GREAT BLESSING OF WATER

By Sophronios Patriarch of Jerusalem.

   

CHOIR

Mode pl. 4.

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters, crying out and saying, "Come all, and receive the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of the fear of God, yes, of Christ, who has come in His epiphany." (3) [SD]

Today the substance of water is made holy, for the Master is washed in the Jordan. When the River sees Him, it stops its flow and bursts forth. (2) [SD]

You have come to the River as a man, O Christ our King; and You urgently request to receive a Baptism befitting a servant, at the hands of the Forerunner, all because of our sins, O good Lord who loves humanity. (2) [SD]

Glory. Both now. Mode pl. 4.

When You had taken the form of a servant, O Lord, You approached John, the voice of the one crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord!" and You requested Baptism, although You were without sin. The waters saw You and were afraid. The Forerunner trembled in reaction, and he cried out and said, "How can I, who am the lamp, illumine You, who are the Light? How can I, the servant, lay my hand on You, my Master? I pray You sanctify me and the waters, O Savior, who takes away the sin of the world!" [SD]

The Readings

READER

The reading is from the Prophecy of Isaiah.

DEACON

Wisdom. Let us be attentive.

READER

Is 35:1-10

Thus says the Lord: Be glad, you thirsty desert, and rejoice exceedingly, and let the desert blossom as a lily. The desert places of the Jordan shall blossom abundantly and rejoice exceedingly. The glory of Lebanon and the honor of Carmel shall be given to it, and My people shall see the glory of the Lord and the majesty of our God. Be strong, you relaxed hands and feeble knees. Be comforted, you fainthearted. Be strong, do not fear. Behold, our God renders judgment and will render it. He will come and save us. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will speak clearly. For water shall burst forth in the desert, and a valley in the thirsty land. The waterless desert shall become meadows, and the thirsty land springs of water. There will be the gladness of birds, a habitation of reeds and marshes. A pure way shall be there, and it shall be called a holy way. No unclean man shall pass through there, neither shall there be an unclean way there. But those dispersed shall walk in it, and they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous animals go up on it, nor at all be found there. But the redeemed shall walk in it, and those gathered by the Lord shall return and come to Zion with gladness, and with everlasting gladness over their head. For praise and exceeding joy will be on their head, and gladness shall possess them. Pain, sorrow, and sighing fled away. [SAAS]

READER

The reading is from the Prophecy of Isaiah.

DEACON

Wisdom. Let us be attentive.

READER

Is 55:1-13

Thus says the Lord: “You who are thirsty, go to the water, and all who have no money, go and buy wine and fat, and eat and drink without money and price. Why do you value at the price of money, and give your toil for what does not satisfy? Listen to Me and eat good things, and your soul will delight in good things. Incline your ears and follow my ways. Listen to Me, and your soul shall live in good things; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, the holy and faithful things of David. Behold, I made him a witness among the Gentiles, a ruler and commander to the Gentiles. The Gentiles, which did not know you, shall call upon you, and the peoples who did not understand you shall take refuge in you, because of your God, the Holy One of Israel; for He glorified you.” Seek God, and when you find Him, call upon Him when He draws near to you. Let the ungodly man abandon his ways, and the lawless man his counsels; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; for He shall forgive your sins abundantly. “For My counsels are not as your counsels, neither are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “But as heaven is distant from earth, so is My way distant from your ways, and your thoughts from My mind. For as rain comes down, or snow from heaven, and does not return until it saturates the earth, and it brings forth and produces, and gives seed to the sower and bread for food, so shall My word be, whatever proceeds from My mouth. It shall not return until it accomplishes whatever I willed, and I shall prosper your ways and My commandments. For you shall go forth with gladness and shall be taught with joy, for the mountains and hills shall exult to receive you with joy; and all the trees of the field shall applaud with their branches. Instead of the broom-tree shall come up the cypress, and instead of the nettle shall come up the myrtle; and the Lord shall be for a name and for an everlasting sign, and He shall not fail.” [SAAS]

READER

The reading is from the Prophecy of Isaiah.

DEACON

Wisdom. Let us be attentive.

READER

Is 12:3-6

Thus says the Lord: You will draw water with gladness from the wells of salvation. In that day, you will say, “Praise the Lord; call upon His name. Declare His glorious things among the Gentiles and make mention that His name is exalted. Sing to the name of the Lord, for He has done great things. Declare this in all the earth. Exult and be glad, O inhabitants of Zion, for the Holy One of Israel is exalted in her midst.” [SAAS]

The Epistle

DEACON

Let us be attentive.

READER

Prokeimenon. Mode 3. Psalm 26.

The Lord is my light and my savior.

Verse: The Lord is the defender of my life. [SAAS]

DEACON

Wisdom.

READER

The reading is from Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians.

DEACON

Let us be attentive.

READER

1 Cor. 10:1-4

Brethren, I want you to know that our Fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. [RSV]

PRIEST

Peace be with you.

CHOIR

Alleluia. Grave Mode. Psalm 44.

Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Verse 1: My heart overflowed with a good word. [SAAS]

Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

Verse 2: You are more beautiful than the sons of men. [SAAS]

Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

DEACON

Wisdom. Arise. Let us hear the Holy Gospel.

PRIEST

Peace be with all.

( And with your spirit. )

DEACON

The reading is from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.

PRIEST

Let us be attentive.

( Glory to You, O Lord, glory to You. )

DEACON

Mk. 1:9-11

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when He came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." [RSV]

PRIEST

Peace be with you.

CHOIR

Glory to You, O Lord, glory to You.

DEACON

In peace, let us pray to the Lord.

( Lord, have mercy. )

For the peace from above and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.

For the peace of the whole world, for the stability of the holy churches of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.

For this holy house and for those who enter it with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.

For pious and Orthodox Christians, let us pray to the Lord.

For our Archbishop (Name), for the honorable presbyterate, for the diaconate in Christ, and for all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord.

For our country, for the president, and for all in public service, let us pray to the Lord.

For this city, and for every city and land, and for the faithful who live in them, let us pray to the Lord.

For favorable weather, for an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who travel by land, sea, and air, for the sick, the suffering, the captives and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord.

That this water might be hallowed by the might, and operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.

That there may descend upon these waters the cleansing operation of the super substantial Trinity; let us pray to the Lord.

That there may be sent down upon it the Grace of Redemption, the blessing of the Jordan; let us pray to the Lord.

That we may be illumined with the Light of Knowledge and Piety through the descent of the Holy Spirit; let us pray to the Lord.

That this water may become the gift of sanctification, redemption from sins, for the healing of soul and body, and for every suitable purpose, let us pray to the Lord.

That it may become water welling up to eternal life; let us pray to the Lord.

That this water may prove effectual for the averting of every plot of visible and invisible enemies; let us pray to the Lord.

For those who are sprinkled with it and take it for the blessing of homes; let us pray to the Lord.

That it may be for the purification of soul and body to all who with faith take and drink of it; let us pray to the Lord.

That we may be granted to be filled with sanctification through drinking this water, by the invisible manifestation of the Holy Spirit; let us pray to the Lord.

That the Lord God may listen to the voice of the prayer of us sinners and have mercy on us; let us pray to the Lord.

For our deliverance from all affliction, wrath, danger, and necessity, let us pray to the Lord.

Help us, save us, have mercy on us, and protect us, O God, by Your grace.

Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God.

( To You, O Lord. )

The priest prays inaudibly.

Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son in the bosom of the Father, true God, Source of life and immortality, Light of Light: as You came into the world to enlighten it, illumine our minds with Your Holy Spirit, and accept us as we offer You glory and thanksgiving for Your wonderful, mighty works from all ages, and for Your saving dispensation in these latter times, when You clothed Yourself in our weak and poor substance and condescended to the place of a servant. You are the King of all, yet You condescended to be baptized in Jordan at the hands of a servant, that having sanctified the nature of water, sinless One, You might lead us to a new birth through water and the Spirit and restore us again to our first freedom. We celebrate the memory of this divine mystery and pray You, Lord and Lover of mankind: According to Your divine promise, sprinkle cleansing water upon us, Your unworthy servants, as a gift of Your compassion. May the supplications of us sinners over this water be well pleasing to Your goodness and may Your blessing through it be bestowed upon us and all Your faithful people, to the glory of Your holy and adorable name. For to You, together with Your Father Who is without beginning and Your all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, belong all glory, honor and worship, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen. [OCA]

Having said the Amen to himself, when the Deacon has finished the Litany, the Priest begins the following Prayer in a loud voice:

By Sophronios Patriarch of Jerusalem.

PRIEST

O Trinity supreme in being, in goodness, and in Godhead, almighty, who watch 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 Your unworthy servant. Enlighten the eyes of my understanding that I may make bold to sing the praises of Your measureless beneficence and Your might. May the prayer be acceptable that I offer for the people here present. Let not my faults hinder Your Holy Spirit from coming to this place, but suffer me now uncondemned to cry to You, O most good Lord, and to say: We glorify You, O Master who love mankind, almighty, pre-eternal King. We glorify You, the Creator and Maker of all. We glorify You, O Only-begotten Son of God, born without father from Your Mother, and without mother from Your Father. In the preceding feast we saw You as a child, while in the present we behold You 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 splendor 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 You, O God, the waters saw You 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 You. 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, marveling 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 Your wonders and, seized with fear, in compunction I cry aloud to You: [GOASD]

After completing this, he says in a louder voice,

You are great, Lord, and wonderful are Your works, and no word suffices to hymn your wonders! (3) [OCA]

( Glory to You, O Lord, glory to You. )

For by Your own will, You have brought all things into being from nothing; by Your might You sustain all creation and by Your providence You direct the world. You have fittingly framed creation out of four elements; You crowned the circle of the year with four seasons. All the reason-endowed powers tremble before You. The sun sings Your praises and the moon glorifies You. The stars intercede with You. The light obeys You. The deeps shudder before You. The water springs serve You. You have spread out the heavens like a curtain. You have established the earth upon the waters. With sand you have walled in the sea. You have poured forth air for breathing. The angelic powers minister to You. The choirs of archangels worship You. The many-eyed cherubim and the six-winged seraphim as they stand round about and fly, cover themselves in fear before Your unapproachable glory. For You are the unoriginate, uncircumscribed and ineffable God, Who came down upon earth, taking the form of a servant and being made in the likeness of men. For You could not endure, Master, in Your tender mercy, to see the human race under the tyranny of the devil, but You came and saved us. We confess Your grace; we proclaim Your mercy; we do not conceal Your bountiful compassion. You have set free the offspring of our human nature; by Your birth You sanctified a virgin’s womb. All creation sings praises to You, for You have revealed Yourself. You appeared on earth, our God, and dwelt among men. You sanctified the streams of Jordan, sending down from heaven Your all-holy Spirit, and crushing the heads of the serpents that lurked there. [OCA]

Therefore, O King, the Lover of mankind, be present even now through the descent of Your Holy Spirit, and sanctify this water. (3) [OCA]

( Amen. )

And give it the grace of redemption, the blessing of Jordan. Make it a fountain of incorruption, a gift of sanctification for the remission of sins, a protection against disease, the destruction of demons, inaccessible to hostile powers, filled with angelic might. May it be to all those who draw from it and partake of it for the cleansing of their souls and bodies, for the healing of their passions, for the sanctification of their homes and for every good purpose. For You are our God, Who through water and the Spirit, has renewed our nature, grown corrupt in sin. You are our God, Who with water drowned sin in the days of Noah. You are our God, Who by the sea through Moses, set free from slavery to Pharaoh the Hebrew race. You are our God, Who cleaved the rock in the wilderness so that water gushed forth and streams overflowed and satisfied Your thirsty people. You are our God, Who by water and fire through Elijah, brought Israel back from the error of Baal. [OCA]

Master, even now, sanctify this water by Your Holy Spirit. (3) [OCA]

( Amen. )

Grant to all who touch it, anoint themselves with it and partake of it, sanctification, blessing, cleansing and health. [OCA]

And save, Lord, our faithful rulers. (3) [OCA]

and keep them in peace beneath Your protection. Subdue under them every enemy and adversary; grant all their petitions which are unto salvation and life eternal. Remember, Lord, our Archbishop (name), all the priests, deacons and clergy, all in the monastic order and all Your people here present, together with our brethren who are absent for a just cause, and have mercy on them and on us, according to Your great mercy. That by the elements, by the angels and by men, by things visible and invisible, Your all-holy name may be glorified, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. [OCA]

( Amen. )

Peace be with all.

( And with your spirit. )

Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

( To You, O Lord. )

Lord, as You condescended to be baptized in the Jordan, sanctifying the waters, incline Your ear and listen to us, Lord. Bless us all who by the bowing of our necks signify our servitude and make us worthy to be filled with Your sanctification through partaking of this water and by being sprinkled with it. And may be for us, Lord, health of our souls and bodies. [OCA]

Exclamation.

For You are the sanctification of our souls and bodies, and to You we send up glory, thanksgiving and worship, with Your Father Who is without beginning and Your all-holy, good and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. [OCA]

( Amen. )

And then blessing the water, making the sign of the cross, the priest plunges the Cross into the water and lifts it again, holding it with both hands. He begins the troparion, which is either taken up, or repeated by the choir the three times the Cross is dipped.

PRIEST

Apolytikion. Mode 1.

As You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, then the worship of the Trinity became manifest, for the voice of the Father bore witness to You, naming You the Beloved Son; and the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ God, who appeared and illumined the world, glory to You. [SD]

CHOIR

As You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, then the worship of the Trinity became manifest, for the voice of the Father bore witness to You, naming You the Beloved Son; and the Spirit, in the form of a dove, confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ God, who appeared and illumined the world, glory to You. (2)

And he sprinkles all the People with the water.

On January 5.

Kontakion. For the Forefeast.

Mode 4. You appeared today.

To the flowing streams today * of River Jordan * comes the Lord and cries aloud * to John the Baptist, and He says, * "Be not afraid to baptize me now; * for I have come to save Adam, the first-formed man." [SD]

On January 6.

Kontakion. For the Feast.

Mode 4. Automelon.

You appeared today to us * on earth, O Master, * and Your light was signed on us * who cry aloud to You and say * with understanding, O Christ our God: You came and shone forth, O Light unapproachable. [SD]

The following Idiomelon is sung:

CHOIR

Mode pl. 2.

Let us the faithful extol the greatness of God's benevolent deeds concerning us. For He became man in our transgression; and now in the Jordan, He who alone is clean and undefiled is cleansed in the cleansing that is meant for us; and He sanctifies me and the waters, and on the water He crushes the heads of the dragons. Therefore, brethren, let us draw water with gladness. For to those who draw with faith, the grace of the Spirit is invisibly given by Christ, our God and the Savior of our souls. [SD]

And the Liturgy concludes in the usual way.

PRIEST

May He who condescended to be baptized by John in the Jordan, for our salvation, Christ our true God, through the intercessions of His all-pure and all-immaculate holy Mother, the power of the precious and life-giving Cross, the protection of the honorable, bodiless powers of heaven, the supplications of the honorable, glorious prophet and forerunner John the Baptist, of the holy, glorious, and praiseworthy apostles, of the holy, glorious, and triumphant martyrs, of our righteous and God-bearing fathers, (local patron saint); of the holy and righteous ancestors of God Joachim and Anna, and of all the saints, have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and loves mankind.

Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us [and save us].

( Amen. )