • Aposticha
  • Nunc dimittis ("Now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace") and Trisagion prayers
  • Apolytikion—on Sundays: "Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos..."; otherwise, the one appointed for the feast
  • Artoklasia, if there was a Litia
  • "Blessed be the name of the Lord", Psalm 33 (first ten verses), and a blessing


  • "Glory to God in the highest", "O Lord, open Thou my lips"
  • Six Psalms (Psalms 3, 37, 61, 87, 102, and 142)
  • Great Litany
  • "God is the Lord", with verses from Psalm 117
  • Apolytikion—on Sundays: from the Octoechos; otherwise, for the feast—and its appropriate Theotokion
  • Kathisma
  • Little Litany
  • Sessional hymns
  • Kathisma
  • Little Litany
  • Sessional hymns
  • 17th Kathisma (Psalm 118) or Polyeleon (Psalms 134 and 135) as appointed for the season
  • Megalynarion (feast days)
  • Resurrectional Troparia, "The Angelic Council..." (Sundays only)
  • Little Litany
  • Anabathmoi
  • Hypakoe
  • Matins Prokeimenon
  • Matins Gospel
  • "Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ" (on Sundays), or the appointed stichera (on feast days)
  • Psalm 50 ("Have mercy on me, O God", Miserere)
  • Prayer, "O God save thy people and bless thine inheritance..."
  • Canon. The people venerate the Gospel Book if it is Sunday, or the icon of the feast if it is a weekday
  • "Holy is the Lord our God" (Sundays only)
  • Little Litany
  • Exapostilarion
  • Praises (Psalms 148 to 150, with stichera)
  • Great Doxology ("Glory to God in the highest")
  • Appointed troparia
  • Augmented Litany
  • Litany of Askings
  • Dismissal
  • Polychronion
  • First Hour


  1. ^ Dunlop, Carolyn C. (2000). Music of the Russian court chapel choir: 1796-1917. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers. pp. 58–59.  
  2. ^ 2006The Cambridge History of Russia, p. 115.
  3. ^ Swain 2006, p. 212.
  4. ^ Morozan 2013.
  5. ^ Zvereva, Svetlana (2003). Alexander Kastalsky: His Life and Music. translated by Stuart Campbell. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 124.  
  6. ^ "The Order of Great Vespers". The Priest's Service Book. Diocese of the South. Archived from the original on 30 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-06. 
  7. ^ "The Order of Matins on Sundays and Feast Days". The Priest's Service Book. Diocese of the South. Retrieved 2007-03-06. 


  • Swain, Joseph P. (2006). The A to Z of Sacred Music. 

External links

  • Description of a "real" All Night vigil in Russia By Professor Mikhail Skaballanovich (1911)
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