Here’s a little digression.
Christian Jerusalem: 4th-5th Century
One of our surviving sources for liturgical practices in Byzantine-era (4th-5th century) Jerusalem are medieval Armenian lectionaries, which essentially reflect the liturgical tradition of the Church in Jerusalem - or, as it was also known back then, Aelia Capitolina - at that time. (The contents agree with what we know from the writings of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386 AD) and the travel notes of the pilgrim Egeria; in fact, they are often identical.)
The liturgical practices described in the lectionaries appear to have been ancient. Armenian tradition claims that the Jerusalem liturgical tradition was initiated by James the Just, ‘brother’ of Jesus and the first bishop of Jerusalem in the 1st century and was completed by Cyril four centuries later. Even if one doubts this claim, the fact that the readings are already reflected in Cyril’s writings show that the basics of the liturgical practice (at least) was already in place during his time, if not before.
The Armenian lectionaries begin with the vigil of January 6th, what was then the Eastern (and still is now, for Armenians) feast of the Nativity. These are the order of readings:
January 5th (Place of the Shepherds, ninth or tenth hour - 3/4 PM)
Antiphon: Psalm 22 (23) (v.1: “The Lord is my shepherd.”)
Alleluia: Psalm 79 (80) (v. 1: “O shepherd of Israel, hear us, you who lead.”)
Gospel: Luke 2:8-20
(Cave in Bethlehem, night vigil)
Reading: Genesis 1:28-3:20
Reading: Isaiah 7:10-17
Reading: Exodus 14:24-15:21
Reading: Micah 5:2-7
Reading: Proverbs 1:2-9
Reading: Isaiah 9:5b-7
Reading: Isaiah 11:1-9
Reading: Isaiah 35:3-8
Reading: Isaiah 40:10-17
Reading: Isaiah 42:1-8a
Reading: Daniel 3:1-35a
(Refrain: “Lord you have made the dew fall, a dew of mercy, and quenched the flame of burning fire, for it is you alone who are recognized as Savior.”)
Reading: Daniel 3:35b-51
(Refrain: “You have had pity on our fathers. You have visited us. You have saved us.”)
Reading: Daniel 3:52-90
Antiphon: Psalm 2 (v. 7: “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you.’”)
Reading: Titus 2:11-15
Alleluia: Psalm 109 (110) (v.1: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand.’”)
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12
January 6th (Holy Martyrion, dawn)
Antiphon: Psalm 2 (The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you.’")
Reading: Titus 2:11-15 (v.1: “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand.’”)
Alleluia: Psalm 109 (110)
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25
And here is the pilgrim Egeria giving her description of Epiphany in Jerusalem:
Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord, and the rest which follows. And since, for the sake of the monks who go on foot, it is necessary to walk slowly, the arrival in Jerusalem thus takes place at the hour when one man begins to be able to recognize another, that is, close upon but a little before daybreak.
And on arriving there, the bishop and all with him immediately enter the Anastasis, where an exceedingly great number of lights are already burning. There a psalm is said, prayer is made, first the catechumens and then the faithful are blessed by the bishop; then the bishop retires, and every one returns to his lodging to take rest, but the monks remain there until daybreak and recite hymns.
But after the people have taken rest, at the beginning of the second hour they all assemble in the greater church, which is in Golgotha.
Now it would be superfluous to describe the adornment either of the church, or of the Anastasis, or of the Cross, or in Bethlehem on that day; you see there nothing but gold and gems and silk. For if you look at the veils, they are made wholly of silk striped with gold, and if you look at the curtains, they too are made wholly of silk striped with gold. The church vessels too, of every kind, gold and jewelled, are brought out on that day, and indeed, who could either reckon or describe the number and weight of the cereofala (candlesticks), or of the cicindelae (oil lamps), or of the lucernae (lanterns / lamps), or of the various vessels?
And what shall I say of the decoration of the fabric itself, which Constantine, at his mother’s instigation, decorated with gold, mosaic, and costly marbles, as far as the resources of his kingdom allowed him, that is, the greater church as well as the Anastasis, at the Cross, and the other holy places in Jerusalem ?
But to return to the matter in hand: the dismissal takes place on the first day in the greater church, which is in Golgotha, and when they preach or read the several lessons, or recite hymns, all are appropriate to the day. And afterwards when the dismissal from the church has been made, they repair to the Anastasis with hymns, according to custom, so that the dismissal takes place about the sixth hour.
And on this day lucernare (Vespers) also takes place according to the daily use.
The lectionary then continues through the octave of the Nativity/Epiphany, ending at January 13th, during which Jesus’ circumcision is commemorated. (Trivia: the feast of St. Stephen was commemorated on January 7th, and the raising of Lazarus on the 11th.)