Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Saturday 16 January |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Giuseppe Antonio Tovini
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Preparing for the Theophany with the "Royal Hours"


Fusion of Horizons | CC BY 2.0

Philip Kosloski - published on 01/04/19

Eastern Christians prepare for the feast with fasting and a special liturgy.

Many Eastern Christians hold on to traditions that were started during the time of the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire. Christianity flourished in this half of the Empire and began to create unique traditions that are retained by many Byzantine and Orthodox Christians today.

For example, when the Emperor moved to Constantinople from Rome, there developed the “Royal Hours.” It was a special liturgy celebrated in the presence of the Emperor and his royal court before major feast days. The Emperor would humble himself on these days and recognize the divine sovereignty of God.

The “Royal Hours” coincide with special fasting days that precede the celebration of Jesus’ Nativity (Dec. 25), the Theophany (Jan. 6) and “Great Friday” (also known as Good Friday).

The prayers composed for this liturgy have a penitential aspect to them, as well as focusing on Christ’s kingship. Here is an oft-repeated refrain that summarizes the prayers.

Come, let us worship our King and God. Come, let us worship Christ our King and God.Come, let us worship and bow before the only Lord Jesus Christ,the King and our God.

For the feast of the Theophany, many of the prayers focus on the Baptism of Jesus, a central mystery that is celebrated on January 6 for Eastern Christians.

Tone 4. Today, the Trinity, our God, has revealed Itself indivisibly tous: The Father bears his clear witness to his Son; the Spirit comesdown from heaven in the form of a dove; the Son bows his spotlesshead before the Baptist; being baptized, the Lover of Mankind freesmankind from slavery.

It is a lengthy liturgy, but one that reminds us all that we are called to bow down and worship the true King of kings and render him our loving homage.


Read more:
Why is the visit of the Magi called the “Epiphany”?

Read more:
Rediscovering the sound of Byzantine churches

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on Y...
Bret Thoman, OFS
An exorcist teaches 4 steps to forgive
Philip Kosloski
What is the Holy Cloak of St. Joseph?
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Why God loves ordinary stuff: Pope Francis' r...
POPE FRANCIS; Ash Wednesday
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Vatican: Imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday...
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the family of 12 siblings with a very sp...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.