The First Antiphon and Second Antiphon
An Antiphon is a group of short hymns. The antiphonic verses sung vary according to the Feast Day and Holiday. During the early days of the church, Antiphons were sung by two choirs, one choir answering the other choir. But today, usually only one choir is used.
The songs that are sung during the First Antiphon are songs of praise, which are found in the Bible in the Psalms of David. Since these are songs of praise, not just the choir should be singing them, but the entire church should participate because when the songs of praise are sung, that is exactly what we are doing, glorifying and praising God, thanking Him for His mercy and all the good things He has done for us.
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, 0 Most High. Ps. 92:1
The songs of praise or Psalms that are sung during the First and Second Antiphons are Psalms 103 and Psalms 146
Bless the Lord, 0 my soul! Blessed art Thou, O Lord!
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
The Emperor’s Song
Only begotten Son and immortal Word of God.
The Emperor’s Song was written by Emperor Justinian the ruler of the Roman Empire in the sixth century. His full name was Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Justinianus, but was called Justinian the Great. Justinian had a great interest in building cities and churches, that he had rebuilt the church of Hagia Sophia at Constantinople after it was destroyed. Justinian wanted to rule with justice and charity so he had ten educated civilians draw up a new code or body of civil laws called Corpus Juris Civilis.
The song is about Jesus Christ. It tells that we are able o learn about Christ through the Bible, He is God, He came to live among man, He died and because He is God He rose from the dead. Justinian wrote the song to show his love and his belief in Jesus Christ.
The Little Litany
The Little Litany is a repeat of a small part of the Great Litany. There is a short petition of prayers.
“Again and again in peace let us pray to the Lord”
“Help us, save us. have mercy on us, and keep us. 0 God, by Thy grace”
“Commemorating our most holy, most pure most blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos and ever virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and each other and all our life unto Christ our God.”
Again the response sung by the choir and the people is;
Lord have mercy.
The response after the commendation is:
The Little Litany is recited once after the First Antiphon and again after the Second Antiphon to separate the two Psalms.
The Beatitudes or The Third Antiphon
The Beatitudes are nine rules that Jesus has given us to live by in order to obtain peace with God, peace with other people, and happiness. The Beatitudes are a part of the Gospel and are sung right after the singing of the Emperor’s Song.
The Beatitudes and their meaning
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Matt. 5:3
The people who realize that God has given us all that we have and that we depend on God and His mercy on us. We should be thankful for what we have and put to good use our special talents.
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matt. 5:4
Our first thought when we hear that someone is mourning is that someone they care for the person who has died and he or she is sad and we want to make the person not to feel bad (comfort them). This second beatitude deals with the people who know right from wrong, good from bad and mourn (feel sad) when they see someone doing something bad because they know it is not right or a good thing. God will comfort these people.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matt. 5:5
The meek are the unselfish people who are concerned about the needs of others. These are the people who are willing to set aside their own wants and needs to help others.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matt. 5:6
The feelings a person have when they are very hungry or thirsty. It is a great need or desire to have food or water. This beatitude teaches us that we should have that same kind of desire to please God and those around us.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Matt. 6:7
People who help others who are in need, lonely, poor or even unhappy will be loved by God. We should try to help those who are not as fortunate.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matt. 5:8
People who are forgiving, unselfish do not do or think evil things shall be happy.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Matt. 5:9
This teaches us that we should work towards peace in the world and to try to put an end to all wars.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Matt. 5:10
This tells us that we should practice our faith and follow the teachings of Jesus and not be tempted away.
9. Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in, heaven. Matt. 5:11 Matt. 5:12
Keep your faith in God, follow the teachings of Jesus. Do not let people tempt you away from your beliefs.