This year, the Annunciation, which is traditionally celebrated 25 March / 7 April, fell on the Great Saturday. A reader of the Sretensky Theological Seminary, the reader Seraphim Alpatov, tells about the liturgical and other peculiarities of this day, connected with the fact that the Sabbath of Holy Week coincides with the great twelve-day holiday.
Annunciation. Fresco. Cyprus
The Annunciation is a twelve-day festival, that is, one of the largest church holidays. The greatness and significance of this holiday are amazing not only from the theological and historical points of view, but also from the liturgical side. The date of his celebration falls on the period of Lent, Passion Week and Easter. But, unlike other holidays, whose service, if the holiday falls on the period of Holy Week and Easter, is postponed to other days, the service of the Annunciation is combined with all these services, including Easter. Thus, the combination of Easter and Annunciation holidays is called Kyriopascha (Greek Κύριο Πάσχα - Lord's Passover).
This year the Annunciation falls on the Great Saturday - the eve of Easter. And, as it was said above, the service of the holiday is not postponed, but is combined with the services of Great Friday and Great Saturday. The color of the vestments during these services will not be black (as it should be in the last days of Holy Week) and not blue (as in the holidays dedicated to the Virgin), but purple.
The celebration of the Annunciation begins with Vespers, which takes place on a Great Friday afternoon. In this service, the stichera, dedicated to the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and the feast of the Annunciation on the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary from the Angel of the joyful message about the birth of the Son of God are sung. During the service, paremia (readings from the Holy Scriptures) are read, which contain directions and prophecies about the sufferings of Jesus Christ, as well as the prophecy of the Mother of God (the feast of the Annunciation). After the paremias, the Apostolic and Gospel readings are read, but only those that are laid on Good Friday, that is, the suffering, crucifixion and burial of our Lord Jesus Christ.
At the end of the evening the troparion of the Annunciation "The Day of Salvation for Our Headache" is sung, after which, when singing the troparion "The Gracious Joseph", the Holy Shroud is taken to the middle of the temple.
After this vespers, a small compliment with the canon "On the Crucifixion of the Lord and on the Weeping of the Most Holy Theotokos" of the creation of Simeon Logopheta is supposed. In practice, it is read immediately after the removal of the Shroud. After reading this amazing canon Vespers ends and everyone diverge, in order to gather again in the temple after a while.
In the evening on this day, the Matins of the Great Sabbath are performed, the chants of which also coincide with the hymns of the Annunciation. After the Six Psalms, the troparia of the Great Sabbath is sung "The Gracious Joseph", "When You Decreased to Death", "Myrrh-bearing Wives", and also the Troparion of the Annunciation.
Then the clergy and the choir in the middle of the temple in front of the Shroud perform the Immaculate, that is, the verses of the 17-kathisma with special amazing choruses about the burial of Christ, His descent into hell, the arrival of the Myrrh-bearers, and the coming Resurrection. Upon execution of the Immaculate, the Sunday troparia "Angel's Cathedral" is sung.
After that, for the celebration of the Annunciation, polyellas are performed (verses of special festive psalms) and the glorification of the Annunciation "Archangel's voice" is sung, and the Gospel of the feast of the Mother of God is also read ("Vostavshe Mariam").
In the churches will be performed two canons - the Annunciation and the Great Saturday
An integral part of matins is the canon. On this day in the churches will be performed two canons - the Annunciation and the Great Saturday. The peculiarity of the first canon is that in structure it resembles the conversation of the Virgin and the Angel. The second canon is filled with the deepest theological and dogmatic content about what happened at the moment of the reclining of Christ in the tomb.
After the great thanksgiving, the Shroud is kept around the temple singing "Holy God", and then a passage from the book of the prophet Ezekiel about the resurrection of the dead is read, as well as the Apostle and the Gospel of the Great Sabbath.
In the morning on Great Saturday regular hours are served, and after them Vespers with the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. At Vespers, the Sunday stichera, the Great Sabbath and the Annunciation are sung. After entering the Gospel, the 15 paremia of the Great Sabbath is read, during which the baptism of catechumens was performed in ancient times, that is, those who, for some time, were preparing to receive this sacrament. The apostolic readings on this service are two: the Great Sabbath and the Annunciation. After them, the clergy re-dressed in white robes.
After that, the gospel reads. One of them tells about the appearance of the Angel, and then of the Risen Christ to the Myrrh-bearers, about the bribery of the guard standing at the grave of the Lord and about the testament of Christ to the disciples to go preach to all nations. Another tells of the Annunciation of the Angel of the Virgin Mary in Nazareth.
Then the Liturgy of St Basil the Great continues.
Fish and oil (oil) are not blessed to be tasted, permission is given only to wine for the sake of the feast
As for the statute on the meal, the fish and oil (oil) are not blessed on this day, permission is given only to wine for the sake of the feast.
Thus, we can participate in wonderful services, which are the services of Holy Week and especially on Good Friday and Great Saturday, but this year these services are even more adorned with the hymns of the feast of the Annunciation.