THE ORDER FOR READING CANONS AND AKATHISTS WHEN ALONE
Before commencing any rule of prayer, and at its completion, the following reverences are made (prostrations or bows), called "The Seven Bow Beginning."
O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. (bow)
O God, cleanse me, a sinner, and have mercy on me. (bow)
Having created me, O Lord, have mercy on me. (bow)
I have sinned immeasurably, O Lord, forgive me. (bow)
My sovereign, most holy Mother of God, save me, a sinner, (bow)
O Angel, my holy Guardian, protect me from all evil. (bow)
Holy Apostle (or martyr, or holy father Name) pray to God for me. (bow)
Then: Through the prayers of our holy fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us. Amen.
Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.
Heavenly King... to Our Father... (See Morning Prayers)
Lord, have mercy. (12)
Glory... Now ...
O come, let us worship ...
The Symbol of Faith.
Then the Canons and Akathists are read as follows:
A) If one Canon or Akathist is to be read it is read straight through.
B) If more than one Canon is to be read, the first Song of the first Canon is read. If the Refrain before the final or last two Troparia is Glory... Now ... , it is replaced by the Refrain of the Canon and "Most Holy Mother of God, save us" (the latter comes before a Troparion to the Virgin). The first Song of the second Canon is read, beginning with the Refrain (the Eirmios of the first Canon only is read), etc. Glory... and Now... are used only as Refrains before the last two Troparia (or last Troparion) of the final Canon to be read. Then the third Song of the first Canon, beginning with the Eirmos, etc. After the third Song: Lord have mercy (3), Glory... Now... Sedalions. When there are more than one Canon, the Kontakion(s) of the second and any additional ones are read after the Sedalions. Glory... Now... is read before the final verses. Then Songs 4, 5 and 6 are read. After Song 6: Lord, have mercy. (3), Glory... Now ... Kontakion of the first Canon. Then Songs 7, 8 and 9 are read.
C) If an Akathist is read with the Canon (s), it is included after Song 6. All Kontakions of the Canon (s) are read after Song 3 in this case.
After Song 9:
It is meet and right... (See p. 36)
Trisagion to Our Father ...
Have mercy on us... and the rest of the Prayers Before Sleep.
If no other prayers are to be read, the closing is as follows:
It is meet and right...
Prayer(s) following the Canon (s).
Trisagion to Our Father...
Lord, have mercy. (3)
More Honourable than the Cherubim...
Through the prayers of our holy fathers, O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us. Amen.
Those who are preparing for Holy Communion are obliged to read three Canons and one Akathist the evening before. Usually read are the Canons to the Saviour, the Mother of God, and the Guardian Angel (in that order), and either an Akathist to the Saviour or to the Mother of God. Those who desire to carry out this evening rule of prayer daily receive great spiritual benefit from) doing so.