The Journey from sorrow to joy in song
During the liturgical season the Great Fast, we have sung various Lenten hymns, such as “People, O My People”; “I stand by Your Cross,”; and “Sorrowful Mother”. All these are somber in tone, recalling for us the long-suffering of Christ and the terrible effects of sin.
However, the tone begins to change at the Great and Holy Saturday Divine Liturgy with Vespers. The Vestments are changed from dark (red) to bright (white) prior to the reading of the Gospel, which already makes reference to the Lord’s rising from the dead.
At the Nadhrobne service, just prior to Resurrection Matins, the hymn “Don’t Mourn for Me, Mother” is sung and leads us away from the somber tone to the festive one that is about to commence- the Triumph and Joy of the Resurrection celebrated at the Matins service. “Do not mourn for Me, Mother, when You see in the tomb the Son Whom You conceived in Your womb without seed! I will rise and be glorified! And as God, I will endlessly exalt with glory those who with faith and love extol You!
The joyous celebration of the Resurrection begins with a procession around the church, the people continually sing: “The angels in Heaven sing Your Resurrection, O Christ Our Savior, deem us on earth worthy to sing and praise You with a pure heart.”
During the Resurrection Matins, we refer to the Day of Christ’s Resurrection as a Day of Triumph. “It is Resurrection Day! People, let us adorn ourselves. It is the Pasch of the Lord! It is the Pascha! For Christ our God has brought us from death to life and from earth to heaven, whereby we singing triumph: Christ is Risen!”
We are reminded that we share in the death and resurrection of Christ, This is attuned with the dying and rising motif in the Pauline epistles: “Yesterday, I was buried with You, O Christ; today I rise with Your Resurrection. Yesterday, I was crucified with You. Glorify Me together with You in Your Kingdom, O Savior!”
As in the Paschal Hymn, “Joy from Heaven,” we sing of the Lord God granting us joy and Peace from Heaven: “Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen! Joy from Heaven is around us. Christ our Pasch now dwells among us. Lift your hearts in celebration. For God has brought salvation, brought us joy (peace) from Heaven. Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen!
Father George Worschak