If any be devout and love God,
let them enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast.
If any be a wise servant,
let them enter rejoicing into the joy of their Lord.
If any have labored long in fasting,
let them now receive their recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour,
let them today receive their just reward.
If any have come at the third hour,
let them with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour,
let them have no misgivings, because they shall in no wise be deprived.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour,
let them draw near, fearing nothing.
If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,
let them also be not alarmed at their tardiness;
for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor,
will accept the last even as the first;
he gives rest unto them who comes at the eleventh hour,
even as unto them who has worked from the first hour.
And He shows mercy upon the last,
and cares for the first;
and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts.
And he both accepts the deeds,
and welcomes the intention,
and honors the acts and praises the offering.
Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord,
and receive your reward,
both the first and likewise the second.
You rich and poor together,
hold high festival.
You sober and you heedless,
honor the day.
both you who have fasted
and you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is fully laden;
The calf is fatted;
let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy the feast of faith;
receive all the riches of loving-kindness.
Let no one bewail their poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for their iniquities,
for pardon has shone forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
for the Savior’s death has set us free:
he that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.
By descending into hell, he made hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of his flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, cried:
“Hell was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions.”
It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is your sting?
O Hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.
–Paschal Sermon, St. John Chrysostom (AD 347-407)