Feast of the Nativity

Introduction

The Feast of the Nativity is the feast of the whole of humanity. It is the feast by which the human nature is transformed. We had sinned in this nature, and so God rejected it; but what we lost as a result of sin was transformed in this Feast to a nature that can stand once more in the presence of God. For God the Logos took flesh from the Virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit, and united Himself with this flesh hypostatically, a union which cannot even be separated by death. That is, He became one with our nature, “He took what is ours, and gave us what is His,” as we chant in the Friday Theotokia. God the Logos assumed the whole human nature, save for sin only – He assumed it, united with it, and became one with it. There is no love greater than this, and there is no joy for the whole of humanity greater than the joy we have on this day. God the Logos wore the body of our human nature, to give us a glory greater than that of the angels. By this body, the Lord of Glory was crucified and died for us, and He rose again from the dead, thus fulfilling our salvation. We who were sentenced to die because of our sins now have salvation. How great is the joy of humanity on this day, when God transformed us from slaves to sons of God by adoption. This son-ship gave us the image of Christ, our heavenly father, and we need to be zealous in maintaining this holy image. The unity of the divinity of the Logos with the humanity is an eternal unity, through which we are assured of being in the presence of God forever. Our nature will not fall away from the face of God once again.

Rite

The order of the prayers of the glorious Feast of the Nativity is as follows: During the Vespers, the incense is offered as usual, but the Verses of the Cymbals and the Doxologies, as well as the Psalm and Gospel Responses, specific to the Feast of the Nativity, are chanted. The prayer ends with the Concluding Canon of the glorious Feast of the Nativity.

During the Prime Raising of Incense, after the Thanksgiving Prayer, the verses of Tenouwst are chanted from the Adam Morning Doxology, followed by the Verses of the Cymbals for the Feast of the Nativity. Then, the priest prays the Litany of the Sick, and after that he does not do a procession. The cantors then chant the “Seven Ways,” a hymn consisting the verses of the Adam Morning Doxology, starting from the verse Pioini Entaevmi to the end of the verse of Khen Hanepsalmos . The rest of the Doxologies are chanted in its regular, recitative tune. Then the Conclusion of the Adam Theotokia, Neknai o Panoti , is chanted, and it is concluded by the hymn Epouro. After that, the priest prays the Litany of the Oblations, and does a procession with the censor. The cantors chant the Nativity Doxologies in a joyful tune, followed by the Prime songs of the Feast of the Nativity, and then the Conclusion of the Doxologies. When the priest finishes praying Efnoti Nai Nan , the congregation chants Kieralayson three times in the melismatic tune. The priest then prays the Litany of the Gospel, and the Gospel Response specific to the Feast of the Nativity is chanted. At the close of the prayer, the Concluding Canon of the glorious Feast of the Nativity is chanted.

As for the Divine Liturgy of the glorious Feast of the Nativity, the Psalms are not prayed, and during the Offering of the Lamb the congregation chants the Offeringís Alleluia hymn (Alle el-korban). The hymn Alleluia Fai Pe Pi is chanted; after the absolution, tai shori is chanted; and in the Hitens the verse specific to the feast is chanted before the verse of the Apostles. The Pauline epistle is read in a joyful tune. The Praxis Response of the Feast of the Nativity is chanted, the Synaxarium is read, and then the hymn Eparthenos is chanted, followed by the hymn Piginmici . Following this, the hymn Genethleon chanted. This hymn was found by the Churches Society (Nahdet el-Kanaíes) in a manuscript dating from the year 1519 A.M. – the equivalent of the year 1803 A.D. Then, the hymn Apenchoice is chanted, followed by the Trisagion, which is chanted in a joyful tune, and in all three verses the words O Ekpartheno Genetis are said. The priest prays the Litany of the Gospel, and then the Psalm is chanted in the major Singary tune, and the Psalm is Response of the Feast of the Nativity is chanted. The Gospel is read, and then the Gospel Response of the Feast of the Nativity is chanted. Whatever is appropriate from the Adam Espasmos and Watos Espasmos is chanted, and during the Fraction, the Fraction of the Nativity is prayed. During communion, Psalm 150 is chanted in a joyful tune, and the prayer is concluded by the Concluding Canon of the glorious Feast of the Nativity.

As for the period between 30 Kiahk and 5 Tobe, its order is as follows: The rite of the Vespers and Prime Raising of Incense follows the same order as the Raising of Incense for the glorious Feast of the Nativity. As for the rite of the Divine Liturgy: the Lamb is offered as usual after the Agpeya prayers; the hymn Alleluia Fai Pe Pi is chanted; after the absolution, Taishori is chanted; and in the Hiten the verse for the Feast of the Nativity is added. The Praxis Response of the glorious Feast of the Nativity is chanted; the Trisagion is chanted in a joyful tune; and the Divine Liturgy continues in the same way as during the glorious Feast of the Nativity, except that the Psalm is not chanted in the major Singary tune, but in the minor joyful tune.

May the blessings of the glorious Feast of the Nativity be with us all. Amen.

Source

Mikhail, Deacon Albair Gamal, The Essentials in the Deacon’s Service, (Shobra, Egypt: Shikolani, 2002), p. 254, 255. Translated from Arabic by Bishoy K. R. Dawood, edited by Mena Rizkalla.

Extracted from http://www.copticheritage.org

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