The Song of Salvation: Christ our Pascha


 Resurrection Orthodox icon

This past Sunday the Eastern Orthodox celebrated Pascha (Easter), the culmination of our journey through Great Lent & Holy Week. Throughout all of this I have tried to emphasize in the first four parts of The Song of Salvation* the Orthodox instinct to communicate this journey through the mode of praise & hymns of asceticism, through the mode of praise & hymns of the writings & lives of the Saints, through the mode of praise & hymns of the doctrines of the Church & through the mode of praise & hymns of worship of God. Our journey of salvation is nothing other than the song of our salvation.

Many religious traditions express themselves through praise & hymns as the result of their faith beliefs, but I have found that only Orthodoxy incorporates praise & hymns throughout the entirety of our Faith. For Orthodoxy, hymnology is neither an unimportant nor unnecessary aspect of Faith, nor is hymnology purely a quaint emotional result of Faith. If hymnology was, then there would not be, nor could there be, true Faith. Rather than being Orthodox, Faith would be merely orthodox in which great debates ensue as to what is &/or is not orthodox as is common among the heterodox. Without hymnology Faith, for lack of a better word, ceases.

Hymns express doctrines of Faith, not legalistic laws. Hymns express examples both good & bad from Faith, not standards of appropriate/inappropriate behavior. Hymns express worship in Faith, not rites & rituals. Hymns express theology as Faith, not logical or philosophical systems. Hymns work to keep our Faith mystical, expressing that which is otherwise inexplicable. Hymns keep Faith in the heart while mere spoken words relegate Faith to the mind where the dangers of excessive logic & rationalism exist which reduce Faith to mere system. Hymns succeed via musical tones in expressing that in which mere spoken words fail. One cannot have Faith in Christ without the experience of Faith in Christ through hymns. Hymns express not only the Faith in the heart, but also the totality of the Faith—Christ our Pascha—The Song of Salvation.

icon pascha close-up Christ AdamPascha too is expressed through the depths of hymnology. Through hymnology we experience Pascha, Christ. We experience the risen Christ as our eternal joy in Ode 1. In Ode 3 we are crucified, buried & resurrected with Christ who has established & renewed not only all of mankind, but all of creation as well. Ode 4 unites us of the New Testament to the prophet Habakkuk & King David as well as all of those in the Old Testament as its types & shadows are fulfilled & transcended through Christ our Passover who is now our food & sacrifice. Ode 5 unites us to even the angels & all who feast on the bridegroom who shows forth His saving light from the utter darkness of His grave. We, as Adam’s race, experience the rising from the depths of the grave & elevation unto the very gates of Paradise that have now been opened to us once again in Ode 6. We travel in sadness with the myrrh-bearing women to the tomb to finish anointing the Lord’s mortal body, but with joy we find ourselves returning to the apostles to proclaim the mystic Passover of Christ’s resurrection in Ode 7. Through Ode 8 we experience divine light & hymn our baptism into the Holy Trinity—Father, Word & Spirit—in this Feast of Feasts which is our divine joy. Ode 9 completes our journey of salvation, our song of salvation, begun long ago with Great Lent as we become partakers of the divine nature of the great & most sacred Pascha—Christ—Wisdom & Word & Power of God.

Paschal Troparion:

Christ Is Risen From The Dead,

Trampling Down Death By Death,

& Upon Those In The Tombs Bestowing Life!

Below is the Canon of Pascha written by St. John Damascene (645-749 AD). Various parts of the Canon can be heard in a variety of languages at:

Paschal Canon – different languages and melodies

The timeless & eternal beauty of Pascha, the song of salvation, shines brilliantly regardless of the ability to understand the native language in which it may be sung.


ODE 1—Irmos:

icon st john of damascusThe day of Resurrection, let us be radiant, O peoples! Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha; for Christ God has brought us over from death to life, & from earth to heaven, as we sing the triumphal song. Let us purify our senses, & in the unapproachable light of the resurrection we shall see Christ shining forth, & we shall clearly hear him saying ‘Rejoice!’, as we sing the triumphal song. Let the heavens, as is fitting, rejoice & let the earth be glad. Let the whole world, both seen & unseen, keep the feast: for Christ has risen, our eternal joy.

ODE 3—Irmos:

Come let us drink a new drink, not one marvelously brought forth from a barren rock, but a Source of incorruption, which pours out from the tomb of Christ, in whom we are established. Now all things have been filled with light, both heaven & earth & those beneath the earth; so let all creation sing Christ’s rising, in whom it is established. Yesterday I was buried with you, O Christ; today I rise with you as you arise. Yesterday I was crucified with you; glorify me with you, Savior, in your Kingdom.

ODE 4—Irmos:

Let the Prophet Avvakoum (Habakkuk), inspired by God, keep the divine watch with us, & show forth the radiant Angel, who with resounding voice declares, ‘Today is salvation for the world, for Christ has risen as omnipotent’. Christ appeared as a ‘male’ who opened the virgin womb. As our food he is called ‘lamb’; ‘unblemished’, as our Passover without stain; & ‘perfect’, for he is true God. As a yearling lamb, for us a crown of goodness, the Blessed One, the cleansing Passover has been willingly sacrificed for all; & from the tomb the fair Sun of Justice has shone for us again.  God’s forebear David, dancing, leaped before the Ark, mere shadow, but seeing the fulfillment of the types, let us, God’s holy people, inspired, rejoice, for Christ has risen as omnipotent.

ODE 5—Irmos:

Let us arise in the early dawn, & instead of myrrh, offer praises to the Master; & we shall see Christ, the Sun of Justice, who causes life to dawn for all. Those who were held by Hades’ bonds, seeing your measureless compassion, press forward to the light, O Christ, with joyful steps, praising an eternal Passover. With torches in our hands let us go out to meet Christ as he comes from the grave like a bridegroom, & with the festive ranks of Angels, let us together feast God’s saving Passover.

ODE 6—Irmos:

You went down to the deepest parts of the earth, & you shattered the everlasting bars of those that those that were fettered, O Christ. And on the third day, like Jonas from the whale, you arose from the tomb. Keeping the seals intact, O Christ, you rose from the tomb, you who did not harm the locks of the Virgin’s womb at your birth, & you have opened to us the gates of Paradise. O my Savior, the living Victim unsuitable for sacrifice, as God offering Yourself willingly to the Father, You raised with Yourself all Adam’s race, in rising from the tomb.

ODE 7—Irmos:

He who delivered the Young Men from the furnace, becoming man suffers as a mortal, & through suffering he clothes the mortal with the glory of incorruption: the only blessed & most glorious God of our Fathers. The holy women hastened after you with sweet spices. The One whom they sought with tears as a mortal, they worshipped with joy as the living God, & they proclaimed the mystic Passover, O Christ, to your disciples. We feast death’s slaughter, the overthrow of Hell, the first fruits of a new eternal life: & dancing we hymn the cause: the only blessed & most glorious God of our Fathers. How truly holy & all-festive is this saving night, how full of light, herald of the bright day of the resurrection, in which the timeless Light shone bodily for all from the tomb.

ODE 8—Irmos:

This chosen & holy day is the first of Sabbaths, the Queen & Lady, the Feast of Feasts & the Festival of Festivals on which we bless Christ to all the ages. Come let us share in the new fruit of the vine, in divine joy, & in the kingdom of Christ, on the glorious day of the Resurrection, as we sing his praise as God to all the ages. Lift your eyes around you, Sion, & see. For behold, like beacons shedding light divine your children have come to you, from West & North, from the Sea & from the East, blessing Christ in you to all the ages. Almighty Father, Word & Spirit, nature united in three Persons, beyond all being & beyond all Godhead, into you we have been baptized & we bless you to
all the ages.

ODE 9—Irmos:

Enlightened, be enlightened, O New Jerusalem, for the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Dance now & be glad, O Sion, & you too rejoice, pure Mother of God, at the arising of him to whom you gave birth. O divine! O beloved! O sweetest voice! You have truly promised that you will be with us unto the end of time, O Christ. And we the faithful rejoice, having this as an anchor of hope. O great & most sacred Pascha, Christ! O Wisdom & Word & Power of God! Grant that we may partake of you fully in the day that has no evening of your Kingdom.

Paschal Troparion:

Christ Is Risen From The Dead,

Trampling Down Death By Death,

& Upon Those In The Tombs Bestowing Life!

 icon the-resurrection



*The Song of Salvation (1):

*The Song of Salvation (2):

*The Song of Salvation (3):

*The Song of Salvation (4):

One comment

  1. […] Everywhere Present Filling All Things […]

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