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Choral Corner #21: Why are the services a bit different for 40 days after Pascha?

Most great feasts are followed by a short festal period, during which time the rubrics prescribe certain hymns of that feast to be repeated in various services. The final day of this period is called the leavetaking, or apodosis, of the feast; on the apodosis, most of the festal hymns are used for the last time in the given liturgical year. The length of the festal period varies; the apodosis of the Annunciation occurs on the day after the feast, while the apodosis of Christmas falls on December 31st, six days after the feast itself. As Pascha is the feast of feasts, its festal period lasts for 40 days, with the Feast of the Ascension taking place on the day after the apodosis.


Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of the Paschaltide services is the frequent singing of the Troparion of Pascha: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life. This hymn replaces some other material normally sung at the beginning and end of services, as the joy of the Resurrection supersedes everything else. Another distinctive element is the singing of the Paschal Megalynarion*, “The angel cried to the Lady full of grace”, during the Divine Liturgy, in place of “It is truly meet”. This beloved hymn first appears at the end of Ode 9 of the Canon of Pascha, directly before the choir repeats the 9th Irmos (“Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem”). At St. Mark’s, we also traditionally sing the Paschal Stichera (“Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered,”) during Clergy Communion, although this is not mandated by the rubrics.


NOTES

* The term "megalynarion" has two meanings. It can refer to the Magnification (Slav. "velichanie") sung at Festal Matins after the Polyeleos. However, the epiphons+ before each troparion of the 9th Ode of a Canon are also called "megalynaria" when they are in honor of the Mother of God. The famous Paschal Megalynarion is the final epiphon of the Canon of Pascha, and it is seamlessly combined with the katavasia (reprise) of the 9th Irmos ("Shine, shine, O new Jerusalem...").


+An epiphon is a verse chanted before a troparion; a hypophon is chanted after one.

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