|This article forms part of the series on the |
|Liturgy of the Preparation|
|Liturgy of the Word|
|Great Litany |
Litany of Fervent Supplication
Litany for the Departed
Litany of the Catechumens
|Liturgy of the Eucharist|
|Cherubic Hymn |
Litany of the Completion
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The Little Entrance is the procession of the clergy to the altar led by the Book of the Gospels. It sometimes called the "Small" or "First" Entrance.
If the priest is serving the Divine Liturgy alone, without a bishop, the Little Entrance is made by the clergy circling the altar table and then to the middle of the church with the Gospel Book. Then he enters the altar through the royal doors of the iconostasis accompanied by the hymn of Entrance.
If the bishop is celebrating, the Gospel Book is brought out to him in the center of the church, in the midst of the people, where he has been standing from the beginning of the liturgy. This is led by the deacon (who holds the Gospel Book in the procession), and is followed by priests in order of rank.
In the Little Entrance, the movement of the entire Church, through its Head Jesus Christ in the person of the celebrant (and in the Gospel Book the celebrant is holding), to the altar, which symbolizes the Kingdom of God, can be seen.
But dwelling on this "historical-representational symbolism" can lead to a separation of the clergy and the laity and a resulting misinterpretation of the two groups from full participants in the common action to performers and audience. (see: SYMBOL AND REALITY IN THE DIVINE LITURGY)
Originally, the Little Entrance marked the beginning of the service, but it is now preceded by various Litanies and Psalms. It was a way the bring the Gospel Book from where it was kept to the service.