Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The "Nahire" service in the Syriac Orthodox Church

In the evening on Palm Sunday, the Service of Nahire — also called the Feast of Lights or the Entrance to Heaven Service — is held. It is a ritual unique to the Syriac Orthodox Church. The service focuses on the Parable of the Ten Virgins, which Jesus told to explain the need for constant preparedness to enter Heaven. Syriac prayers that recount the story are recited while the church lights are turned off, only candles held by the congregation provide illumination. The priest, deacons, and altar boys deliver the sermon by the pews because the altar is closed. The sermon concludes with the priest shouting thrice, “Moran, Moran ftah lan tar3okh” (O Lord, O Lord, open Thy door for us), which prompts the church lights to be turned on and the curtain to be opened. Nahire means “light” in Syriac, and the idea behind the practice is that by inviting Jesus into one’s heart, one will be shown the light and accepted into heaven through his grace.

One of the prayers chanted is Btarcokh Moran Noqeshno (At Your door, O Lord, I knock):

At Your door, O Lord, I knock, 

And from Your treasury I ask for mercies. 

I am a constant sinner and have turned aside from Your way. 

Grant me to confess and renounce my sins, 

And to live in Your grace. 

At whose door, other than Yours, 

Shall we knock, O Gracious Lord? 

Whom do we have to plead with You on behalf of our transgressions, 

If Your own mercy pleads not? 

O King, Whom the kings worship and glorify. 

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