THE ENDING OF THE PASCHAL STICHERA
(A Liturgical Note)
The paschal stichera that are chanted at matins on the first day of the Radiant Resurrection of Christ, and afterwards at vespers and matins of each day of Bright Week, must be sung with in a certain special way which we have never seen used at any other time.
Everywhere, in the Typicon, the Pentecostarion, and in separate printings of the services of Bright Week, the final paschal sticheron, that which is chanted on "Now and ever…", must be sung thus: It is the day of the Resurrection! / Let us adorn ourselves with the splendor of the festival / and embrace one another! / And let us say "brethren" even unto those who hate us; / let us forgive all things at the Resurrection, / and thus let us cry out: / Christ is risen from the dead, / trampling down death by death, /and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” Then, Christ is risen…, Thrice.
This means that "Christ is risen from the dead…" is in reality to be chanted four times. It should be kept in mind that the first "Christ is risen" forms part of the text of the sticheron, while the remaining three constitute the troparion, and thus are separate from the sticheron and do not form part of a single whole, as is now common when a choir sings "Christ is risen" thrice. What is the reason for this? What does the Typicon have in mind when it prescribes such an ending for the paschal stichera?
One must turn one's attention to the fact that during the week of Pascha, after the chanting of the katavasi? each ode of the canon concludes with the rapid chanting of the paschal troparion with exactly the same rapid chanting of the paschat troparion with which the singing of the paschal stichera ends. Thus, having finished the last of the paschal stichera with the troparion that forms part of its text, the choir sings the concluding "Christ is risen" thrice. This manner of execution is encountered only during the week of Pascha; at all other times, when the order of services prescribes the chanting of the paschal stichera, we sing "Christ is risen" only once, i.e. where it forms part of the actual text of the sticheron, for the canon does not end with the triple singing of the paschal troparion.
Let us also examine the correctness of the phrasing of the final paschal sticheron. Usually it is divided thus: "…And let us say "brethren" / even unto those who hate us; / let us forgive all things at the Resurrection…", which distorts the intent of St Gregory the Theologian; for this, a phrase from his paschal epistle, ought to be sung thus: "…And let us say ‘brethren’ even unto those who hate us; / let us forgive all things at the Resurrection…"
The sense of this is thus: "Let us call brothers even those who hate us (or "to those who hate let us say 'Brothers!'); let us forgive all [sins] at the Resurrection."
Protopriest Rostislav Gan (+1975).