Saturday, April 23, 2011

Vespers and Matins

I still don't understand why we shift the times on all the services for Holy Week, but it was very conventient for us this year.  Yesterday, Great and Holy Friday, were able to get to Vespers of the Deposition at St. Nicholas Church in Saratoga at 3 p.m. and then drive to San Francisco for Matins of Burial at 7 p.m. at Holy Trinity Cathedral.


This was my first time to go to Vespers on Holy Friday.  It was surprising to see the priest and deacon take the Icon of Jesus down from the cross and wrap it in a shroud.   Sometimes, I think the troparion for this day, "The Noble Joseph" about Joseph of Arimathea burying Jesus is the most beautiful song in the Church.




The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Thy most pure body from the Tree,
wrapped it in fine linen and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb.



He loved God, and took care of his body, even when it looked like God was dead.  That is faith.  (You can here a sample of the music here.)


Summary of Fr. Basil's homily:  Though Jesus was resting inthe grave on this Most Blessed Sabbath, it was a very active rest. Jesus went to hades and searched out our first Adam and Eve.  Even when the situation looks hopeless, He never gives up on us.


We met our friend Alison at St. Nicholas and gave her a ride up to San Francisco.  I sat in the back seat with the boys, while she and Athanasia sat in the front and talked on the way up.  I couldn't hear most of what they were talking about so I just sat in the back seat thinking about the service we had just expereinced.


When we got to HTC Bishop Benjamin, Archpriest John, Deacon Brendan, and all the choir and altar servers were in the kitchen.  The bishop had made a pot of beans and baked bread for all of them to eat between services.  (He is a very thoughtful pastor.)  We had about 1/2 hour to visit with everyone before the start of Matins.   It was really nice to see old friends again.


I stood by the choir so I could hear the singing of the 118th/119th Psalm, a Psalm that we cant at all funerals.  Because this is Jesus funeral, and because we are Orthodox think the Psalm isn't long enough even though it is the longest Psalm in the Bible, we add extra verses to it.  In between verses of the Psalm we stitch in other verses called praises.  It goes like this:



Verse 1 . Blessed are the blameless in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
In the tomb they laid you,
you, O Christ, who are Life;
in amazement angel armies lift up their song
as they glorify your self-abasement, Lord.
Verse 2. Blessed are those who search out his testimonies, they will seek for him with their whole heart.
Life, how can you perish,
or how dwell in a tomb?
Yet the royal hall of Death you now bring to nought,
and from Hades’ realm you raise the dead again.
Verse 3. For the workers of iniquity have not walked in his ways.
Now we magnify you, 
O Lord Jesu, our King,
we pay honour to your Passion and burial
for from foul corruption you saved us through them.


But as the Psalm progresses the prases grow shorter...




Verse 174. I long for Thy salvation, 0 Lord, Thy law is my delight.

The mind is affrighted at Thy dread and strange burial.

Vesrse 175. Let me live, that I may praise Thee, and let Thy ordinances help me.

The women with spices came early at dawn to anoint Thee.

Verse 176. I have gone astray like a lost sheep, seek Thy servant, for I do not forget Thy commandments.

By Thy resurrection grant peace to the Church and salvation to Thy people!



I don't know how it is sung by other parsihes, but at Holy Trinity Cathedral the tune for the prasies is dfferent from the tune for the Pslam verses and it is sung at lightning speed.  It can be overwhelming.  I, because of my poor hearing was only able to understand a little of what was being sung.


Singing the Praises was, next to Bishop Benjamin's short homily at the end, my favorite part of the service.


Oh, Wait!  How can I say that?  There was the Canon.  I won't relate the whole thing here because most of you already know it and will hear it again tonight, just before the Paschal Liturgy begins but WOW! what an ending?!


Let the creation rejoice excedingly, let all those born on earth be glad: 
     for hell, the enemy, has been despoiled.  
Ye women, come to me and meet me with sweet spices: 
    for I am delivering Adam and Eve with all their offspring, and on the third day I shall rise again. (The last little bit of the Ninth Ode of the Canon for Holy Saturday).


I know, I'm silly, and on Pascha I'll say the Paschal Canon is my favorite, but the few lines of the Canon for Holy Saturday I was able to hear (You might have read that I've lost quite a bit of my ability to hear.) were amazingly beautiful and right now that Canon is my favorite.



Then there was the procession.  That is Basil Wenceslas' favorite part of any service.  I don't really understand what a lot of processions are for.  I guess, the one on Pascha is in rememberance of the Myrrh Bearing women, but I don't really know.  I should look it up.

Except for a little bit of the Gospel I couldn't understand any of the Bible readings.  

Today we didn't go to liturgy.  The boys, Anselm and Basil are at a Giants game with their uncle and aunt. (I think it's hat day.)   Athanasia is making kulich. It's on the second rise right now.  I got some carrots a dill in the CSA box.  I think I'll pickle them before I have to get ready to go to Paschal Matins and Liturgy tonight.

2 comments:

Mimi said...

I love "This is the most Blessed Sabbath" - so beautiful.

We use three tones, one for each stasis of the Lamentations. This year, due to scheduling issues, I missed the majority of the Stasi (I sure hope that's right).

Last year was the first time I'd been to the Taking Down of the Cross, gorgeous.

Christ is Risen!

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