the Faith of the Ancients…


[1] The leader of his brethren and the pride of his people
was Simon the high priest, son of Onias,
who in his life repaired the house,
and in his time fortified the temple.
[2] He laid the foundations for the high double walls,
the high retaining walls for the temple enclosure.
[3] In his days a cistern for water was quarried out,
a reservoir like the sea in circumference.
[4] He considered how to save his people from ruin,
and fortified the city to withstand a seige.
[5] How glorious he was when the people gathered round him
as he came out of the inner sanctuary!
[6] Like the morning star among the clouds,
like the moon when it is full;
[7] like the sun shining upon the temple of the Most High,
and like the rainbow gleaming in glorious clouds;
[8] like roses in the days of the first fruits,
like lilies by a spring of water,
like a green shoot on Lebanon on a summer day;
[9] like fire and incense in the censer,
like a vessel of hammered gold
adorned with all kinds of precious stones;
[10] like an olive tree putting forth its fruit,
and like a cypress towering in the clouds.
[11] When he put on his glorious robe
and clothed himself with superb perfection
and went up to the holy altar,
he made the court of the sanctuary glorious.
[12] And when he received the portions from the
hands of the priests,
as he stood by the hearth of the altar
with a garland of brethren around him,
he was like a young cedar on Lebanon;
and they surrounded him like the trunks of palm trees,
[13] all the sons of Aaron in their splendor
with the Lord’s offering in their hands,
before the whole congregation of Israel.
[14] Finishing the service at the altars,
and arranging the offering to the Most High, the Almighty,
[15] he reached out his hand to the cup
and poured a libation of the blood of the grape;
he poured it out at the foot of the altar,
a pleasing odor to the Most High, the King of all.
[16] Then the sons of Aaron shouted,
they sounded the trumpets of hammered work,
they made a great noise to be heard
for remembrance before the Most High.
[17] Then all the people together made haste
and fell to the ground upon their faces
to worship their Lord,
the Almighty, God Most High.
[18] And the singers praised him with their voices
in sweet and full-toned melody.
[19] And the people besought the Lord Most High
in prayer before him who is merciful,
till the order of worship of the Lord was ended;
so they completed his service.
[20] Then Simon came down, and lifted up his hands
over the whole congregation of the sons of Israel,
to pronounce the blessing of the Lord with his lips,
and to glory in his name;
[21] and they bowed down in worship a second time,
to receive the blessing from the Most High.

This quote from LXX Sirach, describes the celebration of the ancient liturgies in the temple of Ancient Israel.  For anyone who has attended Orthodox liturgy, the parrallels are clear – the interaction between the congregation, deacons and priest reflect the worship lead by Simon the High Priest in former times.  The Divine Liturgies of the Orthodox Church are clearly inheritors of the traditions of ancient Israel as indeed the Church is Israel and as the true Israel is not disjointed from the life and prayer of the fathers dating back to our father Adam.