PhD in Philology, Assistant Professor at the Chair of Old Russian Singing Art of the N. Rimsky-Korsakov State Conserva¬tory in Saint Petersburg, Senior Researcher of the Research Laboratory of Russian Musical Medievistics in Saint-Petersburg State Conservatory. Egorova received a PhD from the Saint Petersburg State University in 1996. She is the author of a monograph, four textbooks and a num¬ber of articles. Her academic interests are focused on the history of Old Russian literature, the rhetoric and pragmatics of medieval liturgical texts, the Slavonic-Russian translations of Byzantine patristics and hymnography, the monastic culture of Ancient Russia, musical hierotopy in the medieval culture, textology and hermeneutics of Old Russian chants, comparative studies on medieval liturgical practices of Christian Church.


The paper is dedicated to the liturgical hymns of Great Thursday, which are part of the so-called Rite of Feet Washing, which is based on the famous episode of the Gospel of John (Chapter 13, verses 3-30). As it is known, the rite has a long history in the liturgical practices of various Christian denominations. The reason for the study was the observations on the composition of the Rite in Greek and Ancient Russian manuscripts of the XI-XVI centuries, which contain the services of the Lenten Triodion. An initial comparative analysis of the composition and dramaturgy of the rite, of the genres of hymnographic texts accompanying the ritual washing of the clergymen’s feet by the bishop showed that the differences in the Rite between the Byzantine liturgical traditions were as significant as in the liturgical practice of the medieval Russian Church. Textual research led to the conclusion about the mobility of the structure of the Rite of Foot Washing. This variability of composition, as the author of the paper proves, is due to the semantics of the ritual itself, which was intended not so much to recall the Gospel episode, as to update it in the sacred space of the Christian church. Numerous images of Washing of the Feet in liturgical Gospels, on icons, in fresco and mosaic compositions adorning the walls of Christian churches, in festive ranks of high iconostasis, on liturgical fabrics and vessels, which were analyzed by the author of the study testify to a complex symbolism of the image of feet washing.
The task of the further work was an attempt to characterize the artistic features of the musical-poetic texts of the Rite, which are involved in creating a symbolic interpretation of the ritual, which in medieval art was ‟readable” by no means literally. The musical text in both the Greek and the Old Russian versions of chants is considered in the study as a hermeneutic tool interpreting the biblical pretext in the context of the ritual and sacral space in which it unfolds.
A comparative study led to the conclusion that the textual analysis of the rite in two liturgical traditions is clearly insufficient. It must be supplemented, firstly, by widely attracting manuscripts of Armenian, Georgian, and Latin origin, taking into account the peculiarities of various liturgical traditions, and, secondly, by consistent multilateral analysis of the artistic language of musical and poetic texts that are part of the Rite of Foot Washing. It is precisely the comprehensive study of the Rite that will probably give modern medievistics a deep insight into the semantic archetypes that underlie its hymnography, which are, apparently, universal for the entire Christian world.