On Wednesday, November 5, Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary marked the feast of St James the Brother of the Lord and the first bishop of Jerusalem with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy attributed to the apostle at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. The liturgy was served by Hieromonk Gabriel (Astrakhankin), with the concelebration of Deacon Andrei Psarev and Hierodeacon Seraphim (Nikoloski). The hymns of the liturgy were sung by the Seminary and Monastery choir.
The Divine Liturgy of St James was until the 12th century the primary eucharistic liturgy of the Church of the holy city of Jerusalem. Scholars suggest that its anaphora (eucharistic prayer) goes back to the end of the fourth century, and is attested in Mystagogical Catecheses of St Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 387). The complete text of this liturgy exists in Greek, but many of the diverse and beautiful hymns that were sung in the course of this liturgy in ancient Jerusalem have survived only in Georgian translation, due to the fact that from about 11th-12th century the Jerusalem Church itself gradually abandoned the use of its own ancient liturgical rite.
In the late 19th century, however, the service of this liturgy was revived on the island of Zakynthos (Greece) and subsequently in Jerusalem itself. In 1938 the translation of the Liturgy of St James was translated by Igumen Philip (also known as Ivan A. Gardner) and published by the Printshop of St Job of Pochaev. Fr Philip himself celebrated St James’s Liturgy for the first time in his Church Slavonic translation on January 18, 1938 in the presence of Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky) and few other bishops, including St John of Shanghai. From that time, the annual celebration of the Liturgy of St James became a continued tradition of the Russian Church Abroad, preserved by the Brotherhood of St Job of Pochaev, which brought this tradition to Jordanville in late 1940s.
On Friday, November 14, on the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, the Rector of the Seminary, Archimandrite Luke, celebrated the Liturgy of St James in English at the Dormition cemetery church, with the concelebration of Deacon Peter Markevich. Select singers from the Seminary choir sang the hymns of this Liturgy in English under the direction of Nicholas Kotar.
Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary hopes to continue its tradition of the annual celebration of St James’s Liturgy, seeking to inspire and to educate seminarians, monastics, and parishioners through the beauty and depth of this liturgical rite.