Reading the Four Gospels in Holy Week or the end of Great Lent

The Typikon specifies that the Entire Four Gospels must be read aloud in Church at the end of Great Lent, specifically on Great Monday, Great Tuesday, and Great Wednesday of Holy Week, during the 3rd, 6th, and 9th Hours before Presanctified Liturgy on those days.

However, this is impractical in parish situations, since the Gospel Readings, as appointed, are just too long for most to read or even stand through.

Therefore, in Russian parish practice, the Gospel readings are started a bit earlier, on the 6th or even 5th weeks of Great Lent.

Over the years, I have developed a practice that we use at our Cathedral in Los Angeles, which divides the Gospel into 24 readings (instead of the appointed 9), and we do them during the 3rd, 6th and 9th Hours preceding the Presanctified Liturgies during the 5th, 6th, and 7th weeks of Lent.

I am offering this scheme as a suggestion for others to follow, if they wish. Laymen and women might also be encouraged to follow these readings on the appointed days, in order to read the entire Gospels through during these last three weeks.

3rd Hour
6th Hour
9th Hour

Wed. 5th Week
Matthew 1-4
Matthew 5-8
Matthew 9-12

Thur. 5th Week
Matthew 13-16
Matthew 16-20
Matthew 21-24

Fri. 5th Week
Matthew 25-28
Mark 1-4
Mark 5-8

Wed. 6th Week
Mark 9-12
Mark 12-16
Luke 1-3

Fri. 6th Week
Luke 4-6
Luke 7-9
Luke 10-12

Great Monday
Luke 13-15
Luke 16-18
Luke 19-21

Great Tuesday
Luke 22-24
John 1-3
John 4-6

Great Wednesday
John 7-9
John 10-11
John 12-13-32

This scheme makes each of the readings 15-20 minutes in length, which is very practical, both for the priest reading, and for those listening.

The Gospel should be brought out to an Analoy in the middle of the Church during the reading of the Psalms of the 3rd Hour, led by a standing candle. The priest censes around the Gospel and then does a full censing of the church. The Gospel is read in between the troparia of the hours that follow the Lenten (sung) Troparia. The Gospel of the 6th hour is read immediately after the Paremia (Old Testament Reading). During the Psalms of the 6th Hour, a lesser censing is done, and during the 9th, again a full censing is done. The Gospel is taken back to the Altar after it is read during the 9th Hour. The Royal Doors are open while the Gospel is in the middle of the Church, and the priest wears his phelonion.

Protopresbyter. Alexander Lebedeff

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas