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Vespers on Sunday Evening, with the Rite of ForgivenessThere is no reading from the Psalter.
At ‘Lord, I have cried…’
Ten stichera are sung. The first four are drawn from the penitential stichera in the tone of the week, as on every Sunday evening up to the fifth week of Great Lent (found in the Triodion); and then these three stichera of the day:
Tone 2 (by Joseph)
Let us humble the flesh by abstinence:,
As we follow the divine path of pure fasting.
With prayers and tears let us seek the Lord who saves us.
Let us put an end to anger, crying out:
Save us who have sinned against Thee!
Save us, O Christ our King, as Thou didst save the men of Ninevah,
And make us partakers of Thy heavenly Kingdom, O compassionate One!
When I think of my deeds, O Lord,
I am filled with despair,
And know that I am worthy of every torment.
I have despised Thy commandments, O Saviour.
I have spent my life as a prodigal.
I pray to Thee, only merciful one:
Cleanse me by repentance,
Enlighten me through prayers and fasting,
And despise me not, most gracious Benefactor of all!
Let us begin the fast with joy!
Let us prepare ourselves for spiritual efforts!
Let us cleanse our soul and cleanse our flesh!
Let us abstain from every passion as we abstain from food!
Let us rejoice in virtues of the Spirit and fulfil them in love!
That we all may see the Passion of Christ our God,
And rejoice in spirit at the holy Pascha!
Then we sing three stichera to the saint of the day from the Menaion. Then:
Glory… Both now…
And the Theotokion from the Menaion.
The entrance is made with the censer, as on all Sunday evenings in Great Lent.
Great Prokeimenon, Tone 8
Turn not Thy face from Thy servant, for I am afflicted: / Hear me speedily, draw near unto my soul and deliver it!
Verse: Let Thy salvation, O God, uphold me.
Verse: Let the poor see and be glad!
Verse: Seek God and thy soul shall live!
Thy grace has shown forth, Lord,
The grace which illumines our soul.
This is the acceptable time!
This is the time of repentance!
Let us lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light,
That passing through the Fast as through a great sea
We may reach the Resurrection on the Third Day
Of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of our souls.
Verse: Unto Thee have I lifted up mine eyes…
Repeat: Thy grace has shown forth…
Verse: Have mercy on us, O Lord…
Thou art glorified
In the memory of Thy saints, O Christ God.
At their supplications, send down on us Thy great mercy!
Glory… Now and ever… The Theotokion in the same tone:
The angelic hosts glorify thee, O Mother of God,
For thou gavest birth to God,
Co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit,
Who created out of nothing the angelic hosts.
Beseech Him to deliver from corruption and to enlighten
The souls of those who rightly praise thee, all pure one!
After Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant…, the Trisagion, etc., and the conclusion of the Our Father, the following troparia are sung:
Hail, Virgin Theotokos, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb: for thou hast borne the Saviour of our souls.
O Baptist of Christ, be mindful of us all, that we may be delivered from our iniquities, for unto thee is given grace to pray for us.
Now and ever…
Pray for us, holy apostles and all saints, that we may be delivered from peril and afflictions: for ye are our fervent advocates before the Saviour.
Beneath thy tender mercy we take refuge, O Theotokos: despise not our supplications in our distress, but deliver us from peril. For thou alone art pure and alone blessed. (No prostration.)
Lord, have mercy. (forty times)
Glory… Now and ever… More honourable than the cherubim… In the Name of the Lord, Father give the blessing.
Priest: Blessed be He who Is…
Then we say:
O heavenly King, uphold our rulers, strengthen the faith, calm the nbations, give peace to the world. Protect this city; grant to our departed fathers and brethren that they may dwell with the righteous, and accept us in repentance and confession: for Thou art good and lovest mankind.
Then follows the Prayer of St Ephrem, once only, with the usual three prostrations.
Priest: Glory to Thee, O Christ our God and our hope, Glory to Thee. And the Dismissal.
The Rite of Mutual Forgiveness
A sermon may be preached before the rite begins. Then:
The priest stands beside the analogion and the faithful come up one by one and venerate the icon. After this, each makes a full prostration before the priest, saying: Forgive me, a sinner. The priest also makes a full prostration before each, saying the same words; then the other receives his blessing and kisses his hand. Meanwhile the choir sings quietly the irmoi of the Canon at Paschal Matins, or else the Paschal apostikha.
After receiving the priest’s blessing, the faithful also ask forgiveness of one another. When all have asked forgiveness and given it, the priest says: Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers…, and the service so ends.
This same order, excluding the Rite of Forgiveness, is used on each Sunday evening up to the fifth week of Great Lent.