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THE HIERATIKON

THE GREAT BLESSING

 OF THE WATERS

On the Feast of Theophany 

 

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After the “Behind the Pulpit Prayer”, the Priest [and Deacon] goes in procession preceded by lighted candles and censer, to the font where the Blessing of the Waters is to be held.

 

Tone 8

CHOIR

The voice of the Lord upon the waters cries aloud saying: Come ye all, and receive the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of the fear of God, from Christ who is made manifest. [2]

Today the nature of the waters is sanctified, and the Jordan is parted in two; it holds back the stream of its own waters, seeing the Master wash Himself.

O Christ the King, Thou hast come unto the river as a man, and in Thy goodness Thou dost make haste to receive the baptism of a servant at the hands of the Forerunner, for the sake of our sins, O Thou who lovest mankind.

Glory be to the Father... Now and for ever...

At the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord”, Thou hast come, O Lord, taking the form of a servant, and Thou who knowest not sin dost ask for baptism. The waters saw Thee and were afraid; the Forerunner was seized with trembling and cried aloud, saying: “How shall the lamp illuminate the Light? How shall the servant set his hand upon the Master? O Saviour who takest away the sin of the world, sanctify both me and the water”. 

And the Reader shall read the readings from the Old Testament.

READER: The reading is from the Book of Isaiah.

PRIEST: Wisdom. Let us give heed.

ISAIAH 35:1-10

READER

Thus saith the Lord: The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

READER: The reading is from the Book of Isaiah.

PRIEST: Wisdom. Let us give heed.

ISAIAH 55: 1-13

READER

Thus saith the Lord: Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

READER: The reading is from the Book of Isaiah.

PRIEST: Wisdom. Let us give heed.

ISAIAH  12: 3-6

READER

Thus saith the Lord: Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

 

READER: The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?

PRIEST: Let us give heed.

READER: The Lord is the defender of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?

PRIEST: Wisdom.

READER: The reading is from the  Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians.

PRIEST: Let us give heed.

1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-4

READER

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

 

And on the completion of the Apostolic reading the Priest shall bless the reader saying:

PRIEST: Peace unto thee [that readest].

CHOIR: Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

And the choir shall sing the Alleluia with the appointed verses. 

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters.

The God of glory thundered, the Lord is upon many waters.

 

PRIEST

Wisdom. Stand steadfast. Let us hear the Holy Gospel.

Peace unto all.

CHOIR: And unto thy spirit.

 

PRIEST

The reading is from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark.

Let us give heed.

CHOIR: Glory be to Thee, O Lord, glory be to Thee.

 

MARK 1: 9-11

PRIEST

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

 

And after the Gospel reading the choir shall say:

Glory be to Thee, O Lord, glory be to Thee.

 

PRIEST

In peace let us pray unto the Lord.

CHOIR: Kyrie eleison or Lord have mercy. And after each petition,

For the peace from on high, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray unto the Lord.

For the peace and union of the whole world, and for the good estate of the holy churches of God, let us pray unto the Lord.

For this holy temple and for them that enter therein with faith, reverence and fear of God, let us pray unto the Lord.

For our Archbishop (Name), for the honourable order of priesthood, and for the diaconate which is in Christ, for all the clergy and the people, let us pray unto the Lord.

For this city, [village, monastery] for every city and land, and for them that dwell therein with faith, let us pray unto the Lord.

For fair seasons and the abundance of the fruits of the earth, let us pray unto the Lord.

For them that travel by land, by water, by air; for the sick and the suffering, for those in captivity, and for their salvation, let us pray unto the Lord.

For this water, that it may be sanctified by the might and operation and descent of the Holy Spirit, let us pray unto the Lord.

For these waters, that the cleansing operation of the Trinity Supreme in Being may come down upon them, let us pray unto the Lord.

That there may be sent down upon it the grace of redemption, and the blessing of the Jordan, let us pray unto the Lord.

That we may be enlightened by the light of knowledge and godliness through the descent of the Holy Spirit, let us pray unto the Lord.

For this water, that it may become, a gift of sanctification, a remission of sins, for the healing of soul and body and for every purpose that is expedient, let us pray unto the Lord

For this water, that it may become a fountain springing up unto eternal life, let us pray unto the Lord.

For this water, that it may serve to the averting of every evil purpose of enemies visible and invisible; let us pray unto the Lord.

For those who draw from this water and take it for the sanctification of their dwellings, let us pray unto the Lord.

For this water, that it may bestow cleansing of soul and body upon all who draw it with faith and partake of it, let us pray unto the Lord.

That we may be accounted worthy to be filled with holiness through the partaking of these waters, by the invisible manifestation of the Holy Spirit, let us pray unto the Lord.

That the Lord our God may hearken unto the voice of the supplication of us sinners and have mercy upon us, let us pray unto the Lord.

That He may deliver us from all tribulation, wrath, danger and necessity; let us pray unto the Lord.

Succour, save, have mercy, and preserve us, O God, by Thy grace.

Mindful of our most holy and undefiled, most blessed and glorious Lady, Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, and of all the saints; Let us commend ourselves and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God.

CHOIR: To Thee, O Lord.

 

 If the Priest  co-celebrates with a Deacon he shall say the following Prayer [silently]  during the Great Litany otherwise he shall recite it during the readings from the Old Testament. 

PRIEST

O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, who art in the bosom of the Father, true God, source of life and immortality, Light of Light, who camest into the world to enlighten it, shine upon our understanding with Thy Holy Spirit and accept us who offer unto Thee glory and thanksgiving for all Thy great and wondrous works from all ages, and for Thy saving dispensation in these last times. For Thou hast clothed Thyself in our poor and infirm nature, and hast submitted Thyself to servitude, Thou who art King of all; and moreover Thou hast accepted to be baptized in the Jordan by the hand of a servant, that having sanctified the nature of the waters, O sinless Lord, Thou mightest lead us to a new birth through water and Spirit, and restore us again to our original freedom. Keeping feast in remembrance of this divine mystery, we entreat Thee, O Master who lovest mankind: sprinkle upon us, Thine unworthy servants, according to Thy divine promise, cleansing water, the gift of Thy compassion; grant that the petition of us sinners over this water may be acceptable unto Thy goodness, and that thereby Thy blessing may be granted, to us and to all Thy faithful people unto the glory of Thy holy and venerated Name. For unto Thee, belong all glory, honour, and worship together with Thine eternal Father, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, , now, and ever: world without end. Amen.

Then the priest says aloud the following prayer, composed by Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem. On the Eve of the Feast the Priest shall not say all the Prayer, but shall   begin from “Great art Thou O Lord...”

O Trinity supreme in being, in goodness, and in Godhead, almighty, who watchest over all, invisible, incomprehensible, Maker of spiritual beings and rational natures, innate Goodness, Light that none can approach and that lightens every man that comes into the world : Shine also upon me Thine unworthy servant. Enlighten the eyes of my understanding that I may make bold to sing the praises of Thy measureless beneficence and Thy might. May the prayer be acceptable that I offer for the people here present. Let not my faults hinder Thy Holy Spirit from coming to this place, but suffer me now uncondemned to cry to Thee, O most good Lord, and to say: We glorify Thee, O Master who lovest mankind, almighty, pre-eternal King. We glorify Thee, the Creator and Maker of all. We glorify Thee, O only-begotten Son of God, born without father from Thy Mother, and without mother from Thy Father. In the preceding feast we saw Thee as a child, while in the present we behold Thee full-grown, our God made manifest, perfect God from perfect God. For today, the time of the feast is at hand for us: the choir of saints assembles with us and angels join with men in keeping festival. Today the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended upon the waters. Today the Sun that never sets has risen and the world is filled with splendour by the light of the Lord. Today the moon shines upon the world with the brightness of its rays. Today the glittering stars make the inhabited earth fair with the radiance of their shining. Today the clouds drop down upon mankind the dew of righteousness from on high. Today the Uncreated of His own will accepts the laying on of hands from His own creature. Today the Prophet and Forerunner approaches the Master, but stands before Him with trembling, seeing the condescension of God towards us. Today the waters of the Jordan are transformed into healing by the coming of the Lord. Today the whole creation is watered by mystical streams. Today the transgressions of men are washed away by the waters of the Jordan. Today Paradise has been opened to men and the Sun of Righteousness shines down upon us. Today the bitter water, as once with Moses and the people of Israel, is changed to sweetness by the coming of the Lord. Today we have been released from our ancient lamentation, and as the new Israel, we have found salvation. Today we have been delivered from darkness and illuminated with the light of the knowledge of God. Today the blinding mist of the world is dispersed by the Epiphany of our God. Today the whole creation shines with light from on high. Today error is laid low and the coming of the Master has made for us a way of salvation. Today things above keep feast with things below, and things below commune with things above. Today the triumphant assembly of the Orthodox keeps this holy festival with great joy. Today the Master hastens towards baptism that He may lift man up to the heights. Today He that bows not, bows down to His own servant that He may set us free from bondage. Today we have purchased the Kingdom of Heaven: for the Lord’s Kingdom shall have no end. Today earth and sea share the joy of the world, and the world is filled with gladness. The waters saw Thee, O God, the waters saw Thee and were afraid. The Jordan turned back, seeing the fire of the Godhead descending bodily and entering its stream. The Jordan turned back, beholding the Holy Spirit coming down in the form of a dove and flying about Thee. The Jordan turned back, seeing the Invisible made visible, the Creator made flesh, the Master in the form of a servant. The Jordan turned back and the mountains skipped, looking upon God in the flesh; and the clouds gave voice, marvelling at Him who was come, the Light of Light, true God of true God. For today in the Jordan they saw the triumph of the Master; they saw Him drown in the Jordan the death of disobedience, the sting of error, and the chains of hell, and bestow upon the world the baptism of salvation. Therefore, sinner and unworthy servant though I am, I recount the majesty of Thy wonders and, seized with fear, in compunction I cry aloud to Thee:

The priest shall then say in a louder voice:

Great art Thou, O Lord, and marvelous are Thy works; no words suffice to sing the praise of Thy wonders. (3)

Each time the Priest says these words, the choir shall sing:

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.

The Priest continues the prayer

For Thou by Thine own will hast brought all things out of nothingness into being, by Thy power Thou dost hold together the creation, and by Thy providence Thou dost govern the world. Of four elements hast Thou compounded the creation: with four seasons hast Thou crowned the cycle of the year. All the spiritual powers tremble before Thee. The sun sings Thy praises; the moon glorifies Thee; the stars supplicate before Thee; the light obeys Thee; the deeps are afraid at Thy presence; the fountains are Thy servants. Thou hast stretched out the heavens like a curtain; Thou hast established the earth upon the waters; Thou hast poured forth the air that living things may breathe. The angelic powers minister to thee; the Choir of Archangels worship Thee; the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, standing round Thee and flying about Thee, hide their faces in fear of Thine unapproachable glory. For Thou, the indescribable God, without beginning and inexpressible, hast come upon earth, taking the form of a servant and being made in the likeness of man. For Thou, O Master, in Thy merciful compassion couldst not bear to see mankind beneath the tyranny of the devil, but Thou hast come and saved us. We confess Thy grace, we proclaim Thy mercy, we hide not Thy beneficence. Thou hast set free the offspring of our kind. Thou hast hallowed a Virgin womb by Thy Nativity. At Thine Epiphany the whole creation sang Thy praises. For Thou, our God, hast appeared on earth and dwelt among men, Thou hast sanctified the streams of Jordan, sending down from on high the Most Holy Spirit, and Thou hast broken the heads of the dragons hidden therein.

Therefore, O King who lovest mankind, do Thou Thyself be present now as then through the descent of Thy Holy Spirit, and sanctify this water. (3)

Each time the Priest says these words, the choir shall say Amen.

And confer upon it the grace of redemption, the blessing of the Jordan. Make it a source of incorruption, a gift of sanctification, a remission of sins, a protection against disease, a destruction to demons, inaccessible to the adverse powers and filled with angelic strength. That all who draw from it and partake of it may have it for the cleansing of their soul and body, for the healing of their passions, for the sanctification of their dwellings, and for every purpose that is expedient. For Thou art our God, who didst renew through water and Spirit our nature grown old through sin. Thou art our God, who didst drown sin through water in the days of Noah. Thou art our God who, through the waters of the sea, at Moses’ hand didst set free the Hebrew nation from the bondage of Pharaoh. Thou art our God who didst smite the rock in the wilderness: and the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed, and Thou didst satisfy Thy thirsty people. Thou art our God who by water and fire through Elijah didst bring back Israel from the error of Baal.

Do Thou Thyself, O Master, now as then sanctify this water by Thy Holy Spirit  [3]

Each time the Priest says these words, the choir shall say Amen.

Grant to all those who touch it, who anoint themselves with it or drink from it, sanctification, blessing, cleansing, and health.

And save, O Lord, Thy servants our faithful rulers. Keep them in peace under Thy protection; put under their feet every enemy and adversary; bestow upon them whatsoever they ask unto salvation and eternal life.

Remember, O Lord, our father and Archbishop [Name], and all the priests, the diaconate which is in Christ, the whole order of clergy, the people here present, and  all our brethren who for a just cause are absent. And have mercy upon them and upon us according to Thy great mercy. So, by the elements, by the angels and by men, by things visible and invisible, may Thy most holy Name be glorified, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now, and for ever: world without end. 

CHOIR: Amen.

PRIEST: Peace unto all.

CHOIR: And unto thy spirit.

PRIEST: Let us bow our heads before the Lord.

CHOIR: To Thee, O Lord.

 

PRIEST

Bow down Thine ear and hear us O Lord, Thou who didst deign to be baptized in the Jordan, and thereby sanctified the waters. Bless us all who by the bowing of our heads do show forth our apprehension that we are Thy servants. Grant that we may be filled with Thy sanctification through the partaking and sprinkling of this water, and let it be for us, O Lord, for the health of soul and body.

For Thou art the sanctification of our souls and bodies, and to Thee we ascribe glory, thanksgiving, and worship, together with Thine eternal Father, and Thy most holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever: world without end.

CHOIR: Amen.

 The Priest shall now make the sign of the Cross over the water with the Precious Cross: then, holding the Cross upright in both hands [and a bouquet of basil], he shall plunge it into the water, and lift it from the water once again. As he does this, he shall sing the troparion of the Feast:

 

Tone 1

When Thou, O Lord, wast baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest. For the voice of the Father bore witness unto Thee, calling Thee the beloved Son, and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed His word as sure and steadfast. O Christ our God who hast appeared and enlightened the world, glory to Thee.

The priest shall then plunge the Cross a second and a third time in the water, doing as before. At each plunge the Choir shall repeat the  troparion. After this, the Priest shall fill a small vessel with the sanctified water and dipping the basil therein, he shall sprinkle the sanctuary and all the church singing the kontakion of the Feast.

Tone 4

Thou hast appeared today to the inhabited earth, and Thy light, O Lord, has been marked upon us, who with knowledge sing Thy praise: Thou hast come, Thou art made manifest, the Light that no man can approach.

Then the people shall approach and kiss the Cross, and the priest shall sprinkle water on the head of each one with the basil. Clergy and people shall also drink from the water, which has been blessed. All the while, the choir shall sing:

Tone 6

 

Ye faithful, let us praise the greatness of God’s dispensation towards us. For, becoming man on account of our trans­gression, He who alone is clean and undefiled was cleansed in the Jordan that we might be made clean, sanctifying us and the waters, and crushing the heads of the dragons in the water. Let us then draw water in gladness, O brethren: for upon those who draw with faith, the grace of the Spirit is invisibly bestowed by Christ the God and Saviour of our souls.

Then.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord...

PRIEST: Let us pray unto the Lord.

CHOIR: Kyrie eleison.

 

The Priest standing by the Holy Doors shall bless the people saying:

May the blessing and mercy of the Lord come upon you, by His divine grace and loving-kindness, always, now and for ever: world without end.

CHOIR: Amen.

PRIEST: Glory be to Thee, O our God, glory be to Thee.

 

 May He who deigned to be baptized in the Jordan by John, for our salvation, Christ our true God…