Beginning on Pascha, the Sunday of the Resurrection, and all during Bright Week, the services of the Orthodox Church are different.
The most noticeable change is that there is no kneeling and no prostrations – not until the feast of Pentecost, seven weeks after Pascha. We are standing together with Christ, who is risen.
The prayer to the Holy Spirit, “O Heavenly King”, said in almost every Orthodox prayer service, is not said from Paschal Matins until the Vespers service for Pentecost. Anywhere this prayer occurs it is omitted. Until Ascension Thursday, it is replaced by the Paschal troparion (Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life), sung three times. We are like the Apostles during this period, “waiting” for the Holy Spirit to come, and the absence of this prayer expresses our profound need and expectation of the Holy Spirit’s coming.
During Bright Week, the First, Third, Sixth and Ninth Hours, as well as Compline and the Midnight Office, are not read this week. Instead, we sing the Paschal Hours in place of each service. Many Orthodox Christians also sing the Paschal Hours at home in place of their daily prayer rule. In this way, we take a little rest from long prayers, but we do not neglect to give joyous thanks to God – so that we may fall into despondency and gluttony, as we feast all this week.
During the services of Matins and Vespers, the kathismata (Psalter readings) are omitted and certain other abbreviations are made – so that, as much as possible, almost nothing is read, but everything is sung.
During the Divine Liturgy, the changes are very noticeable.
First Antiphon, instead of Psalm 102
Second Antiphon, instead of Psalm 145
Third Antiphon, instead of the Beatitudes
The Entrance Hymn, instead of “Come, let us worship”
The Paschal Theotokion, instead of the Magnification”It is truly right to bless thee, O Theotokos”
- “Blessed be the name of the Lord,”
- “We have seen the true light,” and
- “Let our mouths be filled,”
we sing Christ is risen from the dead, one time each.
When the priest says: “The blessing of the Lord be upon you…” The Choir sings “Amen.” And then the priest sings: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death.” And the Choir responds: “And upon those in the tombs bestowing life.”