This Is the Day of Resurrection

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!

Christ is risen! Truly risen!

And as the prince Satan and Hades spoke this together, suddenly there came a voice as of thunder and a spiritual cry: “Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O everlasting gates, and the King of glory shall come in.” When Hades heard that, he said unto the prince Satan: “Depart from me and go out of mine abode: if thou be a mighty man of war, fight thou against the King of glory. But what hast thou to do with him?” And Hades cast Satan forth out of his dwelling. Then said Hades unto his wicked ministers: “Shut ye the hard gates of brass and put on them the bars of iron and withstand stoutly, lest we that hold captivity be taken captive.”

But when all the multitude of the saints heard it, they spake with a loud voice of rebuking unto Hades: “Open thy gates, that the King of glory may come in.” And David cried out, saying: “Did I not, when I was alive upon earth, prophesy unto you: ‘Let them give thanks unto the Lord, even his mercies and his wonders unto the children of men: for he hath broken the gates of brass and smitten the bars of iron in sunder; he hath taken them out of the way of their iniquity.'” And thereafter in like manner Isaiah said: “Did not I, when I was alive upon earth, prophesy unto you: ‘The dead shall arise, and they that are in the tombs shall rise again, and they that are in the earth shall rejoice, for the dew which cometh of the Lord is their deliverance?’ And again I said: ‘O Death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?'”

When they heard all these things from Isaiah, all the saints said unto Hades: “Open thy gates: now shalt thou be overcome and weak and without strength.” And there came a great voice as of thunder, saying: “Lift up your gates, O princes, and be ye lifted up, O gates of Hades, and the King of glory shall come in.” And when Hades saw that they so cried out twice, he said, as though he knew it not: “Who is the King of glory?” And David answered Hades and said: “The words of this cry do I know, for by his spirit I prophesied the same; and now I say unto thee that which I said before: ‘The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle, he is the King of glory.’ And: ‘The Lord looked down from heaven that he might hear the groanings of them that are in fetters and deliver the children of them that have been slain.’ And now, O thou most foul and stinking Hades, open thy gates, that the King of glory may come in.” And as David spake thus unto Hades, the Lord of majesty appeared in the form of a man and lightened the eternal darkness and broke the bonds that could not be loosed: and the succour of his everlasting might visited us that sat in the deep darkness of our transgressions and in the shadow of death of our sins.

–From the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus

(Click above to hear the Paschal troparion sung in our Serbian melody.)


13 responses to “This Is the Day of Resurrection

  1. “Christ is risen from the dead: trampling down death by death; and upon those in the tombs bestowing life…

    …You people, rejoice, for Christ has risen, trampling down death and raising the dead.”

    Chuck Grantham


  2. This passage is one of my most favorite parts of the Pascha service! Every year I look forward to that part..well actually it’s not the only part I look forward to…actually it’s the whole Service…But nonetheless I love this reading. I’ve only heard it as it’s said in the service, or pre-communion prayers.
    Thank you for sharing.

    In our Risen Christ,



  3. Trevor> You evil man, trying to spoil my Pascha! ;-) I'm sorry to say that I seem to remember this nearly word for word. Also, I remember when "America Again" came out, and the big TBN hoopla surrounding it.

    Meanwhile did you read the comments on that video?!

    Masha> XB! The Psalm 23 (24) dialogue isn't done in many places, but I too enjoy it immensely.

    Thanks to all for the Paschal greetings!

    "And to us hath He granted everlasting life: we worship His third-day Resurrection!"


  4. Stefan,

    I find this post so interesting as I am doing my doctorate on LXX Ps 23. This text is basically a theological exegesis of this Psalm, I never knew it was part of the liturgical readings. Does it have equal canonical authority with the 66 books in the Orthodox church?

    What is interesting to me is that this vision of Jesus in Hell is, as far as I know, derived almost entirely from LXX Psalm 23. One saint, whose name escapes me (Nyssa?) called it a supplement to the gospel, filling in the gaps the Four left open.

    What is also interesting is the Ps 23 is, at least here in the West, the reading for Ascension Day. Originally, Ps 23 was used to represent Jesus’s ascension into Heaven, where the ancient gates were the gates of heaven. In the Psalm, however, the call to open the gates is repeated twice. This led to the later tradition (represented here), that the first call was in Hell, the second in Heaven.

    I, too, wish to do a theological exegesis of this Psalm, though one that strains sticks to the literal sense of the Masoretic Text more closely. There have been other more Protestant attempts which interpret the Psalm on a more existential level (as apposed to ontological – the gates are ultimately the gates of our heart). I think this doesn’t actually do justice to the literal sense of the Psalm, the ancient version following its contours far more closely. So, what you’ve posted here represents the direction I want to be going in … Alas, I am a Protestant myself, and a Free Church one at that, so knowledge of these traditions on my part is limited, and experience of its liturgical use even more so. I do hope you post something on Ascension Day.

    A question: does this Gospel also describe what Jesus did after his Ascension? If so, why is only this bit read for ressurection day?


  5. Stefan,

    I have a good question about this and I know you can help me. My question is: did this really happen in this way?

    What I mean is, I have heard a certain Orthodox priest (omitted for the sake of not wishing specifically to dishonor him) say that really the “descent into Hades” as a spiritual reality refers basically to the fact that Christ was actually dead. That this was in fact the meaning of this “descent into Hades” moreso than Christ’s disincarnate human soul traversing into the underworld to shatter iron gates and tie up old Death.

    I am skeptical of this interpretation, not because I don’t understand that often the ancients (and certain prophets) spoke in mytho-poetical ways, but because it sounds a lot like Bultmanian de-mythologizing. Granted, “Hades” is derived from the Greek “unseen” and we really do mean something more spiritual than the classical pagan realm of the underworld– I’d just like you to perhaps explain some about just how we take these stories of the “harrowing of hell.”



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