The Significance of the “Six Psalms” of the Orthodox Matins Service

Matins (also spelled Mattins, from the Latin, matutinae, “morning”), also called Orthros (from Greek, meaning “morning”, “dawn” or “day break”), is the longest and most complex of the daily cycle services. Matins is celebrated in the morning, unless it is celebrated as part of a vigil in the evening.

The Six Psalms

by Tyler Dykstra
The Six Psalms (Psalms 3, 37, 62, 87, 102, and 142) are a regular part of nearly every Orthros (Matins) service in the Church. Taken as a single unit, they are never omitted, except during Paschaltide (the 39 days after Pascha) [Or in other traditions, during Bright Week.]

The Six Psalms (in Greek, Hexapsalmos) is one of the most important parts of Orthros. It is “a time when all should put aside other thoughts, stand quietly, and concentrate on these penitential prayers.”1 Truly, it is one of the holiest moments in the Orthros service.
These Psalms are a summary of the Christian life, highlighting the sorrow that we so often meet along the way to our eternal joy.

In some traditions, all the candles or lights in the church are extinguished while these Psalms are read. This, along with the phrase “Glory to God in the highest,” calls to mind the dark night when Christ was born. It also affords us concentration on the Psalms’ words. According to Archbishop Benjamin of Nizhegorod and Arzamas:

This is done so that we, able to see nothing with our eyes, might listen to the Six Psalms attentively and with fear [of God] and so that everyone standing in the dark might shed a tear and release a tender sigh. For at night, and if there is no lighted candle nearby, it is difficult for people to see one another. It is for this reason that the ustav (rubric) directs: thus we pronounce the Six Psalms with all attentiveness and fear of God, as conversing with our invisible Christ God Himself, and praying over our sins.2

Click here to read the entire article:  6 Psalms of Matins


About padrerichard

I am a Priest with ROCOR.
This entry was posted in Church, Sacraments and Rituals, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

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