Behold the Bridegroom Comes

Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight,

And blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching,

And again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.

Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep,

Lest you be given up to death, and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom.

But rouse yourself crying: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O our God,

Through the Theotokos have mercy on us.

Troparion of Bridegroom Matins

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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15 responses to “Behold the Bridegroom Comes”

  1. Mrs. Mutton Avatar
    Mrs. Mutton

    I don’t know why, but from the very first Lent I spent in the Orthodox Church, this has been one of my *favorite* Troparia. The Byzantine melody (I am in a Greek parish) is haunting.

  2. Catherine K. Avatar

    This Byzantine melody even fills my dreams as we get deeper into Holy Week. I am not in a Greek parish, but we still use the Byzantine melody. Perhaps it is the words as much as the melody, but something about it gets deep into the soul.

  3. stephen Avatar
    stephen

    This week is the week I look forward to all year. The beauty of the Bridegroom services is beyond my ability to truly comprehend. This year, for some reason Great Lent flew by fast (pardon the pun) and now we are on the threshold of Holy Week! Glory to God, soon we will be shouting Christ has Risen!

  4. […] Holy week for us Orthodox. For Holy Monday, a few links … here and here plus a Palm Sunday link […]

  5. […] Holy week for us Orthodox. For Holy Monday, a few links … here and here plus a Palm Sunday link […]

  6. athenivandx Avatar

    I attended the Bridegroom service last evening………it was beautiful!

    I love Holy Week…….

    and I had Confession after the Liturgy……..I’ll try and capture the experience in words at some point.

    God Bless

  7. connie Avatar
    connie

    Stephen: “This week is the week I look forward to all year.”

    How is it that this time period (Great Lent and Holy Week), which non-Orthodox would think must be the worst for us because we “can’t” eat what we want or do all the fun things we usually do, is actually the most anticipated time of year?

    How can going to long services every night of the week be something that we look forward to? And the longest services are our family favorites: Twelve Gospels and Pascha!

    I guess the answer is: The beauty of the Lenten services is indescribable, and then Holy Week services top those.

  8. elizabeth Avatar

    prayers continue for your health Father! 🙂 Blessed Holy week and Pasca!

  9. Richard Avatar

    I am really finding your blog to be pretty interesting. Especially the topic on the reality of hell. I couldn’t comment on that on because it was full. I will looking for more of your post-Richard

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  10. Karen C Avatar
    Karen C

    Father bless! This is my second Orthodox Holy Week, and Holy Saturday will be the one year anniversary of my chrismation. This time I am singing in the choir–what an indescribable joy to sing these profound and moving texts! The Bridegroom icon also struck me to the heart the first time I saw it–it speaks so beautifully of Christ’s humiliation (and also His profound humility and love) for our sakes. Thank you for this blog site. It never fails to nurture my faith. Blessed Pascha to you!

  11. Theodora Elizabeth Avatar
    Theodora Elizabeth

    Connie, I always feel such a letdown after Pascha, because I’m used to being in church all the time! I transferred into my OCA parish four months ago from an Antiochian parish – more services (the Sunday evening deanery Vespers, plus Friday Vespers), and different music (I’m in choir). It’s much different going through Lent and Holy Week being in choir rather than just attending all the services!

    I mentioned the letdown part to my priest last week, and he said others have said the same thing to him!

    I LOVE Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha, My coworkers think I’m nuts for spending so much time in church. I have Thursday and Friday off to attend services – and then Monday to recover, as well as to attend Bright Monday Liturgy at the cathedral here.

  12. Sean Avatar
    Sean

    It is not mere coincidence that so many people find this hymn particularly moving and solemn and beautiful. It introduces us, literally, into the Holy and Great Week, after the long preparation of Lent. To me it reminds priceless personal moments. I always remember the Bridegroom Matins, late on the evening of Palm Sunday, when all the church lights are turned off, and there, in the flickering light of the candles I hear the soft clinging of the censer’s bells and out of the darkness emerges the icon of the Bridegroom held by the priest, accompanied by that haunting chant. Always makes my knees feel shaky. Below I post 2 links of the chant, one in greek style, the other in russian:

    Wish to everyone a blessed Holy and Great Week for 2009!

  13. Panayiotis Avatar
    Panayiotis

    Forgive me Father, but the reference to ‘midnight’ (12am) is incorrect. A better translation of that section is ‘the middle of the night’. The point of the parable is surely that the arrival of the Bridegroom was not at an agreed time but that the virgins should have been anticipating the arrival and were to be ready.

  14. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    Panayiotis,
    I was working with the translation sung in my jurisdiction. Strictly speaking, “Midnight” means “Middle of the Night.” But your point is quite apt.

  15. Corin Avatar
    Corin

    Forgive me for mentioning anything here. This may be nit-picky to some, but I finding wording fun. (Secularly, before becoming Orthodox I became a lawyer, now I’m a teacher.)

    Regardless, I notice wording issues in Orthodox translations all the time. I think many of our translations were adopted too quickly from Roman Catholics and need a little tweaking to be more Orthodox.

    As such, there is nothing wrong with Father’s translation, but the point that it allows an association to a particular time is true and perhaps unfortunate. Perhaps to avoid confusion, one could translate it as “mid-night,” OR “amid night.” Both mean “in the middle of the night” without inferring 12:00 a.m.

    So… I know that was belated, but I commented just for fun for me.
    (I wish I were able to work on more of these. )

    –Corin

    P.S.
    As an aside, I have a prayer book I would love some help with… I don’t know if it will go anywhere. It is based on another prayer book for the hours that cited the Masoretic Text (MT) for the Psalms. For my own use I decided to replace the MT Psalms with the Septuagint (LXX) Psalms published by Holy Apostles Convent (HAC). (Though they seem a bit nervous of people using their text, I find their endnotes most helpful.)

    But the original prayer book had a few issues… and the Psalter constantly translate • άκηδία (acedia) as turpor (it is far more than that), and
    • δούλος (doulos) as slave… something I’m not sure is apt. For example:
    – If we are God’s slaves, there is an inference that He is a slave-owner and we are exploited or unwilling to serve.
    – If we are His servants, that infers we not only receive something from the relationship, but that we want to serve–which isn’t always accurate (as our sins show–which is why the prayers often call us unworthy or unprofitable servants).
    – “Subject” is much more neutral. One can be a good or bad “subject” of the Master without connoting exploitation or restriction of the subservient’s will. Nor does it connote that we serve willingly or not; simply that the duty is owed to our King/Lord/Master/Benefactor.

    As such, considering all three words are meanings been used to translate doulos, where patristic commentary allows, I think the English term “subject” ought be preferred much of the time, rather than “slave” (which is used almost exclusively by HAC).

    Anyone out there wants to put in their two-cents… I’d love some help or advice on the project so as to remain “in His service.”

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