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Rite of the Feast of Palm Sunday, including the rite of the Prayer of the General Funeral.
Palm Sunday is one of the Major Feasts of our Lord, and it is the day on which the Lord Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem as a King, riding on a donkey and a colt, the foal of a donkey. Accordingly, the crowds with palm and olive branches, who joyfully chanted “Hosanna, Son of David”, greeted Him. “Hosanna” is an Aramaic word meaning “save us”. At the time, the Jews expected an earthly king to come and save them from the Roman occupation, and thought that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah of their expectations. When they realized that this was not His intention, and that He had come to save them from the bondage of Satan, they cried out to Pilate saying “Crucify Him, Crucify Him! His blood be on us and our children.” Zechariah the Prophet prophesized about this great event saying: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey and a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
On this day also, the Lord Christ entered the Temple, driving away the merchants and overturning the tables of the moneychangers. This was clearly a sign of His anger towards using religion as a means of trade. He also overturned the seats of those who sold doves, casting them out of the Temple. Again, this was also a clear sign of His disapproval towards selling and devaluing the gifts of the Holy Spirit, since the doves symbolize the gifts of the Holy Spirit. As for the Lord’s anger and the whip of cords He used, they foretold of the severity of how Satan and his followers who refused Christ as Lord and God would be judged on Judgment Day.
It is also worth noting that the Arabic word of “Sha’aneen”, commonly associated with this day, comes from the Hebrew word “Hosanna”. It is through the Incarnation and Salvation of our Lord that we are saved, and therefore we chant “Hosanna”, that is to say, “Save us”.
Rite of Palm Sunday
The Rite of Palm Sunday is chanted in the Sha’aneen and joyous tunes. In the Vespers Raising of Incense, the Verses of the Cymbals are chanted in the joyous tune, directly followed by the doxologies in the Sha’aneen tune. After V] nai nan , the congregation chants Kur`ie `eleycon three times. Meanwhile, the deacons proceed around the altar three times behind a large wooden cross, adorned with flowers. The procession continues three times around the church’s nave, and is concluded by one final procession around the altar. After this, the hymn Eulogimenoc is chanted either in the melismatic or minor tune, followed by the Sha’aneen Exposition, its translation, and the Exposition Response. The Litany of the Gospel is then read, followed by the Psalm in the joyous tune, the Psalm Response, the reading of the Gospel, and finally the Gospel Response. In the conclusion of the prayer, the Concluding Canon Rasi ounof Ciwn is chanted.
The Prime Raising of Incense follows the same order. Following V] nai nan , the congregation chants Kur`ie `eleycon three times, in which the deacons proceed around the altar and the church in the same manner as in the Vespers Raising of Incense. The hymn, Eulogimenoc is then chanted in either the melismatic or minor tune, followed by the Sha’aneen Exposition, its translation, and the Exposition Response. After this, the Litany of the first Gospel is chanted. The rest of the Gospel readings for the Sha’aneen procession are read with their twelve Responses. The Litany of the Prime Gospel is then chanted, and the prayers are concluded in the same manner as the Vespers Raising of Incense.
In the Divine Liturgy of Palm Sunday, the Agpeya psalms of the Third and Sixth Hours are prayed. The Praxis Response and the hymn, Eulogimenoc are chanted after the Praxis reading. This is followed by the Mohayer verses of Vyethemci . The Synexarium is not read on this day, rather, the hymn of the Trisagion is chanted immediately. Following this, the Litany of the Gospel is prayed, followed by the reading of the Psalm in the Sengary melismatic or minor tune. The Psalm Response, the Gospel reading, and the Gospel Response are said. The Fraction of Palm Sunday is read on this day, and during the Holy Communion, Psalm 150 is chanted in the joyous tune along with the appropriate response specific to Palm Sunday. In the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, the priest dismisses the Angel of the Sacrifice, however, he does not dismiss the congregation. Rather, he shuts the veil of the Sanctuary, and proceeds immediately with the Prayer of the General Funeral.
Rite of the Prayer of the General Funeral
The Prayer of the General Funeral begins with the reading of the prophecies, followed by the Pauline in the mournful tune. The Trisagion is then chanted in the mournful tune, and in all three times `o `ctaurw;ic di`ymac `eleycon `ymac is said in substitution for the regular annual response. The priest then says the Litany of the Gospel, followed by the reading of the Psalm in the Attriby tune, and then the reading of the Gospel in the mournful tune. After this, the priest prays the three major litanies (the Peace, Fathers, and Congregations), followed by the Orthodox Creed, the Litany of the Departed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the three Absolutions. The priest then raises the cross while chanting, V] nai nan in the mournful tune. The congregation replies with Kur`ie `eleycon twelve times, followed by the hymn `Pouro , both of them in the mournful tune. Following each verse in `Pouro , Kur`ie `eleycon is chanted six times. In the conclusion of the prayer, the Concluding Canon is chanted in the same manner as in Passion (Pascha) Week.
May the blessings of this blessed feast be with us all. Amen.
Mikhail, Deacon Albair Gamal, The Essentials in the Deacon’s Service, (Shobra, Egypt: Shikolani, 2002), p. 355 – 357. Translated from Arabic by Mina Barsoum, edited by Alexander A-Malek and Ragy Sharkawy.