At Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, on the evening of February 1, we had a Vigil Service (Αγρυπνία) for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord Jesus to the Temple. This feast is celebrated 40 days after the Nativity. In Greek, the feast is known as Υπαπαντή. On the feast of the Presentation, we celebrate Christ being brought to the Temple at 40 days old. The Vigil included Great Vespers (Μέγας Εσπερινός), Lity with a procession of an icon of the feast, Artoclasia, a patristic reading from Saint Cyril of Alexandria for the feast, Orthros, and Divine Liturgy. The service spanned from 8PM until about 2:45 AM. It was an unforgettable experience for those of us who were there.
Technically-speaking, the feast of the Presentation is now over. The period of celebration actually extends to February 9. It’s never just “one day and that’s it” for big feasts of the Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, the following that I would like to share is, in my opinion, still very much a real treat and a wonderful blessing.
A good friend of mine, a fellow seminarian who wishes to remain anonymous, made a recording of the Megalynaria of the 9th Ode of the Orthros Canon. These Megalynaria are one of many reasons for the great beauty of the Orthros for this feast. It is a particular Orthros that is beloved by many. Orthros, in general, is full of beautiful hymns and prayers, filled with rich theology, and the Megalynaria for the Presentation are certainly quite the treasure.
The hymns you will hear are chanted in both Greek and English by students (including my friend) of Hellenic College and Holy Cross, both males and females, under the direction of our Byzantine chant professor and protopsaltis of Holy Cross Chapel, Dr. Grammenos Karanos. Bravo to all of them!
As my friend says, listening to this recording “will not have the same meaning or impact as it might on someone who was there or who would understand its place.” We nonethless do hope that listening to these hymns will be spiritually edifying and helpful to you all! Enjoy the link!