Divine Liturgy is the main worship service of Orthodox Christianity. Indeed, the Divine Liturgy is the highest and fullest celebration of the Word of God. Profound mysteries always fill the Divine Liturgy—the joyful gathering of the faithful, the symbolic joining of the physical with the spiritual, the presence of the Creator of heaven and earth in our midst, and, ultimately, our solemn participation in Holy Communion.
Great Vespers is an ancient evening prayer service. For the early Church, Vespers was a Jewish service easy to “Christianize” because of its heavy use of Psalms and Old Testament references that took on their deepest and most proper meanings in the light of Christ. Great Vespers essentially tells the story of salvation—beginning with the reading of Psalm 103 (the “creation” psalm), acknowledging our fallen condition, proclaiming Christ—the “Gladsome Light” who sets us free, and, finally, praying for a peaceful departure from this life since “our eyes have seen Thy salvation.”
Daily Vespers is our mid-week service, reflective and quiet in tone. Containing most of the elements of Great Vespers—with the exception of various references to the Resurrection of Christ (since, liturgically, the “Day of Resurrection” is Sunday)—Daily Vespers also includes references to the saint (or biblical event) currently being commemorated. Slightly shorter than Great Vespers, the service of Daily Vespers provides a great mid-week boost to the faithful.
Matins is the morning service of prayer and chanting and quiet meditation. The service begins with the reading of six Psalms (3, 38, 63, 88, 103, 143)—designed to lift the soul from its fallen state and carry it upward to the throne of grace. Matins, with a Gospel reading about the Risen Lord, especially emphasizes the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Also, Matins contains lovely hymns relevant to the liturgical season.