On Wednesday after the Sunday of the Paralytic, which falls exactly in the middle of the Pentecost season, that period between Easter (the Resurrection) and the feast of the Pentecost or Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Eastern Church celebrates the feast of Mid-Pentecost which may mean “Half Way” because it is the half-way mark between the feast of Easter and the feast of the Pentecost, or “Middle Wednesday’’ since It falls on the Wednesday in the middle of the Pentecostal season. In Church Slavonic this Wednesday or feast is called Prepolovynennya; in English “Half Way” (midway) (or Mid-Pentecost). The Synaxary of that day explains the reason for the institution of this feast: “On the Wednesday of the Paralytic we celebrate the feast of Mid-Pentecost for the sake of honouring the two great feast days – Easter and the Pentecost. The feast of Mid-Pentecost unites and joins these two feasts.” The feast of Mid-Pentecost has an eight-day post-feast which lasts to the Wednesday after the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman.
The reason for this feast is based on the Gospel of St. John in which it is written: “When, however, the feast (i.e., the feast of Tabernacles) was already half over, Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach.” (John 7:14) There he spoke of his divine mission and of miraculous water: ‘‘My teaching is not my own, but his who sent me … If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture says, ‘from within him there shall flow rivers of living waters.’ He said this, however, of the Spirit whom they, who believed in him, were to receive” (John 7:16; 37-39). This feast was already observed at the time of St. John Chrysostom (+407). The liturgy or service for the feast of Mid-Pentecost was composed by Anatolius, Patriarch of Constantinople (+458), St. Andrew of Crete, (+740), St. John Damascene (+749), and St. Theophane the Confessor (+817).
The feast of the Mid-Pentecost aims to strengthen our faith in the risen Christ, to inspire us to observe the commandments of God and to predispose us for the feast of the Ascension of our Lord and the Descent of the Holy Spirit. In the Matins service of that day at the Sticheras of Praises, we sing: “Brethren, having been enlightened by the resurrection of the Saviour Jesus Christ, and having reached the half-way mark of the feast of the Lord, let us sincerely observe the commandments of God, so that we may become worthy to celebrate the Ascension and receive the coming of the Holy Spirit.” (from A Byzantine Liturgical Year by Fr Julian Katrij, OSBM)
from the 9th Kathisma
At Psalm 140
In Tone 4
6. The mid-point of the feast has arrived;
the days which begin with the resurrection of the Saviour
and are fulfilled in the divine feast of Pentecost.
Truly it unites both Feasts and draws light from their double brightness,
giving honour to the ascension of the Lord,
which prefigures our glory.
5. Truly Sion heard and was glad
when it received the glad tidings of the resurrection of Christ.
Faithful children also rejoiced at beholding it.
Seeing the blood of Christ washed away by the Holy Spirit,
the Church prepares to worthily celebrate
the joyous midpoint of these two holy feasts.
4. The over-abundant outpouring of the divine Spirit over all is drawing near,
as it is written by the prophet Joel.
The promise of Christ, given to His disciples
after His death, burial and resurrection,
proclaims the coming of the Comforter.
In Tone 5
3. Today the feast of mid-Pentecost appears in it grace and brightness,
and as the noon hour divides the day,
so this feast stands at the middle of the paschal season.
It radiates the light of the resurrection of Christ
and reflects the signs of eternal life.
It discloses the ascension into heaven,
and it foretells the coming of the most beloved Spirit,
the glorious feast of Pentecost.
And so it bestows upon our souls peace and great mercy.
2. Today we have come to the midweek of the festal season.
As a river of divine glory, the Lord gives streams of goodness to all and calls out:
All who thirst, come to Me and drink deeply,
because I am the Fountain of compassion and the Ocean of mercy.
From Him flows forgiveness to the peoples;
He washes away sin and cleanses infirmities.
he saves those who celebrate His resurrection,
embraces with love those who honour His glorious ascension,
and bestows upon our souls peace and great mercy.
1. He stood in the centre of the temple, the infinite God.
He is God in essence, yet became incarnate for our sakes,
taking upon Himself the limits of the flesh,
from which the living water of His word comes to everyone,
saying: Come, and purify your hearts
and quench the heat of your passions.
Let no one be deprived of drink.
The water that I give is the grace of God
by which you partake of the better and eternal life.
Whoever drinks of it will share with Me, the Creator,
the kingdom and the glory of God.
In Tone 6, Glory… Now…
The mid-week of the festal season has arrived, O Christ,
the midpoint of Your resurrection and the coming of Your Holy Spirit.
Coming together, we glorify the mystery of Your miracles;
and filled with fear, we cry out to You:
Send down upon us Your great mercy!
(1) Micah 4:2, 3; 6:1-5, 8; (2) Isaiah 55:1-13; (3) Proverbs 9:1-11
In Tone 1
The middle of the fifty days is here,
wherein Christ manifested His divine power.
He healed the paralytic, raising him from his bed by a word.
In the flesh He worked signs and wonders,
granting His people eternal life and great mercy.
Remember Your people whom You chose long ago.
You came to the temple, O Wisdom of God, in the midst of the feast,
to teach and edify the Jews, the scribes and the Pharisees:
Let all who thirst come to Me and drink the water of life.
They will never thirst again.
Whoever believes in Me, streams of living water shall flow from them.
How great is Your goodness and Your compassion.
Glory to You, O Christ our God!
God is our King from time past, the Giver of help throughout all the land.
Jesus went up to the temple in the middle of the feast.
He proclaimed to the stiff-necked people:
Let all who thirst come to me and drink.
I will give them the water of life, and they will never thirst again.
Living streams will flow from the hearts of those who believe in Me.
They will find the Light of the world.
In Tone 8, Glory… Now…
While You taught the scribes in the midst of the feast, O Saviour,
they murmured: How can this man who never studied be learned?
They would not believe that You are the Wisdom who created the world.
O Lord, glory to You!
In Tone 8
At the mid-point of the Feast, O Saviour,* water my thirsty soul with streams of true godliness;* for You cried out to all: Let any who thirst, come to Me and drink.* Source of life, Christ our God, glory to You!
Troparia and Kontakia
Troparion, Tone 8: At the mid-point of the Feast, O Saviour,* water my thirsty soul with streams of true godliness;* for You cried out to all: Let any who thirst, come to Me and drink.* O Source of Life, Christ our God, glory to You!
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen.
Kontakion, Tone 4: At the mid-point of the Feast according to the Law,* Maker of all things and Master,* You said to those present, O Christ God:* Come, and draw the water of immortality.* And so we fall before You crying out with faith: Grant us Your mercies, for You are the source of our life.
Prokeimenon, Tone 3
Great is our Lord, and great is His strength;* and of His knowledge there is no end.
verse: Praise the Lord, for a psalm is good; may praise be sweet to Him. (Psalm 146:5,1)
Alleluia, Tone 1
verse: Remember Your congregation which You acquired from the beginning.
verse: But God is our king before the ages; He has wrought salvation in the midst of the earth. (Psalm 73:2,12)
Hymn to the Mother of God
Virginity is alien to mothers and child-bearing is foreign to virgins; yet in you, O Mother of God, both of them came together. Therefore, we and all the nations of the earth without ceasing magnify you.
Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood* abide in Me and I in them, says the Lord.* Alleluia, alleluia,* alleluia. (John 6:56)