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Choral Corner #10: "Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ" after Holy Communion — why?

At our parish approximately one year ago, we began singing "Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ" and "Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem" immediately after Holy Communion. Most of the faithful, myself included, were new to this practice, and I'm sure some folks were thinking to themselves, "Is the choir playing fast and loose with the rubrics?" Well, no. The reasons for this are actually fascinating, so let's explore a bit.

"Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ" is a hymn sung before Ode 7 of the Paschal Matins Canon (after the Kontakion and Ikos); it is also sung after the Gospel during Resurrection (Sunday) Matins when there is a Vigil. "Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem" is the 9th Irmos of the same Canon. Furthermore, in the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great, these texts form part of the deacon's prayers after Holy Communion, which is why at some parishes, including ours, the choir sings them at this point.

From a practical perspective, singing these hymns gives the clergy and altar servers a few extra moments to carry about the flurry of (mostly hidden) activity occurring inside the altar. This is critical, because the unconsumed Eucharist and the Eucharistic vessels must always be handled carefully and without rushing, lest accidents occur.

It's important to know that while neither St. John Chrysostom nor St. Basil the Great dictated that the choir must sing these hymns during this time, it is not a capricious choice. Rather, it is a liturgically and theologically appropriate, organic accommodation that helps those in the altar perform their duties reverently and in good order.

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