The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Before Vespers, the priest (wearing his phelonion) approaches the Table of Oblation, where the precious Cross, decorated with various flowers and lying on a tray that is covered with an Aer, has been prepared. The Royal Doors and the curtain are closed. Priest: Blessed is our God. Deacon or Reader (in the altar): Trisagion Prayers. During this, the priest censes the precious Cross and then gives up the censer. Priest: For Thine is the Kingdom. Then are sung the troparion of the Cross, G/N and the Kontakion. During the singing, the priest makes a prostration, then places the tray with the Cross (covered by the Aer) on his head and carries it to the Holy Table, preceded by two candle-bearers. The priest puts the Cross on the Holy Table in the place of the Gospel Book, which has previously been set upright at the back of the Holy Table. The priest censes three times around the Holy Table. Then the curtain and the Royal Doors are opened and the vigil begins.
Great Vespers: Blessed is the man, is not sung.
Lord I have Cried, Tone 6: Feast 8 (Raised on high, the Cross); G/N: Feast (Come, all ye nations).
Entry; O Gladsome Light; Prokimenon of the day, Tone 1: Thy mercy, O Lord, shall pursue me.
3 Readings for the Feast.
Litia stichera of the Feast (Today the holy words of David); G/N: Moses, prefiguring the activity.
Aposticha: Feast (Rejoice, thou Life-bearing Cross); G/N (To Thy precious Cross).
Troparia: Feast (O Lord, save Thy people) x3.
Matins: God is the Lord, Tone 1; Troparia: Feast x2; G/N: Feast.
After each Kathisma: Sessional hymns of the Feast.
Polyeleos and Magnification of the Feast (chanted in front of the Holy Table, on which the Cross is lying): We magnify Thee, O Christ, the Giver of life, and we honor Thy holy Cross, whereby Thou hast saved us from bondage to the enemy. Psalm verse: Judge them, O God, that do me injustice; war against those who war against me.
Sessional hymn of the Feast (Of old, in paradise).
Hymns of Ascents, First Antiphon, Tone 4: From my youth.
Prokimenon of the Feast, Tone 4: All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Matins Gospel: John 12:28-36 (§42 mid.).
Having beheld the Resurrection.
Psalm 50; G: Through the prayers of the Apostles; N: Through the prayers of the Theotokos; Have mercy on me, O God; Sticheron of the Feast (O Cross of Christ). Save, O God, Thy people.
After the exclamation, we do not go out to venerate the Icon of the Feast, on account of the veneration of the Cross at the end of the service.
Canon: Cross 12 Glory, O Lord, to Thy precious Cross.
After Ode 3, Sessional hymn of the Feast (Rejoicing in thee, O thrice-blessed and life-bestowing Cross).
After Ode 6, Kontakion (O Thou Who wast lifted up willingly on the Cross) and Ikos of the Cross.
At Ode 9, we do not sing More Honorable. We instead sing the refrains of the Feast: Magnify, O my soul, the all-honored Cross of the Lord, and the Irmos (O Theotokos, thou art a mystical Paradise), with the usual censing, and the refrain and troparia of the first canon, and likewise, the second Irmos (Today the death that came to man through eating of the tree) with its refrain and troparia. Exapostilaria: Feast (The Cross is the guardian of the whole world) x2; G/N: Today is the Cross raised on high.
Praises, Tone 8: Feast 4 (O all-glorious wonder); G/N: Feast (Today the Cross of the Lord cometh forth).
For the rubrics concerning the bringing out of the Cross, see The Festal Menaion, page 153f; or page 195f of the SJOKP Menaion. During the Great Doxology the priest, wearing all his vestments, censes three times around the Holy Table. While the choir sings the concluding Holy God to a slow and solemn melody, the priest takes the Cross with the tray and carries it upon his head out of the Altar through the north door, preceded by two candles, stopping in front of the Royal Doors. When the final Holy God has ended, he says Wisdom! Aright! Then we sing the troparion of the Cross, thrice. The priest places the decorated Cross on an analogion it in the middle of the church, and censes around it three times (in Cathedrals the rite of the Elevation is served). Then he sings three times: Before Thy Cross, and this is also repeated three times by the people. Then, the priest, clergy, and the people (one by one) venerate the precious Cross. And as the clergy and people venerate the Cross, the choir sings the Stichera in the Menaion.
After the conclusion of the stichera, the two remaining Litanies and the Festal Dismissal: May Christ our True God, through the intercessions of His most pure Mother, through the power of the precious and life-creating Cross, and of all the saints; First Hour.
Hours: Troparion: Feast; Kontakion: Feast.
Liturgy: The festal antiphons are sung in place of the usual Typical Psalms and Beatitudes.
At the entrance, the deacon (or priest if there is no deacon) says the Festal Introit in place of the usual O come let us worship: Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship the footstool of His feet, for it is holy.
And immediately the Troparion of the Feast; G/N: Kontakion of the Feast.
Instead of the Trisagion: Before Thy Cross.
Prokimenon, Tone 7: Exalt ye the Lord our God.
Epistle: I Cor. 1:18-24 (§125).
Alleluia, Tone 1.
Gospel: John 19:6-11,13-20,25-28,30-35 (§60).
Instead of It is truly meet, we sing the refrain Magnify, O my soul, with the Irmos of the Ninth Ode (O Theotokos, thou art a mystical Paradise).
Communion Hymn: The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, hath been signed upon us.
Vespers: Lord I have Cried, Tone 5, on 6: Feast 3 (Rejoice, O life-bearing Cross); Great Martyr Nikitas 3 (Arrayed in the armor of piety); G: Martyr (We know thee as a lamp); N: Feast (The voices of the prophets).
Entry; O Gladsome Light; the Great Prokimenon, Tone 7: Our God is in heaven and on earth; all things soever He hath willed, He hath done.
Aposticha: Feast; G: Martyr (Thou didst show thyself); N: Feast (O God, the words of Moses).
Troparia: Martyr (Taking up the Cross of Christ); G/N: Feast (O Lord, save Thy people); Festal Dismissal.