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The rite of the Feast of the Annunciation (29 Paremhotep).
The Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated on the 29th of Paremhotep, commemorating the divine announcement of the Archangel Gabriel to St. Mary regarding the birth of the King of kings and Lord of lords. This feast is the oldest of the Seven Major Feasts of the Lord in the Church, and is considered to be of great importance since it is through the Archangel’s message that St. Mary received news of the salvation of the world and the release from the bondage of Satan, where Adam and his descendants had been trapped. The Holy Bible accounts the events of the Annunciation as follows:
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’
But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’
Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God’” (Luke 1: 26-35).
He then offered to her proof that his message was indeed true by informing her that Elizabeth was pregnant with a son in her old age.
The Rite of this feast is prayed in the joyous tune.In the Vespers and Prime Offering of Incense, the verses of cymbals and doxolgy specific to the feast are chanted in the joyous tune, and so is the Psalm, Psalm Response, Gospel response and the concluding canon. During the Divine Liturgy, specifically in the Hitenis, the stanza for Archangel Gabriel is chanted. The Praxis response of the feast is also chanted and the Psalm is chanted in the Singari tune, followed by the Psalm response. After the sermon, the Gospel response is chanted. During the Liturgy of the Faithful, the Adam and Watos Aspasmos specific to the feast are chanted and the fraction of the Major Feasts of the Lord is prayed. During communion, Psalm 150 is chanted in the joyous tune with the addition of the stanza specific to the feast and the feast’s concluding canon is chanted.
It is important to note that if the feast falls in the period between the Last Friday of the Great lent to the 2nd day of Resurrection, then it is not celebrated but prayer is held in accordance to the rite of that day. The reason behind this is that the days that fall within this time period (Last Friday of the Great lent to the 2nd day of Resurrection) are not repeated throughout the year whereas the Feast of Annunciation is celebrated on the 29th of every Coptic month, with the exception of the months of Tobe and Meshir.
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. 416. Translated from Arabic by Mina Barsoum, edited by Alexander A-Malek and Ragy Sharkawy.