before Lakhu Mara:
The two prayers which express
almost the same ideas seem to have been originally one. Besides the
Christological address, the expressions “ sweet fragrance of your love” and
“your Church crowned like a spouse” are also eminently Christological. The
redactor perhaps added the address “of your Son” and the final trinitarian
verse to make the prayer a trinitarian formula. In the Church of the East
tradition, sweet fragrance or odorous scent belongs to the heavenly world; the
heavenly chamber is full of the odour of salvation. So “the sweet fragrance of
your love”, in the prayer, signifies the dispensation Christ, the eternal love
of God manifested for our salvation.
The sweet smoke can also have
the meaning of the eschatological fulfilment of redemption. AS Gabriel Qatraya
“The smoke of spices is the
mystery of the future sweetness which our Lord promised to those who believe in
Him and keep His commandments”.
Isho’dad of Merv, commenting
on the Epistle to the Hebrews 9: 1-5, says “that the golden censer with incense
is a sign of the righteous who are accepted in the heaven”. Elsewhere he
demonstrates that ‘we are the sweet savour pleasing to God in Christ, and the
savour of His knowledge, contains an idea of the life o come [2Cor 2:15].
Abdesho says that it is the vision of our Lord by the just at the end. Hence
‘the sweet fragrance breathing over us as the enlightenment of our souls with
the knowledge of his truth’ envision the final stage of redemption when we are
to be filled with the love and the light of the faith in the Lord. ‘The
manifestation of the Son in Heaven’ and the final glorification of the ‘Church
as a crowned spouse full of every help and blessing’ confirm the idea of the
divine economy in its eschatological fulfilment.
The Church now reflects the
state of realised eschatology of the dispensation of Christ. It looks back to
the redemptive past, in the formula of commemorations and ferial days, and
discerns the salvific work of the Christ. The phrases “that you have given us”,
and “ for which we can not repay you enough” indicate the gratuitous saving
action of Christ. As a result the only response that emerges from the depth of
the heart of the Church is incessant praise and gratitude towards her Lord and
triune God. Once more in the introductory part of the Eucharistic celebration,
heaven and earth join together in sending forth praise to God for “every help
(To you, O Lord) and its Collect.
“Lord of all, we thank you;
and you Jesus Christ, we glorify you; for you are the quickener of our bodies
and the gracious Saviour of our souls”. This is a celebrated hymn in the Church
of the East Liturgy, usually called the Resurrection Hymn par excellence, the
prayer of the song of Adam which celebrates Christ, the source of our
resurrection , it is one of the most archaic element of the Eastern Liturgy; its
simplicity, its concision and theological depth place it among the euchological
masterpiece of the universal Church.
Lakhu Mara, which was very
ancient hymn chanted in almost all liturgical celebrations of the Eastern
tradition was possibly introduced into the Eucharistic Liturgy because of its
parallelism with the vespers. The hymn, which was already established in the
church in the time of Gabriel Qatraya in the beginning of the seventh century,
must have been written before Gabriel. Indeed it is composed by Mar Babai
(498-502) according to the Onita of Gewargis Warda.
When the hymn of Lakhu Mara is
sung, the veil of the altar is drawn and the deacon incenses the sanctuary as
well as the people. The hymn is chanted twice with the psalm verse intercalated
“I have washed my hands clean and went around your altar, O Lord” [Ps 26:6] for
the ferial days, and a third time with “Glory to the Father and to the Son and
to the Holy Spirit”.
We have seen that the hymn
praises Jesus Christ as the source of our resurrection. The unveiling of the
altar during the hymn symbolically signifies the manifestation of our Lord for
our redemption, especially at His baptism. Gabriel Qatraya interprets the hymn
as the mystery of “the confession of the Apostles by which, representing all,
Simon said:” You are Christ the Son of God”. The Eastern tradition which
presents Christ as the quickener of bodies and souls, provides a deep insight
into His salvific economy, especially as the resuscitator of our bodies.
Therefore the hymn, summarising the salvific works of Christ as the
resuscitator, can very well be called a Resurrection hymn for praising Jesus
Christ as the source of resurrection.
Although the collect of Lakhu
Mara, “You, O my Lord, are indeed the quickener of our bodies”, is known as the
prayer before the Trisagion, many manuscripts consider it the prayer after the
Lakhu Mara. The content of the prayer, which resumes the text of the hymn almost
literally, indicates clearly that it is the collect of the Lakhu Mara. The hymn
together with its collect expresses a pure praise to the Christ in its climax,
with which the Entrance Ceremony of the Qurbana concludes.