Saturday Evening Compline : Supplicatory Canon in Tone III

Dear brothers and sisters – Christ is Risen!

As some of you are aware, the octoechos (the book of the eight tones) has a supplicatory canon to the Mother of God for compline each evening of the tone cycle – giving fifty six canons.

We have previously posted some canons in the hope that parishioners might sometimes pray compline with the appointed canon for the day, or integrate the canon into their evening/night prayers.

We will endeavour to post all fifty six of these canons, and very much hope that they will enrich the prayer lives of the members of our community, and contribute to a growing level of liturgical literacy, allowing people to share prayers together across the wide geographical diaspora of our community.

A Canon of Supplication to the Most Holy Theotokos

Ode I, Irmos: He who of old gathered the waters * into one by His divine decree, * divided the sea for the people of Israel. * For He is our God and supremely glorious, * to Him alone let us sing, for He hath been glorified.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

With pure hymns, О most pure Bride of God, we, the faithful, crown thee as her who, through the divine Spirit and at the good pleasure of the Father, wast revealed to be the Mother of God; and with the archangel we greet thee with hymns, unto our salvation.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Of old, Eve was formed from the side of Adam by God’s creative action, and Christ, Who is our God, appeared out of the womb of the Theotokos and became immutably man: the Pre-eternal came under time.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  

He Who is our God condemned the womb of Eve to give birth amid grief and pain, yet He made His abode within thy womb, appeared in the flesh in a manner past all telling, and loosed the debt of our first mother.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having fallen, heavy laden, into the abyss of despair, О Birth-Giver of God, we earnestly cry out to thee: О Lady, help us who are drowning because of our deeds of wicked transgression! For thee alone do we have as our hope after God.

Ode III, Irmos: O Most High, Ruler of all, * who out of nothing hath established all things, * fashioned by Thy Word, * perfected by the Spirit, * confirm me in Thy love.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The staff of Aaron, which blossomed forth without being watered, showed thee forth, О most pure Theotokos, who without seed hast given birth to God Who became incarnate without undergoing change.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

In the Spirit, О most pure one, the prophet foresaw thee as a lamp-stand bearing the divine Fire, conveying sweet fragrance and life everlasting to those in the world.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  

Let us approach the Archangel Gabriel, in hymns declaring to the Theotokos: Rejoice! for through thee the curse of our first parents’ condemnation hath been loosed!

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having thee as a bulwark of salvation, О most holy Theotokos, we sinners are saved. О Lady, disdain not, neither spurn thou our supplications!

Ode IV, Irmos: Thou hast shown us steadfast love, O Lord, * for Thou gavest Thine only-begotten Son over to death for our sake. * Wherefore with thanksgiving we cry unto Thee, * ‘Glory to Thy power, O Lord!’

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Of old, Habbakuk, perceiving thee with divine vision, О most pure one, proclaimed thee to be the noetic mountain, the tabernacle of the virtues, for the Word Who came forth from the south received flesh from thee.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

In the Spirit Daniel beheld thee as a great and unquarried mountain, revealing the purity of thy virginity as remaining inviolate, О Lady, from whom Christ the Word, the Rock, was cut, casting down the falsehood of idolatry.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  

David foretold thee to be a wondrous and rich mountain; for the only-begotten Son of the Father was well-pleased to make His abode within thee, in the flesh. Wherefore, in the Spirit we cry out to thee: Rejoice!

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

As thou art the wholly good and fervent intercessor for the sinful and lowly, О most pure Lady and Birth-Giver of God, save Thy servants from misfortunes, sorrows and sins.

Ode V, Irmos: In a vision Isaiah saw upon a throne, * God lifted up on high * borne aloft by angels of glory; * and he cried: ‘Woe is me! * For I have foreseen God made flesh, * the Lord of the never-setting light * and the King of peace.’

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The Virgin Mary, the rod of Jesse, without seed, through the divine Spirit of the Father, put forth the never-fading Blossom of the Unoriginate God, Who hath dominion over the mighty kingdoms of the nations, and upon Whom the gentiles set their hope.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Taking flesh from thee, О Theotokos, the Prince of peace hath come to reign upon the throne of David. О the wonder! He hath shown thee to be the Queen who gave birth to Him Who set warfare at naught, striking down the princes of Moab.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  

Revealing thine immaculate goodness, through which Christ was clad in the flesh without seed, О Virgin, Isaiah cried out, exclaiming: The Lord of glory cometh upon a light cloud, and dispelling the darkness of delusion, He hath bestowed light upon us!

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Having conceived by the Holy Spirit the Word Who is consubstantial with the Father, О Virgin, thou hast given birth to Him in two natures, perfect God and perfect man. His manifestation in the flesh do we honour with faith.

Ode VI, Irmos: The uttermost depths of sin have surrounded me, * and my spirit perisheth. * but do Thou, O Master, stretch forth Thy lofty arm * and like Peter O Helmsman, * do Thou save me.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

In hymns the most wise one described thee beforehand, О all-hymned one, as the couch whereon God, Who was hypostatically incarnate from thee, did rest; and He Who was born from thee without commingling hath glorified thee.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

О all-hymned Virgin, as one chosen thou didst become the chosen vesture of the Word, for, taking flesh from thee as it were a robe of divine purple, He hath reigned, arrayed in majesty.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  

О Bride of God, thou didst become the receptacle of the divine Union, more lustrous than gold; for through thee God became a man and conversed with mankind as a man.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

The evil of heresy hath brought death upon those who refuse to honor thee, О all-hymned Virgin; for in their malice they hide at the sight of the most glorious likeness of thine image.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Sessional Hymn, in Tone III: In the fervour of faith I cry out to thee with unworthy lips and a defiled heart, О Theotokos: Save me who am drowning in sins! Take pity on one who is slain by despair, that, saved, I may cry aloud to thee: Rejoice, О Virgin, thou help of Christians!

Ode VII, Irmos: Of old the three children did not worship the golden image, * of the Persian idol, * but chanted in the midst of the furnace: * O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Having been united conformably and been revealed to be incorrupt, the bush and the flame manifestly show thee forth, О Virgin; for thou hast given birth to God, yet remained a virgin.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

The fleece and the dew, shown forth in change, prefigured thy birth-giving for Gideon; for thou alone hast borne the divine Word in thy womb, as though He were rain, О Virgin Mother.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  

The fire of my sin created a flame surpassing that of Gehenna for me, О pure one. By thy mercy do thou quench it, guiding me to the light by repentance.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Venerating the appearance of thy countenance as the primal image, О most pure Theotokos, we all have thee as a helper and a right effective
protection before God forever.

Ode VIII, Irmos: The Babylonian furnace burnt not the children, * neither did the fire of the Godhead consume the Virgin, * wherefore with the faithful children we cry aloud: * ‘Bless ye the Lord, all ye works of the Lord’.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Finding thee as an all-radiant lily amid thorns, shining with the splendour of beauty through the divine Spirit, the Father desired thee, the Bride who knew not wedlock, as a habitation for His Son.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

Without hesitation I manifestly glorify thee, the most immaculate Virgin, as more holy than the host on high; for thou didst bear in thy womb their Creator, Who in an uncommingled union received flesh from thee.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  

Having preserved thy virginity intact, О Virgin, thou wast truly shown to be the Mother of the Son of God, becoming a Bride through the Father’s good pleasure and the incorrupt receptacle of the Spirit of glory.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

God Who is immaterial and invisible by nature was ineffably and supra-naturally born as a man from the holy Virgin, becoming visible, two natures in a single hypostasis, wherein He is seen and depicted.

Ode IX, Irmos: New is the wonder and befitting of God: * for the Lord clearly passes through the closed gate of the Virgin: * naked at His going in and God bearing flesh at His coming out, * while the gate remaineth closed. * As ineffably the Theotokos and Mother of our God we magnify her.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

A holy fruit sprang forth from the holy root of the barren and sanctified one: the Maiden Theotokos who, by the law of God the Father, hath blossomed forth never-withering and perfecting Life. And Anna rejoicing, receives in her old age a babe, the Mother of God, whom we glorify.

Most Holy Theotokos, save us.

New and godly is the birth-giving of thy holy and God-bearing womb, О pure one; for therein the incarnate holy Son was depicted in human image by the finger of the Father and by the Holy Spirit. Him do we magnify as both God and man without commingling.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  

All judgment crieth out against me, for the deeds of my sinful actions lift up their voice to forbid me, and my whole soul knoweth those things whereby it will be condemned, and it trembleth before the flame of Gehenna. О Lady, before the end, from which do thou deliver me by thy prayers.

Now & ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

After giving birth thou wast shown to be incorrupt, О pure one, for in a manner transcending nature, О Theotokos, thou hast given birth immutably to the Creator of all as a man in the flesh, though He was not separated from the essence of the Father; and through the divine Spirit thou didst remain a Virgin. Wherefore, glorifying thee, we lift our voices in hymnody.

Greetings for the Feast of the Kazan Icon

Dear brothers and sisters, festal greetings to you all, as we celebrate the autumn feast of the Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God.

The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates some three-hundred ‘revealed’ icons of the Mother of God, among which we find the Kazan Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, in whose name our parish is dedicated.

Throughout the centuries of Muscovite and Imperial Russia, just as so many icons of the Theotokos have been revealed in miraculous circumstances, so the Mother of God has revealed and manifested her maternal care and protection for the Orthodox faithful and the lands of Rus – through her icons, through her miraculous intercession, and through her countless miracles worked in the lives of ordinary people.

On the very day of the Tsar’s abdication, the Mother of God renewed her “Reigning/Derzhavnaya” icon, showing that for the faithful, she would now take upon her shoulders the role of Tsaritsa of the Russian realm, leading the faithful through the torment and torture of the Soviet period, and throughout those dark years her maternal-care continued to be felt. And, during those torturous years, the faithful were never left without the consolation of the Mother of God.

Together with the Icon of the Sign, and the Vladimirskaya, the Wonderworking Kazan Icon is one of the ‘Palladium’ icons, carried by the faithful into battle and defence of the realm, and today’s feast commemorates the defeat of the Poles, in the Time of Troubles (after the death of Ivan the Terrible) and the first significant defeat of the Napoleonic army, after snow and ice lashed the invading French forces. Such was the faith of believing people even in Soviet times, that we have the well-known description of a copy of our beloved Kazan Icon being carried around besieged Leningrad during the Second World War.

Yet, despite the miraculous victories and the martial hymns to the Mother of God as “Triumphal leader in battle”, for Russian Orthodox believers the Theotokos is not so much impressed upon our spiritual consciousness as Heavenly Empress, but as the merciful Mother of Christians, who cares for the faithful, nurturing them, providing for them in their hour of need, bringing joy in sorrow, becoming a hope for the hopeless and help for the helpless.

This always strikes me whenever we sing the beautiful hymn, Царице моя преблагая (Tsaristsa moya preblagaya), to the beautiful yet very simple melody from the Krasnogorsk Monastery,

O my most blessed Queen, O Theotokos my hope, guardian of orphans and intercessor for strangers, Joy of the sorrowful, Protectress of the oppressed; Thou beholdest my misfortune, Thou seest my sorrow. Help me, for I am infirm; feed me, for I am a stranger. Thou knowest mine offense: do Thou loose it, as Thou dost will, for I have none other help but Thee, nor any other intercessor save Thee, O Mother of God. Do Thou preserve and protect me unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Behind this present feast’s triumphal language, and images of victory in which we speak of the Mother of God as Lady, Queen and Mistress and her ‘mighty protection’, this celebration leads us to the tenderness and warmth of the motherhood of the Theotokos – summed up by that wonderful word umilinie – which is tenderness, compassion, mercy, loving-kindness, warmth, with so many other subtle shades of meaning when applied to the motherhood of the Mother of God.

As we look at the Kazan Icon, there is nothing complicated, and its scheme is in many ways minimal, simple and straightforward, and it has traditionally been this icon that has been carried before newly-weds, to become the heart of the icon-corner in each new home, at the centre of Orthodox family-life.

In the classic Hodegetria icon, the Mother of God directs us to her Son with her outstretched hand, but in the Kazan Icon she rather does so in the inclination of her head, as she bows contemplatively towards the Christ-Child, avoiding the eyes of the viewer, so that it is the Saviour who engages with the one who stands before the icon, and it is His eyes they meet, not the self-effacing and humble Mother.

As she ever leads us to her Son, ever interceding for us, before the Holy Trinity, let us never be strangers to her maternal care, however broken or dysfunctional our lives may have become. Rather, let us turn to her with all of our problems and sorrows, as well as our joys, bringing our lives, ourselves, our loved ones, our friends, even enemies to her merciful-care. It is beneath that merciful-care, that reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing may happen, through her prayers, through her grace, and with her help.

It is often in the most grievous of sorrows, and the most desperate situations that we learn the value, the wholesomeness and necessity of a Mother’s love, and in the Mother of God we find maternal care that never ceases, that never dies, but always seeks out those in need, to lead us to the Saviour in His Kingdom, into which she has been assumed in glory.

On this feast, let us do as the deacon calls us to do during the litanies:

“Commemorating our most holy, most pure, most blessed and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary with all the saints, let us commit ourselves and one other, and all our life unto Christ our God.”

Most Holy Theotokos, save us!

Asking your prayers, with love in Christ.

Hieromonk Mark

Today’s Liturgy and the Blessing of Honey

Dear brothers and sisters,

It was – as always – a great joy to gather today for the Divine Liturgy, followed by the veneration of the Precious Cross and the blessing of honey.

Though yesterday was the feast of the Procession of the Life-Giving Cross and the All-Merciful Saviour, we were unable to have Liturgy, so we ‘caught up’ with August’s first feast of the Saviour at compline yesterday evening and today, after Liturgy.

The icon of the All-Merciful Saviour

Continue reading

Prayer against Passions, Torments, Despair and Distress

Prayer of St Nikolaj (Velimirovic) to the Most-Holy Theotokos

Petrovskaya Icon of the Most Holy Mother of God: Cell of Hieromonk Mark.