Feast of the Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Leucius, and Callinicus of Asia Minor
TWO SUNDAYS before the celebration of Christmas, the Orthodox Church rejoices in the festival of the holy forefathers of the Old Covenant, including those who came before the giving of the Law. They foretold the coming of the Messiah and are redeemed by His saving Pascha. Together with the canon of the Nativity of Christ, the following hymns are sung at the services of the day:
Let us offer praise to the fathers
Who shone forth before and during the Law;
With righteous minds they served the Lord and Master
Who shone forth from the Virgin,
And now they delight in the unending Light.
Let us honor Adam, the first-formed man and forefather of all,
Who was honored by the hands of the Creator.
He rests in the heavenly mansions with all the elect.
You accepted Abel as he brought forward a gift
With a most noble soul, O God and Lord of all,\
And when in days of old he was murdered by a bloodguilty hand,
As a divine martyr You brought him before the Light.
Seth’s favor with the Creator is sung throughout the world,
For with a blameless life and disposition of soul
He served Him truly.
Now in the Land of the Living he cries aloud:
“Holy are You, O Lord!”
With his whole mouth, tongue and heart,
The wondrous Enoch hoped that in the Spirit
He might call with godly mind upon God, the Master of all.
Having lived on earth in a well-pleasing manner,
He has been taken up in glory.
Let us hear the divine words of those who cry aloud,
Telling of the coming of the Christ.
For behold, He is born in a cave of an unwedded Maiden,
And His awesome birth is foretold to the Wise Men
By the suddenly appearing star.
-Matins of the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers
—Fr Thomas Hopko, The Winter Pascha