are a set of hymns (stichera
) accompanied by psalm verses (stichos
) that are chant
Chant is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of notes to highly complex musical structures Chant (from French chanter) is the rhythmic speaking or singing...
ed towards the end of Vespers
Vespers is the evening prayer service in the Western Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours...
Matins is the early morning or night prayer service in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox liturgies of the canonical hours. The term is also used in some Protestant denominations to describe morning services.The name "Matins" originally referred to the morning office also...
in the Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...
and those Eastern Catholic Churches that follow the Byzantine Rite
The Byzantine Rite, sometimes called the Rite of Constantinople or Constantinopolitan Rite is the liturgical rite used currently by all the Eastern Orthodox Churches, by the Greek Catholic Churches , and by the Protestant Ukrainian Lutheran Church...
The Greek term literally means "[hymns] on the verses." The aposticha belong to a family of hymns, known as stichera, which are normally tied to psalm verses in the Daily Office. Unlike other stichera, which normally follow their psalm verses, the aposticha are unique in that they precede their psalm verses.
Aposticha are found at Vespers every day, but at Matins they occur only on ordinary weekdays, being omitted on higher-ranking feast days.
At Vespers on Sundays (i.e., Saturday evening) there is one more sticheron than on weekdays. The aposticha at Sunday Vespers form an acrostic
An acrostic is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message. As a form of constrained writing, an acrostic can be used as a mnemonic device to aid memory retrieval. A famous...
in the original Greek (the first sticheron is not part of the acrostic).
- Archimandrite Ephrem, "Aposticha" and "Sticheron" in Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1999.) ISBN 0631189661
- Monks of New Skete, "Introduction" in Hymns of Entreaty (Cambridge, New York: New Skete, 1987.) ISBN 093512909X