Friday, April 17, 2009

Great and Holy Saturday


Tomorrow is Great and Holy Saturday. Here is S. V. Bulgakov's explanation of the liturgical commemoration (as usual, follow that same link for his detailed notes on the performance of the Divine services):
On Great Saturday the Holy Church remembers the sojourn of Jesus Christ in the flesh in the tomb, His sincere descent into Hades, the introduction of the thief to paradise, the sitting on the throne with the Father and Spirit and together with them will indicate beforehand the approach of the great event of the Resurrection of Christ. In the exclusive, special services of Great Saturday the Holy Church, pouring out tears of love and gratitude for the One Who laid down His life for His friends and enemies and Who in the flesh reposed in the tomb, calls out to everyone and all to this holiest and most precious tomb -- the expectation of all nations, calls out to both heaven and earth, both angels and men to Him; surrounds itself with the bright clouds of the ancient witnesses who had foreseen Him for a thousand years and with the councils of New Testament heralds, who here as if giving answer before the Crucified One in his universal sermons about His expiatory cross, death and resurrection. All the divine services of Great Saturday represent a wonderful, unexampled combination of the most opposed feelings - sorrow and joyfulness, grief and joy, tears and bright singing. The Church divine services begin this day in late morning and continue successively up to its end, so that the last Sabbath hymns merge with the Resurrection and become fixed only at the sounds already beginning the most solemn "Christ is Risen"!
Liturgical service:
Scripture readings:

Matins (Friday evening):
  1. Ezekiel 37:1-14.
  2. I Corinthians 5:6-8.
  3. Galatians 3:13-14.
  4. Matthew 27:62-66.
Vespers:
  1. Genesis 1:1-13.2.
  2. Isaiah 60: 1-16.
  3. Exodus 12: 1-11.
  4. Jonah 1:1-4:11.
  5. Joshua 5: 10-15.
  6. Exodus 13: 20-15:19.
  7. Zephaniah 3: 8-15.
  8. Third Kings [i.e., 1 Kings] 17: 8-23.
  9. Isaiah 61:10-62.5.
  10. Genesis 22: 1-18.
  11. Isaiah 61: 1-9.
  12. Fourth Kings [i.e., 2 Kings] 4:8-37.
  13. Isaiah 63: 11 - 64:5.
  14. Jeremiah 31: 31-34.
  15. Daniel 3: 1-88 [i.e., Daniel 3:1-23 and the Hymn of the Three Youths].
N. B. These readings, of course, assume use of the Septuagint. The final reading in particular should be done out of a service book in order to correspond properly with the choir.

Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great:
  • Epistle: Romans 6:3-11.
  • Gospel: Matthew 28:1-20.
The Book of Acts is normally read in its entirely in church by parishioners on Holy Saturday evening, leading up to the Paschal service.

From the Fathers
:
Other articles:
For many more Holy Week links, see here.

It is such a joy that all Orthodox are able to celebrate these days together, not divided by the calendar question. (Well, except for our eccentric cousins in Finland!)

Illustrations: An icon of Christ's burial and a manuscript from the second half of the nineteenth century with hymnography in Slavonic for Holy Saturday (click on it for a larger view).

2 comments:

aaronandbrighid said...

Thank you, Father. Unfortunately, though, the link to Bishop Hilarion's article didn't work.

Felix Culpa said...

Thanks, fixed.