An Overview of the Major Hymns from the Theophany Vigil Service

One can understand much about a group through their music.  I vividly remember the music when I once visited a Kingdom Hall with some Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Many of their songs could be summed up as, “Jehovah’s mad and he’s gonna smite you unless you join our organization, cause this is the only safe place.  So, convert lots of people, or Jehovah’s gonna smite you!”  I was torn between bursting out laughing at how ridiculously obvious the Watchtower’s fearmongering is, or crying because I was surrounded by people who had swallowed this lie about God being a monster from Whom we need to be saved.

In Eastern Orthodoxy, our hymnography is also our theology.  In it, I am constantly finding songs that speak of the goodness of God, His love, and the significance of different biblical and historical events.  The songs essentially are the sermon, and many sermons can be derived from the songs.

Without further ado, here are several hymns from Theophany that explain the significance of Christ’s baptism and what that means to us (none of this was ever explained to me in my pre-Orthodox days).

Tropar of Theophany – Tone 1:

At Your baptism in the Jordan, O Lord, worship of the Trinity was revealed, for the Father’s voice bore witness to You, calling You His beloved Son and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of these words, O Christ God, Who appeared and enlightened the world – glory to You. (this hymn is repeated several times throughout the service)

Kondak of Theophany – Tone 4:

You have appeared today to the inhabited earth and Your Light, O Lord, has been marked upon us, who with knowledge sing Your praise. You have come, You are made manifest, the Light that no man can approach.

The Litija Verses – Bolharsky Tone 4:

He Who covers Himself with Light as with a garment has deigned for our sakes to become as we are. Today He is covered by the streams of the Jordan, though He has no need to be cleansed by them, but through the cleansing that He Himself receives, He bestows rebirth upon us. Without fire He casts anew, and without shattering, He refashions; and He saves those who are enlightened in Him, Christ our God the Savior of our souls.

John the Baptist saw You draw near, the one Who cleanses by Spirit and by fire the sins of the world, and he cried aloud in fear and trembling saying: I dare not touch your Immaculate Head. Instead, O Master, sanctify me by Your Theophany, O You Who alone loves mankind.

Christ is baptized He comes out of the waters, and carries up the world with Him. He sees the heavens opened that Adam has closed against himself and his descendants. The Spirit bears witness to the Divinity of Christ, for He hastens toward His creation; and a voice sounds from Heaven for it is from Heaven that He has come down to give testimony, and He is the Savior of our souls.

Samoholasen Tone 8:

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Today all creation is enlightened. Today all nature is glad, things of Heaven and things upon earth. Angels and men mingle with one another, for where the King is present there His army also goes. Let us run then to the Jordan. Let us all see how John baptizes a sinless and uncreated Head. Therefore let us cry aloud with one accord, echoing the voice of the Apostle: the grace of God that brings salvation to all men has appeared, shining upon the faithful and granting them great mercy.

The Aposticha – Samohlasen Tone 2:

Seeing You, O Christ our God, drawing near to Him in the river Jordan, John the Baptizer exclaimed: “Why do You, Who are without defilement come to Your servant, O Lord? In whose name shall I baptize You? Of the Father? But You bear Him in Yourself! Of the Son? But You are Yourself this Son made flesh! Of the Holy Spirit? You know that through Your own mouth You give Him to the faithful.” O God, Who has been manifested, glory to You.

CANTOR: The sea saw it and fled, Jordan was driven back.

ALL: The waters saw You, O God, and were afraid. For the cherubim cannot lift their eyes upon Your glory, nor can the seraphim gaze upon You. But standing by You in fear, the first carry You and the second glorify You. We proclaim with them, O merciful Lord: O God Who has appeared to the world, have mercy on us.

CANTOR: What ailed you, O sea, that you fled? O Jordan that you were driven back?

ALL: Today the Maker of heaven and earth comes to the Jordan in the flesh. For baptism the sinless One asks, that He might cleanse the world from the error of the enemy, He Who is the Master of all is baptized by a servant, and He gives mankind cleansing through water. Let us cry aloud unto Him: O God Who has appeared to the world glory to You.

Verse – Tone 6:

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Seeing the Sun that came forth from a Virgin, asking for baptism in the Jordan, the shining Lamb that was born of a barren woman, [John] cried to Him in fear and joy: Sanctify me, O Master, by Your divine Theophany.

St Simeon’s Prayer:

Now let Your servant, depart in peace, O Master, according to Your Word. For my eyes have seen Your Salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all people. The Light of revelation for the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.

The Great Blessing of Water – Stichera – Samohlasen Tone 8:

The voice of the Lord upon the waters cries aloud saying: “Come all of you, and receiving the spirit of wisdom, the spirit of understanding, the spirit of the fear of God, from Christ Who is made manifest.”

Today the nature of the water 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 our King, You have coming into the river as a man and in Your goodness You make haste to receive the baptism of a servant at the hands of the forerunner for the sake of our sins, O God Who loves mankind.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

At the voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” You have come, O Lord, taking the form of a servant, and You Who are sinless ask for baptism. The waters saw You 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 Savior Who takes away the sins of the world, sanctify both me and the waters.

Prokimen – Tone 3:

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear? Whom shall I fear?

Source: http://www.orthodoxroad.com/hymns-from-the-vigil-service-for-theophany/