22 - Feast of Pentecost
Albair Gamal Mikhail
December 29, 2003
The rite of the Feast of Pentecost (Descent of the Holy Spirit).
One of the Seven Major Feasts of the Lord is the descending of the Holy Spirit on the disciples, known as Pentecost Day (Fiftieth day). On this day, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples as tongues of fire, through which they were able to speak in different tongues and preach the news entrusted to them by our Lord Jesus Christ. This gift is the promise of the Father to the human race. After the Son reconciled the Father with the human race by giving Himself up as a sacrifice on the Holy Cross, and after giving our human body the capability of living with God through His Ascension, God the Father poured on us the grace and blessings of the Holy Spirit, allowing us to live by the Spirit with God while we’re still on earth. The feast is called “the Feast of Pentecost (Arabic: Ansara),” a Hebrew word that means, “feast.” Originally this day was a Jewish feast, which was one of their three major feasts: the festival of weeks, the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering at the turn of the year (cf. Ex. 34:22). On this day, the Jews thanked God for the ingathering, and they came from various countries around the world to Jerusalem for this feast (cf. Acts 2:5).
In the New Testament, the Church celebrates this day by commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples: “From heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (Acts. 2:2-4). In the Dioscolia (chapter 31), it is written: “After ten days from the Ascension, let there be a great feast, for on this day, in the third hour, our Lord Jesus Christ sent us the Paraclete, and we were filled with His gifts and spoke in new tongues.” Also, in the Canons, it is written: “Do not work on Pentecost day, for the Holy Spirit descended on the believers through Christ.” This day commemorates the institution of the Church and its true beginning, and it marks the beginning of the true service and the preaching of the Apostles and disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. For this reason, the day has a special place in the life and rites of the Church.
During the Vespers Raising of Incense, the Verses of the Cymbals specifically for the Feast of the Pentecost are chanted in a joyous tune. The Litany of the Departed is prayed, and then the Doxology for the Resurrection and the Doxology for the Pentecost are chanted with a joyful tune. The Psalm is then chanted in the minor joyful tune, which is followed by the Psalm Response of the feast. The Gospel is read and its Response is chanted in a joyful tune. In the conclusion, the Concluding Canon of the feast is chanted.
As for the Prime Raising of Incense, it begins as the Vespers Raising of Incense, but the Litanies of the Sick and the Offerings are prayed. Later on, after the priest finishes praying V] nai nan , the congregation responds with the major hymn of Kuri`e `eleycon three times. Then they chant the anthem “Ya kol el-sefof,” which is followed by a procession around the altar three times, the Church’s nave three times, and finally the altar once, while they chant the Procession hymns specifically for the Feast of the Pentecost. The prayers of the Prime Raising of Incense continues as in the rite of the Vespers Raising of Incense.
As for the Divine Liturgy of the Feast of the Pentecost, it begins with the Agpeya prayer of the Third Hour only, followed by the Gospel, but without praying the litanies. The Lamb is offered while the congregation chants Kuri`e `eleycon 41 times, then prays the Trisagion, and chants the Offering’s Alleluia hymn (Alle el-qorban) if there is enough time. The hymn of `Allyloui`a @ vai pe pi is chanted, and after the Absolution of the Servants the hymns of Tai soury and the Hiten are chanted as in the Feasts of the Resurrection and the Ascension. The Praxis Response of the Feast of the Pentecost is chanted, followed by the Praxis reading. Then the litanies of the Third Hour from the Agpeya are prayed in Coptic and/or Arabic, followed by the hymn of the descent of the Holy Spirit, Pi`pneuma . The Synexarium is not read, but the Trisagion hymn is chanted in a joyful tune in the same way as in the Feast of the Ascension. After the Litany of the Gospel, the Psalm is chanted in its major Sengary tune, followed by the Psalm Response. The reading of the Gospel is followed by its Response for the feast. The Divine Liturgy continues as in the joyful days with the addition of what is appropriate from the Adam Espasmos and Watos Espasmos. During communion, Psalm 150 is chanted in a joyful tune, which is followed by the hymn Acwmen . In the conclusion, the Concluding Canon of the Feast of the Pentecost is chanted.
May the blessings of this feast be with us all. Amen.
Mikhail, Deacon Albair Gamal, The Essentials in the Deacon’s Service, (Shobra, Egypt: Shikolani, 2002), p. 769, 770. Translated from Arabic by Bishoy K. R. Dawood, edited by John Sedrak and Mariam Wanis.