December 27, 2013 </br>Holy Apostle, First Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen

December 27, 2013
Holy Apostle, First Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen

Stephen was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul and one of those Jews who lived in the Hellenic provinces. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons whom the holy apostles ordained and appointed to the service of assisting the poor in Jerusalem. For this, he is called the archdeacon. By the power of his faith, Stephen worked great miracles among the people. The wicked Jews disputed with him, but they were always defeated by his wisdom and the power of the Spirit, Who acted through him. Then the shameful Jews, accustomed to calumnies and slander, incited the people and the elders of the people against the innocent Stephen, slandering him as though he had blasphemed against God and against Moses. False witnesses were quickly found who confirmed this. Stephen then stood before the people, and all saw his face as it had been the face of an angel (Acts 6:15), that is, his face was illumined with the light of grace as was once the face of Moses when he spoke with God. Stephen opened his mouth and enumerated the many good works and miracles that God had performed in the past for the people of Israel, as well as the many crimes and opposition to God on the part of this people. He especially rebuked them for the killing of Christ the Lord, calling them betrayers and murderers (Acts 7:52). And while they gnashed their teeth, Stephen beheld and saw the heavens open and the glory of God. That which he saw, he declared to the Jews: Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God! (Acts 7:56). Then the malicious men took him outside the city and stoned him to death. Among his persecutors was his kinsman Saul, later the Apostle Paul. At that time, the Most-holy Theotokos, standing on a rock at a distance with St. John the Theologian, witnessed the martyrdom of this first martyr for the truth of her Son and God, and she prayed to God for Stephen. This occurred one year after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. Gamaliel, a prince of the Jews and a secret Christian, clandestinely took St. Stephen’s body and buried it on his own estate. Thus, this first among the Christian martyrs gloriously reposed and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Christ God. (Prologue of Ohrid) 

VESPERS

At Psalm 140

In Tone 4

3. Your soul was illumined with the grace of the Holy Spirit;
your face shone as an angel, Stephen.
Your body was made radiant by the brightness within you:
Contemplation of God’s light was your only joy:
Therefore the heavens were wondrously opened to you,
leader and glory of the martyrs

2. The torrent of stones became a ladder for you:
on its steps you ascended to the gates of heaven.
You beheld the Lord standing at the right hand of the Father;
He offered you a crown with his own life-giving hand;
truly you have fulfilled the meaning of your name!
Now you stand before Him, glorious conqueror;
the first warrior offered in battle.

1. Renowned with signs, wonders, and heavenly preaching,
you destroyed the malice of the wicked council.
As they stoned you to death, you begged God to forgive them,
using the words of the Saviour as He hung upon the cross,
commending your pure spirit into His hands, blessed Stephen.

In Tone 2, Glory…

To the King and Lord of all who is born on earth
today is offered the all-beautiful Stephen,
adorned in the crimson of his own blood as with precious gems.
Come, lovers of the martyrs,
weave the flowers of song into a crown,
honouring the Protomartyr of Christ our God,
for his spirit is radiant with wisdom and love:
Through his prayers we will receive peace and great mercy!

Now…

A great and mighty wonder has come to pass this day!
A Virgin bears a Child, and her womb suffers no corruption.
The Word is made flesh, yet ceases not to dwell with the Father;
angels and shepherds give glory,
and with them we cry aloud:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace!

 

Aposticha

In Tone 1

Let us sing to the eternal Son
Who sprang from the bosom of the Father before all ages:
In the fullness of time, He rests on the throne of His Mother’s arms:
Together with the angels, the shepherds, and the Magi,
let us worship Him!

The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool!

Let us, the faithful, assemble in Bethlehem,
beholding the creator of all lying in the manger.
The Magi from Chaldea offer Him three precious gifts,
for as our King and God He will dwell three days among the dead.

From the womb before the morning star have I begotten You!

You were born in the cave from the Virgin,
as the host of angels hovered about You, crying out:
Glory to You, O God, in the highest!
Glory to You, for You have taken the form of a servant:
Born from the womb of the unwedded Mother and Virgin,
You have refashioned the universe!

In Tone 6, Glory…

Blessed Stephen, the adornment of Christ’s warriors,
first of deacons and first of martyrs,
joy of the faithful and glory of the righteous,
as you stand before Christ, the Lord of all,
pray for us who celebrate your honourable memory
that we may receive remission of our sins
and be accounted worthy of the Kingdom of heaven.

Now…

All the angels in heaven rejoice
and greatly celebrate today.
The whole creation leaps with joy,
for the Saviour and Lord is born in Bethlehem!
every error of idolatry has ceased,
and Christ reigns throughout all ages!

 

Troparia

In Tone 4
O apostle and first martyr for Christ,* you fought the good fight* and exposed your persecutors’ wickedness.* For when you were killed by stoning at the hands of the lawless* you received a crown from on high from God’s right hand,* while crying out to Him:* “O Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

In Tone 4
Your Nativity, O Christ our God,* made the light of knowledge dawn on the world:* through it, those who worshipped the stars were taught by a star* to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness,* and to know that You, the Dawn from on the high.* Glory to You, O Lord.

 


DIVINE LITURGY

Antiphon 1
I will confess You, Lord, with all my heart,* I will declare all Your wondrous deeds.
Through the prayers of the Mother of God,* O Saviour, save us.
In the council of the just and the congregation,* great are the works of the Lord, conforming to His will in every way.
Through the prayers of the Mother of God,* O Saviour, save us.
His work is filled with praise and majesty,* and His righteousness endures forever.
Through the prayers of the Mother of God,* O Saviour, save us.
Glory…  Now… Only-Begotten Son…

Antiphon 3
Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord, let us acclaim God, our Saviour.
Son of God, born of a Virgin, save us who sing to You: Alleluia.
Let us come before His face with praise, and acclaim Him in psalms.
Son of God, born of a Virgin, save us who sing to You: Alleluia.
For God is the great Lord, and the great king over all the earth.
Son of God, born of a Virgin, save us who sing to You: Alleluia.

Entrance
Come, let us worship and fall down before Christ.
Son of God, born of a Virgin, save us who sing to You: Alleluia.

Troparia and Kontakia
Troparion, Tone 4: Your Nativity, O Christ our God,* made the light of knowledge dawn on the world:* through it, those who worshipped the stars were taught by a star* to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness,* and to know that You, the Dawn from on the high.* Glory to You, O Lord.

Troparion, Tone 4: O apostle and first martyr for Christ,* you fought the good fight* and exposed your persecutors’ wickedness.* For when you were killed by stoning at the hands of the lawless* you received a crown from on high from God’s right hand,* while crying out to Him:* “O Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

Glory be to the father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen.

Kontakion, Tone 3: Yesterday the Master came to us incarnate;* but His servant departs today from the flesh.* Yesterday the One who now reigns in the flesh was born;* but His servant today is killed by stoning.* For His sake the first martyr, the divine Stephen, gives up his life.

Prokeimenon, Tone 8
Their utterance has gone forth into all the earth, and their word unto the ends of the world.
verse: The heavens tell the glory of God, and the firmament declares the work of His hands. (Psalm 18:5,2)

Epistle
Acts 6:8-7:5,47-60

Alleluia, Tone 1
verse: The heavens shall confess our wonders, O Lord, and Your truth in the church of the saints.
verse: God is glorified in the assembly of the saints. (Psalm 88:6,8)

Gospel
Matthew 21:33-42

Hymn to the Mother of God
O my soul, magnify Christ the King born in a manger.
and the Irmos: A strange and glorious mystery do I behold:* the cave is heaven;* the Virgin, the throne of the cherubim;* the manger, a dwelling place* in which is laid Christ, the God Whom nothing can contain.* Singing His praises, we magnify Him.

Communion Hymn
Their utterance has gone forth into all the earth,* and their word unto the ends of the world.* Alleluia, alleluia,* alleluia. (Psalm 18:5)

Instead of “Blessed is He who comes…” we sing:
All creation is filled with rejoicing today, for Christ is born of a Virgin.

Instead of “We have seen the true light…” we sing:
All creation is filled with rejoicing today, for Christ is born of a Virgin.

Instead of “May our mouths…” and “Blessed be the Name…” we sing:
All creation is filled with rejoicing today, for Christ is born of a Virgin. (3)

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