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Proper (liturgy)

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Template:Unref The Proper (Latin proprium) is a part of the Christian liturgy that varies according to the date, either representing an observance within the Liturgical Year, or of a particular saint or significant event. The term is used in contrast to the ordinary, which is that part of the liturgy that is reasonably constant, or at least selected without regard to date, or to the common, which contains those parts of the liturgy that are common to an entire category of saints, such as Apostles or Martyrs.

Propers may include hymns and prayers in the Canonical Hours and in the Eucharist.


In Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic practice, there is a moveable portion of the service that, strictly speaking, does not form part of the proper, the Accentus. The Proper of the Mass, strictly speaking, consists of the Introit, Gradual, Alleluia or Tract, Sequence, Offertory, and Communion. These are sometimes called the "minor propers" to distinguish them from the collect, secret, postcommunion, and readings. Portions of the Accentus may also more loosely be referred to as part of the "Proper" if they satisfy the criteria of changing by date (such as the Preface and Epistle).


In the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches, the propers (also known as "sequences") at Vespers and Matins are numerous, and include stichera, troparia, prokeimena, Paroemia (Old Testament readings) and Matins Gospels.

At the Little Hours they will normally include only the troparion and kontakion of the day, but during Great Lent will include hymns which vary according to the day of the week. The fullest form of the Little Hours is the Royal Hours, celebrated on the eves of certain Great Feasts and Good Friday. The propers for the Royal Hours include particular psalms, hymns (stichera), paroemia, and Epistle and Gospel readings.

At Compline, the only variable is usually the troparia which are to be read. A canon may also be read. There are canons in honour of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) for every day of the week according to the tone of the week found in the Octoechos. Also, if the normal daily service to a saint is displaced by some more important commemoration, such as the services in the Triodion or the Pentecostarion, the saint's service will be chanted at compline, usually consisting of the saint's canon and the stichera appointed for "Lord, I have cried" at Vespers. During the first week of Great Lent, the "Great Canon" of Saint Andrew of Crete is divided into four parts, with a part chanted each night (Monday through Thursday).

When there is no celebration of the Divine Liturgy, the Typica will be celebrated in its stead. Propers for the Typica include the troparia which would have been read at the Third Antiphon of the Liturgy, the prokiemen, Epistle, Gospel, and kontakia.

At the Divine Liturgy propers include troparia, kontakia, prokeimena, the readings from the Apostle and Gospel, the Zadostoinik or Megalynarion (hymn replacing It is Truly Meet, not to be confused with the Megalynarion chanted at Matins), and the Communion Hymn. On Great Feasts of the Lord there will also be special Antiphons that replace the psalms and beatitudes that normally begin the Liturgy.

At all of the services (or at the end of an aggregate of services), the priest says a dismissal (final blessing) which differs according to the day of the week. These dismissals are of two kinds: the Lesser Dismissal, which is shorter; and the Greater Dismissal, which mentions the saint of the day. Special dismissals used during Holy Week and Great Feasts of the Lord. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the dismissal also mentions the name of the saint who composed the Liturgy: Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Gregory the Dialogist, or James, the Brother of the Lord.

The propers can be found in the following liturgical books:

As well as a number of individually published services or collections.

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