O Joyful Light

When you attend Presanctified Liturgy tonight, listen for this prayer:


O Joyful Light of the Holy Glory of the Father immortal,

the  heavenly, holy, Blessed One; O Jesus Christ.

Now that we have reached the setting of the sun

and  see the evening light, we sing to God, +Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is fitting at all times to raise a song of praise in measured melody to You,

O Son of God, the giver of life.  Therefore the universe sings your glory.


Priest:   Wisdom! Be attentive! The Light of Christ shines upon everyone!

People:  Make three great prostrations in silence.


Did  you  know  that  this  is  a  very  ancient  hymn,  and  that  it  is  considered  the  very  oldest  song,  besides those  written  in  scripture,  that  Christians  still  sing  today? 

We  know  that  it  was  written  sometime before  the  fourth  century,  because  it  was  recorded  in  the  Constitution  of  the  Apostles,  which  was written  at  that  time.  St.  Basil  the  Great,  who  also  lived  during  that  time  period,  mentioned  in  his writings  that  it  was  a  beloved  hymn  in  his  day  as  well. 


Vigil lamps at the Church of the site of the Crucifixion of Christ on Golgotha; This image was originally posted to Flickr by И. Максим at https://www.flickr.com/photos/16185355@N00/1800593205. It was reviewed on 1 November 2009 by FlickreviewR and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.

After  the  Resurrection,  when  Christians  would gather  at  the  empty  tomb  of  Christ  in  Jerusalem  for  worship,  there  was  always  a  vigil  candle  kept  in the  tomb  in  honor  of  the  great  event  that  happened  there.  It  would  remind  the  Christians  that  Jesus had  brought  so  much  Light  into  the  world  and  into  the  heart  of  everyone  who  believed  in  Him. When  this  lamp  was  ceremoniously  brought  out  for  all  of  the  faithful  to  see,  this  was  the  hymn  that the  believers  would  offer  to  God  in  memory  of  the  Light  that  had  joyfully  come  into  the  world.  By the  end  of  the  fourth  century,  it  was  incorporated  in  the  Byzantine  Vespers  service,  and  we  can  hear it sung every evening at Vespers to this very day!


When  we  live  in  darkness,  we  do  not  see  very  clearly.  We  can  miss  a  lot,  and  become  content  to  live without  really  understanding  what  is  surrounding  us.  Although,  when  light  enters,  we  suddenly  begin to  see  everything  clearly!  The  details  that  were  once  lost  to  us  are  now  very  much  apparent  and  we can  navigate  much  more  easily!  THIS  is  what  the  Light  of  Christ  does  for  a  soul.  The  presence  of  His Light  gives  us  clarity  and  confidence. 

No  wonder  the  faithful  have  always  referred  to  Him  as  a  Joyful Light!

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