Have compassion and save me, have mercy on me, O Son of David, Who healed with a word the demoniac. And let Your voice of tender compassion speak to me as to the robber, “Truly I tell you, you will be with Me in Paradise when I rise in My glory.” ~ Hymn from Ode 9 of the Great Canon of St. Andrew
Dear Beloved in Christ,
God is with us! Tonight is a major milestone in then annual Lenten journey: The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. During Clean Week (the first week of Great Lent), this canon is split into four parts and chanted on the first four nights of the week. However on Thursday of the fifth week of Lent, the entire canon is chanted. Furthermore the life of St. Mary of Egypt is read during tonight’s service, in anticipation of the 5th Sunday of Lent, dedicated to her.
The Great Canon is a conversation in which St. Andrew is speaking to his soul. It is unique within the liturgical life of the church. Though it follows the form of other canons—nine odes, with an irmos hymn which begins and ends each ode—this canon is unique both in its length and its quantity of Scriptural reference. Each ode has more than 20 hymns, all of which are saturated with references to Biblical stories.
I would highly recommend reading through the entire canon sometime, which can be found in several places online. This source lists all the Scriptural references next to each hymn of the canon, so that you have a sense of how much St. Andrew incorporates the Bible within canon. Below is a portion of the Ode 9 of the Great Canon of St. Andrew.
Please join us for the live streaming of the Great Canon of St. Andrew!
Selections from Ode 9 of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
The mind is wounded, the body is feeble, the spirit is sick, the word has lost its power, life is ebbing, the end is at the doors. What then will you do, wretched soul, when the Judge comes to consider your work?
I have reviewed Moses’ account of the creation of the world, my soul, and then all canonical Scripture which tells you the story of the righteous and the unrighteous. But you, my soul, have copied the latter and not the former, and have sinned against God.
The Law has grown weak, the Gospel is unpracticed, the whole of the Scripture is ignored by you; the Prophets and every word of the Just have lost their power. Your wounds, my soul, have multiplied, and there is no physician to heal you.
I am bringing before you examples from the New Scripture, my soul, to lead you to compunction. So emulate the righteous and avoid following the sinners, and regain Christ’s grace by prayers, fasts, purity and reverence.
Christ became man and called to repentance robbers and harlots. Repent, my soul! The door of the Kingdom is already open, and the transformed pharisees, publicans and adulterers are seizing it ahead of you. (Matthew 21:31; 11:12)
Christ saved wise men, called shepherds, made crowds of infants martyrs, glorified old men and aged widows, whose deeds and life, my soul, you have not emulated. But woe unto you when you are judged! (Matthew 2:12; Luke 2:9-12; Matthew 2:16; Luke 2:25-38)
When the Lord had fasted for forty days in the wilderness, He at last became hungry, showing His human nature. Do not be despondent, my soul, if the enemy attacks you, but let him be beaten off by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 4:1-11; 17:21; Mark 9:29)
The desert-loving dove [John the Baptist], the lamp of Christ, the voice crying in the wilderness sounded, preaching repentance; while Herod sinned with Herodias. See, my soul, that you are not caught in the toils of sin, but embrace repentance. (Mark 1:3; Matthew 14:3)
The Forerunner of grace dwelt in the desert and all Judea and Samaria ran to hear him; and they confessed their sins, and eagerly received baptism. But you, my soul, have not imitated them. (Matthew 3:5-6)
Christ braced the paralytic and he carried his bed; He raised up the dead young man, the son of the widow, and the Centurion’s servant; and by revealing Himself to the Samaritan woman, He traced in advance for you, my soul, how to worship in spirit. (Matthew 9:2-7; Luke 7:14; Matthew 8:6-13; John 4:26; Joshua 4:24)
The Lord healed the woman with hemorrhage by the touch of His hem, cleansed lepers, gave sight to the blind, and cured cripples; the deaf and the dumb and the woman bent earthward he healed with His word, that you, wretched soul, might be saved. (Matthew 9:20-22; 10:8; 11:5; Luke 13:11-13)
Christ the Word healed diseases, preached the Gospel to the poor, cured cripples, ate with publicans, conversed with sinners, and He brought back the departed soul of Jairus’ daughter by the touch of His hand. (Matthew 9:11; Mark 5:41-42)
The publican was saved, the harlot was made chaste, but the pharisee through boasting was condemned. For the first said, “Be merciful,” the second, “Have mercy on me,” but the last boasted and cried, “O God, I thank You,” and then some foolish words. (Luke 7:36-50; 18:9-14)
You, my wretched soul, have not emulated the harlot who took the alabaster jar of perfumed oil and anointed with tears and wiped with her hair the feet of the Savior, Who tore up for her the handwriting of her old accusation. (Luke 7:37-38; Colossians 2:14)
Have compassion and save me, have mercy on me, O Son of David, Who healed with a word the demoniac. And let Your voice of tender compassion speak to me as to the robber, “Truly I tell you, you will be with Me in Paradise when I rise in My glory.” (Luke 9:38-42; 23:43)
A robber accused You, and a robber confessed You to be God, for both were hanging on a cross with You. But open even to me, O most compassionate Savior, the door of Your glorious Kingdom as to Your faithful robber who acknowledged You to be God. (Luke 23:32-42)
Do not require of me fruits worthy of repentance, for my strength is spent in me. Grant me ever a contrite heart and spiritual poverty, that I may offer these gifts to Your as an acceptable sacrifice, O only Savior. (Matthew 3:8; 5:3; Psalm 50:17)
O my Judge and my Light Who alone know me and are coming again with Your Angels to judge the whole world, regard me then with Your merciful Eye and spare me, O Jesus. And have compassion on me who have sinned more than all mankind. (Matthew 25:31-32)