This brief post is inspired by a discussion on Facebook started by my koumbaros Fr. Andrew Damick…
When we (in the Orthodox world) think of liturgy we are almost always thinking of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. This is the service that week in week out we go to on Sundays. There are, though, other liturgies in Orthodoxy, and we are occasionally exposed to them. The most common one is the Liturgy of St. Basil, which is identical to that of Chrysostom except for the longer and different anaphora (the time around consecration and communion) prayers*. Basil’s liturgy is done on his feast day, Sundays during Lent, and a few other times a year. During Lent we celebrate another liturgy during the week – the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts or Presanctified Liturgy. This service is noticeably different than the other two. There exists a Liturgy of St. Mark which is done on his feast and his more or less identical to Chrysostom, although it includes some cool stuff like a prayer for the rising of the waters of the Nile (reflecting Mark’s relationship with Egypt). The Liturgy of St. James is done on his feast day and can be celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas. This service has even more of a different character than the Presanctified.
There are other liturgies that have fallen out of practice in the Orthodox universe, and one was recently done for the first time in centuries in the Greek Orthodox jurisdiction. Archbishop Gregory of Great Britain celebrated the liturgy of his patron saint Gregory the Theologian on his feast day. You can read accounts of this historic event here and here. I am hoping that video exists of this rare and no doubt awesome liturgy and I hope it comes to the surface at some point.
*Our yearly Lenten clergy retreat at the Metropolis Retreat Center featured Fr. Maximos from Mt. Athos. His topic was the anaphora prayers of the Liturgy of St. Basil, and in passing he mentioned that the anaphora prayers of the Liturgy of St. Gregory, recently celebrated for the first time in centuries by the Archbishop of Great Britain, are the only anaphora prayers of any Eastern Orthodox liturgy to be addressed to Christ rather than God the Father.