THE BLESSING AND SANCTIFICATION OF THE BRANCHES ON FLOWERY SUNDAY
The following formulary of the blessing of the willow branches on Flowery Sunday appeared in the TREBNIK published in 1926 by His Grace, Josephat, Greek Catholic Bishop of Peremyshyl, now within Ukraine, and appears below, courtesy of His Grace, Jan Hirka, Ruthenian Greek Catholic Bishop of Preshov, located in eastern Slovakia. It was translated from Old Slavonic into English by Larissa Tolchinsky.
Following the Divine Liturgy of Flowery Sunday, the priest censes the willow branches on the altar while praying:
Cantor: Lord have mercy.
Priest: Our Lord, who dwells above the Cherubim and who sent His only Son Our Lord Jesus Christ to save the world by His crucifixion, death and resurrection, came to Jerusalem to suffer for His people living in darkness, who by His death were able to rise again. These boughs of trees and branches of palm tell us that the Resurrection is near. (Here the priest makes the sign of the cross blessing the branches. Lord, bless these branches and all of us. Bless this day and the branches of the tree which lives for ever. Bless all the people and all the children of God, we pray, and we praise you in our songs so that we may reach the day of the Resurrection. May your Spirit thus save and bless all that is growing on earth today and for all ages of ages.
Priest: Peace be with all.
Cantor: And with your spirit.
Deacon: Bow your heads to the Lord.
Cantor: To You, 0 Lord.
Priest: Almighty Lord, having given the image of the Church to Your rightous descendants of Noah through the dove which brought the olive branch predicting the coming of the Holy Spirit thus fulfilled the vision of the Jewish children who greeted You with green branches saying: Hosanna, hosanna in the highest, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Bless these branches and people (sign of the cross) and sanctify them (sign of the cross) so that those who receive them may enjoy Your protection of body and soul. Save them and let them receive your benevolence forever wherever they may be. Let them all be saved. May there be rebirth of life in all places where these words are spoken. Drive all evil spirits from this place. Let the light of day shine everywhere. May they all be blessed by Your Blood so that we may all sing in unison: Hosanna, may all who are here be blessed so that they may be judged rightly on judgment Day in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit today and for ages of ages.
Then the priest blesses all the branches with holy water saying:
I bless and sanctify these branches with holy water in the name of the Father (sign of the cross) and of the Son (sign of the cross) and of the Holy Spirit (sign of the cross). Amen.
Choir: Today we have been blessed by the Holy Spirit.
The priest returns the Gospels to the altar and hands out the blessed branches to all present. The blessing of the branches is often followed by the song:
LET THE SOUL REJOICE TODAY