Altar Service for the Divine Liturgy  

items in [ .. ] are variants for when two deacons serve


obtain a blessing to serve in the Altar before vesting



- Censer  @ end of service of Proskomede




- Open Curtain  @ beginning of 6th Hour or with the censing after Proskomede


- Censer[s] @ 6th Hour [two censers if two deacons are serving]




- Cut Antidoron during Antiphons (or before)


- Candles @ Small Entrance

Before the Entrance, go to High Place, cross and bow, turn and face the priest who will bless you with the  sign of the Cross, bow slightly.   Stand near back wall on either side of High Place.   Servers on the north exit before priest.  Servers on south follow behind clergy.


Servers face iconostasis.  Priest kisses the icon of Christ on door frame, then blesses the servers and they return to the altar. And he then kisses icon of Theotokos, and enters Altar


- [Censer] @ Small Entrance

if two deacons are serving then one carries censer



- Censer after Prokeimenon - give to deacon

[if bishop is present, give incense to him so he may place it on charcoal]


- Analogion @ Alleluia of Gospel, move into place on Ambo


- Candles @ Gospel, exit at same time as Gospel book

go to High Place, cross and bow, turn and face the priest who will bless you with the  sign of the Cross, bow slightly.  Do same upon return to Altar after Entrance


- Censer @ Cherubic Hymn


After Litanies, immediately after "Wisdom", the deacon re-enters the altar and begins censing

[If 2 deacons, the one in the altar censes during the Litany of the Faithful, then hands the censer to the other deacon thru the Royal Doors.]


Server gives censer to priest: after he goes to the Table of Oblation to cense the gifts before the Great Entrance.


- Candles @ Great Entrance


- Censer @ Great Entrance


deacon carries the diskos and the censer OR a server carries the censer in deference to the deacon's safe handling of the diskos with lamb


after the Entrance, a server holds the censer up so that priest may wrap Aer around it, during prayer. After the gifts are covered the priest censes the gifts on the Holy Table, and returns censer to server


- Curtain


Close with doors after Entrance


- Curtain  Open @ "The doors, the doors..,"


12 Bells  @ Confession of Faith (toll once for each article of faith)


9 Bells @ "It is meet and right..."


3 Bells -  toll each Invocation during Consecration


- Censer after the Consecration give to priest


Bells  @ "More honorable..," I "In Thee..." / festal Megalynarion

only during censing of Altar by deacon, even if singing continues (or if no deacon give priest a censer with bells)


- Washing of Hands during "Our Father..,"


- Curtain Close before "Holy things are for the holy"


[if there is to be Presanctified during week, the censer is needed at this point for censing lamb{sl]


- Single Candle Stand to ambo immediately after closing curtain            

usually taken care of by those in Nave using the stand from in front of Theotokos icon


- Hot Water in zeon,  to right side of altar table    give to and take from deacon


Wine I Bread I Water preparation


- about 2 parts hot water to 1 part wine depending on the strength of the wine - pour wine/water into silver goblets for each of the clergy

- take wine and bread for clergy to south table (right)

(deacon who will consume gifts takes wine/bread on left)

- take remainder of hot water in zeon to Table of Oblation

- take bread / wine to the nave (after communion of clergy as a signal to choir) - if you will be receiving communion, remove and fold your vestments after obtaining a blessing


[also light charcoal if there is to be a Molieben served after Liturgy]


Censer after Communion give to deacon, take from priest at Table of Oblation


[Procession / Moleiben] at this point on major feastdays 


        Antidoron for the Blessing

all Altar servers go out before the Dismissal and stand in the middle of the nave (before the main/festal icon if present) or before the icon of Christ on the right.   After homily or announcements go forward to kiss Cross


Upon returning to the altar


- consume the remaining wine and blessed water

- package the remaining antidoron for use during weekday services or to be dryed

And to be given to those who have made request

- clean the serving area carefully, wash dishes, dispose of water and/or towels properly - obtain a blessing to conclude your service in God's altar




Compiled from the practice of Saint John Chrysostom parish, St. Louis, Missouri, Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, by unworthy Reader Mark,  1987


Edited by Hieromonk Kallistos