SERVICE OF THE GREAT BLESSING OF THE WATERS
After the Prayer behind the Ambo, we go out to the Font, the Priest going ahead with lights and incense, and we chant the following Idiomels in Tone 8, during which the Church and people are censed.
By Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem.
The voice of the Lord upon the waters cries out, saying, ‘Come all of you, receive the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of the fear of God, of Christ who has appeared’. (x3)
Today the nature of the waters is made holy, and Jordan is parted and holds back the flow of its waters as it sees the Master washing himself. (x2)
As man, Christ King, you came to the river, and in your goodness you hasten to accept the baptism of a servant at the hands of the Forerunner, on account of our sins, O Lover of mankind. (x2)
Glory. Both now. Same Tone.
At the voice of the one crying in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’, you came, Lord, having taken the form of a servant, asking for Baptism, though you did not know sin. The waters saw you and were afraid. The Forerunner trembled and cried out, saying, ‘How will the lamp enlighten the Light? The servant place his hand on the Master? Saviour, who take away the sin of the world, make me and the waters holy’.
And immediately the Readings.
Reading is from the Prophecy of Isaias.
Thus says the Lord: Thirsty desert rejoice, let the desert exult and flower like a lily. And the deserts of Jordan will flower and be overgrown and exult. And the glory of Lebanon has been given to it and the honour of Carmel. And my people will see the glory of the Lord and the majesty of God. Be strong, enfeebled hands and palsied knees. Give comfort and say to the faint-hearted, ‘Be strong and do not fear. See, our God is giving judgement and will give it. He himself will come and save us. Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will hear. Then the lame will leap like a deer and the tongue of stammerers will speak clearly, because water has broken out in the desert and a channel in a thirsty land. And the waterless land will become pools and there will be a spring of water for the thirsty land. There will be joy of birds there, folds for flocks and reed beds and pools. And there will be a pure way there, and it will be called a holy way, and no one unclean may pass along it. There will be no unclean way there. But the scattered will walk upon it and not go astray. There will be no lion there, nor will any evil wild beasts go up on it or be found there. But the redeemed and gathered by the Lord will walk on it. And they will return and come to Sion with joy and exultation, and everlasting joy will be upon their head. And on their head praise and exultation and joy will possess them. Pain, grief and sighing have fled away.
Reading is from the Prophecy of Isaias.
Thus says the Lord: You that thirst, go for water. And as many of you as have no money, make your way and buy. And eat and drink wine and fat without money and price. Why do you spend money on what is not food, and toil for what does not satisfy? Hear me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in good things. Give heed with your ears and follow in my ways. Listen to me and your soul will live among good things. And I will make an eternal Covenant with you, the sure mercies of David. See, I have given him as a testimony among the Nations, a ruler and commander among the Nations. See, Nations who do not know you will call upon you, and peoples who are not acquainted with you will take refuge with you, for the sake of the Lord your God and the Holy One of Israel, because he has glorified you. Seek the Lord, and when you find him, call upon him. But when he comes near you, let the impious abandon his ways and a lawless man his plans. And return to the Lord and you will find mercy, and cry out, for he will abundantly forgive your sins. For my plans are not like your plans, nor are my ways like your ways, says the Lord. But as far as heaven is from earth, so far is my way from your ways and your thoughts from my mind. For as rain or snow comes down from heaven and does not return until it has saturated the earth and it brings forth and sprouts and gives seed to the sower and bread for food, so will my word be. Whatever comes out of my mouth will not return to me empty, until everything that I wished has been fulfilled. And I will make my ways and my commands prosper. You will go out with gladness and be taught with joy. For the mountains and hills will leap up, welcoming you with joy, and all the trees of the field will clap with their branches. And instead of brambles cypress will come up, and instead of nettles myrtle will come up. And there shall be for the Lord a name and an everlasting sign, and it will not fail.
Reading is from the Prophecy of Isaias.
Thus says the Lord: Draw out water with gladness from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day, Sing to the Lord and cry out his name. Proclaim among the Nations his glorious deeds, remind them that his name has been exalted. Sing to the name of the Lord, for he has done great things. Proclaim these in all the earth. Exult and be glad, you that dwell in Sion, because the Holy One of Israel has been exalted in the midst of her.
Then the Prokeimenon in Tone 3. [Psalm 26]
The Lord is my enlightenment and my Saviour. Whom shall I fear?
Verse: The Lord is the defender of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid?
Reading is from the 1st Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians.
Brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant of how our Fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea. And they were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. And they all ate the same spiritual food. And they all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them. Now the rock was Christ.
Alleluia. Tone 4. [Psalm 28,3]
Verse 1: The voice of the Lord is upon the waters.
Verse 2: The God of glory thundered upon the waters.
Reading is from the holy Gospel according to Mark.
At that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And immediately as he was coming up from the water, he saw the heavens being parted and the Spirit like a dove coming down upon him. And there was a voice from heaven, You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And the Deacon at once begins the Litany of Peace. While this is being said by the Deacon, the Priest says the prayer Lord Jesus Christ… quietly. [If there is no Deacon, the Priest reads this prayer during the reading of the Prophecies]
Deacon: In peace, let us pray to the Lord.
People: Lord, have mercy. And so after each petition.
Deacon: For the peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.
For the peace of the whole world, for the welfare of the holy Churches of God, and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord.
For this holy house, and for those who enter it with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.
[For all devout and Orthodox Christians, let us pray to the Lord.]
For our Archbishop N., for the honoured order of presbyters, for the diaconate in Christ, for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord.
For [our Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Family, her Government, and] all in authority, let us pray to the Lord.
For this city [Or this holy monastery], for every [monastery] city, town and village, and for the faithful who dwell in them, let us pray to the Lord.
For favourable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and temperate seasons, let us pray to the Lord.
For those who travel by land, air or water, for the sick, the suffering, for those in captivity, and for their safety and salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
For this water to be sanctified by the power and operation and visitation of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.
For there to come down upon these waters the cleansing operation of the Trinity beyond all being, let us pray to the Lord.
For there to be given them the grace of redemption, the blessing of Jordan, let us pray to the Lord.
For us to be enlightened with the enlightenment of knowledge and true religion through the visitation of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.
For this water to become a gift of sanctification, a deliverance from sins, for healing of soul and body and for every suitable purpose, let us pray to the Lord.
For this water to become water springing up to eternal life, let us pray to the Lord.
For this water to be shown to be an averting of every assault of visible and invisible enemies, let us pray to the Lord.
For those who draw from it and take from it for the sanctification of their homes, let us pray to the Lord.
For it to be for cleansing of souls and bodies for all those who draw from it with faith and who partake of it, let us pray to the Lord.
For us to be counted worthy to be filled with sanctification through communion of these waters by the invisible manifestation of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.
For the Lord God to hear the voice of supplication of us sinners and have mercy on us, let us pray to the Lord.
For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger and constraint, let us pray to the Lord.
Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and keep us, O God, by your grace.
Commemorating our all-holy, pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us entrust ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.
The Priest reads the following prayer in a low voice.
Lord Jesus Christ, only-begotten Son, who are in the bosom of the Father, true God, source of life and immortality, Light from Light, who came into the world to enlighten it, flood our mind with light by your Holy Spirit and accept us as we bring you praise and thanksgiving for your wondrous mighty works from every age, and for your saving dispensation in these last times. By it you clothe yourself in our weak and beggared matter and coming down to the measure of our servitude, King of all, you accepted also to be baptised in the Jordan by the hand of a servant, so that, having sanctified the nature of the waters, you, the sinless one, might make a way for our rebirth through water and Spirit and re-establish us in our original freedom. As we celebrate the memory of this divine Mystery, we entreat you, Master, lover of mankind: Sprinkle on us, your unworthy servants, cleansing water, in accordance with your divine promise, the gift of your compassion, that the request of us sinners over this water may become acceptable by your goodness and that through it your blessing to be granted to us and to all your faithful people, to the glory of your holy, venerated Name. For to you belong all glory, honour and worship, with your Father who is without beginning, with you all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
And having said the Amen to himself, when the Deacon has finished the Litany, the Priest begins this Prayer in a loud voice [the first part only on day of the Feast itself]
A Composition of Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem.
Trinity beyond all being, beyond all goodness, beyond all godhead, all-powerful, all-vigilant, invisible, incomprehensible; Creator of the spiritual beings and rational natures, innate goodness, unapproachable Light that enlightens everyone coming into the world, shine also in me your unworthy servant. Enlighten the eyes of my mind that I may dare to sing the praise of your measureless benevolence and power. May my supplication for the people here present be acceptable, so that my offences may not prevent the Holy Spirit from being present here; but permit me now without condemnation to cry out to you and say, Master, lover of mankind, beyond all goodness, Almighty, eternal King. We glorify you, the Creator and Fashioner of the universe. We glorify you, only-begotten Son of God, without father from your Mother, without mother from your Father. For in the preceding feast we saw you as a babe, but in the present one we see you full and perfect man, our God, made manifest as perfect God from perfect God. For today the moment of the feast is here for us and the choir of saints assembles here with us, and Angels keep festival with mortals. Today the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove dwelt upon the waters. Today the Sun that never sets has dawned and the world is made radiant with the light of the Lord. Today the Moon with its radiant beams sheds light on the world. Today the stars formed of light make the inhabited world lovely with the brightness of their splendour. Today the clouds rain down from heaven the shower of justice for mankind. Today the Uncreated by his own will accepts the laying on of hands by his own creature. Today the Prophet and Forerunner draws near, but stands by with fear seeing God’s condescension towards us. Today the streams of Jordan are changed into healing by the presence of the Lord. Today all creation is watered by mystical streams. Today the failings of mankind are being washed away by the waters of Jordan. Today Paradise is opened for mortals and the Sun of justice shines down on us. Today the bitter water as once for Moses’ people is changed to sweetness by the presence of the Lord. Today we have been delivered from the ancient grief, and saved as the new Israel. Today we have been redeemed from darkness and are filled with radiance by the light of the knowledge of God. Today the gloomy fog of the world is cleansed by the manifestation of our God. Today all creation shines with light from on high. Today error has been destroyed and the coming of the Master makes for us a way of salvation. Today things on high keep festival with those below, and those below commune with those on high. Today the sacred and triumphant festal assembly of the Orthodox exults. Today the Master hastens towards baptism, that he may lead humanity to the heights. Today the One who does not bow bows down to his own servant, that he may free us from servitude. Today we have purchased the Kingdom of heaven, for the Kingdom of the Lord will have no end. Today earth and sea share the joy of the world, and the world has been filled with gladness. The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and were afraid. The Jordan turned back when it saw the fire of the godhead descending in bodily form and entering it. The Jordan turned back as it contemplated the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, descending and flying about you. The Jordan turned back as it saw the Invisible made visible, the Creator made flesh, the Master in the form of a servant. The Jordan turned back and the mountains leapt as they saw God in the flesh, and the clouds uttered their voice, marvelling at what had come to pass, seeing Light from Light, true God from true God, the Master’s festival today in Jordan; seeing him drowning the death from disobedience, the goad of error and the bond of Hell in Jordan and granting the Baptism of salvation to the world. Therefore I too, a sinner and your unworthy servant, recount the greatness of your wonders and, seized with fear, in compunction cry out to you:
After completing this, he says in a more powerful voice,
Great are you, O Lord, and wonderful your works, and no word is adequate to sing the praise of your wonders (x3). [People: Glory to you, Lord, glory to you!]
For by your own will you brought the universe from non-existence into being, you hold creation together by your might, and by your providence you direct the world. You composed creation from four elements; with four seasons you crowned the circle of the year. All the spiritual Powers tremble before you. The sun sings your praise, the moon glorifies you, the stars entreat you, the light obeys you, the deeps tremble before you, the springs are your servants. You stretched out the heavens on the waters; you walled in the sea with sand; you poured out the air for breathing. Angelic Powers minister to you. The choirs of the Archangels worship you. The many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim as they stand and fly around you hide their faces in fear of your unapproachable glory. For you, being God uncircumscribed, without beginning and inexpressible, came upon earth, taking the form of a servant, being found in the likeness of mortals. For you could not bear, Master, in the compassion of your mercy to watch the human race being tyrannised by the devil, but you came and saved us. We acknowledge your grace, we proclaim your mercy, we do not conceal your benevolence. You freed the generations of our race. You sanctified a virgin womb by your birth. All creation sang your praise when you appeared. For you are our God who appeared on earth and lived among mortals. You sanctified the streams of Jordan by sending down from heaven your All-holy Spirit and you smashed the heads of the dragons that lurked there.
Therefore, O King, lover of mankind, be present now too through the visitation of your Holy Spirit, and sanctify this water. (x3)
And give to it the grace of redemption and the blessing of Jordan. Make it a source of incorruption, a gift of sanctification, a deliverance from sins, an averting of diseases, unapproachable by hostile powers, filled with angelic strength. That all who draw from it and partake of it may have it for cleansing of souls and bodies, for healing of passions, for sanctification of homes, for every suitable purpose. For you are our God, who through water and Spirit renewed our nature made old by sin. You are our God, who in the days of Noë drowned sin through the water of the flood. You are our God, who through Moses freed the Hebrew race from the slavery of Pharao through the sea. You are our God who split open the rock in the desert, and waters rushed out and torrents flooded down, and you satisfied your thirsty people. You are our God, who through Elias turned Israel from the error of Baal.
And now, Master, do you yourself sanctify this water by your Holy Spirit. (x3)
Give to all who partake of it sanctification, blessing, cleansing, health.
And save, Lord, our faithful Rulers [our Sovereign Lady Queen Elisabeth]. (x3) [The triple form of this petition is a relic of the imperial liturgy of Agia Sophia in Constantinople before 1453.]
And guard them [her] under your protection in peace. Subdue beneath their [her] feet every foe and enemy. Grant them [her] all their [her] requests that are for salvation and eternal life.
Remember, Lord, our Archbishop N., the whole order of Presbyters, the Diaconate in Christ, every rank of the clergy, the people here present and our brethren who with good reason are absent, and have mercy on us in accordance with your great mercy. So that through elements and through Angels and through mortals and through things visible and through things unseen, your all-holy name may be glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.
Priest: Peace to all.
People: And to your spirit.
Deacon: Let us bow our heads to the Lord.
People: To you, O Lord.
And the Priest says the Prayer in a low voice.
In cline your ear and hear us, Lord, who accepted to be baptised in Jordan and to sanctify the waters, and bless us all, who signify our calling as servants by the bending of our necks. And count us worthy to be filled with your sanctification through the partaking and sprinkling of this water. And let it be for us, Lord, for healing of soul and body.
For you are the sanctification of our souls and bodies, and to you we give glory, thanksgiving and worship, with your Father who is without beginning, and your All-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.
And the Priest immediately, blessing the waters in the figure of the Cross, immerses the precious Cross, plunging it upright into the water and lifting it out again, chanting the following Troparion in Tone 1. The Priest once and the Choirs once each.
As you were baptised in the Jordan, Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest, for the voice of the Father bore witness to you, naming you the Beloved Son; and the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the sureness of the word. Christ God, who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to you.
[Both the Typikon of the Monastery of Dionysiou and that of the Church of Cyprus prescribe that the Kontakion be sung after the singing of the Apolytikion.
Kontakion. Tone 4. Model Melody.
Today you have appeared to the inhabited world; and your light, O Lord, has been marked upon us; who with knowledge sing your praise. You have come, you have appeared, the unapproachable Light.
When the feast falls on a Monday and the first blessing takes place on Sunday, then the Kontakion of the Forefeast is sung.
Kontakion. Tone 4. Today you have appeared.
Today the Lord has come to the streams of Jordan, and cries aloud to John: Do not be afraid to baptise me; for I have come to save Adam the First-formed.]
And he sprinkles all the People with the water. They drink from the water.
As we enter the Church we chant the following Idiomel in Tone 6.
Let us the faithful praise the greatness of God’s dispensation concerning us. For in our transgression he, alone clean and undefiled, becoming man, is cleansed in Jordan, sanctifying me and the waters, and crushing the heads of the dragons on the waters. Let us therefore draw water with gladness, brethren. For the grace of the Spirit is being given invisibly to those who draw with faith by Christ, God and the Saviour of our souls.
Then Blessed be the name of the Lord as usual and then the Psalm , I will bless the Lord at all times. And the broken fragments [Antidoron] are distributed.
Then the full Dismissal.