Great and Holy Saturday: Christ Conquers Death

When You did descend to death, O Life Immortal, / You did slay hell with the splendor of Your Godhead, / And when from the depths You did raise the dead, / All the Powers of Heaven cried out, / O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory to You!

- from the Great and Holy Saturday Troparion and Kontakion

Sacred music by Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church (OCA) Culver City, CA:

Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, ‘He ascended’ — what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

- Ephesians 4:8-10 (NKJV)

He that was taken by death has annihilated it!

He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!

He embittered it when it tasted His flesh! And anticipating this, Isaiah exclaimed:

“Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions“.

It was embittered, for it was abolished!

It was embittered, for it was mocked!

It was embittered, for it was purged!

It was embittered, for it was despoiled!

It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!

It took a body and came upon God!

It took earth and encountered Heaven!

It took what it saw, but crumbled before what cannot be seen!

- from the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom, 4th century A.D.


Today Hades tearfully sighs:

“Would that I had not received Him who was born of Mary, for he came to me and destroyed my power; He broke my bronze gates, and being God, delivered the souls I had been holding captive.”

O Lord, glory to Thy Cross and to Thy Holy Resurrection!

Today Hades groans: “My power has vanished. I received One Who died as mortals die, but I could not hold Him; with Him and through Him I lost those over which I had ruled. I had held control over the dead since the world began, and lo, He raises them all up with Him!”

O Lord, glory to Thy Cross and to Thy Holy Resurrection!

- from the Holy Saturday Orthodox Liturgy, A Triddum Sourcebook, p. 66