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Choral Corner #16: What is the Triodion?

Colloquially, some Orthodox use the term "Triodion" to refer to Great Lent and its three preparatory weeks; choir directors, in particular, love to exclaim in a panic that "We're in the Triodion next week!". This is a reference to the Lenten Triodion, the collection of liturgical hymnography and Scripture readings used during Great Lent and the three weeks preceding it. The term "Triodion" refers to the fact that most of its Matins Canons contain three Odes, rather than the usual eight.

The non-Biblical texts in the Lenten Triodion are the product of over 1,000 years of prayer efforts, beginning in Syria and Palestine around the 6th century; the majority of the Triodion's hymns were composed by 9th-century monks of the Studio Monastery (St. John the Forerunner at Stoudios) in Constantinople, who also established most of the collection's organizational structure. Two monks from this monastery, St. Joseph the Studite and St. Theodore the Studite, composed all of the first and second weekday Canons, respectively. (Interestingly, they were also brothers.) Other Triodion texts were added as late as the 14th (and perhaps 15th) centuries.

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