To all our friends and correspondents who celebrate Easter on the Orthodox calendar — 1 May this year — we at Liberty Unyielding wish you a most happy and blessed Easter.
America has many Orthodox worshippers of our own. But in the last five years, it’s Middle Eastern Christians of the Orthodox rite whom we’ve probably heard the most about, because of the tremendous persecution of those in countries like Syria, Iraq, and Egypt.
Remarkably, although their ranks have been much reduced by Islamic extremists, Syrian Christians of the Greek Orthodox Church assembled for Holy Week activities again this year.
For Western Christians, the ancient lamentations sung in Arabic, on Good Friday, by their brothers and sisters in Syria are a special treat. (Apologies in advance for any pre-video ads, which I know spoil the mood.)
Of course, Orthodox Easter is celebrated across the “Grand Junction” of Asia, Europe, and Africa, from Jerusalem and Cairo to the Balkans, Southeastern Europe, and the great churches of Russia.
In Ukraine, we are told, Ukrainian national and pro-Russian troops have agreed to a ceasefire for Easter. The melancholy aspect of this — harking back to the holy day arrangements in centuries of earlier wars between Christian nations — is for another time. For now, we can listen to the men’s choir of the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, in 2007, singing a century-old arrangement of a very Russian “Christ is Risen” by Alexander Kastalsky.
The final video is not, strictly speaking, an Easter chant. It’s a chant of Psalm 135 in Arabic, by the School of Ecclesiastical Music in the Orthodox Archdiocese of Mount Lebanon (Lebanon). It’s a goosebump-raising reminder that the spread of Christianity predates by centuries the rise of European Christendom — a reflection that resonates more and more as the cracks widen in the political structures of the modern West.
Christos Anesti! Khristos Voskrese! المسيح قام And a Happy Easter to our Orthodox friends.