[[Image:Bridegroom.jpg|thumb|right|Christ the Bridegroom icon]]
The Bridegroom''' comes from the central figure in the parable of the ten Virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13); [[Christ]] is the divine ''Bridegroom of the Church''. This title is suggestive of His divine presence and watchfulness ( ''"Behold the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night ..." '') during [[Holy Week]].
The '''Bridegroom''' is also the name given to the central icon used in
'''The Service of the Bridegroom '''. The '''Bridegroom ''' icon and service has been more commonly known as ''' "O Nymphios "''' but over the last decade, this title has caused much confusion to the ever-growing English speaking christian population.
Service of the Bridegroom == The '''Service of the Bridegroom ''' is a service specific to the first three evenings of [[Holy Week]] and commemorates the last days in the earthly life of our Lord. Incorporated into these services is the theme of the first three days of Holy Week; which is the last teachings of Christ to his disciples. As such, these services incorporate readings and hymns inspiring this theme. The mood of the services is to experience sorrow and to feel Christ's voluntary submission to His passions and highlight the purpose behind the evil that is about to take place against the Lord. The atmosphere is one of mourning (for our sins) and is symbolic of the shame we should feel for the Fall of Adam and Eve, the depths of hell, the lost Paradise and the absence of God. The vestments of the Priest and the altar clothes are black or deep purple to symbolise and enhance the atmosphere of mourning and remembrance of our sins. The main emphasis of the ''Bridegroom Service '' is ''[[metanoia]]'' and each service has its own particular theme on repentance and watchfullness .
=== Palm Sunday evening ===
During the first service
, '''Palm Sunday ''' evening, the priest carries the [[icon]] of ''Christ the Bridegroom '' into the church. We sing the ''Hymn of the Bridegroom '' during this procession, and the icon is brought to the front of the church and remains there until Holy Thursday. In the icon , we behold our Christ as the Bridegroom of the [[Church]], bearing the marks of His suffering, yet preparing the way for a marriage Feast for us in His Kingdom. He is dressed in the icon according to the mockery of the Roman guards just prior to his crucifixion.* ''The crowns '' - The crown of thorns are a symbol of His marriage to the [[Church]].* ''The rope '' - the rope symbolises our bondage to sin, death and corruption which was loosed only when Christ opened His arms on the Cross. This is highlighted in the Third [[Ode]] of the [[Canon]] of [[Holy Friday]] - ''You have stretched forth Your hands, O Saviour, and gathered the things dispersed of old; and by Your burial in the linen and the grave You have loosed the captives, who shout, "There is none who is Holy apart from You, O Lord."'' *''The reed'' - a symbol of His humility; God rules his kingdom with humility. === The '''Kontakion''' for Holy Monday === The [[Kontakion]] for Sunday evening, eighth tone. :''Jacob lamented the loss of Joseph, but that noble one was seated in a chariot and honored as a king; for by not being enslaved then to the pleasures of the Egyptian woman, he was glorified by Him that beholdeth the hearts of men and bestoweth an incorruptible crown.''
=== Holy Monday evening ===
'''Holy Monday ''', the Blessed Joseph, the son of Jacob the Patriarch, is commemorated because he is seen as a prototype of Christ.
Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit and sold into slavery by them. In the same way,
our Lord was rejected, betrayed by His own, and sold into the slavery of death and like Joseph forgave and spared his brothers during the famine when they came to him, so too, [[Jesus]] [[Christ]] offers himself as a sacrifice and forgives all those who come to him in faith.
The Gospel reading for the day is
'''The Barren Fig Tree ''', which Christ cursed and withered because it bore no fruit. The fig tree is representative of those who have heard God's word, but who fail to bear the fruits of faith. Originally the withering of the fig tree was a testimony against those Jews who rejected God's word and His Messiah. However, it is also a warning to all people, in all times, of the importance of not only hearing the God's word, but putting it into action.
===Holy Tuesday evening ===
'''Holy Tuesday ''', the Parable of the Ten Virgins is read. It tells the story of the five virgins who filled their lamps in preparation for receiving the bridegroom while the other five allowed their lamps to go out and hence were shut out of the marriage feast. This parable is a warning that we must always be prepared to receive our Lord when He comes again. The theme of the day is reinforced by the expostelarion hymn we sing ''"I see Thy Bridal Chamber adorned, O my Savior, but have no wedding garment that I may enter. O Giver of Light, enlighten the vesture of my soul, and save me. "''
Heartbroken by Theophilos, one of those poems was the beautiful hymn of
kassiani. It retains the original Byzantine music which may be difficult for all to understand. Theophelos, searched for Kassiani and found her at a convent and the two never saw each other again. Her repentance and love for Christ is the theme of the wonderful ''"Hymn of Kassiani "'' which is chanted on this night, reminding us one more time, before ''"it is too late,"'' that we too may be forgiven if we repent.
== See also ==
Links == *[[w:Kassia|Kassiani on Wikipedia]]
*[http://www.svots.edu/news/recent/schmemann-holy-week-monday-wednesday/ Holy Week - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday] - from ''Holy Week: A Liturgical Explanation for the Days of Holy Week'' (St Vladimir's Seminary Press), by Very Rev. [[Alexander Schmemann]]