From the Lauds (Αίνοι) of Pascha


Πάσχα ἱερὸν ἡμῖν σήμερον ἀναδέδεικται, Πάσχα καινόν, Ἅγιον, Πάσχα μυστικόν, Πάσχα πανσεβάσμιον, Πάσχα Χριστὸς ὁ λυτρωτής, Πάσχα ἄμωμον, Πάσχα μέγα, Πάσχα τῶν πιστῶν, Πάσχα, τὸ πύλας ἡμῖν τοῦ Παραδείσου ἀνοῖξαν, Πάσχα, πάντας ἁγιάζον πιστούς.

A sacred Pascha has been revealed to us today, a new and holy Pascha, a mystic Pascha, an allvenerable Pascha, a Pascha that is Christ the Redeemer, an unblemished Pascha, a great Pascha, a Pascha of the faithful, a Pascha that has opened for us the gates of Paradise, a Pascha that makes all the faithful holy.

This hymn is joyfully sung, initially during Matins of Easter Sunday then throughout all of Renewal Week and every Sunday until the Wednesday before the Ascension. Its language and structure proclaim its origin as a hymn of the Christian Church of the first three centuries after Christ. The repetition of the word Πάσχα – Pascha adds to the sense of joyous relief that Easter brings to us. In a flash, we leave the compunctionate solemnity of Holy Week and the preceding fast, entering a period of joyous celebration.

Πάσχα – Pascha, of course means Passover: this name being borrowed from the Jewish Feast of the Passover, in remembrance of when the Angel of God passed over the houses of the Israelites, so that the final and most accursed plague of first-born death, would not be suffered by them. With Christ’s Resurrection, as the hymn states, we have “a new and holy Pascha”, deliverance from death, not just for the Israelites but for all mankind. The Resurrection of Christ is the central motif of Orthodoxy. As Saint Paul writes: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty…and if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor 15:13-17).

The hymn is primarily a theme of joy! As Saint John Chrysostom tells us in his Homily on Holy Pascha: “Let us all be joyful, let us dance, and let us rejoice. For, although the Lord defeated death on our behalf and set up the trophy, the gleefulness and joy is ours. Because all He did, He did for our salvation, defeating the devil using the very same instruments that he used to attack us.”

Source: Lychnos April / May 2017