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 (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.
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
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