“Christ our God, Your kingdom is an everlasting one and Your lordship is over all.
You have made all things with wisdom and have established proper times and seasons for our lives.
We give thanks to You in all circumstances and for all things.
Lord, bless the beginning of our Church year with Your goodness.
Grant that this liturgical year be for all of us a year of grace.
Make us worthy with purity of heart always to praise you. Lord, glory to You! “
Matin Hymn, September 1st
Do you know why the first day of September marks the beginning of the Church year? We are accustomed to think of January 1st as the beginning of the year. But the tradition of computing the start of a new year with autumn was common to the lands of the Bible and to all the lands around the Mediterranean. The summer harvest was at an end, the crops were stored, and people prepared for a new agricultural cycle. It was an appropriate time to begin a new year.
Many of the hymns for the first day of the Church year state that the coming year is God’s to give and God’s to bless — A YEAR OF THE LORD! These hymns take their theme from Psalm 65 (64 in the Greek Septuagint), a psalm of praise to the Creator Who is awesome as the Holy Lord but who richly sustains the earth with His abundant goodness.
“Bless, O Lord, the crown (that is, the beginning) of the year with Your goodness!”
The goodness of the Lord is His love, mercy and grace, The Church’s prayer is that the coming year will be a year of grace, a year blessed by God. Each year can be a year of grace, a year blessed by God.
The prayers and hymns of the Orthodox Church not only recite the wonderful works of God in creation and history for our salvation but also frequently offer guidance about how to make each year a year of grace, a year of the Lord. For example, the very first hymn of the new liturgical year, chanted at Vespers in the joyful first tone, reminds us that prayerful daily dependence on God is the basic attitude of the Christian and Christian life. This hymn is also interesting because it refers to another key passage in the Bible and addresses all the Orthodox faithful.
“O faithful, having learned true prayer from the very words
and divine teachings of Christ,
let us cry out to the Creator each day:
Our Father, who dwells in heaven,
give us always daily bread,
and forgive us our transgressions”.
Vesper Hymn, September 1st
Of course this hymn is making reference to the Lords Prayer, the “Our Father…”
Both the above Vesper hymn and the Lord’s Prayer set down three anchors, three great principles, necessary to make the coming year a year of the Lord, a year of grace.
- The teachings of Christ are the source of truth for our lives.
- Our Father in heaven is a personal God who provides for all our material and spiritual needs as we ask Him by faith.
- Daily prayer is the way of ongoing communication and a vital relationship with God.
Prayerful daily dependence on God sanctifies every moment of the day, whether we are at work, at play, at rest or in difficulty; it fills it with the presence of God and makes it God’s moment.
From “A year of the Lord,” v. 1 by Prof. Theodore Stylianopoulos. Hat tip to thehandmaid.wordpress.com.