Working on our Vespers service book

Today’s project for me was to slave over a hot service book.

Our Vespers service is the service we’ve been doing the longest. As we’ve been doing a priestless version for a while, my first revision of the book cut out all the stuff we don’t do.

We actually have at our disposal TWO different Vespers service books (multiple copies of each, we’re not all hunched around trying to peer at the words). The simple one is the white one, which are branded for our former overseeing church. It doesn’t have the music in, and there’s places where it notes that extra songs are added in.

The red book is more complicated, as I was reminded when I was looking through it to fill in some blanks. now some parts have me more confused…

We also have a set of music, which I believe we’ve been using in conjunction with the white books. There’s some songs in there that we haven’t done (the ones noted in the white book). This is the stuff that has mainly thrown us off when we’ve had a priest with us, and our recent visit to K-town’s Vespers used them, so we’ve decided to add them in.

So that’s what I’ve been collecting and adding today. The extra verses and parts of Lord, I Call Upon Thee, the Apostikha verses, and the Troparia. There’s also the Prokeimena, but I skipped those today. They weren’t in with the music, and the red book was seven shades of confusing in that regard. Plus the other stuff already took me most of today.

There are eight Tones, and we cycle through them. So Tone 7 started today, Tone 8 starts next Sunday, then it goes back to Tone 1 after that. All the things I added today (text only, thankfully, though some of the music could really use redoing), I had to add for each of the eight Tones.

The Lord, I Call stuff started straightforward. The first set of music I found turned out to not be the full set, the second set was more complete (missing a page, I think). After the “Lord, I Call” part, there’s 3 verses, each with a “Stikhera” (for the sake of not looking it up, let’s describe it as “a choiry bit”) afterwards.

This was just fine until Tone 7, where on the music sheet, the third Stikhera kind of gets interrupted by the third verse coming back and saying “wait! I wasn’t done yet!”, then the third Stikhera finishing off. (“I’ma let you finish…”)

In a rare display of being easier, the red book just includes “Verse 3 ctd” as part of the uninterrupted Stikhera.

The three verses have the same words in all 8 Tones. The red book lists 10 verses, the first 3 being the ones that we use. The verses are labelled 1-10, 1 and 2 being in the section (X), 3 and 4 in (V111), 5 and 6 in (VI), and 7-10 in (IV). I have no idea what this means; in the following pages, the words (and most of the music) are displayed, and only use the same 3 verses.

And after the last Stikhera, before the Theotokion which rounds out each Lord, I Call section, it says “(etc.)”

What etc? I don’t know the etc! Can’t you tell me the etc?

I have no idea. Maybe I’ll find out. That’s maybe one to ask now-Father Dan.

In the meantime, have to check with musicy people about which construction of Tone 7 to put in the book.

The Apostikha(s? e?) were a lot more straightforward, the only issues I see cropping up here are noting that I need to enforce consistency with capitals (just corrected a bunch of Thys and Thous, cross usually has a capital C, as in “By ascending the Cross, O Lord…”, “Thy most pure Body” is in the Troparia, do I capitalise the B in “His holy body”? and so on).

I suspect proof-reading will be a lot of work.

The last section was the Troparia, and here things got a little complicated.

The wording on the music sheets mostly matched up with the Troparia in the Sunday service book, so a quick copy-and-paste did that job. I think the tunes were different, so I made notes where things were different. the differences were minor, Thy/the, to/for, some extra ands and an our. Some of the sheets had music for “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen.” Others had [G.N.E.] written on them (I’d say “scrawled”, but don’t mean it to be disparaging, and also it’s better writing than mine). Following that, there’s a Theotokion.

The white book just says “Troparia (sung or chanted)”, followed by priesty parts we usually have to skip. So previously our service would stop just before this point.

The red book at this point in the service has a Troparion to the Theotokos (one set of words, two options for music, not a different one for all eight tones like in the music sheets). then it has page numbers for the appendices for Sunday Troparia and Lenten Troparia, so essentially the other way round from the music sheets. But the Sunday Troparia (words, at least, didn’t check the tunes) seem to be the same as on the sheets and in our Typika service book, so grateful for some consistency, there.

I’m grateful for the consistency we do get, and I do enjoy this project. It’s just that everything turns out to be more work than you think it’ll be. Lord willing, we’ll know what we’re doing someday!

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