Παρασκευή, 29 Απριλίου 2016

Bondage, faith and spiritual revolution in the Orthodox Holy Liturgy of Holy Saturday


"But if he will not, be it known to thee, O king, that we will not worship thy gods, nor adore the golden statue which thou hast set up"

We, Orthodox Christians, we were enslaved many times (for example, under the Ottoman Empire). The Orthodox Church, through its holy liturgies and feasts, helped us to stay free within our soul.

Orthodox Liturgy of Holy Saturday, Greece (from here)

Holy Saturday (from Orthodoxwiki)

The feast of Holy Saturday falls on the day before Pascha. It is also called The Great Sabbath since it is said that on this day Christ "rested" in the tomb, in death. But it is also believed that it was on this day he performed in spirit the Harrowing of Hell and raised up to Paradise those held captive there. Therefore, at the main liturgical celebration, a vesperal Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, the hangings, altar cloths, and vestments are changed from black to white prior to the epistle reading.

Greek tradition

Morning Service—The Descent into Hades and Anticipation of the Resurrection—The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great
The first service of Holy Saturday takes place in the morning and breaks the somber spell. Jesus' descent to Hades where He preached His message to the dead is celebrated. Those who believed in Him received eternal life and salvation. The heavy sorrow of Great Friday begins to lift when the priest, wearing bright vestments, chants, "Arise, O God, to the world," while sprinkling laurel leaves, bay leaves, and flower petals all over the church to symbolize the shattered gates and broken chains of hell. This is also to celebrate the triumph over death.

Hymns
 
Troparion (Tone 2)
When You did descend to death, O Life Immortal,
You did slay hell with the splendor of Your Godhead,
And when from the depths You did raise the dead,
All the Powers of Heaven cried out,
O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory to You!
Kontakion (Tone 6)
He who shut in the depths is beheld dead,
Wrapped in fine linen and spices.
The Immortal One is laid in a tomb as a mortal man.
The women have come to anoint Him with myrrh,
Weeping bitterly and crying:
"This is the most blessed Sabbath
On which Christ has fallen asleep to rise on the third day!"
Prayer of the Three Holy Children (from Orthodoxwiki)

The Prayer of the Three Holy Children is a component of the biblical Book of Daniel. It is a segment of a larger component called The Prayer of Azariah and the Prayer of the Three Holy Children which. although part of the Septuagint text, is considered by Protestants as part of the Apocrypha rather than a fully canonical part of Scripture, and so appears in most English-language bibles as a seperate section. If included within the larger text of Daniel, it would appear in the third chapter of between verses 23 and 24.
In Orthodox Christian worship, the prayer is the basis of the seventh and eighth biblical canticles sung at Orthros. Although the text of the canticles are generally not read in contemporary practice, the hymns sung as part of the canon reference the theme of the Three Holy Children. At Vespers of Holy Saturday, the text of the prayer is heard as part of one of the fifteen Old Testament readings prescribed for that day. In Byzantine practice, the closing refrains to each verse "bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever" are chanted elaborately.
The song constitutes a hymn of thanksgiving to God for deliverence from the fiery furnace into which the three young men, Ananias, Azarias and Misael (also known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) had been cast by the Persian king Nebuchadnezzar. They were cast into the furnace for refusing to worship a golden idol that Nebuchadnezzar had created. However, an Angel of the Lord entered the furnace and protected the three young men. In liturgical practice, the event is seen to presage the Resurrection of Christ, thus its inclusion in the canon.
The Abingdon Bible Handbook (ISBN 0687001692) suggests that the Prayer was based on an earlier composition and was added to the existing text of Daniel sometime in the second or first century B.C.

Usage by Other Christians

The Roman Catholic Church considers this text to be part of the deuterocanonical collection which was defined at the Council of Trent in 1546 as "sacred" and "canonical." The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England includes the text as the canticle Benedicite omnia Opera.

Text  (from here)

1 King Nebuchadnezzar made a statue of gold, of sixty cubits high, and six cubits broad, and he set it up in the plain of Dura of the province of Babylon.
2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to call together the nobles, the magistrates, and the judges, the captains, the rulers, and governors, and all the chief men of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the statue which king Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
3 Then the nobles, the magistrates, and the judges, the captains, and rulers, and the great men that were placed in authority, and all the princes of the provinces, were gathered together to come to the dedication of the statue, which king Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the statue which king Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then a herald cried with a strong voice: To you it is commanded, O nations, tribes, and languages:
Nebuchadnezzar II (from here)
5 That in the hour that you shall hear the sound of the trumpet, and of the flute, and of the harp, of the sackbut, and of the psaltery, and of the symphony, and of all kind of music; ye fall down and adore the golden statue which king Nebuchadnezzar hath set up.
6 But if any man shall not fall down and adore, he shall the same hour be cast into a furnace of burning fire.
7 Upon this therefore, at the time when all the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the flute, and the harp, of the sackbut, and the psaltery, of the symphony, and of all kind of music: all the nations, tribes, and languages fell down and adored the golden statue which king Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 8 And presently at that very time some Chaldeans came and accused the Jews,
9 And said to king Nebuchadnezzar: O king, live for ever:
10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree that every man that shall bear the sound of the trumpet, the flute, and the harp, of the sackbut, and the psaltery, of the symphony, and of all kind of music, shall prostrate himself, and adore the golden statue:
11 And that if any man shall not fall down and adore, he should be cast into a furnace of burning fire.
12 Now there are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the works of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago: these men, O king, have slighted thy decree: they worship not thy gods, nor do they adore the golden statue which thou hast set up.
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in fury, and in wrath, commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago should be brought: who immediately were brought before the king.
14 And Nebuchadnezzar the king spoke to them, and said: Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago, that you do not worship my gods, nor adore the golden statue that I have set up?
15 Now therefore if you be ready at what hour soever you shall hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, harp, sackbut, and psaltery, and symphony, and of all kind of music, prostrate yourselves, and adore the statue which I have made: but if you do not adore, you shall be cast the same hour into the furnace of burning fire: and who is the God that shall deliver you out of my hand?
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago answered and said to king Nebuchadnezzar: We have no occasion to answer thee concerning this matter.
17 For behold our God, whom we worship, is able to save us from the furnace of burning fire, and to deliver us out of thy hands, O king.
18 But if he will not, be it known to thee, O king, that we will not worship thy gods, nor adore the golden statue which thou hast set up.
19 Then was Nebuchadnezzar filled with fury: and the countenance of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago, and he commanded that the furnace should be heated seven times more than it had been accustomed to be heated.
20 And he commanded the strongest men that were in his army, to bind the feet of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago and to cast them into the furnace of burning fire.
21 And immediately these men were bound and were cast into the furnace of burning fire, with their coats, and their caps, and their shoes, and their garments.
22 For the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace was heated exceedingly. And the flame of the fire slew those men that had cast in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago.
23 But these three men, that is, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago, fell down bound in the midst of the furnace of burning fire.
24 And they walked in the midst of the flame, praising God, and blessing the Lord. 


25 Then Azarias standing up, prayed in this manner, and opening his mouth in the midst of the fire, he said:
26 Blessed art thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers, and thy name is worthy of praise, and glorious for ever:
27 For thou art just in all that thou hast done to us, and all thy works are true, and thy ways right, and all thy judgments true.
28 For thou hast executed true judgments in all the things that thou hast brought upon us, and upon Jerusalem, the holy city of our fathers: for according to truth and judgment, thou hast brought all these things upon us for our sins.
29 For we have sinned, and committed iniquity, departing from thee: and we have trespassed in all things:
30 And we have not hearkened to thy commandments, nor have we observed nor done as thou hadst commanded us, that it might go well with us.
31 Wherefore, all that thou hast brought upon us, and every thing that thou hast done to us, thou hast done in true judgment:
32 And thou hast delivered us into the hands of our enemies that are unjust, and most wicked, and prevaricators, and to a king unjust, and most wicked beyond all that are upon the earth.
33 And now we cannot open our mouths: we are become a shame, and a reproach to thy servants, and to them that worship thee.
34 Deliver us not up for ever, we beseech thee, for thy name's sake, and abolish not thy covenant.
35 And take not away thy mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham, thy beloved, and Isaac, thy servant, and Israel, thy holy one:
36 To whom thou hast spoken, promising that thou wouldst multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is on the sea shore.
37 For we, O Lord, are diminished more than any nation, and are brought low in all the earth this day for our sins.
38 Neither is there at this time prince, or leader, or prophet, or holocaust, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place of first fruits before thee,
39 That we may find thy mercy: nevertheless, in a contrite heart and humble spirit let us be accepted.
40 As in holocausts of rams, and bullocks, and as in thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be made in thy sight this day, that it may please thee: for there is no confusion to them that trust in thee.
41 And now we follow thee with all our heart, and we fear thee, and seek thy face.
42 Put us not to confusion, but deal with us according to thy meekness, and according to the multitude of thy mercies.
43 And deliver us, according to thy wonderful works, and give glory to thy name, O Lord:
44 And let all them be confounded that shew evils to thy servants, let them be confounded in all thy might, and let their strength be broken:
45 And let them know that thou art the Lord, the only God, and glorious over all the world.
46 Now the king's servants that had cast them in, ceased not to heat the furnace with brimstone and tow, and pitch, and dry sticks,
47 And the flame mounted up above the furnace nine and forth cubits:
48 And it broke forth, and burnt such of the Chaldeans as it found near the furnace.
49 But the angel of the Lord went down with Azariah and his companions into the furnace: and he drove the flame of the fire out of the furnace,
50 And made the midst of the furnace like the blowing of a wind bringing dew, and the fire touched them not at all, nor troubled them, nor did them any harm. 

The prophet Daniel with the lions
(icon from here)
 
51 Then these three, as with one mouth, praised and glorified and blessed God, in the furnace, saying:
52 Blessed art thou, O Lord, the God of our fathers; and worthy to be praised, and glorified, and exalted above all for ever:
53 and blessed is the holy name of thy glory: and worthy to be praised and exalted above all, in all ages.
54 Blessed art thou in the holy temple of thy glory: and exceedingly to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
55 Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the cherubims: and worthy to be praised and exalted above all for ever.
56 Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven: and worthy of praise, and glorious for ever.
57 All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
58 O ye angels of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
59 O ye heavens, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
60 O all ye waters that are above the heavens, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
61 O all ye powers of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
62 O ye sun and moon, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
63 O ye stars of heaven, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
64 O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
65 O all ye spirits of God, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
66 O ye fire and heat, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
67 O ye cold and heat, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all for ever.
68 O ye dews and hoar frost, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
69 O ye frost and cold, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
70 O ye ice and snow, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
71 O ye nights and days, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
72 O ye light and darkness, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
73 O ye lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
74 O let the earth bless the Lord: let it praise and exalt him above all for ever.
76 O all ye things that spring up in the earth, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
77 O ye fountains, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
78 O ye seas and rivers, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
79 O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
80 O all ye fowls of the air, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
81 O all ye beasts and cattle, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
82 O ye sons of men, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
83 O let Israel bless the Lord: let them praise and exalt him above all for ever.
84 O ye priests of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
85 O ye servants of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
86 O ye spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
87 O ye holy and humble of heart, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
88 O Ananias, Azarias, Misael, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever. For he hath delivered us from hell, and saved us out of the hand of death, and delivered us out of the midst of the burning flame, and saved us out of the midst of the fire.
89 O give thanks to the Lord, because he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever and ever.
90 O all ye religious, bless the Lord, the God of gods: praise him, and give him thanks, because his mercy endureth for ever and ever.  

The canticle of the Three Holy Youths in various languages and traditions

 

domkov91

It is one of the most famous hymns from the Bible. This video begins with the last piece of the reading of the Book of prophet Daniel, which ends the 15 readings of the Old Testament read during the Vesperal Liturgy of Great Saturday which precedes the feast of Pascha. 
Chanted in English (Eastern Orthodox - byzantine chant), French (Eastern Orthodox - Russian chant), Greek (Eastern Orthodox - byzantine chant), Armenian (Oriental Orthodox), Arabic (Eastern Orthodox - byzantine chat), Spanish (Roman Catholic), Romanian (Eastern Orthodox - byzantine chant), Coptic (Oriental Orthodox), Church Slavonic (Eastern Orthodox - byzantine chant), English (Eastern Orthodox - byzantine chant). Some of them are with subtitles.

See also

The Passion of Jesus Christ and the Passions of Africa...
Fr. Moses Berry, a descendant of African slaves, Orthodox priest and teacher in USA
How “White” is the Orthodox Church? 
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
The Kingdom of Heaven, where racial discrimination has no place

Some Orthodox Saints who were slaves 
Saint John the Russian

St. Onesimus the Apostle 
Martyr Zoe with her husband st. Hesperus and sons Kyriakos & Theodulos at Attalia (more here)
St. Moses the Hungarian
St. John the Russian (more here)

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