Thank you for joining us on the Feast of Feasts, the Pascha of the Lord. Today we celebrate the end of our compunctionate and penitential fast with a universal service of joy that is celebrated globally. The Paschal service has four parts: we begin with the Canon of Holy Saturday, which is sung by the Choir in preparation for our procession. Then the Matins of Pascha begin with the procession.
The procession begins within the church; all lights are darkened except for the priest’s candle. The priest begins by singing the Resurrection Hymn “Thy Resurrection…”. The priest sings it twice, and the third time is joined by the Choir. Then, the choir and people join together, singing the hymn repeatedly until the procession concludes at the door of the church. The door is closed, symbolizing the Tomb.
The priest then reads the Gospel reading and sings the Troparion of Pascha three times by himself. Then, the Choir and people sing the Troparion of Pascha three times. Then, the priest and choir antiphonally exchange the Paschal Verses, followed by the priest singing the Paschal Troparion alone, until the last verse, which all join in joyfully: “And upon those in the tombs bestowing life!”
Following this, we enter the church to continue the Matins service.
The response to the Paschal greeting, “Christ is Risen!” is “Indeed He is Risen!” or “Truly He is Risen!” You may also hear this cry in multiple foreign languages, signifying the universality of the faith. You will also hear varied singings of Paschal Troparion from Greek, Ukrainian, Arab, and Russian musical traditions. Following Matins, which features the singing of the Paschal Canon and reading of St. John Chrysostom’s Catechetical Sermon, the service of the Paschal Hours begins.
This service by tradition replaces the First, Third, Sixth, and Ninth Hours, and the pre-communion and post-communion prayers during Bright Week. The Paschal Hours are followed immediately by the Divine Liturgy of St. John, which begins with the Paschal Troparion sung thrice by the priest, then thrice by the choir and people.
The Divine Liturgy continues in the Paschal spirit with special antiphons and the Paschal hymns. The Eucharist is reserved for faithful Orthodox Christians that have prepared appropriately to receive it. Following the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, we bless Easter baskets, cheeses and meats, and have a celebratory feast together.
Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing life.