Trampling down death by death,
And to those in the tombs Bestowing life!
The Paschal Epistle of Archbishop Hilarion of Sydney, Australia, and New Zealand, Deputy of the President of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia can be read here.
At Archimandrite Ephrem's site you will find the full text of the Midnight Office read before the Paschal Procession; and the full text of the Paschal Procession, Matins, Hours, and Liturgy. Moreover, If you're genuinely interested in how the Fathers made use of the Scriptures in composing the liturgical services, then you simply must read this commentary on St John of Damascus' Paschal Canon.
Here follows the stirring Paschal Homily of Our Father Among the Saints, John Chrysostom, which is read towards the end of the Paschal Matins:
If any man be devout and loveth God,
Let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast!
If any man be a wise servant,
Let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.
If any have laboured long in fasting,
Let him how receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour,
Let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour,
Let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour,
Let him have no misgivings;
Because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour,
Let him draw near, fearing nothing.
And if any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,
Let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness.
For the Lord, who is jealous of his honour,
Will accept the last even as the first.
He giveth rest unto him who cometh at the eleventh hour,
Even as unto him who hath wrought from the first hour.
And He showeth mercy upon the last,
And careth for the first;
And to the one He giveth,
And upon the other He bestoweth gifts.
And He both accepteth the deeds,
And welcometh the intention,
And honoureth the acts and praises the offering.
Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord;
Receive your reward,
Both the first, and likewise the second.
You rich and poor together, hold high festival!
You sober and you heedless, honour the day!
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted
And you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.
Let no one bewail his poverty,
For the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities,
For pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
For the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.
By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered
When it encountered Thee in the lower regions.
It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
Is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be glory and dominion
Unto ages of ages; Amen.
Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh added the following words after reading this homily on Pascha, 1991:
If I may I wish to add just a few words of my own. Christ is life and the victory of life. In the world in which He came, death was prevalent and seemed to be all-powerful over men; when He came, He defeated death by His resurrection. And nowadays we live in a world which is full of torment, of pain, of fear, of murder, of death, and we may say, “But where is the victory?”.. The victory is in each of us, the victory is in all those of us who believe that death cannot separate us from God, that death is no longer a victory of evil over us, but a triumph of us through our faith, because death is no longer separation. Saint Paul says that for him death is a meeting with Christ; as long as he lives in the flesh he is separated, partly, from God. But with his death he enters in full unity and communion with Him. This is our faith, but there is more to it in a sense, because life is triumphant in our midst. However frightening and dark the world is nowadays, we know that victory has already been won, that God has won and that we who believe in Him partake together with Him in His victory. And therefore, let us bring, to all around us, this message of life and glory!
Christ is risen!
- St Leo the Great of Rome, On the Lord's Resurrection, with a second text by this author
- St Maximus of Turin: Sermon on Pascha and the Good Thief.
St John of Shanghai and San Francisco: Christ is Risen!, Pascha: In the Beginning Was the Word; Pascha!
Metropolitan Vitaly of New York: Paschal Epistle, 1997.