Bright Week

On the six days that follow the feast of Pascha, we hold a continuous celebration of the glorious Resurrection of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ. These six days - Monday through Saturday - make up Bright Week.

The Meaning of Bright Week

In the Byzantine tradition, major feasts have a "post-festive period" during which we continue the celebration of a particular feast, its hymns and its themes. Usually the feast is celebrated in a slightly more muted form; for example, instead of singing the aniphons of the feast at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, we sing the simpler "post-festive antiphons", which combine the usually weekday antiphons with a special refrain from the feast.

But at Pascha, we celebrate the feast itself for seven days - repeating the services of Pascha (Paschal Matins and the Divine Liturgy) each day. The only thing omitted is the procession! Furthermore, where we sang the hymns of the Resurrection in Tone 1 on the evening of Great and Holy Saturday, at each celebration of Vespers during Bright Week we sing these Sunday hymns in a new tone:

In this way, we sing seven weeks of hymns in honor of the Resurrection in the course of Bright Week.

There are other symbolic touches as well. During all of Bright Week, the holy doors to the sanctuary remain open, to show that heaven has been opened for all. And on each day of the week, the special loaf of bread called Artos is blessed, to be shared on Thomas Sunday.

The Services of Bright Week

Bright Week begins on the afternoon or evening of Pascha, with a special service sometimes called Agape Vespers (agape, "ah-gah-pay", is the Greek work for the kind of sacrificial love associated with God). A great prokeimenon and a Gospel are sung, and the Paschal stichera are sung in place of the usual aposticha. On Monday morning, the service of Paschal Matins (with proper hymns in Tone 2) and the Paschal Divine Liturgy are sung. The paschal antiphons ("Let God arise") are sung at the start of each Divine Liturgy, and each day has its own Divine Liturgy propers, which can be found on pages 172-174 in our Divine Liturgy book.

The paschal troparion, "Christ is risen", is sung many times during Bright Week:

On Pascha and the days of Bright Week, the short and joyful service of the Paschal Hours is sung in place of each of the ordinary Hours and Compline. It consists entirely of hymns from Pascha:

The troparion sung toward the end of the Paschal Hours is particularly interesting; it is said quietly by the deacon or priest during the initial incensing at every Divine Liturgy:

When your body as in the tomb and your soul in Hades, when you were in paradise with the thief, you were also seated upon the throne with the Father and the Holy Spirit, infinite and filling all things.

In this short hymn, we already see the uniquness of Christ in his Resurrection: he is not only able to enter a locked room to visit the apostles, but can be with all his people, wherever they are.

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