Here are some texts of the prayers of the Orthodox Christians, chosen because they particularly represent the ethos of Orthodox spirituality and theology.
The Great Blessing of Water
Anaphora of St Basil
A Composition of Patriarch Sophronios of Jerusalem.
Trinity beyond all being, beyond all goodness, beyond all godhead, all-powerful, all-vigilant, invisible, incomprehensible; Creator of the spiritual beings and rational natures, innate goodness, unapproachable Light that enlightens everyone coming into the world, shine also in me your unworthy servant.
Enlighten the eyes of my mind that I may dare to sing the praise of your measureless benevolence and power. May my supplication for the people here present be acceptable, so that my offences may not prevent the Holy Spirit from being present here; but permit me now without condemnation to cry out to you and say, Master, lover of mankind, beyond all goodness, Almighty, eternal King.
We glorify you, the Creator and Fashioner of the universe. We glorify you, only-begotten Son of God, without father from your Mother, without mother from your Father. For in the preceding feast we saw you as a babe, but in the present one we see you full and perfect man, our God, made manifest as perfect God from perfect God. For today the moment of the feast is here for us and the choir of saints assembles here with us, and Angels keep festival with mortals.
Today the grace of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove dwelt upon the waters. Today the Sun that never sets has dawned and the world is made radiant with the light of the Lord. Today the Moon with its radiant beams sheds light on the world. Today the stars formed of light make the inhabited world lovely with the brightness of their splendour.
Today the clouds rain down from heaven the shower of justice for mankind. Today the Uncreated by his own will accepts the laying on of hands by his own creature. Today the Prophet and Forerunner draws near, but stands by with fear seeing God’s condescension towards us. Today the streams of Jordan are changed into healing by the presence of the Lord.
Today all creation is watered by mystical streams. Today the failings of mankind are being washed away by the waters of Jordan. Today Paradise is opened for mortals and the Sun of justice shines down on us. Today the bitter water as once for Moses’ people is changed to sweetness by the presence of the Lord.
Today we have been delivered from the ancient grief, and saved as the new Israel. Today we have been redeemed from darkness and are filled with radiance by the light of the knowledge of God. Today the gloomy fog of the world is cleansed by the manifestation of our God. Today all creation shines with light from on high. Today error has been destroyed and the coming of the Master makes for us a way of salvation.
Today things on high keep festival with those below, and those below commune with those on high. Today the sacred and triumphant festal assembly of the Orthodox exults. Today the Master hastens towards baptism, that he may lead humanity to the heights. Today the One who does not bow bows down to his own servant, that he may free us from servitude.
Today we have purchased the Kingdom of heaven, for the Kingdom of the Lord will have no end. Today earth and sea share the joy of the world, and the world has been filled with gladness. The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and were afraid. The Jordan turned back when it saw the fire of the godhead descending in bodily form and entering it.
The Jordan turned back as it contemplated the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove, descending and flying about you. The Jordan turned back as it saw the Invisible made visible, the Creator made flesh, the Master in the form of a servant. The Jordan turned back and the mountains leapt as they saw God in the flesh, and the clouds uttered their voice, marvelling at what had come to pass, seeing Light from Light, true God from true God, the Master’s festival today in Jordan; seeing him drowning the death from disobedience, the goad of error and the bond of Hell in Jordan and granting the Baptism of salvation to the world.
Therefore I too, a sinner and your unworthy servant, recount the greatness of your wonders and, seized with fear, in compunction cry out to you:
Great are you, O Lord, and wonderful your works, and no word is adequate to sing the praise of your wonders (x3).
For by your own will you brought the universe from non-existence into being, you hold creation together by your might, and by your providence you direct the world. You composed creation from four elements; with four seasons you crowned the circle of the year. All the spiritual Powers tremble before you.
The sun sings your praise, the moon glorifies you, the stars entreat you, the light obeys you, the deeps tremble before you, the springs are your servants. You stretched out the heavens on the waters; you walled in the sea with sand; you poured out the air for breathing. Angelic Powers minister to you. The choirs of the Archangels worship you. The many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim as they stand and fly around you hide their faces in fear of your unapproachable glory.
For you, being God uncircumscribed, without beginning and inexpressible, came upon earth, taking the form of a servant, being found in the likeness of mortals. For you could not bear, Master, in the compassion of your mercy to watch the human race being tyrannised by the devil, but you came and saved us.
We acknowledge your grace, we proclaim your mercy, we do not conceal your benevolence. You freed the generations of our race. You sanctified a virgin womb by your birth. All creation sang your praise when you appeared. For you are our God who appeared on earth and lived among mortals. You sanctified the streams of Jordan by sending down from heaven your All-holy Spirit and you smashed the heads of the dragons that lurked there.
Therefore, O King, lover of mankind, be present now too through the visitation of your Holy Spirit, and + sanctify this water. (x3)
And give to it the grace of redemption and the blessing of Jordan. Make it a source of incorruption, a gift of sanctification, a deliverance from sins, an averting of diseases, unapproachable by hostile powers, filled with angelic strength. That all who draw from it and partake of it may have it for cleansing of souls and bodies, for healing of passions, for sanctification of homes, for every suitable purpose.
For you are our God, who through water and Spirit renewed our nature made old by sin. You are our God, who in the days of Noah drowned sin through the water of the flood. You are our God, who through Moses freed the Hebrew race from the slavery of Pharaoh through the sea. You are our God who split open the rock in the desert, and waters rushed out and torrents flooded down, and you satisfied your thirsty people. You are our God, who through Elias turned Israel from the error of Baal.
And now, Master,as then, sanctify this water by your Holy Spirit. (x3) Give to all who partake of it sanctification, blessing, cleansing, health.
Priest: Peace be with you
All: And with your spirit.
Deacon: Let us bow our heads to the Lord.
All: To you, O Lord.
And the Priest says the Prayer in a low voice.
Priest: Incline your ear and hear us, Lord, who accepted to be baptised in Jordan and to sanctify the waters, and bless us all, who signify our calling as servants by the bending of our necks. And count us worthy to be filled with your sanctification through the partaking and sprinkling of this water. And let it be for us, Lord, for healing of soul and body. For you are the sanctification of our souls and bodies, and to you we give glory, thanksgiving and worship, with your Father who is without beginning, and your All-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.
O You Who Are, O Master, Lord, God, Father Almighty and Adorable! It is truly proper and just and befitting the majesty of your holiness that we should exalt You, praise You, bless You, worship You, give thanks to You and glorify You, the God Who alone exists, and that we should offer to You this our spiritual worship with a contrite heart and humble spirit; for it is You Who have graciously bestowed upon us the knowledge of your truth.
Who can speak of all your mighty works and make all your praises heard? Who can tell of your miracles at all times?
O Master of All, Lord of heaven and earth and of all created beings both visible and invisible! You sit on the throne of glory and look upon the depths; You are invisible, unknowable, indescribable, without beginning and without change, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior. He is our Hope, the Image of your goodness, the Seal of your Likeness, Who reveals You, the Father, in Himself. He is the living Word, true God, Wisdom that existed before time began, Life, Sanctification, Power, the true Light, through Whom also the Holy Spirit was revealed. The Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, the Gift of filial adoption, the Pledge of an inheritance to come, the Beginning of eternal good things, the Life-giving Power and the Fountain of Holiness, through Whom every rational and intelligent creature is given the power to worship You and to send up to You unending glory, for all things are your servants. The Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, Authorities, Powers and the many-eyed Cherubim praise You. Standing circled before You are the Seraphim, each having six wings: with two wings they cover their faces, with two their feet and with two they fly as they call to one another with unceasing and incessant hymns of praise as they sing, cry out and proclaim the triumphant hymn, saying:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord of hosts! Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest!
With these blessed powers, O Master and Lover of Mankind, we sinners also cry out and say: "Holy are You, truly all-holy!" There is no limit to the majesty of your holiness. You are revered in all your works, for in righteousness and true judgment You have ordered all things for us. When You created man and had fashioned him from the dust of the earth and had honored him as your own image, O God, You set him in the midst of a bountiful paradise, promising him life eternal and the enjoyment of everlasting good things by keeping your commandments.
But when he disobeyed You, the true God Who had created him, and was led astray by the deceit of the serpent, he was made subject to death through his own transgressions. In your righteous judgment, O God, You exiled him from paradise into this world and returned him to the earth from which he had been taken. But You provided for him the salvation of rebirth which is in your Christ Himself.
For You did not turn Yourself away forever from your creation whom You had made, O Good One, nor did You forget the work of your hands, but You visited him in different ways. Through the tender compassion of your mercy, You sent forth prophets. You performed great works by the Saints who in every generation were well-pleasing to You. You spoke to us through the mouths of your servants the Prophets who foretold to us the salvation which was to come. You gave us the Law to aid us. You appointed angels to guard us. And when the fullness of time had come, You spoke to us through your Son Himself, through whom You had created time.
Being the Brightness of your Glory and the Stamp of your Person, and upholding all things by the power of his Word, your Son did not think of equality with You, Who alone are God and Father, as something to be grasped. And so, although He was God before time began, He appeared on earth and dwelt among us. He was incarnate of a holy virgin and emptied Himself, taking on the form of a servant and being conformed to the body of our lowliness so that He might conform us to the image of his glory. Since sin entered the world through a man and death through sin, so your Only-begotten Son, Who is in your bosom, our God and Father, was well- pleased to be born of a woman, the holy Birth-giver of God and ever- virgin Mary. He was born under the Law, so that He might condemn sin in his own flesh, so that those who died in Adam might be made alive in Him, your Christ.
He lived in this world and gave us commandments for salvation. He released us from the delusions of idolatry and brought us to the knowledge of You, true God and Father. He procured us for Himself as a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Having purified us with water, He sanctified us with the Holy Spirit. He gave Himself as a ransom to death by which we were held captive, having been sold into slavery by sin. He descended into the realm of death through the Cross, that He might fill all things with Himself. He loosed the sorrow of death and rose again from the dead on the third day, for it was not possible that the Author of Life should be conquered by corruption. In this way He made a way to the resurrection of the dead for all flesh. Thus, He became the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the first-born of the dead, that He might be first in all ways among all things. Ascending into heaven, He sat at the right hand of your Majesty on High, and He shall come again to reward each person according to his deeds.
He left us memorials of his saving passion, these which we have set forth according to his command. For when He was about to go to his voluntary and ever-memorable and life-giving death, on the night when He gave Himself for the life of the world, He took bread into his holy and most pure hands and presented it to You, God and Father, and He gave thanks and blessed it and sanctified it and broke it and He gave it to his holy disciples and apostles, saying: "Take and eat, This is my Body which is broken for you for the remission of sins."
In like manner, having taken the cup of the fruit of the vine and mixed it, He gave thanks, blessed it, sanctified it and He gave it to his holy disciples and apostles, saying: "All of you drink of this, This is my Blood of the New Testament, Which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins."
"Do this in remembrance of Me, for as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim my death and confess my resurrection." Therefore, Master, remembering his redeeming Passion and his life-giving Cross, his three-day Burial, his Resurrection from the dead, his Ascension into heaven, his sitting at your right hand, God and Father, and his glorious and awesome Second Coming, we offer to You Yours of your Own, in behalf of all and for all.
We praise You, we bless You, we give thanks unto You, O Lord, and we pray to You, O our God.
O All-holy Master, since You have enabled us, your sinful and unworthy servants, to minister at your holy Altar, not through our own righteousness, for we have done nothing good upon the earth, but because of your mercies and bounties which You have richly poured out upon us, we now have the courage to draw near to this your holy Altar. Presenting to You the Antitypes of the sacred Body and Blood of your Christ, we pray and beseech You, O Holy of Holies, that by the pleasure of your goodness your Holy Spirit may descend upon us and upon these gifts lying here before You and bless and sanctify them and reveal this bread to be the precious Body of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, and that which is in this chalice to be the precious Blood of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, poured forth for the life of the world.
Unite all of us who partake of this one bread and cup to one another in the communion of the one Holy Spirit. Grant that none of us partake of the holy Body and Blood of your Christ for judgment or condemnation; rather, grant that we may find mercy and grace together with all the saints that have been pleasing to You throughout all time: with our fore-fathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, teachers, and with all the righteous made perfect in the faith, especially with our ever-holy, ever-pure, ever-blessed and glorious Lady, the Birth-giver of God and ever-Virgin Mary.