The Great Entrance
The Great entrance is a solemn procession where the prepared gifts of bread and wine are taken from the Table of Oblation or Prothesis and placed on the Altar table. Later they are offered to God for consecration into the Blood and Body of Christ. Keep in mind that during the procession they are not yet the Blood and Body of Christ.
At the Table of Oblation, the Priest removes the Aer that enshrouds the gifts and places it on his shoulders or on the shoulder of the Deacon.
The Cherubic Hymn is interrupted. The Great Entrance takes place, exiting from the north door. The priest holding the Chalice and the deacon the Diskarion, raised covering their faces, carry them intentionally inside the Church Temple walking slowly among the parishioners with modesty. The faithful bow and make the sign of the cross in reverence. They are preceded by the Altar Boys carrying the processional Cross, Hexapteryga and Candlesticks, reverently exit from the Northern Door and slowly walking through the nave and then up the center aisle to the center of the "Solea" while chanting:
May the Lord our God remember us all in His Kingdom, always, now and for ever, and from all Ages to all Ages.
This most emotional and devout prayer and cry chanted by the Deacon or the the priest is based on the confession of the thief upon the cross when he said to Jesus:
Remember me, O Lord, when I come into Your Kingdom.
(This phrase should be memorized and repeated by the Faithful every time the Priest performs the Great Entrance. Only in this and like manner can we become conscious of our participation in the Divine Liturgy.)
The grateful thief is presented spiritually as an example for all ages of faith and true repentance. According to Tradition the thief's name is Dysmas who was a murderer. He was on a cross tot he right of Jesus and had most likely seen and heard the Lord earlier and knew of His miracles and teaching. At His last moments he recognizes Jesus in His divinity and asks for mercy which surely shocked all those who heard him cry out. The power of his cry is repeated during every Divine Liturgy.
The gifts are placed on the Holy Altar table on the Antiminsion which was previously laid out.
When the Priest enters the Sanctuary, the Choir completes the Cherubic Hymnas follows:
The King of All Who comes invisibly attended by the Angelic Hosts. Alleluia.
The Great Entrance is one of the most prominent moments of the Divine Liturgy.
The Great Entrance has several symbolic interpretations.
For some, it symbolizes the triumphant entrance of the Lord into the Holy city of Jerusalem where He is about to be crucified for the salvation of the world. For others it symbolizes the Lord's burial, the journey from the unnailing to the Tomb. It is also viewed as Christ's journey of martyrdom from the Praetorium to Golgatha. Still others view it as the Second Coming of Christ.