June 24

Great feastTHE NATIVITY OF THE HOLY PROPHET, FORERUNNER, AND BAPTIST JOHN who while still in the womb of his mother, was filled with the Holy Spirit. He exulted in joy at the coming of the salvation of humanity. His own birth foretold the Lord Christ. Such great grace shone forth in him, that the Lord himself said concerning him that no one born of woman was greater than John the Baptist.

At Vespers

music (samohlasen)

“Blessed is the man” is sung. There are eight stichera at "O Lord, I have cried":

Tone 4 samohlasen. When John was born, the silence of Zechariah was broken. * For when the Voice appeared, it was not proper that his father remain silent. * Just as disbelief bound the father's tongue, * so now the appearance of John frees him. * Having revealed himself, he preaches good tidings to all. * The Forerunner of Light and the Voice of the Word is born, * and he prays for the salvation of our souls. (twice)

Today the Voice of the Word frees his father's voice * which was lost through disbelief, * and he reveals the Church's blessed posterity * by loosing his mother's bond of barrenness. * The Lamp preceding the Light appears; * the Star proclaims the coming of the Sun of Justice * who is the restoration of all * and the salvation of our souls.

When the time approached * for the Word of God to be born from a Virgin, * a messenger came forth from a barren womb. * He is the greatest born of woman * and the greatest of the prophets. * Behold, the beginning of God's actions is beyond our understanding. * You were begotten eternally, and conceived, O Lord, without seed. * you work wonders for our salvation. * Almighty Lord, glory to you.

Today the great Forerunner appears, * born from the barren womb of Elizabeth. * He is a prophet greater than all prophets; * there is no other like him, nor has there ever been. * For the most wondrous Light followed the lamp of the Forerunner; * the Word followed the Voice, * and the Bridegroom followed the bridegroom's friend. * He prepares a special people for the Lord, * cleansing them with water * until the coming of the Spirit. * He is the offspring of Zechariah * and the noble dweller in the desert, * the preacher of repentance, * and the purification of our sins. * He announced the good news of the Resurrection from the dead to those in Hades, * and he prays for our souls.

O John, the Baptizer of Christ, * you manifested yourself to be a forerunner and prophet * from the time you were in the womb. * When you saw the queen coming to her servant, * you leaped for joy in the womb of your mother, * you, the one conceived of a barren woman, " according to the promise made to the elder Zechariah. " You knew she was bearing the eternal One " who was from the Father without a mother. * Now implore God to have mercy on our souls.

Zechariah did not believe the word of the angel * who told that Elizabeth would conceive and bear a son. * Instead he replied: How can she give birth, * for we are both advanced in years? * He was made silent by your decree because of his disbelief. * Today he sees the promised birth, * and his silence is ended to give way to joy. * O, what a glorious marvel! * He shouts aloud: Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel, * for He has turned to his people and brought them salvation. * He grants great mercy to the world.

O most praiseworthy John * and universal apostle, * good news of Gabriel * and flower of the barren woman, * noble child of the desert, * true friend of Christ the bridegroom, * pray to him to have mercy on our souls.

Glory –  Tone 6.  Today, like a shining star, * the Lamp prepares the way for the coming of the Word of God. * Today Zechariah speaks clearly, * which ends the silence imposed by the angel, * for it was not right that the father of the Voice * should remain in silence * once John was born from a barren womb. * With great boldness he comes to announce * the good news of salvation for all of the world.

Now and ever –  Tone 6.  Elizabeth carried the Forerunner of grace, * and the Virgin carried the Lord of glory. * When the mothers greeted each other, the infant leaped for joy, * for even within the womb, the servant praised the Master. * The mother of the Forerunner was amazed and cried out: * How have I deserved that the mother of my Lord has come to me? * Glory to Him who with great mercy saves a despairing people.

Entrance with censer, and prokeimenon of the day.  Then three readings:

A reading from Genesis (Genesis 17: 15-17, 19; 18:11-14; 28: 1-2, 4-8).

A reading from the Book of the Judges of Israel (Judges 13: 2-8, 13-14, 17-18, 21).

A reading from the Prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 40: 1-3, 9; 41:17-18; 45: 8; 48-20-21; 54: 1).

Stichera at the Litija:

Tone 1 Bolhar. O mountains, give forth your sweetness; * O hills, skip about like lambs; * for today the Lord's forerunner, desiring to abide with us, * is born of Elizabeth. * At his birth he loosed his father's silence. * Therefore, let us cry out to him; * O Baptizer of Christ, implore Him to save our souls.

The God-named Voice and Lamp of the Light, * the Forerunner of the Lord, * was attested to by Christ as the foremost of the prophets. * Please remember your flock in order to preserve it intact, * and we also ask that you pray for the world.

O prophet and forerunner John, * you were the preacher of the Lamb who is the Word of God. * You prophesied the future; * you spoke beforehand to the ends of the earth: * Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world * and grants great mercy to all.

Glory –  Tone 5 Bolhar. Today Elizabeth rejoices as she gives birth * to the end of the prophets and the beginning of the apostles, * the earthly angel and the heavenly man, * the voice of the Word, the soldier and forerunner of Christ, * who leaped for joy beforehand because of the Promised One * and who preached before the birth of the Sun of Justice. * In his old age Zechariah is amazed, * having cast aside the muteness imposed as a punishment. * As the father of the Voice, he prophesies most splendidly: * And you, O child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, * and you shall go before him to prepare the way. * Therefore, O angel, prophet, apostle, and soldier, * forerunner, baptizer, preacher of penance, and guide, * as the voice of the light of the Word, * pray unceasingly for us who faithfully keep your memory.

Now and ever –  Tone 5 Bolhar. O most pure Virgin, * you are the temple, the gate, the palace, and the throne of the King. * Christ, our Redeemer and Lord, * appeared through you to those who slumbered in darkness. * For he, as the Sun of Righteousness, * wished to enlighten those whom He created with his own hands * according to his own image. * Therefore, O Lady, whom we always praise in song, * we beseech you to intercede with Christ for the salvation of our souls; * for, as his mother, you can approach him with the greatest of confidence. Cf. Aposticha theotokion of Saturday evening in Tone 5 - text should be the same.

The aposticha are for the feast:

Tone 2 samohlasen.  With psalms and hymns and spiritual songs * let us praise the glorious desert-dweller John, * since he is the prophet of prophets * and the fruit of a barren womb, * greater than all born of women. * Let us cry out to him: * O Baptist and Forerunner of the Savior, * by your holy birth you may implore Christ with confidence * to grant peace to the world * and great mercy to our souls.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he visited and brought redemption to his people.

According to the Scripture's promise, * John the Forerunner and the Voice of the grace of the Word has appeared. * He was born today of the childless, barren woman. * Rejoice now, all you people, * for he has come to prepare for us the way of the Savior * to whom he bowed down and leaped for joy * while still in the womb of his mother. * He is the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world * and grants great mercy to us.

And you, O child, will be called prophet of the Most High.

John, who was sanctified in the womb of his mother * and received the fullness of prophecy, * is born today of a barren woman. * Clearly he announces the coming of the Lord: * Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Glory – Tone 8.  Today the voice of the prophet Isaiah is fulfilled * in the birth of the greatest of the prophets, John. * He had said: Behold, I will prepare the way of the Lord. * He will be a soldier of the kingdom of heaven, * running before the path of our God. * By nature he was a man, * yet in the present life he became an angel, * for he welcomed moderation in complete purity. * He had a human nature but fled what was according to nature * and struggled beyond the natural. * Therefore, let all the faithful imitate his virtues * and beg him to pray for the salvation of our souls.

Now and ever – in the same tone.  Elizabeth said to the Virgin Mary: * How is it that the Mother of my God has come to me? * You bear the King, and I, a soldier. * You bear the Lawgiver, and I, a preacher of the law. * You bear the Word, and l, the voice who announces the kingdom of heaven.

Troparion,  Tone 4.  Prophet and forerunner of the coming of Christ, * although we honor you with love, we cannot give you worthy praise. * Through your glorious and holy birth, * you mother was freed from barrenness and your father from the loss of speech, * and the incarnation of the Son of God is proclaimed to the world. (twice)

Now and ever – Tone 4.  Rejoice, O VIrgin Theotokos! * Mary full of grace, the Lord is with you! * Blessed are you among women, * and blessed is the fruit of your womb. For you gave birth to Christ, * the Savior and Redeemer of our souls.

At the Divine Liturgy


Troparion,  Tone 4.  Prophet and forerunner of the coming of Christ, * although we honor you with love, we cannot give you worthy praise. * Through your glorious and holy birth, * you mother was freed from barrenness and your father from the loss of speech, * and the incarnation of the Son of God is proclaimed to the world.

Glory, now and ever – Kontakion, Tone 3.   Today, she who once was barren gives birth to Christ's forerunner. * He himself is the fulfullment of all prophecy; * for in the Jordan, he imposed his hand * upon the Word of God whom the prophets have foretold * and was shown to be his prophet, herald, and forerunner.

Prokeimenon, Tone 7 (Ps. 63:11,2). The just man will rejoice in the Lord * and will put his trust in him.
V. Hear my voice, O God, when I pray to you.

Epistle:  Romans 13:11 - 14:4

Alleluia, Tone 1 (Luke 1:68, 76). Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
V. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he visited and brought redemption to his people.
V. And you, O child, will be called prophet of the Most High.

Gospel:  Luke 1:5-25, 57-68, 76, 80

Magnification. Extol, O my soul, the holy birth of John the Baptist and Forerunner of Christ.

Irmos, Tone 4. The ineffable mystery of the Word of God * is clearly revealed, most pure Virgin. * God has taken a body from you in his compassion. * Therefore, we extol you as the Theotokos.

Communion Hymn (Ps. 111:6,7). The just man will be remembered forever; evil news he will not fear. Alleuia! Alleluia! Alleluia!