Liturgy of St. Basil

by the Late Very Rev Nicon D Patrinacos

The origin of the Liturgy of St. Basil is Antiochian, specifically from Cappadocia where St. Basil was bishop. In all probability, St. Basil was its celebrant, if not in its present form, at least in its essentials. And though we have ancient documents ascribing to St. Basil a specific liturgical formula in the form of 'Anaphora', the liturgy in its present form in obviously the collective work of many composers. But still, most of the important prayers in it are the work of St. Basil on the strength of style, vocabulary and ideas.

The theory which goes back to pseudo-Proclus and by which the liturgy of St. Chrysostom is an abbreviation of that of St. Basil, which, in its turn, is an abbreviation of the liturgy of St. James cannot be substantiated if one compares the contents of their respective prayers. [pseudo-Proclus was believed to be Proclus, patriarch of Constantinople who died in 447AD; pseudo-Proclus is now dated to a period between the 8th and 9th centuries]. Some of the prayers of St. Chrysostom's liturgy are indeed shorter than their counterparts in St. Basil's, but others are longer. It seems that the respective sets of prayers of the two liturgies are separate treatments of the same themes. St. Basil's appears to be older than St. Chrysostom's perhaps by two centuries. The Liturgy of St. Basil is celebrated ten times a year, namely, the first five Sundays of Great Lent before Easter, on Thursday and Saturday of the Holy Week, Christmas Day, St Basil's feast (January 1) and Epiphany Day (January 6).

Extracts by the Late Very Rev Nicon D Patrinacos, are taken for the book
A Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy

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