Before the beginning of the service, the Precious Cross is brought from the table of the Prothesis or the sacristy and placed on the Holy Table. A candle is lit and left burning in front of it.
“Blessed is the man…” is sung.
At Psalm 140
In Tone 6
- Lead my soul forth from prison* that I may give thanks to Your name.
O Christ, You won the victory over Hades,
You ascended the Cross so that You might raise up with Yourself
all those who dwelt in the darkness of death.
Almighty Saviour, You are free from death
and bestow life by Your divine light.
We, therefore, beseech You to have mercy on us.
- The just shall gather around me* when You have been good to me.
Today Christ has conquered Death.
He has risen from the grave as He foretold,
bestowing great joy upon the world.
Therefore, let us all lift up our voices and sing:
O Fount of Life, O Light Whom no one can approach,
Almighty Saviour, have mercy on us.
- Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord;* O Lord, hear my voice!
O Lord, where can we sinners flee from You,
for You are present in all creation?
You are present in heaven, for it is Your dwelling place.
Your power prevails in Hades where You conquered Death.
O Master, Your sustaining hand touches even the depths of the sea.
Where, then, can we take refuge except in You?
We, therefore, prostrate ourselves before You and pray:
O Lord, risen from the dead, have mercy on us.
- Let Yours ears be attentive* to the voice of my prayer.
We exult in Your Cross, O Christ,
and we sing the glory of Your Resurrection.
For You are our God, and we have no other Lord but You.
- If You mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand?* But with You forgiveness is that You may be revered.
Glory to Your might, O Lord,
for You have conquered the power of death.
You have renewed us through Your Cross,
granting us life and incorruption.
- I have waited for You as You have commanded; my soul patiently relies on Your promise,* for it has trusted in the Lord.
We forever bless the Lord and praise His resurrection,
for by suffering crucifixion,
He has destroyed death by His death.
In Tone 5
- From the morning watch until night* let Israel trust in the Lord.
Shine, O Cross of the Lord,
shine with the light of your grace upon the hearts of those that honour you.
With love inspired by God, we embrace you, O desire of all the world.
Through you our tears of sorrow have been wiped away;
we have been delivered from the snares of death
and have passed over to unending joy.
Show us the glory of your beauty
and grant to us your servants
the reward of our abstinence,
for we entreat with faith your rich protection and great mercy.
- For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him there is plentiful redemption;* and He shall redeem Israel from all its iniquities.
Hail, life-giving Cross,
the fair Paradise of the Church,
Tree of incorruption that brings us the enjoyment of eternal glory:
through you the hosts of demons have been driven back;
and the hierarchies of angels rejoice with one accord,
as the congregations of the faithful keep the feast.
You are an invincible weapon, an unbroken stronghold;
you are the victory of kings and the glory of priests.
Grant us now to draw near to the Passion of Christ
and to His Resurrection.
- Praise the Lord, all the nations;* proclaim His glory, all you people.
Hail, life-giving Cross,
unconquerable trophy of the true faith,
door to Paradise, succour of the faithful,
rampart set about the Church.
Through you the curse is utterly destroyed,
the power of death is swallowed up,
and we are raised from earth to heaven:
invincible weapon, adversary of demons, glory of martyrs,
true ornament of holy monks, haven of salvation
bestowing on the world great mercy.
- Strong is the love of the Lord for us;* eternally will His truth endure.
Come, Adam and Eve, our first father and mother,
who fell from the choir on high through the envy of the murderer of man,
when of old with bitter pleasure you tasted of the three in Paradise.
See, the Tree of the Cross, revered by all, draws near!
Run with haste and embrace it joyfully,
and cry out to it with faith:
O precious Cross, you are our succour;
partaking of your fruit we have gained incorruption;
we are restored once more to Eden,
and we have received great mercy.
In Tone 3, Glory…
O Christ our God, of Your own will You have accepted Crucifixion,
that all mankind might be restored to life.
Taking the quill of the Cross, out of love for man
in the red ink of royalty with bloody fingers
You signed our absolution.
We are in danger once again of being parted from You;
O forsake us not!
Take pity on Your people in distress,
for You alone are longsuffering.
Rise up and fight against our enemies in Your almighty power.
In Tone 6, Now…
Who would not call you blessed, O Virgin most holy?
Who would not sing a hymn of praise
to the glory of your giving birth without pain or travail?
The Only-begotten Son Himself,
begotten of the Father before all ages,
was made flesh out of you in a manner
that cannot be explained, O Woman most pure!
And for our sake, He Who is God by nature
assumed the nature of a man.
He is not divided into two persons;
He is understood to have two natures
without commixion or confusion.
O noble and blessed Woman,
intercede with Him that He may mercy on our souls.
In Tone 6
O Christ our Saviour,
the angels in heaven sing the praises of Your Resurrection;
make us on earth also worthy
to extol You with a pure heart.
The Lord reigns, He is clothed in majesty. Robed is the Lord, and girt about with strength.
Almighty God, You destroyed the brazen gates and bars of Hades,
and raised up fallen mankind.
Therefore, with one accord, we cry out:
O Lord, risen from the dead, glory to You!
For He has made the world firm, which shall not be moved.
Christ willed to renew us from our corruption of old
by being nailed to a cross and placed in a tomb.
When the women came to anoint His body they tearfully cried out:
O, what sorrow afflicts us!
O Saviour of All, how could You consent to occupy a grave?
If you truly willed this, then why did You allow Your body to be stolen?
How were You removed?
What place now conceals Your life-bearing body?
O Lord, appear to us as You promised
and put an end to out tears.
As they were lamenting, an angel appeared and cried out to them:
Do not weep, but tell the Apostles that the Lord is risen,
granting sanctification and great mercy to the world.
Holiness befits Your house, O Lord, for length of days.
O Christ, You were crucified of Your free will,
and by Your burial You imprisoned Death.
As God, You rose in glory on the third day,
granting life and great mercy to the world.
In Tone 4, Glory… Now…
O Lord who helped gentle David in the combat
and enabled him to overcome the Philistine,
come to the aid of Your orthodox people,
and by the weapon of the Cross cast down our enemies.
In Your compassion show us Your mercy as of old,
and make them know in truth that You are God,
and that we who put our trust in You shall conquer.
At the constant intercessions of Your most pure Mother,
grant us Your great mercy.
In Tone 6
Angelic powers were upon Your tomb* and the guards became like dead men;* Mary stood before Your tomb* seeking Your most pure body.* You captured Hades without being overcome by it.* You met the Virgin and granted life.* O Lord, risen from the dead,* glory to You!
In Tone 1, Glory…
Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance.* Grant victory to Your faithful people against enemies,* and protect Your community by Your Cross.
O Holy Tabernacle, when Gabriel called out to you:* Rejoice, O Virgin, full of grace,* the Lord of All became incarnate of you,* as the righteous David had foretold.* In bearing your Creator, you have shown yourself to surpass the vastness of the heavens.* We, therefore, cry out: Glory to Him Who dwelt in you!* Glory to Him Who came forth from you!* Glory to Him Who has set us free* through your life-giving birth!
SERVICE OF THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS
At the Matins Service or just before Divine Liturgy, the priest, vested fully in red, stands before the Holy Table on which lies the Precious Cross with branches of basil or flowers. As the faithful sing “Holy God” he goes around the Holy Table, incensing the Cross from four sides. As the conclusion of “Holy God” is sung, he takes the Cross, and placing it on his head, proceeds around the Holy Table and out of the sanctuary through the north deacon doors. The Cross is preceded with processional candles, the seraphic fans and by the deacon with the censer. The priest stops in front of the Holy Doors, facing the east, when the final “Holy God” is sung, and says:
Deacon: Wisdom! Let us be attentive!
The priest then takes the Cross to the tetrapod and places it there. As the deacon incenses It from four sides, the faithful sing the Troparion of the Cross, three times:
Troparion, Tone 1
Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance, * grant victory to Your faithful people against enemies, * and protect Your community by Your Cross.
Afterwards, the following is sung three times in the usual manner.
To Your cross, O Master,
we bow in veneration,
and we glorify Your holy Resurrection.
At the Veneration of the Cross
The faithful now come to venerate the Precious Cross as the following verses are sung:
In Tone 2
Come, O faithful, let us bow before the life-giving Cross
on which Christ, the King of glory, freely stretched out His hands.
By this He raised us up to our former happiness,
which we had lost because of the ancient Enemy
and the bitter pleasure that exiled us from God.
Come, O faithful, let us bow before the Wood
which lets us crush the head of the invisible enemy.
Come, all you families of the nations,
let us venerate the Cross of the Lord with our hymns:
Rejoice, O perfect redemption of the fall of Adam;
Rejoice, O venerable Cross.
Filled with fear and awe, we embrace you; we glorify God, and we say:
O Lord, You were nailed on the Cross;
in Your goodness and love, have mercy on us.
In Tone 5
Come, O people, let us contemplate the marvellous wonder;
let us bow before the power of the Cross.
For the tree of Paradise gave rise to the reign of death,
and now a Tree has made our life blossom forth,
when the sinless Saviour was nailed upon it.
And now, all the nations that are nourished by this incorruptible food sing praises:
You destroyed death by Your Cross and set us free.
O Lord, glory to You!
The word of Your prophets Isaiah and David is now fulfilled,
for they spoke of You, O Lord, and said:
All the nations shall come to You and bow before You.
Behold the people who are now filled with Your grace
in Your sanctuary in the temple of Jerusalem.
O God of goodness who suffered on the Cross for us
and gives us life through Your holy resurrection,
protect us with Your care, O Lord, and save us.
In Tone 6
Rising from the depths of the earth on this day,
the Tree of Life strengthens our faith
in the resurrection of Christ who nailed on it.
His raised hands announce His ascension into heaven,
which permitted Him to dwell in our nature in this fallen world.
We also cry out in thanksgiving:
O Lord who was raised on the Cross and raises us with You,
grant heavenly joy to those who praise Your name.
The four corners of the earth are sanctified today, O Christ our God,
by the four ends of Your exalted Cross.
With it, exalt your faithful Christians
who destroy the power of the enemy through your Cross.
You are great, O Lord, and wondrous in Your works; glory to You!
The words of the prophets have told of the most holy wood
by which Adam was delivered from the ancient curse and from death.
On this day of its exaltation, creation raises its voice
to beg God for the abundance of his mercy.
O Lord, your compassion is beyond measure;
spare us, O God, and save our souls!
In Tone 8, Glory… Now…
Behold the words of the prophet Moses are fulfilled, O Lord;
for he said: You shall see your life suspended before your eyes.
Today the Cross is exalted, and the world is freed from error.
Today the Resurrection of Christ is renewed;
the ends of the earth exalt with joy.
At the sound of the cymbals of David,
they offer a hymn of praise and say:
In your goodness and love for all,
You have brought about our salvation in the middle of the earth, O our God.
Through your Cross and Resurrection You save us.
O Lord all-powerful, glory to You!
Troparia and Kontakia
Troparion, Tone 6: Angelic powers were upon Your tomb* and the guards became like dead men;* Mary stood before Your tomb* seeking Your most pure body.* You captured Hades without being overcome by it.* You met the Virgin and granted life.* O Lord, risen from the dead,* glory be to You!
Troparion, Tone 1: Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance.* Grant victory to Your faithful people against enemies,* and protect Your community by Your cross.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen.
Kontakion, Tone 7: No longer does the flaming sword guard the gate of Eden;* the tree of the Cross has quenched its flames gloriously.* The sting of death and the victory of Hades are banished,* and You O my Saviour came and called to those in Hades: “Return again to Paradise!”
Instead of Holy God, we sing:
To Your Cross, O Master,* we bow in veneration,* and we glorify Your holy Resurrection!
Prokeimenon, Tone 6
Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance.
verse: Unto You I will cry, O Lord my God, lest You turn from me in silence. (Psalm 27:9,1)
Alleluia, Tone 8
verse: Remember Your congregation which You acquired from the beginning.
verse: But God is our king before the ages; He has wrought salvation in the midst of the earth. (Psalm 73:2,12)
Hymn to the Mother of God
In you, O Full of Grace, all creation rejoices: the angelic ranks and all the human race. Sanctified temple and spiritual paradise, virgins’ pride and boast, from whom God is made flesh and became a little Child; and He who is our God before all ages, He made your womb a throne, and He made it wider that all the heavens. In you, O Full of Grace, all creation rejoices. Glory be to you.
Let the light of Your countenance, O Lord* shine upon us.* Alleluia, alleluia,* alleluia. (Psalm 4:7)