Just yesterday, I was reading a prayer from the Book of Needs which, in listing all of the things that God has done for us, mentioned the shattering of the gates of brass. This, in turn, brought to mind the hymn we sing at the Vespers of Pascha on Holy Saturday:
Today, Hades groaning cries out, “It would have been better for me if I had not received the One born of Mary, for He came upon me and destroyed my power. He shattered the gates of brass and the souls which I held captive of old He resurrected as God.” Glory, O Lord, to Your Cross and Your Resurrection!
Both of these prayers are based upon Psalm 107:16, “For He crushed the gates of brass and shattered the bars of iron.” Placed in context, we are given an image of Christ descending into Hades to shine His glory upon the countless dead trapped there from the beginning of time:
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His mercies and His wonders to the sons of men;
For He fed the empty soul and filled the hungry soul with good things,
Those sitting in darkness and shadow of death, bound in poverty of fetters;
For they rebelled against the teachings of God and provoked the counsel of the Most High;
Thus their heart was humbled by troubles; they were weak, and there was no one to help them;
Then they cried out to the Lord in their afflictions, and He saved them from their distress;
And He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains to pieces.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for His mercies, His wonders to the sons of men;
For He crushed the gates of brass and shattered the bars of iron.
He helped them out of their lawless ways, For they were humbled because of their transgressions.
Their soul abhorred all manner of food, and they drew near the gates of death;
Then they cried out to the Lord in their afflictions, and He saved them from their distresses;
He sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their distress. — Psalm 107:8-20