Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen!
Pascha! Pascha is finally here! Pascha, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is the word that the Orthodox use for Easter. It means Passover, from Hebrew I believe, transliterated into Greek and then transliterated from Greek into English. I don’t remember how exactly the date is determined, but it’s differently than Western Easter and it’s not often that the two overlap. This year was a rare occurrence in that I can tell my friends Christ is risen without getting weird looks.
This is the icon for Pascha
You can see Christ, the new Adam, raising the old Adam and Eve from the grave and trampling on the gates of Hades. All the people in the back are various prophets and saints from history, including King David and St. John the Baptist.
The hymns from Pascha are my absolute favorite hymns of all time. The church we attended uses mainly the Russian tones for them, and I’ve tried to fine the same ones we use on youtube so you can hear it.
At the beginning of the service the priest sings “Come receive the light from the Light, that is never overtaken by night. Come glorify Christ, who is risen from the dead.”
We light our candles, singing “Thy Resurrection, O Christ our savior, the angels in heaven sing. Enable us on earth to glorify you in purity of heart,” and we process around the church singing, the bells ringing.
When we reach the doors again, the priest reads Mark 16: 1 -8, where the Myrhbearing Women are told “He is not here, He is risen!”
Then the priest knocks with the cross on the doors of the church, saying “Lift up your gates, O you princes; and be lifted up, you everlasting gates, and the King of Glory shall enter in.”
From inside the church a man bellows back “Who is this King of Glory?”
They go back and forth, reciting the dialogue from Psalm 24, then finally the doors are opened, and we stream in, singing Christ is Risen at the top of our lungs.
Then we sing the Paschal Cannon, which is long and beautiful and amazing, and one of my favorite smaller hymns from it is the the Kontakion (in Tone 8 at my church)
You descended into the tomb, O Imortal Lord.
Yet you destoryed the power of Hades!
As conqueror You rose, O Christ God,
sying “Hail!” to the myrrhbearing women.
You gave Your peace to Your apostles
and granted resurrection to the fallen.
I tried to find what it sounds like so you can hear it, but there is literally nothing on youtube.
After this, and a homily by St. John Chrystosom that is read every year, we celebrate the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrystosom. Only, instead of some of the original prayers, we have Paschal prayers and hymns and it’s beautiful.
There is a hymn to the Theotokos (what we call Mary) that is sung several times during the service, and every service for the rest of Pascha, called the Angel Cried. My brothers generally sing it on repeat well into September.
Finally, here’s Let God Arise, my absolute favorite hymn of all time. The first line is actually written on the back of my cross in Russian. The “Christ is risen from the dead” at the end of this is the one we sing the most at my church.
I know it’s a lot videos. But I really encourage you to listen to all of them. They’re absolutely beautiful.
So. Pascha stories. I don’t actually have a lot of those – I’ve only been to three Paschas in my life, but this year’s was pretty funny.
So as a part of the service, as I mentioned earlier, we process around the church. Then we assemble in front of the doors, read the gospel, sing Christ is risen, and then the knocking and “Who is this King of Glory?” happens. Only, this year, as soon as we stepped outside the church the wind blew all the candles out. Then half way around the church it started to rain. By the time that the Gospel was brought out, it was pouring. Father Tim read slightly quicker than normal. We sang Christ is Risen, then Father Chris knocked on the doors. But instead of saying “Lift up your gates O you princes,” he immediately opened the doors and said something along the lines of “Everybody in!” We all streamed in faster than I’ve ever seen before. *grins* My brother was soaked through his nice shirt. I happened to be standing right next to a couple with an umbrella, so I wasn’t too badly off.
What’s really funny is when you look at it from my dad’s side of things. He was the person who was supposed to play the devil, the one who demands “Who is this King of Glory?” He was apparently just drawing breath to bellow out the question when Father Chris pushed the doors open on him.
I’m afraid this post was a little garbled. But hopefully, if you’re not Orthodox, it gave you at least a little taste of what Pascha’s like. If you want to read the Paschal homily of St. John Chrysostom (I highly recommended you do), here’s a link.
Christ is risen!
What’s your favorite Easter hymn? Do you know “Christ is risen” in any other languages?