All you heavenly orders, sing to our God with the melody of praise. Rejoice with us today with gladness, in the Resurrection of the Lord Christ.
Today the prophecies are fulfilled and the sayings of the forefathers are realized by the Resurrection of the Lord from among the dead; He is the firstfruit of those who have fallen asleep.
This is the beautiful hymn that we all love singing for 50 days following the resurrection. In the beginning of this hymn, we join the angels in praising God. The heavenly orders are all the ranks of angels. There is no other time in the church that is more joyous than when we are celebrating the resurrection. That is because Christ has granted us a path to eternal life with him. He has opened the gates of paradise after they were closed after the sin of Adam and Eve. The thing that brings us the most sadness in this world which is death has been taken away. Christ has defeated death by his death.
The hymn then goes on to say that today the prophecies are fulfilled. In the Old Testament there were so many prophecies about Christ. There were prophecies about Christ coming to Earth, His birth, His ministry, what He would do on Earth, the miracles that He would perform, the way He would die, and also His Resurrection. One of those prophecies is in Psalm 16:10. It says, “For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption”. Christ went down to Hades but He did not stay there for on the third day, He rose and His body did not see corruption. There are many other prophecies about the Resurrection in the Old Testament.
The hymn then says that He is the firstfruit of those who have fallen asleep. These exact words are mentioned by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:20. The firstfruit was an offering that the Israelites made to God. During the time of harvest, the first crops that they collected were given to God and it was called the firstfruit. So when we say that Christ is the firstfruit of those who have fallen asleep, it means that He was the first one to rise from the dead and into eternal life. All of those who live in Christ Jesus will follow Him to spend eternal life with Him in heaven.
In the 4th verse of that hymn, we say He led Hades captive and crushed the brass doors. He utterly broke the bars of iron and, for us, exchanged punishment for salvation. The brass doors and bars of iron are references to the doors of Hades which is where all the souls went before the resurrection of Christ. This is taken from Psalm 107 which is another prophecy of Christ descending into Hades and freeing those who were captive. I encourage you all to go and read this beautiful psalm. It says in verses 14-16:
He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
For He has broken the gates of bronze, And cut the bars of iron in two.