Christ the Bridegroom
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Christ The Bridegroom is the icon and service central to the celebration of The Service of the Bridegroom during Holy Week. The Bridegroom has been known as "O Nymphios" in Greek.
The first three evenings of Holy Week, the church chants an Orthoros service which is called the Service of the Bridegroom. The name of the service was derived from the Parable of the Ten Virgins found in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.
The Bridegroom icon
The icon depicts Jesus dressed 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.
Service of the Bridegroom
At the first service of Palm Sunday evening, the priest carries the icon of Christ the Bridegroom in procession, and we sings the "hymn of the bridegroom." We behold Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church, bearing the marks of His suffering, yet preparing a marriage Feast for us in God's Kingdom.
Each of these Bridegroom Orthros services has a particular theme.
On Holy Monday, the Blessed Joseph, the son of Jacob the Patriarch, is commemorated. Joseph is often 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. 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 a parable of those who have heard God's word, but who fail to bear the fruit of obedience. 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.
On 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."
The theme for Holy Wednesday is repentance and forgiveness. We remember the sinful woman, Kassiane, who anointed our Lord in anticipation of His death. Her repentance and love of Christ is the theme of the wonderful "Hymn of Kassiane" 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.
The Hymn of Kassiane
The Hymn of the Bridegroom
Behold, the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night, and blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching; and again unworthy is he ...