8th Ode of the Katavasiae of Pascha
Αὕτη ἡ κλητὴ καὶ ἁγία ἡμέρα, ἡ μία τῶν Σαββάτων, ἡ βασιλὶς καὶ κυρία, ἑορτῶν ἑορτή, καὶ πανήγυρις ἐστὶ πανηγύρεων, ἐν ᾗ εὐλογοῦμεν, Χριστὸν εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας.
This chosen and holy day is the first of Sabbaths, the Queen and Lady, the Feast of Feasts and the Festival of Festivals on which we bless Christ to all the ages.
This hymn is the 8th Ode of the Katavasiae of Easter, chanted for the first time in the Church Calendar during the Matins service of Easter Sunday and then for the following 40 days. St John of Damascus, the author of these hymns, draws on both Biblical and Patristic sources to convey to us the magnitude of Christ’s Resurrection.
St Nicodemus the Agiorite drawing from the Old Testament (Exodus 12:16) states that the Sunday of Pascha is called ‘chosen’ and ‘holy’ for two reasons: “firstly, because it is the eighth day and a type of the age to come, and also because it is the day of Passover… Now, if the feast of the usual, Jewish Passover was called chosen and holy, how much more so should the radiant Sunday of the true and actual Passover be called so, which brings us Our Risen Lord Christ?” The phrase, «μία τῶν Σαββάτων», reminds us of all the Synoptic Gospel accounts of the Resurrection, where the phrase «μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων», meaning the first day after the Sabbath, the first day of the week, is used verbatim or in slight variation (Matthew’s Gospel). The evocative phrases of “Queen and Lady” and “the Feast of Feasts and the Festival of Festivals” are Patristic in origin. The first is from St Gregory the Theologian’s 44th Homily “On the New Day of our Lord”: “Now, through the feast, everything is assembled and takes delight in that which is good… The Queen of seasons, the princess of days, escorts and gifts that which is most good and most joyous.” The second is from his 45th Homily, “On Holy Pascha”: “This is to us a Feast of feasts and a Festival of festivals as far exalted above all others, not only those which are only human and come and go on the ground, but even those which are of Christ Himself and are celebrated in His honour, as the Sun is above the stars”. Through poetic repetition, both the Holy Father and the Hymnographer are expressing the singular pre-eminence of the Feast of Pascha in comparison to all other Christian Feast days and Festivals.
Source: Lychnos April 2018 / May 2018