Even to the Angels Unknown! The Resurrectional-Dismissal Theotokion in Tone Four

That which was hidden from eternity, Even to the angels, a mystery unknown, Through you, Theotokos, is revealed to those on earth: God incarnate by union without confusion. Who even voluntarily accepted the Cross for us, By which, resurrecting the first-created, He saved our souls from death. I wonder whether we Christians realize how privileged we are?  The dismissal-resurrectional Theotokion in tone four reminds us that we are privy to the greatest…

Gate, Temple, Palace, and Throne: Theotokion after the Aposticha, Tone Five

The Psalter, Ezekiel 33-35, Isaiah 6 We have had several weeks of worship in which other hymns have pre-empted the usual resurrectional-dismissal hymns to the Theotokos.  This week in our worship, we repeat the “Theotokion” in tone three, which I considered in this blog several weeks ago! I have decided, then, to delve into another stunning hymn used this week that concerns the Theotokos and her relationship to our Redeemer. For those…

All Beyond Thought! The Dismissal-Resurrectional Theotokion in Tone 2

Psalm 44 (Hebrew text 45), Song of Solomon, and other OT passages The dismissal Theotokion in the second tone, sung during the liturgy for the Forerunner John the Baptist this week, is both exalted and intimate.  It is sung both as a paean of praise to our Lady, and a song of great love to our Mother.  The song begins by addressing her in her great splendor, then describes her in terms…

Mediatrix of our Salvation: The Dismissal Theotokion in the Third Tone

(With help from Jeremiah 31, Genesis 3, Isaiah 6) The dismissal hymn for the Theotokos this week (in tone three), though quite brief, prompts many questions for those who are not Orthodox.  It also suggests some points for deep meditation even for those who have been following in the Orthodox way since birth, or for a considerable time.  Since it is one of the eight resurrectional hymns (of the group addressed to…

The Demolition of Death: the Resurrectional Hymns in the Seventh Tone

Ezekiel 7,  Jeremiah 7, Psalm 125 (MT 126) A demolition is not usually an occasion for joy.  The summer before I turned eleven, I stared forlornly out the kitchen window with my mom onto what had been my haven since moving into our new house: an abandoned and perfectly wonderful apple orchard.  That past year I had explored every nook and cranny of the orchard, and taken to disappearing up a large…

Ascending the Cross! The Resurrectional Hymns in Tone Five

Taken as a pair, the resurrectional hymns in tone five demonstrate both the corporate and the personal nature of our faith. The troparion enjoins “us, the faithful” to praise Christ; the kontakion speaks to the Savior with an intimacy and a grateful devotion that recognizes His personal connection with each of us, as well as His universal love for all humankind.  Here are the two hymns: Let us, O faithful, praise and…

Dancing with the Prophets: The Resurrectional Hymns in Tone Three

Both the troparion and kontakion for the resurrection in tone three are brimming full of joy. Indeed, I remember being so taken by the troparion that, long before I was chrismated, I sang it for those who were listening to me give a talk on Anglican hymnody.  I think it was the end of the verse that was so compelling, with its emphasis upon “great mer—cy!”  And the two hymns, taken as…