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…

LORD and Lover of the Household—The Resurrectional Hymns in the First Tone

What better way to a make fresh start with my blog and podcast in this first week of summer, than to tackle a commentary on the hymns for the Resurrection in tone one? (I want to offer my apologies for unceremoniously ghosting on you all for almost 11 months: I have had health concerns since late summer last year, but am much better now. To those of you who are personal friends,…

“The Lightning of his Godhead:” the Resurrectional Hymns in the Second Tone

Job 26:7-14; Isaiah 51:9-11, Mark 9:3, Matthew 17:2, Luke 9:29. The hymns in tone two for the resurrection (both the troparion and kontakion) are, like the others in the eight-tone sequence, dramatic. Taking their cue from the story of the resurrection itself, these songs highlight the glory of the One who is the Resurrection and the Life, the contrast of the high (the heavens) and the low (“the nethermost depths”) into which…

From the Heights to the Depths: The Resurrectional Hymns in Tone 8, and the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Psalm 67/68:17-19; Ephesians 4:7-11; John 20:19-31; 1 Corinthians 3:9-17 This week our Orthodox cycle of hymns for Sunday, the day of resurrection, brings us to the verge of mystery. We are led to contemplate both the heights which Christ has scaled, and the depths which He has plumbed for us. We are also led to gratitude for the gifts with which He has showered us as a result of His exertions. The…