Music for Easter (Pascha): Paschal Canon Odes 1 & 3, Byzantine Choir of St. George Cathedral

April 15, 2015


Great&HolyPaschaBrowsing Easter music on iTunes the other day, I came across an excellent Orthodox Easter recording Great and Holy Pascha by the Byzantine Choir of St. George Orthodox Cathedral (in Pittsburgh, PA). Here’s their website.

Odes 1 and 3 of the Paschal Canon of St. John of Damascus are available in a YouTube video, which I really enjoyed.  I found the description accompanying the video particularly helpful – the words are powerful and rich, and they make a great devotional reflection.

I’ve posted that description below the YouTube video.  Note that the words don’t correspond exactly to the chant.

Verse and Hymn from the Orthodox Resurrection service – 1st and 3rd Ode chanted in the 1st Tone.

Easter is the greatest festival of the Christian year in the Orthodox Church and the Easter services abound with joyful celebration. Thus it is no surprise that the overarching theme of the Canon is the resurrection and the renewal of creation through the power of Christ who has taken upon our humanity and restored it. Also, the idea of the soul being released from the bondage of sin and the corporeal body through the Resurrection of Christ is emphasized. The second Ode is omitted due to its sombre ethos which does not fit in with the joyful mood of Pascha.

The first ode sets the scene by exclaiming that it is the ‘Day of Resurrection!’ and thus a time for rejoicing and celebrating what the Lord has done. It is the Lord’s Pascha which has ‘brought us from death to life’ and thus has brought us from earth to heaven. This is also reminiscent of Moses leading the children of Israel through the Red Sea to the Promised Land which is now our heaven. The only response that is expected from us, and not only us, but all creation, including angels (cf. Ode 5), is to sing with joyful cries the “triumphant hymns!” and to enjoy the feast; for “Christ our eternal joy has risen!”

The third Ode which is based on the barrenness of Hannah from the Old Testament, which is now renewed, and the barren rock that Moses smote and brought forth water for the “thirsty congregation and their beasts” is now done for us. Christ is the fountain of immortality who offers a drink of “a new beverage”. There are also overtones of baptism in this Ode; “fountain of Incorruption springing from the tomb of Christ” and that “I was buried with Thee, and today I arise with thy arising. Yesterday I was crucified with Thee” which are real acts enacted physically and spiritually during Baptism where a person dies with Christ in order to arise with Him after immersion.

English version:

Ode 1

Eirmos: It is the Day of Resurrection! Let us be radiant, O people! Pascha! The Lord’s Pascha! For Christ our God has brought us from death to life, and from earth unto heaven, as we sing triumphant hymns!

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead. (before each troparion).

Let us purify our senses and we shall behold Christ, radiant with inaccessible light of the Resurrection, and shall hear Him saying clearly, “Rejoice!” As we sing the triumphant hymns!

Let heavens rejoice in a worthy manner, the earth be glad, and the whole world, visible and the invisible, keep the Feast. For Christ our eternal joy has risen!

katavasia: It is the Day of Resurrection!…

Ode 3

Eirmos: Come, let us drink a new beverage, not miraculously drawn from a barren rock, but the fountain of Incorruption springing from the tomb of Christ in Whom we are established.

Refrain: Christ is risen from the dead.

Now all things are filled with light: heaven and earth, and the nethermost regions. So let all creation celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, whereby it is established.
Yesterday, O Christ, I was buried with Thee, and today I arise with thy arising. Yesterday I was crucified with Thee. Glorify me, O Savior, with Thee in Thy Kingdom.

katavasia: Come, let us drink…

Hypakoe: When at dawn, the women with Mary came and found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher, they heard from the angel: Why seek among the dead (as if He were a mortal man) Him Who lives in everlasting light? Behold the grave-clothes. Run and tell the world that the Lord is risen, and has slain death. For He is the Son of God Who saves mankind.

An Easter Prayer by Mark Galli: “Be the resurrection and life…”

April 15, 2015

O Risen Lord, be our resurrection and life.

Be the resurrection and the life for us and all whom you have made.

Be the resurrection and the life for those caught in the grip of sin and addiction.

Be the resurrection and the life for those who feel forsaken.

Be the resurrection and the life for those who live as if you do not.

Be the resurrection and the life for those who do not believe they need resurrection and life.

Be the resurrection and the life in churches that believe they are dying, and in successful churches who don’t know they are dead.

Be the resurrection and the life in us who know the good but fail to do it,
who have not been judged but still judge,
who know love but still live for self,
who know hope but succumb to despair.

Be the resurrection and the life for those dying of malnutrition and hunger.

Be the resurrection and life for those imprisoned unjustly and those imprisoned justly.

Be the resurrection and life for those who live under regimes that seek to crush all who proclaim resurrection and life.

Be the resurrection and the life for those in the throes of sickness that leads to death.

Be the resurrection and the life in families where the weak are maltreated by the strong.

Be the resurrection and the life in marriages that are disintegrating.

Be the resurrection and the life for women trafficked and enslaved by the forces of wickedness.

Be the resurrection and the life for those whose lives are snuffed out in the womb.

Be the resurrection and the life for anyone anywhere who knows suffering and death in any form, and for Creation itself, which groans in travail.

Be the resurrection and life in the life we share and the fellowship we enjoy,
that filled anew with the wonder of your love and the power of your grace,
we may go forth to proclaim your resurrection life
to a world in the grip of death and yet on the verge of redemption,
a redemption promised by you and assured by what occurred on the first Easter morn.


H/T:  Trevin Wax

Practice Resurrection 2015 – This Sacramental Life blog (and a roundup of other resources on the same theme)

April 15, 2015


photo credit: Emily Polis Gibson

photo credit: Emily Polis Gibson

OK, I’m really not sure how Tamara Hill Murphy’s blog This Sacramental Life has flown under my radar screen for so long.

By searching Twitter for posts on Eastertide, I came across a Tweet by Tamara with a link to her blog and her entry and exhortation to #PracticeResurrection2015.  It is truly MUST READING for anyone wanting encouragement to celebrate the full 50 days of the Easter Season. 

In reflecting on Wendell Berry’s phrase “practice resurrection” and a passage by NT Wright in Surprised by Hope, Tamara writes about her resolve to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection throughout the 50 days of Eastertide and encourages us to join her!

For the next six weeks (from now until Pentecost), will you join me in feasting on Resurrection goodness in our everyday lives?  It can be as simple as a special candle you use for your meals during Eastertide or as elaborate as travelling across the world to meet new people.  Whatever it is, will you show us a picture and tell us a few words?   Plant spring flowers (maybe a new variety this year)?  Show us! Get up to see the sun rise on a Sunday morning?  Tell us about it! Take a new route to work (maybe taking more time than necessary in honor of the mad farmer)?  Share it!

Three steps to play along:

  1. Add something to your day that helps you practice resurrection. (one day or fifty days doesn’t matter)

  2. Take a picture and write a description in 1-50 words.

  3. Share it with me via an email, Facebook or hashtag it on Twitter or Instagram #practiceresurrection2015.  I’ll share some of your photo-stories with everyone here each week.

Also check out her Easter 2015 daybook posts.

UPDATE:   I’ve just discovered:  Tamara is a contributor to an excellent EASTERTIDE Devotional produced by Christ Church Austin.  I’m so excited to find this.  You can read it online, or download a PDF version.


In case it’s helpful, here’ are links to some other blog entries & resources we’ve linked in the past that focus on this same theme:

Tara at Story Formed blog:

Amy at Splendor in the Ordinary Blog:

Emily Polis Gibson at Barnstorming

Christine Sine at Godspace: Resource Guide for Celebrating Easter’s 50 Days

And for various entries I just discovered this year and posted in our Eastertide Resources Compilation

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