After the 1st
Reading from the Psalter, Kathismata.
of Compunction. Tone 1.
Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; nor chastise
me in your wrath.
Glory. Both now. Theotokion.
Come, believers, having gained Mary the Mother of God as an unbreachable wall, let us fall down before her, for she has freedom to speak with the One who was born from her, to intercede and to save our souls from wrath and death.
the 2nd reading other Kathismata.
to open to me your fatherly embrace; like the Wastrel I have squandered my whole
life, turning from your pity, O Saviour, to wealth which cannot be spent; do not
now despise my beggared heart; for to you, Lord, with compunction I cry, ‘I
have sinned against you, save me!’
Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; nor chastise me in your wrath.
judgment seat is fearful and the judgment just; my deeds are dreadful, but, O
Merciful, speedily save me and rescue me from punishment; deliver me, Master,
from the portion of the goats, to stand me on your right hand, Judge most just.
Both now. Theotokion.
Put away, my soul, the sleep of sloth and light the bright lamp of repentance, and now go out, bidding farewell to the confusion of life, to meet the immortal Bridegroom, saying, ‘Accept and do not reject me, O Word, at the supplications of the one who gave you birth’.
the 3rd Reading, Other Kathismata.
John, who of old baptized in Jordan’s streams the Purification of all the world, draw me out, who am drowned by many offences, and wash me clean of every kind of stain, as you ever entreat the Lover of humankind as an acceptable intercessor.
Verse: God is wonderful in his Saints, the God of Israel.
As good soldiers, believing with one accord, not trembling before the threats of tyrants, you fervently drew near to Christ, O Saints, having taken up the precious Cross, and having finished your course, you received victory from heaven. Glory to him who gave you strength; glory to him who crowned you; glory to him who through you grants healings to all.
Both now. Theotokion.
John, leaping in his mother’s womb, by grace recognised God being carried in your womb, pure Virgin, and faithfully worshipped. But I implore you, O Virgin, with the Forerunner, entreat the Word, to whom you gave a body, that your servant may be saved.
of Compunction, of which the Acrostic, without the Theotokia, is:
O Word, receive these words of mine. Joseph.
Ode 1. Tone 1. Irmos.
D Enslaved to the passions of sin, I fall before you, Lord, that you may declare me free of them, as I glorify your goodness.
E Wretch that I am, I have been wounded by the sword of sin and died. And seeing me lying there the enemy rejoices. O Lord, who raise the dead, give me life and save me.
Of the Martyrs
Χ The choirs of Champions have been glorified, for with their limbs they glorified Christ, who put on flesh and through suffering made corruption vanish.
Ο Towers and champions of the Church, the glorious Martyrs endured unshaken by the assaults of the foe. At their intercessions, O God, give life to us all.
Canon, to the honoured Forerunner,
F You were called ‘Voice of the Word’, blest Saint. Therefore, O Forerunner, receive our voices that we bring to you, freeing us from evils by your mediation.
W Shining out like the dawn, like the sun, you enlighten the ends of the earth and darken the wicked spirits. Therefore dispel the gloom darkness of my soul.
N To the dead, blest Forerunner, you preached the coming of our life. Therefore put to death the passions that slay me, and show me to be a partaker of divine radiance.
All-holy Lady, who alone gave birth in time to the immaculate incarnate
Son, heal all the chronic passions of my wretched soul.
Ode 3. Irmos.
Ι See my weakness, Lord, who wore it. See the dread deformity of my soul, and listen to my voice, most merciful Christ, and change its ugliness to beauty of form.
S O Jesu, save the wastrel; save me, who have alone transgressed your saving laws, and irrationally committed every sin and been made subject to thoughts that alienate from you, good Lord.
Of the Martyrs
T The host of Bodiless Powers was truly amazed at your courage, Holy Ones, how you wondrously competed in the stadium and falling in body you threw down in one godly moment all your bodiless opponents.
E Still decked out with the blood from your wounds; still drenched in gore, O Champions, you stand beside the Lord, the immortal King, all garlanded with victors’ crowns.
You give birth the One whom the Father begot before all ages; you nourish the nourisher without knowing man. Wondrous the marvel! New the mystery, O Full of grace! Therefore the souls of all believers magnify you.
the Forerunner. The same Irmos.
In holiness, O Forerunner, you sprouted from a barren mother without fruit, and
by divine husbandry you appeared bearing fruit. Therefore make my heart, barren
of everything, a source of fair offspring, that I may ever faithfully glorify
With heavenly bread, blest Saint, make firm my heart, weakened by evil thoughts,
and make me eagerly fulfil the wishes of God, the all-compassionate, that I may
ever faithfully glorify you.
The Word, coming forth from you, Mother of God, bearing flesh in its entirety,
put on Adam in his entirety. Implore him, Mother of God, to deliver us from
trials and temptations of every kind and from the everlasting fire.
Foreseeing in Spirit, you proclaimed the incarnation of the Word, prophet Avvakoum, as you cried, ‘When the years draw near you will be recognised; when the moment comes you will be revealed’; glory to your power, O Lord!
O The wealth you gave me I have squandered wickedly, committing monstrous deeds and now am naked, clothed in the works of dishonour. And so I cry to you, ‘Make me radiant with robes, goading me to repentance by divine grace’.
Y I became unconscious, and have fallen terribly, and I lie upon the ground, incurably sick. Raise me, O Christ who raise the fallen, and establish my heart on the rock of repentance.
S Imitating Christ, who was raised upon a Cross, they were acquainted with blows, yet the Champions rejoiced, and having dispelled torrents of atheism with the showers of their blood, they are a source of streams of healing.
D The godly Athletes sailed undrenched through the fierce and bitter storm of torments. Steered by saving hope, hearts filled with gladness, they were brought to anchor at the harbours on high.
The hosts of Angels were amazed when they saw how the One who cannot be seen was seen in our form from you, Virgin Mother of God. Implore him to count worthy of salvation all those who faithfully glorify you.
the Forerunner. The same Irmos.
With bodily nakedness you wove yourself a cloak of salvation, Baptist of the
Lord. Clothe me, stripped bare of every good work, I beg, with a garment
of justice and gladness.
Forerunner, who plunged in the streams of Jordan a torrent of delight, Jesus the
giver of life, rain on me too, who am wasted away by the drought of pleasures,
of salvation, that as is fitting I may glorify you.
It is not an Angel, not an envoy that saved us, but the Lord himself,
when he came on earth and whose straight ways you had prepared,
blest Saint. Implore him now to show me the path that leads to the Kingdom.
You were revealed as sanctified Temple of the God who dwelt in you beyond
understanding, O Virgin. Implore him to cleanse us from the stain of sins, that
we may become known as house and dwelling place of the Spirit.
Give us your peace, O Son of God, for we know no other God but you; we name you by name, for you are God of the living and the dead.
E I have been filled with many and grievous offences, longsuffering, compassionate Master. Have compassion on me, who am condemned, and do not cast me away from your presence.
T You justified the Tax-collector, O Christ, when he sighed and groaned; therefore I too, imitating him, beat my breast and cry to you, ‘Have mercy on me, O only compassionate and pitying’.
Of the Martyrs
Y Like priceless stones, Master, the Martyrs, yearning for you, the Rock of life, crushed through torments, destroyed the whole dispensation of error.
You gave birth, All-immaculate, to one of the honoured Trinity with two wills but one hypostasis. Fervently implore him that we may all be saved.
the Forerunner. The same Irmos.
Like Elias of old you dwelt in the desert, All-blest Forerunner of Christ; and
so with divine care make better my heart turned by offences into a desert waste.
You have become an immoveable
pillar and greatest foundation of the faithful, Forerunner of Christ, make my
thought, shaken by the wiles of the deceiver, immoveable.
The dead were brought the good
that the Light from Light had shone on earth by your light, blest Saint, and we,
who were in darkness, were enlightened. Therefore on me who have been terribly
Ode 6. Irmos
I imitate the Prophet Jonas as I cry, ‘Free my life from corruption, good Lord, and save me, Saviour of the world, as I cry, ‘Glory to you!’
S The bones of my wretched soul have been crushed, and I am bowed down by the weight of many pleasures. Help me, O Christ, the only hope of all.
E Fallen into an ocean of dread deeds and the tempest of the passions, I cry out, ‘All-powerful Christ, bring me up with your mighty hand, and save me.’
Of the Martyrs
M A myriad multitude of holy Athletes trampled underfoot myriads of spiritual foes and were united with the myriads of heavenly Minds.
O Having dried up the deep of godlessness, O Athletes, you were filled with the torrent of delight, and so dry up the out-pourings of my sins.
Revealed as a tabernacle of sanctification, Mary, sanctify my wretched soul, befouled by pleasures, and make a partaker in divine glory.
Of the Forerunner. The
O Baptist, who on earth proclaimed repentance, show me ways of repentance that guide me to the light, and deliver me from the chasms of error.
W As you plunged the abyss in the river’s streams, dry up the abysses of my passions by granting me showers of tears, Forerunner, herald of Christ.
N Forerunner of the Lord, save me from diseases of the soul, passions of the flesh, the difficulties of life, and trials and afflictions of every kind.
T I earnestly entreat you, the Mother of God and fair among women, do not despise me, Pure Lady, but take pity and keep me safe from every harm.
Ode 7. Irmos
The fire did not touch or trouble your youths in the furnace, O Saviour. Then the three, as from one mouth, hymned and blessed you, saying, ‘Blessed is the God of our fathers’.
Y Job practised patience and in all the assaults of the evil one remained unshaken, like a noble tower. Always match him, my soul, and never tire in troubles.
S I have been worsted by bodily pleasures, and though a rational being, have become irrational. O Word of God, who saved the harlot by a word, save me, coward that I am, that I may hymn and bless your goodness.
Of the Martyrs
L Wise Martyrs, redeemed by the blood of the One who suffered in the flesh for us, with eagerness you chose to shed your own blood for him; and so you reign with him for ever.
From all eternity Christ chose you for his abode, as holy and pure for his dwelling, and rising from you like the sun, he gave light to the whole earth.
Of the Forerunner. The
W Glorious, noble Baptist, who became mediator of the old and new covenants, mediate for me who have become old in sins by entreating Jesus, the one who makes all things new, to make me wholly new.
N On earth you appeared, Forerunner of Christ and Baptist, prescribing repentance. By your prayers give us strength to accomplish this, that we may be rescued from the innumerable evils, with by we are always offending.
S You travelled the narrow way, pursuing complete self-mastery, wise Saint, and have been wholly glorified with the broad place of the brightest visions. By interceding with Christ grant that we too may enjoy them.
O We the faithful glorify a consubstantial Trinity, Father without beginning, Son and right Spirit, Essence of equal kingship, single lordship, single rule and life that gives us life.
Ode 8. Irmos
The One before whom Angels and all the Hosts of heaven tremble as Creator and Lord, now praise you Priests, glorify him Young Men, bless him you peoples and highly exalt him to all the ages.
G The cunning serpent with his wicked counsel rendered me naked of every kind of virtue. But now, my Saviour, who stripped bare all his wickedness, make me radiant with robes of virtue.
Of the Martyrs
Y All-honoured Athletes of the Lord, affliction, danger, sword nor fire parted you in any way from the love of Christ, who because of his compassion has loved us.
S Locked in bodily combat body with a bodiless opponent, you threw him down, noble Athletes, and you dance with the Bodiless powers, healing the passions of our souls and bodies.
Of the Forerunner.
The one who saved the Youths who in the furnace sang his praise, and who changed the thunderous flame to dew, Christ our God, sing and highly exalt him to all the ages.
M Alone above all those born on earth have I offended, alone have I become a transgressor of your laws, O Lord. Therefore through the Forerunner take pity on me and save me.
A By your way of life, Baptist John, you were revealed to be an Angel, preaching the Angel of great counsel to the ends of the earth. Therefore we sing your praise to all the ages.
K Your head was unjustly cut off, blest Saint, who plunged Christ’s head in the waters. By your prayers empower us all to trample under foot the destructive head of the deceiver.
A Show us all, blest Saint, the paths that lead to the divine entrances, that as we tread them we may become heirs of the divine bridal chamber by your prayers.
Ode 9. Irmos
The light-bearing cloud, in which the Master of all things came down from heaven as rain upon a fleece and became incarnate for our sake, the One without beginning becoming man, let us all magnify as the pure Mother of God.
I See, now is the moment of repentance and pure work! See, now is the day of light! Work its works; flee the darkness of the passions; banish the sleep of wicked sloth, my soul, that you may become a partaker in divine light.
W Like the Tax-collector I groan, like the Harlot I weep, like the Thief I cry out, ‘Remember me, O Compassionate’, and like the Wastrel son I cry, ‘I have sinned!’. Like the Woman of Canaan I fall before you, ‘O merciful, do not despise me!’
Of the Martyrs
S You have been revealed as truly healers of sufferings of the body and afflictions of the soul, for you courageously gave your bodies up to torments and to violent death, all-praised Martyrs of the Lord; and therefore you are blessed for ever.
H The courage of the Christ’s wise Champions, blazing out more brightly than the rays of the sun, by grace abolished the prince of darkness, dispelled the night of godlessness and enlightened the hearts of believers.
F Virgin Mother of God, with the bright rays of light of the Word who dawned from your holy womb and flooded the ends of the earth enlighten my soul, darkened with the blackness of pleasures, that with faith I may sing your praise.
Of the Forerunner. The
I See the lamp shining for those in the darkness of life, see the sweet voiced swallow, that announces Christ, the spring, the great Forerunner, mediator of the old and new covenants; by whose prayers we are always guarded.
W As the Bridegroom’s friend I now put you forward as ambassador, O Baptist, and I, who have a multitude of sins, cry out to you, ‘Obtain the cancellation of my debts, All-blessed, and light the lamp of my soul, completely extinguished by indifference’.
S With bodiless Angels, with revered Apostles, with holy Champions, and with Prophets, O Prophet, ever implore God who is supremely good, that we, who are enriched with you as good protector, may obtain eternal good things.
H Fair swallow, precious nightingale, all-beauteous dove, desert-loving turtle-dove, Baptist of the Lord, offshoot of the desert, make my soul, that has become a desert through unfruitfulness, fertile and productive of good.
F Like the Cherubim throne you carry the one who carries all things, you nourish the one who nourishes us. Implore him without ceasing, pure Virgin, graced by God, that your flock may be rescued from earthquake, collapse, capture and every constraint.
As God you adorned.
Let us all praise John the Forerunner and Baptist of the Saviour, the Prophet from a Prophet, the nurseling of the desert, the offspring of Elisabeth.
I have you as intermediary with the God who loves humankind; do not expose my deeds before the Angels. I beg you, O Virgin, help me speedily.
of Lauds. Of Compunction.
Another world awaits you, soul, and a Judge who is to publish all your hidden and dread deeds. So do not stay with things here, but in anticipation cry out to the Judge, ‘O God, be merciful to me and save me!’
Do not reject me, held fast by sloth, my Saviour. Rouse my thoughts to repentance and show me to be a tried worker of your vineyard, granting the payment of the eleventh hour and your great mercy.
These soldiers of the great King opposed the decrees of tyrants, nobly despised their torments, and having trampled on every error, and been fittingly crowned, they ask of the Saviour peace and for our souls his great mercy.
Both now. Theotokion.
Virgin all-praised, Moses with prophetic eyes saw the mystery that is in you, the bush that though in flames was unburned. For the fire of the Godhead did not burn up your womb, pure Maiden. And so we ask you, as Mother of our God, to grant peace to the world.
Proverbs 11:31, 1 Peter 4:18.
2 Timothy 4:7.
This acrostic has no letters for a second ode. The final letter of the
acrostic is in the Theotokion of the 9th Ode.
Exodus 6:6, Deut. 4:34. The phrase occurs 12 times in the Old Testament; ten
of which refer to the deliverance of Israel at the Red Sea. In Deut. 4:34 it
is linked, as here, to ‘wonders’, in Greek terata.
The throne of the ‘Ancient of Days’ in Daniel (7:9) is described as a
‘throne of fire’, but the allusion here is most probably to Ezekiel 1,
the divine Chariot, one of the frequently used types of the Mother of God..
These two words are used together by St Sophronios of Jerusalem with
reference to the uniting of the divine and human natures of Christ in the
As he does frequently, Joseph signs his Canon in the ninth Ode.
Cf. John 1:23.
The idea of the Forerunner preaching to these in Hades is based on the
second part of the so-called Acts of Pilate, also known as the Gospel
of Nicodemus, which was originally a separate work on the Descent of
Christ into Hell (1 Peter 3:19) and probably dates from the fifth or sixth
century. In this account a great light fills Hades at midnight, to the joy
of the Patriarchs and Prophets. Then John the Baptist, who is described as
‘an ascetic from the wilderness’, comes forward and tells them of his
ministry and that Jesus himself is about to enter Hades.
Psalm 117:22. The sentence is an exact quotation from the lxx.
Cf. 1 Reigns 2:1. The opening words of the Song of Anna in the lxx
are ‘My heart has been made firm [in Greek Êstereõqh] in the
Lord’, and the use of this verb is frequently the only link between the
poetic text and the biblical one.
Cf. Galatians 3:13, 4:5.
The idea of God’s people being brought out ‘from the nations’ is found
a number of times in Ezekiel as well as in Psalm 105:47. It is not used in
the NT. The phrase is used frequently in the liturgical texts.
There is play in Greek on ‘deformity’ [Âmorfía] and ‘beauty of
cf. Luk. 15:13.
Cf. Ps. 37:5.
Matthew 18:8, 25:41.
Avvakoum 3:2. The last sentence poses a problem. It is a standard one in
both the irmi and troparia of the 4th Ode of many canons, but it is not part
of the scriptural text in either Hebrew or Greek, nor are there any variants
in the Greek manuscripts.
The play on words is difficult to render in English. The word in Greek also
means ‘to be sunk’ or ‘submerged’.
Cf. Luke 15:13, 22.
A word hardly found at all in
classical Greek, but frequent in the Fathers. It occurs some dozen times in
the Old Testament, while in the New, apart from Luke 12:23,
it is only found in St Matthew’s Gospel, seven times. He uses it
for St john the Baptist’s ‘clothing of camel’s hair’ and for the
‘wedding garment’ in the parable of the royal marriage feast.
As Faustus says in Marlowe’s play, one drop, even half
a drop of Christ’s blood could save him. St Romanos has a similar
passage in the final strophe of his Kontakion on All Martyrs: μικρὸν
small drop of your spirit send down like rain, I beg’. A homily on the Pharisee and the
Harlot attributed to St Kohn Chrysostom speaks of δικαιοσύνης σταγόνα τινά, ‘a
drop of justice’. The Greek Ephrem has a number of similar expressions.
Matt. 3:3 (Isaias 40:3).
Isaias 26:12-13. The text is
from the 5th Biblical canticle. The following verse refers to the dead, who
will ‘not see life; nor will physicians raise them’.
Cf. Luke 18:9-14.
The word translated ‘beacons’ only occurs in the Old Testament at
Genesis 1:14, where it refers to the sun and moon, and at Daniel 12: 3,
where it is of the heavenly bodies in general as a simile of ‘those with
understanding’. It is the latter passage that the poet has in mind. The
Martyrs are like the ‘fixed stars’, not the wandering planets. Our Lord,
echoing Daniel, compares the just to the sun at Matthew 13:43. There is a
play in Greek on ÂplaneîV, ‘unwandering’, ‘fixed’ and
in the next phrase, meaning ‘wandering’, and hence ‘error’.
The image changes to that of sacred processions, lighted by torches.
A difficult troparion. The word literally means ‘rolled’. It is not
common in Greek, and only occurs eleven times in the Old Testament. Its
meaning here is unclear. Only two passages may give a clue. Amos 2:13 in
Hebrew speaks of a wagon that is ‘crushed’ under the weight of the
sheaves with which it is loaded. The Greek here has ‘is rolled’. Zachary
9:16 in Greek, followed by the Slavonic, has the mysterious sentence, ‘And
the Lord will save them in that day, his people like sheep, because holy
stones are rolled upon the ground’.
Cf. the earlier note on Ode 1 of this Canon, 3rd Troparion.
Cf. Ps. 44:10.
Cf. Jonas 2:7.
This word, diekcúsiV, is unattested in classical Greek and only
cited in Lampe from Migne’s text of George of Pisidia’s Hexaemeron,
where the critical edition reads the more usual word prócusiV.
Cf. Psalm 131:8.
The sense of this troparion is not clear. In the Fathers ‘the abyss’
usually refers to Hades and is pejorative. The word occurs in the 6th Ode,
‘the final abyss encircled me’(Jonas 3:6).
The verb katadúw
can be either transitive or intransitive, but the intransitive sense, ‘to
descend into’, followed by an accusative seems to be limited to Homer. The
1st Aorist, used here, is commonly used transitively. The meaning could
possibly be that John ‘plunged the Abyss (i.e. Christ) in the streams’,
since the verb is used regularly of Baptism, and in Ode 8 we have exactly
the same word in the clause, ‘you plunged Christ’s head in the
waters’. On the other hand, although the word ‘Abyss’ is used
positively of ‘the abyss of God’s wisdom‘, it does not seem to be used
as an image of Christ.
Cf. Daniel 3:26.
This troparion plays on the word lógoV, ‘word’. In Greek
‘rational’ and ‘irrational’ are logikóV
and ‘word’ is
Cf. John 14:2.
Cf. Isaias 57:15, ‘[t]he Lord Most High, resting in the holies’. The
Greek is probably neuter and means ‘in the holy place’ (cf. Psalm
133:2), but it could also be masculine and mean ‘among the saints’. The
poet here deliberately plays on this ambiguity.
Cf. Matt. 11:11-15.
Cf. Matt. 7:13-14, though in the Gospel it the ‘gate’ that is
‘narrow’, the word used here. The ‘road’ is ‘constricted’.
Cf. Pss. 17:20, 117:5, 118:45.
Cf. Genesis 3:1-7.
Cf. the Nicene Creed. The poet, like the Creed, uses the present participle,
‘is coming’, not a future. The Latin uses the future ‘will come’,
and this has influenced most, but not all, English versions of the Creed.
‘Gehenna’ occurs in the Bible twelve times, ten of them in St Matthew,
who uses the expression ‘Gehenna of fire’ (5:22, 18:19. James 3:6 also
speaks of the tongue being ‘set on fire by Gehenna’), rather than the
one used here.
Cf. Matthew 25:41
Cf. Song of Songs 2:1.
This title for God, which is found in the Fathers and the liturgical texts,
has its origin in Genesis 2:2, where the cognate verb is used, ‘and the
Lord God planted a paradise in Edem’.
Isaias 9:5. The original LXX has only this title, the others were added
later, to bring the Greek into line with the Hebrew. There is no ‘Angel’
Cf. Mat. 8:12.
Cf. in particular Isaias 19:1.
Cf. Psalm 71:16, Judges 6:37-40.
Cf. Luke 18:9-14, 7:36-50, 23:39-43, 15:11-32, Matthew 15:21-28. It is
interesting to notice that four of these five well known characters are
found only in St Luke’s Gospel.
The allusions to the rising sun in this and the preceding troparion refer to
Luke 1:78-9, the Canticle of Zachary forming the second part of the 9th
Cf. Ezekiel 1.
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This page was last updated on 03 November 2008