The Great Canon

I provide a more direct and accurate translation on The Great Canon Annotated page.

This is a first draft of a translation of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, based upon the Greek text found in the Triodion (3rd edition of 2003, published by Apostoliki Diakonia). I may, perhaps, continue translating the other parts of the Canon of Compunction, of which the Great Canon comprises the majority, as the other parts are also quite interesting. My initial focus has been on the Great Canon, however.

The translation is syllabic, adhering in English to the number of syllables per clause as found in the Greek text. Exceptions are not too common, and are all marked with a plus sign (+) at the end of the line, indicating that the line is only one syllable in excess of the original. This syllabic translation is intended for adaptation to performance in Byzantine chant, if any were so inclined to facilitate that. Corrections and suggestions for improvement are both welcomed and encouraged.

One will notice quite a number of differences in comparing the rendering below with that of Archimandrite (now Metropolitan of Diokleia) Kallistos (Ware) and Mother Mary (Monastère Notre Dame de Toute Protection. Bussy-en-Othe, France) in The Lenten Triodion, first published in 1978 by Faber and Faber Ltd, and now available in reprint from St Tikhon’s Seminary Press (my copy is from 2001). As the first complete English translation of the Great Canon (as it is, too, of a number of other texts in the Triodion) it has become quite familiar to Anglophone Orthodox and other readers. In my translation, I used some of the same phrasing, where possible, both because of that familiarity and because it is simply well-translated. It must be noted, however, that the translation of the Great Canon in The Lenten Triodion is very much a paraphrase, often passing over phrases or conflating clauses. I have avoided that. I will also, soon, provide a more literary and annotated translation, unconstrained by the syllabic structure of the Greek, as a sort of study edition. There is much of interest in the Great Canon, and in the Canon of Compunction.

All may make use of the translation below, with the sole requirement being attribution.

Consider this, my work, charitably, as it is simply a gift for friends, and for the world.

Ode 1

My helper and protector
has he always been for my salvation.
My own God is he,
I will glorify him,
the God of my father,
and I will exalt him.
Gloriously is he glorified.

Where do I begin to mourn
every deed of my very wretched life?
What is the firstfruit
I should offer, O Christ,
in my lamentation?
O Merciful, grant me
the forgiveness of all my sins.

Come now, O my wretched soul,
with your flesh to the Creator of all,
and confess to him,
and do now set aside
your former foolishness.
Make offering to God
of all your tears of repentance.

Our first-formed father Adam
have you, my soul, rivalled in rebellion,
and I know myself
naked before my God,
stripped of the eternal
Kingdom and its delights
by the number of all my sins.

Alas O my wretched soul!
How could you be like our first mother Eve?
You wickedly looked,
and were wounded badly.
You took hold of the tree,
and selfishly tasted
the unlawful forbidden food.

Rather than an outer Eve,
she became for me a noetic Eve,
one that, in my flesh,
passionate images
shows me, and all pleasures,
and, always tasting them,
I gulp down these things so bitter.

Worthily out of Eden
was Adam cast for not having obeyed,
O Saviour, your one
and only commandment.
So what will I suffer
for always rejecting
all your many life-giving words?

Becoming like wicked Cain,
bloodthirstily and by my own free will
have I indeed killed
the conscience of my soul,
enlivening my flesh,
making war with my soul
by the wickedness of my deeds.

The righteousness of Abel
have I not imitated, O Jesus,
never giving good
when offering to you,
and never godly deeds,
nor a pure sacrifice,
and never a life unblemished.

As with Cain so too with us,
O my wretched soul, we bring offerings
of defiled actions,
and impure sacrifice,
and of a worthless life,
to the Maker of all,
for which we are rightly condemned.

Like a potter molds the clay,
You have made me a living soul, giving
to me flesh and bones,
and my breath and my life.
But, O my Creator,
Deliverer and Judge,
accept me in my repentance.

I confess to you, Saviour,
all the many sins I have committed,
the wounds of my soul,
and injuries of my
body, inflicted by
bloodthirsty images,
like internal brigands, on me.

Though I have sinned, O Saviour,
I know that you are loving to mankind,
full of sympathy
and fervent compassion,
you see all my weeping,
and run like the father
to welcome his prodigal son.

I am an outcast, Saviour,
outside of your gates, and when I am old,
do not just cast me
simply into Hades,
but before the end comes,
grant to me, Loving One,
the forgiveness of all my sins.

The man fallen to brigands
am I in all my vain imaginings.
I am now wounded
in every way by them,
and covered in bruises.
You stand by me yourself,
O Christ my Saviour, so heal me.

The priest had seen me first,
but he passed me by; then came the Levite,
seeing my distress,
but despised me unclothed.
But then you, O Jesus,
the one sprung from Mary,
you will have compassion on me.

You who are the Lamb of God,
you who take away the sins of us all,
take away from me
this far too heavy yoke,
the one that is my sins.
Grant to me, Loving One,
the forgiveness of all my sins.

It is time now to repent.
I come before you, O my Creator.
Take away from me
this far too heavy yoke,
the one that is my sins.
Grant to me, Loving One,
forgiveness for all of my faults.

Do not despise me, Saviour,
and do not turn your face away from me.
Take away from me
this far too heavy yoke,
the one that is my sins.
Grant to me, Loving One,
the forgiveness of all my sins.

O Saviour, all my failures,
the voluntary
and involuntary,
both the visible and
the hidden, and the known
and all of the unknown,
forgive them all, my God,
and have mercy, and do save me.

From my youth, O my Saviour,
I have rejected all your commandments,
wholly impassioned,
neglectful and lazy,
and wasting all my life.
I cry to you, Saviour,
now it is ending, do save me.

All the substance of my soul
in prodigality have I wasted.
Desolate am I
of all godly virtues.
So, starving, I cry out,
O Father of mercies,
quickly have compassion on me.

I fall before you, Jesus.
I sinned against you, have mercy on me.
Take away from me
this far too heavy yoke,
the one that is my sins.
Grant to me, Loving One,
that I weep tears of compunction.

Do not begin to judge me,
bringing forth all the things I should have done,
judging all my words,
critiquing all my deeds.
But in your compassion,
overlooking all these,
do save me, O Almighty one.

Ode 2

Attend, O heavens, and I will speak out,
and I will sing hymns of Christ,
who from the Virgin
took flesh and came to dwell with us.

Attend, O heavens, and I will speak out:
O earth, give ear to the voice
of one repenting
to God, and who sings hymns to him.

Look on me, O God most compassionate.
Let your eyes be merciful,
and do accept my
confession made most fervently.

For I have sinned
more than all humankind.
Solely against you I sinned.
Have mercy as God,
O Savior, on your creation.

Around me is a storm of evil things.
O most compassionate Lord,
just as to Peter,
to me stretch out your saving hand.

The tears of the Harlot, O Merciful,
I too bring as offerings.
Have mercy on me,
Saviour, in your great compassion.

I have sullied the beauty of my soul
with the pleasures of passions,
and all of my mind
have I turned wholly into dust.

I have torn that garment that was mine once,
which had been woven for me
by the Creator,
and now do I lie here unclothed.

I clothe myself in a tattered garment,
which had been woven for me
by the serpent’s words,
and so I am indeed ashamed.

I looked upon the beauty of the tree,
and then deceived was my mind,
and now I lie here
unclothed, and so I am ashamed.

They cruelly worked on all of my back,
these leaders of wickedness,
prolonging on me
that lawlessness that is all their own.

I have wholly lost my firstformed beauty
and my propriety too,
and now I lie here
unclothed, and so I am ashamed.

Sewn now for me are these garments of skin,
by all my own sins for me,
stripping me of my
former cloak that God had woven.

I am dressed in a cloak of shamefulness,
as if with only fig leaves,
in my own disgrace
through all my own self-willed passions.

Enrobed am I in a defiled garment,
one shamefully all blood-stained,
all because of my
impassioned, pleasure-loving life.

I have stained the garment that is my flesh,
and I have now defiled
the Saviour’s image,
one according to his likeness.

I fall under the weight of my passions
and material desire.
So the Enemy
now greatly oppresses me too.

Loving matter and a life of goods
have I pursued, O Saviour,
preferring for now
a heavy yoke to owning less.

I have adorned this idol of my flesh
in all of its shameful thoughts,
many-colored cloaks,
so now I am indeed condemned.

The external, and careful impression,
is all that I have preferred
and not the inner
tabernacle which is God-made.

I formed within me my deformed passions,
and, in desire for pleasure,
disfigured my mind,
the most beautiful part of me.

I have sullied my first beautiful image,
O Saviour, by my passions.
As with the drachma
you were once looking for, find me.

I have sinned, and like the Harlot cry out:
I sinned only against you.
Like sweet myrrh, accept,
O Saviour, even my own tears.

I have fallen, just as David lusted,
and I am all defiled.
But purify me,
O Saviour, by all my own tears.

Have mercy, as the Publican begged you,
Saviour, have mercy on me.
No child of Adam
has sinned against you as I have.

I have no tears, nor have I repentance,
nor do I have compunction.
Give me these youself,
O Saviour, for you are my God.

Close not your gate or lock it on that day,
O my Lord, my only Lord.
Open it to me,
for I am repenting to you.

O Loving One who would that all be saved,
call me back to you yourself.
Accept me, Good One,
for I am repenting to you.

Listen to the groaning of my own soul;
and all the tears of my eyes
that are falling down,
accept them, Saviour, and save me.

A different heirmos

Behold now, behold now,
for I alone am indeed God,
who showered down manna,
and made water from stone
pour forth, long ago, in the desert for my people,
by my right hand alone,
and by my own strength alone.

Behold now, behold now,
for I alone am indeed God.
Give ear to me, O soul,
the Lord is crying out.
So forsake you now all of your many former sins,
and fear him as Justice,
and as your Judge and your God.

Whom do you resemble,
O my poor often-sinning soul,
if not that ancient Cain
and that other, Lamech?
For you have stoned your body with all your evil deeds,
and you have killed your mind
with your unlawful desires.

Those from before the Law
have all outrun you, O my soul.
You resemble not Seth,
nor imitate Enosh,
nor that Enoch who was translated, and not Noah,
but are seen as bereft
of the life of the righteous.

You alone have opened
the surging floodgates of the wrath
of God, O my poor soul,
and have flooded all your
flesh, just like the world, with all your deeds, and all your life.
So you remain outside
of the safety of the Ark.

A man have I murdered,
he said, to my own injury,
and a young man to my
wounding, did Lamech mourn;
but you do not tremble, O my soul, having defiled
your flesh, and made your mind
a thing of great pollution.

O how I emulate
Lamech the ancient murderer:
my soul as though a man,
and my mind a young man,
and my own body as though slaughtering my brother,
like Cain the murderer,
with my unlawful desires.

You devised a tower,
and built a refuge, O my soul,
fortified a stronghold
for your lusts and desires;
but the Creator has confounded all of your plans,
overthrown to the ground
everything that you have built.

I am bruised and wounded.
Behold the enemy’s arrows,
which pierce me through and through
in my soul and body.
Behold all of my wounds, my injuries, and maimings,
I cry to you, wounded
by all my self-willed passions.

The Lord once sent a rain
from above, of fire from the Lord,
for their wild transgressions,
burning those of Sodom;
but you yourself have kindled the fire of Gehenna.
In the future, O soul,
you will burn, like them, harshly.

Know and see, all of you,
that I alone am your own God,
one who searches all hearts,
punishes intentions,
admonishes actions, and burns out all of your sins;
the orphan’s protector,
and of the weak, and the poor.

Ode 3

O Christ, upon the unshakeable
rock of all your commandments
have you laid the foundations of your Church.

Fire from the Lord above,
O soul, did the Lord rain down,
once, on the land of Sodom, burning it.

To the mountains flee now, O my soul,
like Lot did so long ago,
to Zoar, that you may find salvation.

Flee now the burning, O my poor soul,
flee now that burning Sodom,
flee now the destruction by Divine fire.

I confess to you, O my Saviour,
I have sinned, sinned against you;
but save me, forgive me, in compassion.

I have sinned, sinned only against you;
I have sinned more than others.
O Christ my Saviour, reject me not.

You are the one good Shepherd, O Christ.
Seek me out, your own lost lamb
who has wandered off, do not leave me.

You are so dear to me, O Jesus;
you are the one who formed me.
By you, Saviour, I become righteous.

A different heirmos.

Lay the foundation, O Lord,
upon the rock of all your commandments,
of my heart, which is so unstable.
For only you
are the Holy one, and the only Lord.

I have the Fountain of life,
you who are the destroyer of all death;
and I cry to with my whole heart,
before the end:
I have sinned, have mercy, and save me now.

Those around Noah, Saviour,
I imitated in licentiousness;
and, like them, I am also destined,
and am condemened,
to be overwhelmed in another flood.

I have sinned so, O my Lord;
I sinned against you, have mercy on me.
For there is no one else who has sinned,
in all mankind,
whom I have not surpassed in offences.

The ancient Ham, O my soul,
the father-mocker, you imitated,
not covering up the shamefulness
of another,
walking backwards with your face turned away.

The blessing of ancient Shem
have you not received, O my wretched soul;
nor possession of a spacious land,
like Japheth had,
did you take in the land of forgiveness.

Leave now the land of Harran,
which is all your sins, O my soul, and go
to a land flowing with endless life,
which is what Abraham inherited.

You have heard of Abraham,
O my soul, of old, how he left behind
his fathers’ land, and then came to be
a wanderer.
Imitate him in all of his choices.

While at the oak of Mamre,
the Patriarch welcomed there the strangers,
the three angels, and inherited,
in his old age,
the fulfillment of what was promised.

O my very wretched soul,
you know, once, Isaac, a new sacrifice
mystically and wholly offered
unto the Lord.
Imitate him in all of his choices.

You have heard of Ishmael.
Beware, O my soul, of being cast out
like the child of an enslaved woman.
So take care, lest
you suffer this for your licentiousness.

O soul, like ancient Hagar
the Egyptian have you indeed become.
For, your free will has now become enslaved,
and you have birthed
a new Ishmael in your willfulness.

That ladder of Jacob which
had been shown to him, O my soul, you know,
which led from the earth up to the heavens.
Why have you not
an unshaken base in your piety?

That holy Priest of God was
also a king of such noble memory,
the one who was an image of Christ
while in the world,
living among mankind: imitate him.

Become not a salt pillar,
O soul, turning your face to look behind.
Instead, fear the ancient example,
that of Sodom,
and go up to Zoar, that you be saved.

Like Lot, O my wretched soul,
flee the burning which is all of your sins.
Flee now from Sodom and Gomorrah.
Flee now the flame
of every contrary inclination.

Have mercy on me, O Lord;
have mercy on me, I cry out to you,
when you come with your many angels,
and you reward
everyone according to all their deeds.

O Master, the entreaty
of those who sing you hymns do not reject;
but have compassion, O Loving One,
and grant, to all
who ask for it in faith, your forgiveness.

Ode 4

Indeed, the ancient Prophet heard
of your coming here, O my Lord, and then he was afraid,
that one day you would be born of a Virgin,
and visible to mankind, and so he said:
I have heard the sound of your voice, and so I am afraid.
Glory to your power, O Lord.

Do not despise your creations,
or turn away from those you formed, O my righteous Judge.
Only I, alone, have sinned as a person
more than any person has, O Loving One;
but, as the Lord of everything, you have authority
to pardon us of our sins.

Oh my soul, the end approaches;
approaches, yet you do not care, and are unprepared.
The time is growing short, so pick yourself up.
The Judge is already near unto the gates.
Like a dream, like a flower, the time of your life passes.
Why cause ourselves trouble in vain?

Wake yourself up, O my poor soul.
Each of your deeds which you have done, consider, and lead
each and every one before your inner sight;
and, letting fall the many drops of your tears,
tell, in boldness, of your every deed and your every thought,
to Christ, so that you may be saved.

There has never been, in this my life,
a single sin, or any deed, or any evil,
O Saviour, by which I have not caused offence:
by my mind, and my word, and my intent,
my position, and thought, and my deeds, have I surely sinned
as no one else has ever sinned.

In all this, too, am I condemned.
In all this am I judged guilty; I, who am wretched,
by my own consciousness of having done wrong,
than which nothing in the world is more forceful.
O Judge, Redeemer, you know me too: spare and rescue me,
and do save me, your servant, too.

The ladder which he saw of old,
that greatest among the Patriarchs, O my soul,
is an image of the approach through action,
and thereby of ascending to knowledge.
If, then, you would, by deeds, and knowledge, and contemplation,
to live, you will be made anew.

The burning heat of all the days
indeed endured, in poverty, the great Patriarch,
and the chilling frost that every night did bring.
For, every day, he was making advances
in his flocks, and wrestling, and serving, all so that those two
wives of his he might lead away.

To me, the two wives indicate
together action and knowledge in contemplation.
Leah is action, with all of her children.
Rachel is knowledge, in all her sufferings.
For without suffering, no action or contemplation
is ever accomplished, O soul.

So be on guard, O my poor soul;
be courageous, like that greatest of the Patriarchs,
so you acquire actions along with knowledge,
and might bear the name Mind Which Is Seeing God,
and approach the innermost darkness in contemplation,
and acquire numerous treasures.

Those who were the twelve Patriarchs
were fathered by the greatest among the Patriarchs,
who mystically set up for you a ladder,
O my soul, for ascending through your actions,
with his sons as though steps you might walk for your ascent
so wisely set underneath.

Esau, the one who was hated,
you copy, O soul, passing on to your supplanter
your former beautiful rights of the firstborn,
and the fatherly prayer you indeed lost.
Twice supplanted are you, bereft of action and knowledge.
Therefore, now you need to repent.

Esau was also called Edom
for too much experience in woman-craziness
and intercourse; for, always being afire
in unrestaint, and being defiled in all
his pleasures, he was named Edom, which means the burning heat
of a soul loving sin alone.

About Job upon the dungheap,
you have heard, O my soul, and his being justified;
and, yet, his fortitude you do not imitate.
No firmness have you kept in your position.
In everything you know, and you see, and you are tempted by,
you are found lacking endurance.

He formerly sat on a throne:
unclothed now upon a dungheap does he find his seat.
Once many in children, and honored by all:
childless, and also homeless, all suddenly.
Yet, the dungheap was like his palace, and all of his sores
were as pearls in his own thinking.

The dignity of his kingship,
with diadem, and with purple for his enrobement,
a man of great wealth and of righteousness both,
with wealth overburdened, and many great herds:
suddenly, all his wealth, and glory, and his kingly reign
were stripped away, to poverty.

If someone righteous like he was,
and concerning all things blameless, could not escape these,
the deceiver’s obstacles and all his traps,
you, being so wretched and loving all sins,
O soul, what will you do when anything unexpected
occurs that will threaten you?

My body I have so defiled;
my spirit I have made unclean; I am all wounded;
but, as healer, O Christ, of the both of them,
through my repentance, make me healthy again.
Do now wash me, make me clean, scrub me, make me now to shine,
O Saviour, whiter than the snow.

Your Body, and also your Blood,
when crucified for everyone, you offered O Word,
that your Body would then create me anew,
and that your Blood would then purify me, too.
Your Spirit you have sent forth, so that you might lead me forth,
O Christ, to you holy Father.

You have worked at our salvation
in the world’s center, Creator, that we might be saved;
willingly were you crucified on the tree.
Eden, until then closed, was opened again.
The above, the below, creation, and all the peoples,
are all saved, and they worship you.

Let it be my baptismal font,
the Blood that poured from your side, and also let me drink
the water that sprang forth then for forgiveness,
that I might, by them both, now be purified,
and anointed, drinking as chrism, that drink, too, O Word:
your life-giving holy words.

Stripped am I of the bridal chamber.
and stripped am I of the wedding, and of the banquet.
My lamp too has gone dark for the lack of oil.
The chamber was closed to me while I had slept.
The banquet is eaten, and I, by my hands and my feet,
am bound, and I am cast outside.

A chalice has your holy Church,
O my Saviour, acquired in your all life-bearing Side,
from which a double stream gushes forth for us:
a spring of all forgiveness and all knowledge:
a type of the Old one and the New, the two together:
your own Testaments, our Saviour.

And now the time left of my life
is so short, and full of sorrows and such evil things;
but in my repentance do accept me now,
and toward that knowledge do recall me now.
Let me not be chattel, nor a meal for the Enemy.
Saviour, yourself do pity me.

So boastfully, now, do I speak
with such arrogance in my heart: worthless vanity.
Do not condemn me like the proud Pharisee;
but the Publican’s honest humility
grant to me, O only Compassionate righteous Judge,
and number me among his kind.

I have sinned, and have insulted
the vessel of my flesh, I know, O Compassionate;
but in my repentance do accept me now,
and toward that knowledge do recall me now.
Let me not be chattel, nor a meal for the Enemy.
Saviour, yourself do pity me.

My own idol have I become,
defiling my soul with passions, O Compassionate;
but in my repentance do accept me now,
and toward that knowledge do recall me now.
Let me not be chattel, nor a meal for the Enemy.
Saviour, yourself do pity me.

I have not listened to your voice,
and have not heeded your Writings, O my Lawgiver;
but in my repentance do accept me now,
and toward that knowledge do recall me now.
Let me not be chattel, nor a meal for the Enemy.
Saviour, yourself do pity me.

Ode 5

In the night I wake early, O Loving One.
Enlighten me, I pray,
and direct me in the way
of your holy commandments,
and teach me, O my Saviour,
to do what is your own will.

In the night do I always review my life,
for it is all darkness,
and like a deep fog to me;
it is a dark night of sin;
but a son of the morning,
O Saviour, do make me now.

I, the wretched imitator of Reuben;
have done the immoral
with my will, against your Law,
one against the God Most High.
I have defiled my own bed,
as that one did his father’s.

I must confess to you now, O Christ, my King:
I have sinned, I have sinned
like they once did with Joseph,
his brothers who sold him off,
him, the fruit of purity,
also of moderation.

By his own family was this righteous soul
given over sold off;
the sweet one to slavery,
an archetype of the Lord;
and this, your whole entire soul,
has been sold to your evils.

The moderate mind of Joseph the righteous,
imitate, O wretched
and reprobate soul of mine;
do not be immoderate
in all your lawless desires
and forever transgressing.

Once, Joseph was cast down into a deep pit,
O my Master and Lord,
an archetype of your Tomb
and of your Resurrection.
What now can I offer you
that is remotely like this?

You have heard, O my soul, of Moses’ basket
upon waves of water,
borne upon the great river,
anciently, as though a shrine,
escaping the tragedy
of the cruel Pharaonic plan.

You have heard of the old midwives murdering,
O you wretch, the infant
manly virtue, O my soul,
of moderation in deeds;
now, then, like the great Moses,
nurse at the breast of wisdom.

Unlike Moses the great, the Egyptian mind,
O wretched fearful one,
you have not struck down, O soul.
Tell me, how will you now dwell
in a passionless desert
with this sort of repentance?

Moses the great dwelled in deserted places.
Come, now, so that you might
imitate his way of life;
so that you might, at the bush
of theophany, O soul,
abide in contemplation.

O my soul, think about the rod of Moses
striking the mighty sea,
making dry land of the deep:
a type of the divine Cross,
through which you, too, are able
to accomplish great wonders.

Aaron brought an offering of fire to God,
blameless and undefiled;
but Hophni and Phineas,
like you, O soul, brought forward
something unworthy of God:
a life lived in defilement.

As harsh as the will of Pharaoh in cruelty
have I become Master;
for Jannes and Jambres are
both my soul and my body,
and my mind underwater;
but do come to help me now.

I, the wretched, have mingled with muck my mind;
wash me now, O Master,
with the cup that I have filled
with my tears, I pray of you;
and the garment of my flesh,
make it as white as the snow.

When I consider my actions, O Saviour,
moreso than everyone
have I myself exceeded
in measure of all my sins;
in full knowledge of my mind
have I sinned, not ingnorance.

Spare me, spare me, O Lord: one formed by your hands.
I have sinned; forgive me,
you who are by nature pure,
the only one who is pure;
for none other than you is
fully free from defilement.

For my sake, one who is God took on my form,
and performed great wonders:
the healing of the lepers,
strengthening the paralysed,
O Saviour, stopping the blood
flowing, when she touched your cloak.

Imitate the Hemmorhaging woman, O soul,
run quickly, and take hold
of the hem of Christ’s garment,
to be healed of all your ills,
and so you might hear from him:
This faith of yours has saved you.

Be like the widow bent to the ground, O soul.
So, come now, and fall down
before the feet of Jesus,
that he make you straight again,
and you may walk unbended
upon the paths of the Lord.

As, too, O Master, you are a well of depth,
make a spring rise in me
from out of your all-pure veins;
so, like her from Samaria,
I may drink and thirst no more,
for from you flow streams of life.

Let my tears become like the pool Siloam,
O my Master and Lord,
that I too may wash therein
the pupils of my own soul,
and may see you in my mind,
the light before all ages.

Ode 6

I cried out with my whole heart; I have cried out
to the all-compassionate God;
and he indeed heard me
from deepest Hades below;
and then did he lead out
from corruption, this, my life.

The tears, O Saviour, of these my own two eyes,
and my groanings out of the depths,
I offer you purely,
crying out with my whole heart:
God, I sinned against you;
forgive me, O forgive me.

You are a stranger, O soul, to your own Lord,
as were Dathan and Abiram;
but now cry out, Spare me,
with the whole of your own heart,
so that a deep chasm
of the earth not swallow you.

Like a heifer, O soul, raging in madness,
do you resemble Ephraim;
like a deer from the traps,
rescue now this life of yours,
taking wing in action,
and mind, and contemplation.

The hand of Moses will give us assurance,
O soul, of how God is able,
in a life made leprous,
to whiten, and to cleanse pure;
do not be in despair
for your own being leprous.

The waves, O Saviour, of my own transgressions,
as once, of old, in the Red Sea,
have returned to their place,
suddenly covering me,
just as the Egyptians
once were, and all their captains.

Senseless, O soul, is the conduct of your life.
You chose as once did Israel:
for, to divine manna,
you have foolishly preferred
the love of pleasure
in gluttony for passions.

The meat of all the swine, and all the cauldrons,
and all of the Egyptian food,
and not the heavenly,
have you preferred, O my soul,
senselessly, as once did
those who were in the desert.

You have valued, O my soul, the manmade wells
of the thoughts of the Canaanites
more than the veinèd Rock,
from out of which is flowing
the river of wisdom,
streams of the knowledge of God.

For, Moses, your servant, anciently striking
with his rod the rock, was a type
of your own life-giving
Side, a lesson by image,
from which we all draw forth,
O Savior, the drink of life.

Now explore, O my soul, and go to spy out,
just like Joshua son of Nun,
your own inheritance;
see what kind of land it is,
and make your home therein,
through obedience to God.

Rise up, O soul, make war ceaselessly against,
like Joshua on Amalek,
the passions of the flesh;
and Gibeonites, which are
deceptive images,
be ceaselessly conquering.

Pass now through the swirling nature of your life,
as once did the Ark long ago,
and of that very land
promised to you long ago,
make it your possession,
O my soul, as God commands.

As once you did save Peter when he cried out,
Save me, come quickly, O Saviour,
rescue me from the Beast;
stretching out your saving hand,
lead me now out of
the depths of my many sins.

I know you are the harbour of calm waters,
O Master, O Master, O Christ;
so, now, from the deepest
depths of all my many sins,
and from my deep despair,
come quickly to rescue me.

I am, O Saviour, that which was lost to you
long ago: a royal drachma;
so, now, light up the lamp,
your great Forerunner O Word,
and seek it out once more, and
find your very own image.

Ode 7

We have all sinned, have broken your Law,
and have been unrighteous in your presence;
nor have we been observant of,
nor indeed have we acted
according to, your command;
but, even so, do not reject us so utterly,
O God of our fathers.

I have sinned so, I have offended,
and have ignored all of your commandments,
because I have progressed in all
my sins, and I have added to
all my bruises yet more wounds;
but you, yourself, have mercy on me, O Compassionate,
O God of our fathers.

All the secrets hidden in my heart,
I have exposed them to you O my Judge;
see, now, my complete abasement;
see, now, too, all my troubles,
and attend, now, to my judgment;
and you, yourself, have mercy on me, O Compassionate,
O God of our fathers.

When, in ancient times, Saul had once lost
the donkeys of his father, O my soul,
in searching for them he found a
kingdom by acclamation.
See you do not forget yourself,
preferring all your animal appetites, instead
of the Kingdom of Christ.

Once, David the forefather of God
had also sinned in two ways, O my soul:
pierced by the arrow of adultery,
and being stabbed by a spear
for his having murdered;
but you are sick from more weighty things than these actions, in
the desires of your will.

For David, once, increased by adding
to one lawless act yet another one,
joining his adultery to his murder;
yet, he then showed forth promptly
his twofold repentance.
Yet you do more wicked things than this, O my soul,
by not repenting to God.

David, once, set up a monument,
composing, as though it were an icon,
a hymn, in which he tells his deed
he overcame, crying out:
Have mercy on me,
against you alone have I sinned, O God of all;
do wash me clean yourself.

And when the Ark was being carried
on an ox-drawn cart, a certain Uzzah,
in seeing an ox to stumble,
did simply touch it,
and the wrath of God condemned him;
but from this, his presumption, flee far, O my soul;
fear well everything divine.

For you have heard of Absalom,
how he rebelled against nature itself;
you know what were his unholy actions
by which he outraged
the bed of David his father;
and yet you imitate all his impassioned actions
and his sensual desires.

You have subjugated your freedom
to your bodily desires,
having found another Ahitophel,
the Enemy, O soul;
you accept all of his counsels;
but these have all been confounded, all by Christ himself,
that you be saved from them all.

And Solomon the magnificent,
who was filled with the gift of great wisdom,
he did an evil thing in the sight of
God, so long ago,
doing contrary to his will;
and he, in this all-worthless life of yours,
O soul, have you imitated.

Being carried away by the pleasures
of all his passions, he became defiled.
Alas, the lover of wisdom,
a lover of harlot women,
and a foreigner to God;
in this you imitate him, in your mind, O my soul,
in shameful luxuries.

You emulated Rehoboam,
ignoring every paternal counsel,
along with that very wicked
servant Jeroboam, that
old renegade, O soul.
Instead, flee this imitation; cry out to God:
I have sinned, pity me.

You also emulated Ahab
in his pollutions, O my soul. Alas,
you have become for all fleshly
defilements a dwelling, and a
shameful vessel of passions ;
but groan from your innermost depths, and then tell to God
all of your many sins.

Elijah, once, destroyed with burning
fire twice fifty servants of Jezebel,
once those prophets of shamefulness
had been entirely consumed
as Ahab’s refutation.
Instead, flee imitation of these two, O soul,
and be made much stronger.

Heaven is closed to you, O my soul,
and a famine from God has taken you,
as when the words of Elijah
the Thesbite were by Ahab
disobeyed so long ago.
Instead, imitate the widow of Sarephthah:
nourish the Prophet’s soul.

You have piled upon you Manasseh’s
condemnations, all of your own free will:
passions for abominations,
and being filled, O my soul,
with all detestable things.
Yet, that repentance of his, fervently copy,
and acquire compunction.

I fall down before you, and offer
to you, as though they were tears, these, my words:
I have sinned, more than has sinned the
Harlot, and I have transgressed,
more than all others on earth.
Have compassion, O Master, on your creation.
Call me back to yourself.

I have so discoloured your image,
and have utterly transgressed your command.
I have completely sullied my
beauty, and by my passions
is my lamp snuffed out, Saviour.
O Compassionate, do restore, as David sings,
to me, that joy of yours.

Turn yourself around, and repent now.
Uncover everything which is hidden.
Say to God, by whom everything
is seen: You know all of my
secrets, O only Saviour;
You, yourself, have mercy on me, as David sings,
according to your mercy.

My days have all flown away from me,
like the dream of one who has just woken.
So now, like Hezekiah, I
weep tears while upon my bed,
to add more time to my life;
but what sort of Isaiah will come to visit you, O soul,
except the God of all?

Ode 8

The ranks of heavenly hosts glorify him,
and the Cherubim tremble,
and the Seraphim.
All creation, every breath,
praise him in song, and bless him,
and ever exalt him,
forever and forever.

I have been sinning, O Saviour, have mercy.
Do, now, awaken my mind
toward turning back.
Accept this repenting one.
Have pity on one crying out:
I have sinned against you
alone, have mercy on me.

The chariot driver Elijah, armoured
in the virtues, mounted up
as to the heavens,
leading upward to above
that which once had been earthly.
This, therefore, O my soul,
consider as the way up.

The mighty turbulence of the River Jordan
with Elijah’s hairy cloak
was by Elisha
made to stand on either side.
Yet in this grace, O my soul,
do you have no portion,
due to your intemperance.

Elisha, upon taking up, long ago,
Elijah’s cloak of sheepskin,
received a double
portion of grace from the Lord.
Yet in this grace, O my soul,
do you have no portion,
due to your intemperance.

The Shunammite did, once, the righteous Prophet
host in her home, O soul,
with proper goodwill.
But you have never welcomed
a stranger or traveller.
So, from the bridechamber
you will be cast out and mourn.

You have imitated, O wretch, Gehazi’s
sordid manner of thinking,
always, O my soul.
This love of money of his,
cast off, even in old age.
Flee, now, from Gehenna’s
fire; turn from your evil ways.

You have copied, O soul, the King Uzziah.
His leprosy is in you,
in double portion.
For your thinking is wicked,
and your actions unlawful.
Leave that which you possess,
run quickly to repentance.

You have heard, O soul, about the Ninevites,
their repenting before God
in sackcloth and ash.
You do not imitate them,
but are seen as more perverse
than those before the Law,
or after, who were stumbling.

You have heard of the one in the pit of filth,
Jeremiah, O soul, in
the city of Zion,
crying out lamentations,
seeking out ever more tears.
Imitate, therefore, his
life of lament and be saved.

The Prophet Jonah ran away to Tarshish,
foreseeing the repentance
of the Ninevites,
for he knew as a prophet
the geat compassion of God,
and yet he was zealous
that his prophecy not be false.

You have heard of Daniel in the lions’ den,
how he sealed up, O my soul,
the mouths of the beasts.
You know, too, how the Young Men,
those, along with Azariah,
quenched through their faith in God
the flaming fiery furnace.

The content of the entire Old Testament
I have set forth, O my soul,
as an example.
Imitate of the righteous
all their God-loving actions.
And, again, flee away
from the sins of the wicked.

O Righteous Judge and Saviour, have mercy on,
and rescue, me from the fire,
also from the threat
destined for me in judgment,
which rightly hangs over me.
Free me before the end,
through virtue and repentance.

Like the Thief, I cry to you, Remember me.
Like Peter, I weep bitterly. +
Forgive me, O Saviour, +
I cry like the Publican.
I weep tears like the Harlot.
Accept my lamentation, +
like the Canaanite woman.

O Saviour, make healthy the putrefaction
of my impoverished soul.
O only Healer,
apply to me an ointment,
a mixture of oil and wine:
the works of repentance,
and that compunction with tears.

The Canaanite woman will I imitate:
Have mercy on me, I cry,
O Son of David.
I touch the hem of your cloak
like the Hemorrhaging one;
and I cry like Martha
and Mary for Lazarus.

An alabaster flask of tears, O Saviour,
like myrrh, I will empty out,
all upon your head.
I cry to you like the Harlot,
she who was seeking mercy.
I bring my petition,
I ask to receive forgiveness. +

For no one has sinned against you as have I.
Even so, receive me, too,
O merciful Saviour, +
with my repenting in fear,
and crying out in regret.
I sinned against you alone, +
I transgressed, have mercy on me. +

Spare, O Saviour, this, the work of your own hands,
and seek out, as the Shepherd,
the one who is lost,
a sheep which has gone astray;
snatch me away from the wolf,
and make me a nursling,
in the pasture of your flock.

When you are seated as compassionate Judge,
and reveal your most fearsome
great glory, O Christ,
O what fear there will be, then,
of the flaming furnace,
all being terrified
of your unbearable throne.

Ode 9

Of a seedless conception,
a birth past all understanding;
from Virgin Mother,
a childbearing undefiled.
The nativity of God
creates natures all anew.
So we, and every generation,
like the Bride of God, the Mother,
magnify you, in righteous worship.

My mind is now all wounded,
and my body now all weakened.
My spirit is sick.
My speech now lacks all strength;
my life become as though dead.
My end is now at the gate.
Therefore, O my wretched soul, for me,
what will you do when he arrives,
the Judge, to examine all your deeds?

I set before you, O soul,
Moses’ creation of the world,
and after that one,
all of the canonical
Scriptures which tell you the tales
of the righteous and wicked;
but, O soul, it is the second which
you imitate and not the first,
for you have indeed sinned against God.

The Law, it has no power.
The Gospel can do nothing at all.
All of the Scriptures
are nothing at all to you.
The Prophets are lacking, and
all the words of the righteous.
The number of your wounds, O my soul,
are multiplied, and there is no
healer able to make you healthy.

I bring to you examples
from out of the New Testament
so as to lead you,
O soul, toward compunction.
So, imitate the righteous,
turn aside from the sinners,
so you reconcile yourself to Christ
through many prayers, and with fasting,
in purity and in reverence.

Christ did become an infant,
having taken on flesh for me;
and everything which
belongs to my own nature,
he was willing to fulfill,
with the exception of sin:
an example for you, O soul,
and an image which is set forth
of his very condescension.

Christ did become a human,
calling toward repentance
the thieves and harlots.
Repent, O my wretched soul.
For opened has been the gate,
of the Kingdom already,
and you have been overtaken by
the Pharisees, and publicans,
and adulterous who repented.

Christ himself saved the Magi,
called together all the Shepherds,
a crowd of Infants
he revealed to be Martyrs,
and glorified the Elder
along with the aged Widow.
Yet you, O soul, have copied neither
their righteous actions, nor their lives.
Woe to you, when you are to be judged.

The Lord indeed was fasting
over the course of forty days
in the wilderness,
and was hungry at the end,
showing that he was human.
O soul, do not be dismayed.
If the Enemy will attack you,
through prayer and through fasting
you will drive him far away from you.

Christ himself was once tempted.
He was tempted by the Devil
showing him the stones,
that they be made loaves of bread.
He led him up a mountain
to see all of the kingdoms
of the entire world in an instant.
Fear, O soul, that dreadful event.
Beware, and pray every hour to God.

The Dove who loved the desert,
the voice of one crying aloud,
and the Lamp of Christ,
had been preaching repentance.
Yet Herod himself transgressed
and sinned with Herodias.
See, O my soul, that you are not caught
in the snares of the lawless ones,
but instead embrace repentance.

He made the desert his home,
the holy Forerunner of grace,
and all Judea,
along with Samaria,
ran out so as to hear him;
and they were confessing, there,
all of the sins they had committed,
and eagerly being baptized.
Yet you have not done like this, O soul.

Marriage is honourable,
and the wedding bed undefiled.
For the both of them
Christ himself has indeed blessed:
having eaten in the flesh
at the wedding in Cana,
and changing the water to wine,
revealing his first miracle
so that you will repent, O my soul.

The paralytic was healed
by Christ, and then took up his bed;
also, the young men,
having died, he raised them up:
both the child of the widow,
and the centurion’s boy.
He appeared to the Samaritan
woman, and worship in spirit
did he depict for you, O my soul.

The Lord healed the Hemorrhaging
woman through her touching his hem;
the leper, he cleansed;
to the blind and to the lame
he gave light and uprightness;
to the deaf and to the mute,
and to the woman who was bent down,
did he give healing through his word,
so you will be saved, O wretched soul.

Healing many sicknesses,
to the poor were the glad tidings
preached by Christ the Word.
He healed those who could not walk,
and he ate with publicans,
and consorted with sinners.
The soul of the daughter of Jair,
which had already departed,
he returned with the touch of his hand.

The Publican, he was saved;
and the Harlot, she became chaste;
but the Pharisee,
boasting so, he was condemned.
The two cried out, Forgive me,
and, Have mercy upon me.
The other had boasted, crying out,
O my God, I give thanks to you,
and the rest of his words of madness.

Zacchaeus was a publican, +
nonetheless, he was also saved.
Yet the Pharisee
Simon had fallen away.
The Harlot, too, did receive
remission of many sins
from the one who has authority
to forgive each and every sin.
May he, O soul, forgive your own self.

The Harlot, O my wretched
soul, you have not imitated:
in her taking up
her alabaster myrrh flask,
with many tears welling up,
the very feet of the Lord
did she wipe with her hair in weeping,
with him tearing up the record
of all her previous transgressions.

Those cities to which Christ did
give glad tidings of the Kingdom,
O my soul, you know,
and how they were then all cursed.
Do, then, fear this example,
and do not be like them at all.
For to the Sodomites were all these
cities compared by the Master,
who condemned them all to deep Hades.

Be not overcome, O soul,
by finding yourself in despair.
Of the Canaanite
woman’s faith have you once heard,
how through it her daughter was
then healed by the Word of God.
O Son of David, save even me,
cry out from the uttermost depths
of your heart, as she once did to Christ.

Have compassion, and save me;
O Son of David, have mercy.
The demon-possessed
have you healed by your own word.
The voice of your compassion,
let me hear, as did the Thief:
Verily, I say to you, with me
shall you be in Paradise when
at last I come in all my glory.

The one thief did accuse you,
and one thief did call you God.
Yet the both of them
were hanging upon a cross.
O Greatly Compassionate,
as with the Thief’s faith in you
when he acknowledged that you were God,
open also to me the gate
of your ever-glorious Kingdom.

Creation was in anguish
when it saw you were crucified.
The mountains and rocks
were split apart in terror.
The earth, too, trembled in fear;
and Hades was stripped naked.
The light was turned into darkness
during the day, beholding you,
O Jesus, being nailed in the flesh.

Fruits worthy of repentance
demand not of me, O my Lord,
for all of my strength
has indeed failed within me.
Do grant unto me a heart
which is forever contrite,
along with poverty of spirit,
so I may offer them to you
as worthy sacrifice, O Saviour.

O my Judge who knows me, too,
in your fearsome coming again
with all your Angels
to judge then all of the world,
let your eyes be merciful
when you are looking: spare me,
have compassion on me, O Jesus,
me, who more than any other
among humankind has always sinned.

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