When a monk serves Vigil...

"When a monk serves Vigil, and does the first censing of the church during "Bless the Lord, Oh my soul!", the Typicon prescribes this censing to be done wearing the Epitrachelion and the Mandias. Should he still go out through the Holy Doors while censing, and then back in, or should he use the North door going out and the South door going back in even if the Holy Doors are open? I thought that usually one should not go through the Holy Doors if he is not wearing a Phelonion, with the exception of Bishops. Deacons of course also should be wearing their full vestments."

In order to answer this question in a more authoritative manner, I have decided to provide a very literal translation of the Slavonic Typicon's initial instructions for serving the Vigil:

'After the sun has set a little, the candlelighter comes out [from his stall] and makes a bow to the presiding [cleric]. Then, going up, he strikes the great bell slowly [literally, "not quickly"], [while] singing the "Blameless" [Psalm 118] or saying Psalm 50 quietly, 12 [times]. And then, having gone in, he also lights the lamps and prepares the censer. And likewise, again having gone out, he rings all the bells. And having returned to the church, and having set a candle on a candlestick, he places it opposite ["prjamo"] the royal gates. Then, he makes a bow to the priest whose turn it is [to serve]. And the priest, having stood up, makes a bow to the presiding [cleric]. And having come out [from his stall], he makes three bows before the holy doors, and to both choirs: to the brethren who are all sitting. And having gone into the holy altar, he places an epitrachelion upon himself, having kissed the cross on its top. And having taken the censer, and having stood before the holy table, he puts incense in [the censer] and says the prayer of the censer secretly. And thus, he censes around the holy table crosswise, and the whole altar ["zhertvenik"]; and, having opened the holy doors, he goes out. The candlelighter, having taken [up] the candle standing in the middle of the church, exclaims in a loud voice: Arise! [while] holding the candle in [his] hand with the candle lit; and all arise. And the priest, having gone out through the holy doors, makes the cross with the censer before the holy doors, raising [it] to the right and diametrically ["preki"]; and he goes and censes the holy icons in order, which are on the right side, then on the left, afterwards the presiding [cleric], and both choirs according to their rank, the paraecclesiarch preceding him with the candle. When the priest makes the cross with the censer, the paraecclesiarch, bowing a little, bows with him. And he goes out to the narthex, and also censes the brethren who are there, according to rank. And having returned again into the church, and having stood in the midst of both choirs, he signs the cross with the censer, looking to the east, and exclaims loudly: O Lord, bless! And immediately he censes the image of Christ the Saviour and of the Theotokos, and the presiding [cleric] in his place; and having entered the holy altar, and having stood before the holy table, he signs the cross with the censer, thrice.
And then he exclaims thus:
Glory be to the holy, and consubstantial, and life-creating, and indivisible Trinity, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.
And the presiding [cleric], or the ecclesiarch, begins: Amen.
Come, let us worship God, our king (in a low and quiet voice).
Then the second [time], a little louder ["povyshe"]" Come let us worship and fall down before Christ, God our king.
Again the third [time] in a louder ["vyshshim"] voice, thus: Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our king and God.
Then especially [loudly]: Come, let us worship and fall down before Him.
And immediately the presiding [cleric], or the ecclesiarch, begins in the loudest ["vyshshim"] voice, in the eigth tone: Bless the Lord, O my soul; not quickly and with sweet singing, the rest of the brethren also singing with [him]. And the refrain: Blessed art Thou, O Lord.
Then the second chanter of the right choir [sings]" O Lord, my God, Thou hast been magnified exceedingly: Blessed art Thou, O Lord; lightly with a harmonious voice, and the rest of the brehren with him.
The priest, with the paraecclesiarch, having come out of the holy altar, and having made three bows befroe the holy doors, and having turned, makes a bow to the presiding [cleric], then once to both choirs. And they go and stand at their own places."

From the above excerpt, it is clear that the priest goes out and comes in through the royal gates when he is censing the church before the Vigil. It should be noted that, according to the Typicon, the censing of the church does not occur during the singing of "Bless the Lord, O my soul," but rather before the Vigil actually begins. Thus, this censing takes places in "sepulchral silence," to quote the expression that Skaballanovich uses when describing this censing in his book, "The Typicon Interpreted."

Daniel Olson daniellector@hotmail.com

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas