GREAT VESPERS

Kathisma Reading
“Blessed is the man…” is sung.

At Psalm 140

In Tone 4

  1. Lead my soul forth from prison* that I may give thanks to Your name.

We never cease to adore Your life-giving Cross, O Christ our God,
And we glorify Your resurrection on the third day.
For You, Almighty One, have thereby restored the corrupted nature of all
and reopened the way to heaven,
since You alone are gracious and You love mankind.

  1. The just shall gather around me* when You have been good to me.

O Saviour, You have absolved the penalty of disobedience,
committed through the tree of Eden,
by willingly being nailed to the tree of the Cross.
As Almighty God, You descended into Hades
and broke asunder the bonds of death.
We, therefore, venerate Your resurrection from the dead,
and joyfully cry out to You:
Almighty Lord, glory to You!

  1. Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord;* O Lord, hear my voice!

O Lord, You have battered down the gates of Hades,
and by Your death You have dissolved the realm of death.
You have freed mankind from corruption,
bestowing life, incorruption, and Your great mercy upon the world.

  1. Let Yours ears be attentive* to the voice of my prayer.

Come, all you people,
let us sing the praises of our Saviour’s resurrection on the third day.
For we have, thereby, been delivered from the invincible bonds of Hades,
and we have received incorruption, together with eternal life.
Therefore, we cry out to You
after Your crucifixion, burial, and resurrection:
Save us by Your resurrection, for You love mankind.

In Tone 4

  1. If You mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand?* But with You forgiveness is that You may be revered.

When John was born, the silence of Zechariah was broken.
For when the Voice appeared, it was not proper that his father remain silent.
Just as disbelief bound the tongue of the father,
so now the appearance of John frees him.
Having revealed himself, he preaches good tidings to all.
The Forerunner of Light and the Voice of the Word is born,
and he prays for the salvation of our souls.

  1. I have waited for You as You have commanded; my soul patiently relies on Your promise,* for it has trusted in the Lord.

Today the Voice of the Word frees his father’s voice
which was lost through disbelief,
and he reveals the blessed posterity of the Church
by loosing his mother’s bond of barrenness.
The Lamp preceding the Light appears;
the star proclaims the coming of the Sun of Justice
who is the restoration of all
and the salvation of our souls.

  1. From the morning watch until night* let Israel trust in the Lord.

When the time approached for the Word of God to be born from a Virgin,
a messenger came forth from a barren womb.
He is the greatest born of woman
and the greatest of the prophets.
Behold, the beginnings of God’s actions are beyond our understanding.
You were begotten eternally and conceived without seed;
you work wonders for our salvation. Glory to you!

  1. For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him there is plentiful redemption;* and He shall redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

Today the great Forerunner appears,
born from the barren womb of Elizabeth.
He is a prophet greater than all prophets;
there is no other like him, nor has there ever been.
For the most wondrous Light followed the lamp of the Forerunner;
the Word followed the Voice,
and the Bridegroom followed the bridegroom’s friend.
He prepares a special people for the Lord,
cleansing them with water until the coming of the Spirit.
He is the offspring of Zechariah and the noble dweller of the desert,
the preacher of repentance, and the purification of sins.
He announced the good news
of the Resurrection from the dead to those in Hades,
and he prays for our souls.

  1. Praise the Lord, all the nations;* proclaim His glory, all you people.

O John, the Baptizer of Christ,
you manifested yourself to be a prophet and forerunner
from the time you were in the womb.
When you saw the queen coming to her servant,
you leaped for joy in the womb of your mother,
you, the one conceived of a barren woman,
according to the promise made to the elder Zechariah.
You knew she was bearing the eternal One
who was from the Father without a mother.
Now implore God to have mercy on our souls.

  1. Strong is the love of the Lord for us;* eternally will His truth endure.

Zechariah did not believe the word of the angel
who told that Elizabeth would conceive and bear a son.
Instead he replied: How can she give birth,
for we are both advanced in years.
He was made silent by your decree because of his disbelief.
Today he sees the promised birth,
and his silence is ended to give way to joy.
O, what a glorious marvel!
He shouts aloud: Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel,
for He has turned to his people and brought them salvation.
He grants great mercy to the world.

In Tone 6, Glory…

Today, like a shining star,
the Lamp prepares the way for the coming of the Word of God.
Today Zechariah speaks clearly, ending the silence imposed by the angel,
for it was not right that the father of the Voice be kept silent
once John was born from a barren womb.
He comes to announce with great boldness
the good news of salvation for all the world.

In Tone 4, Now…

O Mother of God, because of You David the Prophet
became an ancestor of God;
he foretold and sang a joyous hymn of praise
and cried out to Him who worked wonders in you:
“The Queen stood at your right hand.”
God revealed you as a life-giving mother,
when He chose to be incarnate of you without a father.
He renewed in man His image which the passions had corrupted.
He found the lost sheep in the mountains, carried it on His shoulders,
offered it to the Father, generously numbered it among the powers of heaven,
and saved the whole world, since He is Christ of great and rich mercy.

Readings
(1) Genesis 17:15-19; 18:11-14; 21:1-8; (2) Judges 13:2-19; (3) Isaiah 40:1-3, 9; 41:17-18

Litya

In Tone 1

O mountains, give forth your sweetness;
O hills, skip about like lambs;
for today the Lord’s forerunner, desiring to abide with us, is born of Elizabeth.
At his birth he loosed his father’s silence.
Therefore, let us cry out to him:
O Baptizer of Christ, implore Him to save our souls.

The God-named Voice and Lamp of the Light, the Forerunner of the Lord,
was attested to by Christ as the foremost of the prophets.
Please remember your flock in order to preserve it intact,
and we also ask that you pray for the world.

O prophet and forerunner John,
you were the preacher of the Lamb who is the Word of God.
You prophesied the future;
you spoke beforehand to the ends of the earth:
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
and grants great mercy to all.

In Tone 5, Glory…

Today Elizabeth rejoices as she gives birth
to the end of the prophets and the beginning of the apostles,
the earthly angel and the heavenly man,
the voice of the Word, the soldier and forerunner of Christ,
who leaped for joy beforehand because of the Promised One
and who preached before the birth of the Sun of Justice.
In his old age Zechariah is amazed,
having cast aside the muteness imposed as a punishment.
As the father of the Voice, he prophesies most splendidly:
And you, O child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
and you shall go before Him to prepare the way.
Therefore, O angel, prophet, apostle, and soldier,
forerunner, baptizer, preacher of penance, and guide,
as the voice of the light of the Word,
pray unceasingly for us who faithfully keep your memory.

Now…

O most pure Virgin ,
you are the temple, the gate, the palace, and the throne of the King.
Christ, our Redeemer and Lord,
appeared through you to those who slumbered in darkness.
For He, as the Sun of Righteousness,
wished to enlighten those whom He created with his own hands
according to his own image.
Therefore, O Lady, whom we always praise in song,
we beseech you to intercede with Christ for the salvation of our souls;
for, as his mother, you can approach Him with the greatest of confidence.

Aposticha

In Tone 4

In being lifted upon the Cross, O Lord,
You abolished the curse which we had inherited from our ancestors.
By going down into Hades,
You freed from eternal captivity those imprisoned there,
and granted incorruption to the human race.
We, therefore, praise Your life-giving and redeeming resurrection.

The Lord reigns, He is clothed in majesty. Robed is the Lord, and girt about with strength.

By hanging on the Cross, O Almighty One,
You shook the whole creation to its foundations.
When You Yourself were laid in the grave,
You raised to life those who had been lying in the graves,
and You granted life and incorruption to mankind.
We, therefore, praise and glorify Your resurrection on the third day.

For He has made the world firm, which shall not be moved.

O Christ, the lawless people showed their ingratitude to You, their Benefactor,
by delivering You to Pilate who condemned you to be crucified.
But You willingly suffered death and burial;
and, as God, You rose by Your own power on the third day,
granting us everlasting life and great mercy.

Holiness befits Your house, O Lord, for length of days.

The women, shedding bitter tears, came to see You in Your tomb;
and not finding Your body, they lamented, saying:
O Saviour and King of All, how were You stolen?
What place holds Your life-bearing body?
An angel answered them, saying:
Do not weep, but go and proclaim that the Lord is risen,
filling our hearts with joy;
for He alone is most compassionate.

In Tone 8, Glory…

Today the voice of the prophet Isaiah is fulfilled
in the birth of the greatest of the prophets, John.
He had said: Behold, I will prepare the way of the Lord.
He will be a soldier of the kingdom of heaven,
running before the path of our God.
By nature he was a man,
yet in the present life he became an angel,
for he welcomed moderation in complete purity.
He had a human nature but fled what was according to nature
and struggled beyond the natural.
Therefore, let all the faithful imitate his virtues
and beg him to pray for the salvation of our souls.

Now…

O Virgin, You have never known wedlock,
Yet You conceived God in the flesh
in a manner which words can never describe.
You thus became the Mother of God on high.
O Immaculate Lady, receive the supplication of your servants
and grant us the cleansing of our sins.
Accept now our prayers and beseech God to save all of us.

Troparia

In Tone 1
Rejoice, Virgin Mary, Mother of God, full of grace,* The Lord is with you.* Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.* For you have borne Christ,* the Saviour and Deliverer of our souls. (2)

In Tone 4
O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ,* in spite of our honoru and devotion,* we are unable to give you worthy praise.* Through your glorious and noble birth* your mother’s childlessness was ended,* your father’s tongue was freed,* and the Incarnation of the Son of God** was proclaimed to the world.

 


DIVINE LITURGY

Troparia and Kontakia
Troparion, Tone 4: When the disciples of the Lord learned from the angel* the glorious news of the resurrection* and cast off the ancestral condemnation,* they proudly told the apostles:* “Death has been plundered!* Christ our God is risen,* granting to the world great mercy.”

Troparion, Tone 4: O Prophet and forerunner of the coming of Christ,* we, who lovingly honour you are at a loss to praise you worthily;* for your mother’s barrenness and your father’s silence* were both ended by your honoured and glorious birth,* and the incarnation of the Son of God* is preached to the whole world.

Kontakion, Tone 4: My Saviour and Deliverer from the grave* as God raised out of bondage the children of the earth* and shattered the gates of Hades;* and as Master, He rose on the third day.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Kontakion, Tone 3: She who once was barren gives birth today to the Forerunner of Christ,* who will fulfil every prophecy.* In the Jordan he placed his hand upon the One Whom the prophets foretold* and thus was shown to be the prophet, the herald,* and the Forerunner of the Word of God.

Now and for ever and ever. Amen.

Theotokion, Tone 3: Today the Virgin stands before us in the church,* and together with the choirs of saints invisibly prays to God for us.* Angels are worshipping with hierarchs,* apostles exult with prophets,* for the Mother of God prays in our behalf to the eternal God.

Prokeimenon, Tone 4
How great are Your works, O Lord* You have made all things in wisdom.

verse: Bless the Lord, O my soul: O Lord my God, You are exceedingly great. (Psalm 103:24,1)

Prokeimenon, Tone 7
The just man shall be glad in the Lord and shall hope in Him. (Psalm 63:11)

Epistle
Romans 10:1-10; Romans 13:11b-14:4

Alleluia, Tone 4
verse: Poise yourself and advance in triumph and reign in the cause of truth, and meekness, and justice. Psalm 44:5)

verse: You have loved justice and hated iniquity. (Psalm 44:8)
verse: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited His people and redeemed them. (Luke 1:68)
verse: And you, O child, will be called the prophet of the Most High (Luke 1:72)

Gospel
Matthew 8:28-9:1; Luke 1:1-25, 57-68, 76, 80

Hymn to the Mother of God
O my soul, magnify the precious birth of Christ’s Baptist and forerunner, John.

And the Irmos: Words cannot express the hidden, divine, ineffable mystery* that is clearly fulfilled in you, Virgin immaculate,* for because of His loving mercy God became flesh of you.* And, therefore, as Mother of God, we magnify you.

Communion Hymn
Praise the Lord from the heavens;* praise Him in the highest. (Psalm 148:1)* The just man shall be in everlasting remembrance;* of evil hearsay he shall have no fear.* Alleluia, alleluia,* alleluia. (Psalm 111:6)