The rank of a particular commemoration on the liturgical calendar governs many details about how the services for that day will be celebrated. Which stichera (and how many) will be sung at Vespers, whether Matins will have a Gospel reading or the Great Doxology, and whether we sing weekday or Sunday Theotokia at these services are just a few of the details which the rank determines.
Much as we began our study of the entire order of Vespers by focusing on “Lord, I Call” and its stichera, so we’ll begin to learn about Matins by first looking at the Canon, which many find to be a daunting form of hymnography to understand and to do.
And now very soon, today, it’s Christmas! We lie down to sleep to rest before the night service. We read together the “children’s” prayers before Communion, and put the little ones to bed. They quietly fall asleep, while the parents continue their prayers aloud by candlelight, reading the canon for the Nativity. The adults also get to rest—after all, the work has all been done.
The worship of the Orthodox Church is closely connected with the sacred history of the Old and New Testaments. It as if illustrates this history from the very beginning, symbolically and spiritually, deeply connected with it.