Baptism of Christ (крещение)/Blessing of the Waters

On the Great Feast of Theophany, holy water is blessed twice: at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy on the eve of the feast, and on morning of the feast itself. After processing to the place where the vessel of water is prepared to the singing of appropriate troparia (hymns) of the Theophany there are a group of Scripture readings (Isaiah 35:1-10Isaiah 55:1-13Isaiah 12:3-6, and 1 Corinthians 10:1-4), culminating in the baptism account from the Gospel of Saint Mark (1:9-11) followed by the Great Litany. This is sung just as at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, but with the following additional petitions which make clear what is being asked of God and what the use, purpose, and blessing of the water is believed to entail.

That these waters may be sanctified by the power, and effectual operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.

That there may descend upon these waters the cleansing operation of the super-substantial Trinity, let us pray to the Lord.

That he will endue them with the grace of redemption, the blessing of Jordan, the might, and operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.

That Satan may speedily be crushed under our feet, and that every evil counsel directed against us may be brought to naught, let us pray to the Lord.

That the Lord our God will free us from every attack and temptation of the enemy, and make us worthy of the good things which he hath promised, let us pray to the Lord.

That he will illumine us with the light of understanding and of piety, and with the descent of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.

That the Lord our God will send down the blessing of Jordan, and sanctify these waters, let us pray to the Lord.

That this water may be unto the bestowing of sanctification; unto the remission of sins; unto the healing of soul and body; and unto every expedient service, let us pray to the Lord.

That this water may be a fountain welling forth unto life eternal, let us pray to the Lord.

That it may manifest itself effectual unto the averting of every machination of our foes, whether visible or invisible, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who shall draw of it and take of it unto the sanctification of their homes, let us pray to the Lord.

That it may be for the purification of the souls and bodies of all those who, with faith, shall draw and partake of it, let us pray to the Lord.

That he will graciously enable us to perfect sanctification by participation in these waters, through the invisible manifestation of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.

Then, following a lengthy set of didactic prayers that expound on the nature of the feast and summarize salvation history, praising God's creation of and mastery over the elements, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over the water with his hand and prays specifically for the blessing to be invoked upon it. At the climax of the service, he immerses the hand cross into the water three times in imitation of Christ's baptism to the singing of the festal troparion:

When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord,

The worship of the Trinity was made manifest.

For the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee,

And called Thee His beloved Son.

And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,

Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.

O Christ God, Who hast revealed Thyself,

And hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee!

The priest then blesses the entire church and congregation with the newly consecrated water. All come forward to be sprinkled over the head with the Theophany Water as the kiss the hand cross, and to drink some of it.

The priest will then set out to bless the homes of all of the faithful with Theophany Water. In large parishes, this process will take some time. However, the priest must bless all of the houses of the faithful before the beginning of Great Lent. In monasteries the Hegumen (Superior) will bless the cells of all of the monks.

Orthodox Christianity teaches that the Great Blessing of Waters actually changes the nature of the water,[1] and that water so blessed is no longer corruptible, but remains fresh for many years.[1]