Presvytera Vassi Makris Haros is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Art, Architecture & Planning and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. She is the owner, designer and photographer of V’s Cardbox, In Service and Love. a greeting card company featuring cards with an Orthodox voice. She strongly feels that experiencing the Orthodox Faith through the church’s cyclical calendar of feasts and fasts is a gift that is too often overlooked.
Have you noticed some of the nuances of the Paschal Season (Easter to Ascension) and how they have affected our Liturgical worship these past few weeks?
Please remain standing
We no longer kneel during the Consecration of the Gifts, when the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. We will kneel again after Pentecost, when we pray the Kneeling Prayers. Why do we stand? In honor of the 40 days after His resurrection, when Christ taught his disciples and before His Ascension, we are still in celebratory mode. We stand remembering Mathew 9:15 and the days the “Bridegroom” was still with them.
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.
There is a tradition in the Orthodox Church that we never kneel on a Sunday since Sunday is always the Day of Resurrection, but that is for another post.
Honoring the Virgin Mary
Another difference is the Megalynarion, the hymn to the Virgin Mary, which is sung at the end of the Consecration. There are many Megalynarion to sing, depending on the feast or Liturgical Season. During the Paschal Season, we sing, “The Angel Cried” (O Angelos Evoa) instead of “Truly You are Worthy to Be Blessed.” (Axion Estin.)
The Angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace:
Rejoice, O Pure Virgin! Again I say: Rejoice!
Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb.
With Himself He has raised all the dead. Rejoice, all ye people!
Shine, shine, O New Jerusalem, The glory of the Lord has shone on you.
Exult now and be glad, O Zion, Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos,
In the Resurrection of your Son!
And the third change during the Paschal Season is the communion hymn. The main communion hymn is “Praise the Lord.” Parishes tend to also sing “Receive Me Today.” which is the Communion hymn for Holy Thursday. They might also sing from the Psalms. But during the Paschal Season, we sing “Body of Christ” (Soma Christou.)
Watch a virtual choir sing “Soma Christou”
As a tribute to Tikey Zes and his music, choir members from around the United States helped AXIOS Music create the first-ever Orthodox virtual choir. Axion Music “chose to record ‘Soma Christou’ because of its singular place in the annals of Greek Orthodox choral music in the United States.”
You can also watch a video of the composer, Tikey Zes describe the experience and writing “Soma Christou” in the 1950s.
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