Toward midnight the throng increases. In St. Petersburg the court appears in the imperial chapel in full dress; and in the provinces the governor, with all his adjutants and officers in their splendid uniforms, attend the cathedral. The priests begin a mass, which is but languidly performed or listened to, till all at once, at the hour of midnight, the whole scene changes. The golden door of the "ikonostast" flies open, and the song bursts forth, "Christohs vosskress! Christohs vosskress ihs mortvui!" ("Christ is risen, Christ is risen from the dead!") At the same moment the illumination of the church is completed, not only the lamps and great chandelier, but the countless tapers in the hands of the congregation, which have been held hitherto unlighted. While the chief body of the priests, still singing ''Christohs vosskress" remove the pall with the corse, two others, in their richest dress, pass through the church with censers in their han ds, repeating the joyful words, and stopping before the shrine of every saint to swing the censer and make their genuflections, and before every group of devotees to bestow their blessing. The congregation shake hands, and kiss all with whom they have the most distant acquaintance. The singing of the priests meanwhile continues. They also embrace each other; the bishop, metropolitan, or whatever priest of the highest rank may be present, now places himself before the ikonostast, and bestows on every member of the congregation who approaches him his blessing and a kiss, with the words " Christohs vosskress." The churches are illuminated without as well as within, and all the bells in the city ring out at once. In St. Petersburg, many of the streets and public buildings are illuminated ; rocket after rocket rushes along the sky, and the cannon boom at intervals, amid all the countless bells and voices echoing each other from all sides.
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Sears, Robert. An Illustrated Description of the Russian Empire. New York: Robert Sears, 1855