We have completed the weeklong celebration of Pascha, the Resurrection of our Lord, and on the Sunday after Pascha, also called Thomas Sunday, we restarted the cycle of eight tones with Tone 1. We will continue the eight week cycle of eight tones, one per week, until next Palm Sunday, 2017.
During Bright Week, we sang the Easter troparion, “Christ is risen from the dead”, at practically every opportunity. From now until the leave-taking of Pascha on May 4, we will sing Christ is risen three times at the beginning of every service, and once at the end, in place of “Glory… now and ever” before the dismissal. At the Divine Liturgy, we will sing the Sunday or resurrectional antiphons, even on weekdays, and we will sing “Christ is risen” in place of the Pentecost hymn “We have seen the true light; we have received the heavenly Spirit” after Holy Communion.
Now is a good time to learn some of the alternate melodies for “Christ is risen” that can be found on page 171 of the green Divine Liturgies book, if you don’t know them already:
Each week of the Paschal season has its own theme, associated with the Sunday Gospel, and at Vespers, Matins, and the Divine Liturgy, we sing the troparion of the previous Sunday along with the troparion of the saint of the day. So this week, will sing daily the troparion of Thomas Sunday:
The week following Thomas Sunday is special: at the weekday Divine Liturgy, the kontakion, prokeimenon and Alleluia of Thomas Sunday are also used throughout the week. So we very gradually come down from the heights of Bright Week by meditating on Christ’s appearance to the apostles in the Upper Room.
From now until the leave-taking of Pascha. we say or sing the Sunday hymn, “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ”, daily at Matins:
And at the Divine Liturgy, the usual hymn to the Mother of God, “It is truly proper to glorify you,” is replaced with the magnification and irmos of Pascha:
(The angel exclaimed / Shine in splendor.)
There is one feastday this week: Wednesday, April 6 is the commemoration of the death of our holy father Methodius, Teacher of the Slavs, which is a feast of Polyeleos rank on our church’s calendar. The propers for the feast can be found in Father David Petras’s Annual Typikon.
On Saturday, we end our observance of Thomas week with the beginning of the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers – the name the Byzantine Church gives to the women who came to the tomb of Christ “early on the first day of the week” to anoint his body with myrrh and precious spices, only to find the tomb empty. At Vespers, we sing the hymns of the Resurrection in Tone 2, and at the Divine Liturgy we sing not one, not two, but THREE troparia for this Sunday. The first is the usual troparion of the Resurrection in Tone 2; the second considers how Joseph of Arimathea’s burial of Jesus was followed Christ’s Resurrection; and the third rejoices in the message of the angel to the women at the tomb.
During the following week, you can pick any one of these troparia to sing at the weekday Divine Liturgy.
We also sing two kontakia: one in honor of the theme of this Sunday (here, the Myrrh-bearers) and then the kontakion of Pascha. As always when there are two kontakia, we sing “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit” before the first kontakion, and “Now and ever and forever. Amen.” before the second kontakia. In each case, sing the doxology in the melody of the immediately following hymn.
On all the Sundays in the Paschal season, there is a special dismissal at the Divine Liturgy. The priest exclaims, “Christ is risen!” three times, and each time the faithful the respond, “Indeed He is risen!” Then the priest sings the Paschal troparion to a special melody, and the people respond. Listen:
(Paschal Sunday dismissal)
As we celebrate the holy Myrrh-bearers, let us rejoice indeed in the gifts of joy, hope, and new life that are granted to us by the Resurrection of Christ.