Blessing of the Waters
O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, who art in the bosom of the Father, true God, source of life and immortality, Light of Light, who camest into the world to enlighten it, shine upon our understanding with Thy Holy Spirit and accept us who offer unto Thee glory and thanksgiving for all Thy great and wondrous works from all ages, and for Thy saving dispensation in these last times. For Thou hast clothed Thyself in our poor and infirm nature, and hast submitted Thyself to servitude, Thou who art King of all; and moreover Thou hast accepted to be baptized in the Jordan by the hand of a servant, that having sanctified the nature of the waters, O sinless Lord, Thou mightest lead us to a new birth through water and Spirit, and restore us again to our original freedom. Keeping feast in remembrance of this divine mystery, we entreat Thee, O Master who lovest mankind: sprinkle upon us, Thine unworthy servants, according to Thy divine promise, cleansing water, the gift of Thy compassion; grant that the petition of us sinners over this water may be acceptable unto Thy goodness, and that thereby Thy blessing may be granted, to us and to all Thy faithful people unto the glory of Thy holy and venerated Name. For unto Thee, belong all glory, honour, and worship together with Thine eternal Father, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, , now, and ever: world without end. Amen.
Then the priest says aloud the following prayer, composed by Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem. On the Eve of the Feast the Priest shall not say all the Prayer, but shall begin from “Great art Thou O Lord...”
O Trinity supreme in being, in goodness, and in Godhead, almighty, who watchest over all, invisible, incomprehensible, Maker of spiritual beings and rational natures, innate Goodness, Light that none can approach and that lightens every man that comes into the world : Shine also upon me Thine unworthy servant. Enlighten the eyes of my understanding that I may make bold to sing the praises of Thy measureless beneficence and Thy might. May the prayer be acceptable that I offer for the people here present. Let not my faults hinder Thy Holy Spirit from coming to this place, but suffer me now uncondemned to cry to Thee, O most good Lord, and to say: We glorify Thee, O Master who lovest mankind, almighty, pre-eternal King. We glorify Thee, the Creator and Maker of all. We glorify Thee, O only-begotten Son of God, born without father from Thy Mother, and without mother from Thy Father. In the preceding feast we saw Thee as a child, while in the present we behold Thee full-grown, our God made manifest, perfect God from perfect God. For today, the time of the feast is at hand for us: the choir of saints assembles with us and angels join with men in keeping festival. Today the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended upon the waters. Today the Sun that never sets has risen and the world is filled with splendour by the light of the Lord. Today the moon shines upon the world with the brightness of its rays. Today the glittering stars make the inhabited earth fair with the radiance of their shining. Today the clouds drop down upon mankind the dew of righteousness from on high. Today the Uncreated of His own will accepts the laying on of hands from His own creature. Today the Prophet and Forerunner approaches the Master, but stands before Him with trembling, seeing the condescension of God towards us. Today the waters of the Jordan are transformed into healing by the coming of the Lord. Today the whole creation is watered by mystical streams. Today the transgressions of men are washed away by the waters of the Jordan. Today Paradise has been opened to men and the Sun of Righteousness shines down upon us. Today the bitter water, as once with Moses and the people of Israel, is changed to sweetness by the coming of the Lord. Today we have been released from our ancient lamentation, and as the new Israel, we have found salvation. Today we have been delivered from darkness and illuminated with the light of the knowledge of God. Today the blinding mist of the world is dispersed by the Epiphany of our God. Today the whole creation shines with light from on high. Today error is laid low and the coming of the Master has made for us a way of salvation. Today things above keep feast with things below, and things below commune with things above. Today the triumphant assembly of the Orthodox keeps this holy festival with great joy. Today the Master hastens towards baptism that He may lift man up to the heights. Today He that bows not, bows down to His own servant that He may set us free from bondage. Today we have purchased the Kingdom of Heaven: for the Lord’s Kingdom shall have no end. Today earth and sea share the joy of the world, and the world is filled with gladness. The waters saw Thee, O God, the waters saw Thee and were afraid. The Jordan turned back, seeing the fire of the Godhead descending bodily and entering its stream. The Jordan turned back, beholding the Holy Spirit coming down in the form of a dove and flying about Thee. The Jordan turned back, seeing the Invisible made visible, the Creator made flesh, the Master in the form of a servant. The Jordan turned back and the mountains skipped, looking upon God in the flesh; and the clouds gave voice, marvelling at Him who was come, the Light of Light, true God of true God. For today in the Jordan they saw the triumph of the Master; they saw Him drown in the Jordan the death of disobedience, the sting of error, and the chains of hell, and bestow upon the world the baptism of salvation. Therefore, sinner and unworthy servant though I am, I recount the majesty of Thy wonders and, seized with fear, in compunction I cry aloud to Thee:
The priest shall then say in a louder voice:
Great art Thou, O Lord, and marvelous are Thy works; no words suffice to sing the praise of Thy wonders. (3)
Each time the Priest says these words, the choir shall sing:
Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.
The Priest continues the prayer
For Thou by Thine own will hast brought all things out of nothingness into being, by Thy power Thou dost hold together the creation, and by Thy providence Thou dost govern the world. Of four elements hast Thou compounded the creation: with four seasons hast Thou crowned the cycle of the year. All the spiritual powers tremble before Thee. The sun sings Thy praises; the moon glorifies Thee; the stars supplicate before Thee; the light obeys Thee; the deeps are afraid at Thy presence; the fountains are Thy servants. Thou hast stretched out the heavens like a curtain; Thou hast established the earth upon the waters; Thou hast poured forth the air that living things may breathe. The angelic powers minister to thee; the Choir of Archangels worship Thee; the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim, standing round Thee and flying about Thee, hide their faces in fear of Thine unapproachable glory. For Thou, the indescribable God, without beginning and inexpressible, hast come upon earth, taking the form of a servant and being made in the likeness of man. For Thou, O Master, in Thy merciful compassion couldst not bear to see mankind beneath the tyranny of the devil, but Thou hast come and saved us. We confess Thy grace, we proclaim Thy mercy, we hide not Thy beneficence. Thou hast set free the offspring of our kind. Thou hast hallowed a Virgin womb by Thy Nativity. At Thine Epiphany the whole creation sang Thy praises. For Thou, our God, hast appeared on earth and dwelt among men, Thou hast sanctified the streams of Jordan, sending down from on high the Most Holy Spirit, and Thou hast broken the heads of the dragons hidden therein.
Therefore, O King who lovest mankind, do Thou Thyself be present now as then through the descent of Thy Holy Spirit, and sanctify this water. (3)
Each time the Priest says these words, the choir shall say Amen.
And confer upon it the grace of redemption, the blessing of the Jordan. Make it a source of incorruption, a gift of sanctification, a remission of sins, a protection against disease, a destruction to demons, inaccessible to the adverse powers and filled with angelic strength. That all who draw from it and partake of it may have it for the cleansing of their soul and body, for the healing of their passions, for the sanctification of their dwellings, and for every purpose that is expedient. For Thou art our God, who didst renew through water and Spirit our nature grown old through sin. Thou art our God, who didst drown sin through water in the days of Noah. Thou art our God who, through the waters of the sea, at Moses’ hand didst set free the Hebrew nation from the bondage of Pharaoh. Thou art our God who didst smite the rock in the wilderness: and the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed, and Thou didst satisfy Thy thirsty people. Thou art our God who by water and fire through Elijah didst bring back Israel from the error of Baal.
Do Thou Thyself, O Master, now as then sanctify this water by Thy Holy Spirit