Thursday, January 07, 2016

The Synaxis of the Holy Forerunner John the Baptist

In the Byzantine Rite, a “synaxis” (“σύναξις” in Greek, “собóръ – sobor” in Church Slavonic) is a commemoration held the day after a major feast, to honor a sacred person who figures prominently in the feast, but who is, so to speak, overshadowed by its principal subject. The most prominent example is the feast of the Holy Spirit, celebrated the day after Pentecost, since Pentecost itself is the feast of the Holy Trinity. Likewise, the Synaxis of the Virgin Mary is kept the day after Christmas, that of St Gabriel on the day after the Annunciation, etc. For those of the Byzantine Rite who follow the Gregorian date of Epiphany, today is therefore “The Synaxis of the Holy and Glorious Prophet and Forerunner, John the Baptist.” A synaxis is a commemoration, and does not replace the principal feast of the person honored thereby; the Byzantine Rite celebrates the same two principal feasts of St John as the Roman Rite, the Nativity on June 24, and the Beheading on August 29. This is also a feast of his conception, kept on September 23rd, and of the various occasions on which the relics of his head were lost and recovered, the “First and Second Finding” on February 24, and the “Third Finding” on May 25th. (The Conception of St John is occasionally found on ancient liturgical calendars in the West, but never really caught on.)

John the Baptist as the Angel of the Desert, with stories of his life, from the Church of St. Nicholas in Yaroslavl, 1551. 
Troparion: The memory of the righteous (is celebrated) with hymns of praise, but the testimony of the Lord will be sufficient for thee, O Forerunner. For, being received in truth as the most honorable of the prophets, thou wert deemed worthy to baptize in the streams the One foretold (by them). And therefore, having suffered for the truth, with joy thou proclaimed even to those in hell God who was made manifest in the flesh, who taketh away the sin of the world, and granteth us great mercy.

Тропарь Память праведнаго с похвалами, тебе же довлеет свидетельство Господне, Предтече: показал бо ся еси воистинну и пророков честнейший, яко и в струях крестити сподобился еси Проповеданнаго. Темже за истину пострадав, радуяся благовестил еси и сущим во аде Бога, явльшагося плотию, вземлющаго грех мира и подающаго нам велию милость.

Τροπάριον Μνήμη δικαίου μετ’ ἐγκωμίων, σοὶ δὲ ἀρκέσει ἡ μαρτυρία τοῦ Κυρίου, Πρόδρομε. Ἀνεδείχθης γὰρ ὄντως τῶν Προφητῶν σεβασμιώτερος, ὅτι καὶ ἐν ῥείθροις βαπτίσαι κατηξιώθης τὸν κηρυττόμενον, ὅθεν τῆς ἀληθείας ὑπεραθλήσας, χαίρων εὐαγγελίσω καὶ τοῖς ἐν Ἅδη, Θεὸν φανερωθέντα ἐν σαρκί, τὸν αἴροντα τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου, καὶ παρέχοντα ἡμῖν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.

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