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The Advent

The period of Advent in the Syrian Orthodox Church, celebrating the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, is much longer than that of the Western Church. It consists of the eight weeks prior to Christmas, the first Sunday of which marks the beginning of the ecclesiastical year.

During this period, the Church prepares for the coming of Christ. The first Sunday is dedicated to the Sanctification of the Church (Qudosh cIdto), while the second is dedicated to the Renewal of the Church (Hudoth cIdto). Both Sundays emphasize the importance of the Church in the life of the faithful.

The five Sundays that follow commemorate the following events which took place before Christimas:

  • Annunciation to Zachariah when the angel visited Zachariah while he was serving in the altar and told him of the news of the birth of a son (John the Baptist).
  • Annunciation to the Virgin when the angel Gabriel announced to the blessed Virgin Mary the conception of our Lord in her womb.
  • Visitation of the Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, Zachariah's wife.
  • Birth of St. John the Baptist.
  • The revelation to Joseph when the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream.

The eighth and last Sunday of the Advent is simply called the "Sunday before Christmas" in the liturgical calendar. A selected hymn for five of the eight Sundays follows.

Sunday of the Sanctification of the Church

Qolo: bacrubto brishith

God called upon Moses from the bush,
And said to him:
"Be my steward and governor of the Tabernacle,
And of all that it contains."
Halleluiah, Halleluiah.
"And serve the Priesthood".

Note: The word `Tabernacle' (Syriac mashkan zabno) is used with two meanings: It is the portable sanctuary in which the Jews carried the Ark of the Covenant through the desert. It is also a small case which is placed on the Church altar containing the consecrated host and wine of the Eucharist.

Sunday of the Renewal of the Church

Qolo: mshiho ethiled

Blessed are you O Daughter of the Nations [i.e., the Church]
For you are built upon the Rock of Christ, the Son;
He Who purchased you with his precious blood.
There, your children are rejoicing
On the day of your renewal in the Holy Spirit
Who is descending and sanctifying the place of Its habitation.

Note: The Syrian word for "habitation" here is shkinto which is derived from the same root of mashkan zabno (see note to the previous hymn).

Sunday of the Annunciation to Zachariah

Litany. Qolo: neqyo hwith

Today, the vigilant [i.e., angel] announced to Zachariah the priest,
That Elizabeth shall bear a fruit [i.e., child] and call his name John.

Sunday of the Annunciation to Mary

Qolo: enono nuhro shariro

While Mary was standing in prayer,
And supplicating before the Lord,
The angel of light [i.e., Gabriel] descended near her,
Covered in a flame.
He said to her: "shlomo, peace be upon you,
O Castle in which the Son of the King [i.e., Christ] has dwelt.
Put poverty behind you,
For the Rich One Who is dwelling in your womb
Shall sustain the hunger of the nations."

Sunday of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth

Hutomo. Qolo: hablan moran

[Elizabeth said:] Who shall grant me this? That my Lord and His mother shall come
To visit me, the daughter of the poor.
From the instance in which your greetings fell upon my ears
The child [i.e., John] rejoiced in my womb honoring his Lord.

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Last Update: November 1, 1998