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Monday, April 12, 2010

Christus Surrexit!

Christ is risen!

From the older forms of Roman rite, approved for usage within the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, a summary of services for the day is given below.

above: Western mosaic, Torcello basilica

PASCHA, the Resurrection of Our Lord, called "Easter Day" by the people

Today's collect: "Deus qui hodierna": O God, Who by Thine only-begotten Son didst open wide for us the door to eternal life this day, when death was destructed: the prayers which Thou dost breathe into us, leading us, do Thou also bring to fruition, helping us. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God through all the ages of ages. Amen.

- Disentombment: early in the morning, before Matins, the clergy assemble in church and all the lights are lit. There is a solemn procession to the holy Tomb, which is censed. After a prostration the Cross is taken out of the Tomb, and as another great classicum peal (all bells at once) breaks out, "Xpistus resurgens" is sung, tone 4, while a procession encircles the church with the Cross. There is a collect, then prostration, then (as the bells begin to joyfully peal for Matins) all venerate the Cross just as on Good Fri. All images in the church are unveiled.

- Matins: Matins is very joyful and rather short, with only 3 lessons (homily on the day's Gospel from Mark by St. Gregory the Great). There is censing at each responsory and at the Te Deum and at the Benedictus. There are no commemorations at Lauds of Matins. [It should be noted that monastic forms of this Matins exist, which have 12 readings and the fullness of a usual Matins.]

- During the Third Hour (or, in later Sarum practice, the Third and Sixth Hours), the blessing of waters is done quietly, at a side altar. Then "Vidi aquam" is sung as the holy water is sprinkled on altar, clergy, and the queue of faithful who approach. Then a great Procession forms, which takes the same route as on Palm Sun. (q.v.), to the bell-pealing and the singing of "Salve, festa dies," and "Sedit angelus." Back in church, the verse is sung in a station before the rood, by clergy atop the roodscreen, turned towards the people. At the entry into the chancel "Xpistus resurgens" is sung again, the collect.

- At the beginning of this Mass, in Old English usage shown in the Winchester and Canterbury Tropers, there are verses, called the "Quem quaeritis." A chanter representing the angel at the Tomb sings in a beautiful melody, "Whom do ye seek in the sepulchre, O worshippers of Christ?" Chanters representing the myrrh-bearing women reply, "Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified, O worshippers from heaven!" Angel: "He is not here, He is risen, as He foretold..." this goes back and forth a few more times, then the officium follows immediately with its trope "Psallite": O chant unto our mighty King, now that the dominion of death is conquered! come and say: I am risen, and I am still with Thee," etc. In this Mass, the singing is very glorious. The Kyrie is sung with verses, the Gloria in Excelsis with beautiful tropes speaking of the Resurrection of Christ. There is but 1 collect, secret, and postcommunion. After the collect, but before the epistle, are sung the Royal Acclamations ("Christus vincit") before the great rood. This part is very beloved by the people, who join in with great joy and triumph. A short epistle is followed by the Graduale, Alleluya (with 2 or 3 verses!), and the glorious Sequence "Fulgens praeclara," which is older then the Sequence "Victimae paschali," and more filled with unbridled joy. The bells peal throughout the Sequence, then the Gospel from Mark is sung. The Offerenda has beautiful tropes beginning, "From the indignation and wrath of the Lord's anger, The earth trembled, yea, and was still. The graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints arose, When the Lord our God arose to judgment. Christ is risen from the dead! O come ye, let us worship, all proclaiming with a single voice: Alleluya, alleluya. These tropes just get more joyful as they go along, from that foreboding beginning. There are beautiful tropes for the Sanctus. The Canon has proper Communicantes and Hanc Igitur. There are beautiful tropes upon the Agnus, and the Communio antiphon. Today all the people commune, the Mass comes quickly to a festive end, all the bells begin again to peal, and after the giving of the blessed bread, the Priest blesses the baskets in a station with the clergy and crucifer. The blessing is of all the foods that were forbidden in Lent: "of meat, cheese, butter, eggs, and meat-pies."

- Ye Greate Picnicke. This is definitely part of today's celebration.

- At Vespers, there is a unique and glorious service: The bells peal, the soft prayers are said, then the rulers of the choir begin "Kyrie eleison." Kyrie VI (q.v. supra) is sung without verses (though, actually, in many places the verses were sung), and (in the older books) a great procession winds around the church, while the Kyrie is sung, pausing briefly at the great rood. Three psalms are sung under the 4-fold alleluya, then the Graduale from the Mass is sung again, then the Alleluya from the Mass is sung again, then the versicle and Magnificat is sung, with censing of altar, clergy, and people. After the collect, a great procession including holy oil and chrism vessels forms as Alleluya, intertwined with Ps. 112, is sung specially. At the fonts (that is, in front of the west doors) there is a station made, a collect, then the procession goes on to the rood, as an Alleluya intertwined with Ps. 113 is sung joyfully. The rood is censed. There is a collect in honour of the Cross, then the beautiful "Alma Redemptoris" is sung with alleluya, as the clergy re-enter the chancel. There is a collect of St. Mary. "Benedicamus" is sung with an alleluya on the end.

- Compline #13 is sung (online Sarum Psalter pp. 191-192), including singing the Graduale from the day's Mass again (but without verse). For Compline, two bells are rung twofold.

above: 12th-c. English icons, St. Michael's Copford

Sometimes Western rite people hesitate about the term "Pascha." It may seem, to them, Byzantine. Eastern. Other. Not Western. But this great and holy day was called in the west of England, by the 1030s already, "Paske." In Welsh it is called "Pasg," and in Irish "Caisc," and in Manx "Yn-chaisht," that is, "The Holy." In most Western European languages the word used is some variant upon "Pascha." So, as odd as it may sound to the ears of an Anglican or a Roman-catholic, the term "Pascha" for Easter is, in its broadest outlines, merely the resurrection of an old Anglo-Saxon tradition, as well as an almost-universal usage of Western Europe. The term "Easter" also has an ancient and Orthodox lineage; there is nothing inherently wrong in the term.

The similarity of the Torcello mosaic to East Roman (Byzantine) iconography underscores the fact that one of the West's primary iconographic styles was essentially indistinguishable from the East Roman style. However, other styles are known as well, and variety is more apparent in manuscript illuminations than in surviving wall paintings of the period.

* Fast free: no restriction of food this whole week, and, by ancient Western custom, from today until Whitsunday (with the sole exception of cheesefare foods upon St. Mark's day and the Rogation days before Ascension).

** Old Sarum Rite Missal, (c) 1998, St. Hilarion Press, due to be re-issued in a scholarly format by St. John Cassian Press, in 2 volumes.

Xpucmoc Bockpece!