Posted from Eastern Prelacy’s Crossroad E-Newsletter
The Blessing of the Grapes takes place on the Feast of the Assumption, although there is no connection between the two. Similar to other holidays, it coincides with a pagan era festival, which the Church Fathers incorporated into the liturgical calendar. The hymn Park Sourp Khatchesi (Glory to Your Sacred Cross) is sung; Biblical passages are recited, followed by a prayer composed by Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali specifically for this occasion. After the prayer, the grapes are blessed three times with the words Orhnestsee Bahbanestsee and then the blessed grapes are distributed to the faithful, many of whom have refrained from eating grapes until this blessing takes place.
Certainly we can say that the Blessing of the Grapes is a celebration of the fruitfulness of the earth. Grapes are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. According to biblical history, Noah planted a vineyard immediately after disembarking from the Ark (Genesis, chapter 9) in Nakhichevan, Armenia. And, of course, the wine of the Divine Liturgy comes from grapes.
Bless, O Lord, the grape plants and vineyards from which these grapes are taken and presented to the holy church, and make them bountiful and fruitful; let them be like good and fertile land, protect the vineyards from all kinds of misfortune and destruction which come from above because of our sins, from hail, from cold, from hot winds, and from destructive insects, so that we may enjoy that which You have created in this world for our enjoyment and for Your glory, and grant that we may be worthy to eat and drink with You from the bounty of Your most fruitful vine at the table of Your Father’s Kingdom, according to the just promise which You made, to the honor and glory of Your coexisting Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the most Holy Spirit to whom is due glory, power, and honor, now and forever. Amen.
(From the prayer written by Nerses Shnorhali for the Blessing of the Grapes)