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Archive for the ‘Chant and/or Music’ Category

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Today is the feast day of St. Hilarion of Verey. You can read about him here.

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Blot out, O Lord, all my memories – except one.
St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Bishop of Ochrid
Poem XXX (30)

Blot out, O Lord, all my memories–except one. For memories make me old and feeble. Memories ruin the present day. They weigh down the present day with the past and weaken my hope in the future, for in legions they whisper in my ear: “There will only be what has already been.”

But I do not wish for there to be only what has been. I do not wish and You do not wish, O Lord, for the future to be the past repeated. Let things happen that have never appeared before. The sun would not be worth much, if it only watched repetitions.

Worn paths mislead a wayfarer. Earth has walked over the earth a long time. Earthly walkways have become boring, for they have been traveled again and again from generation to generation throughout all time. Blot out, O Lord, all my memories except one.

Just one memory do I ask You not to blot out, but to strengthen in me. Do not blot out but strengthen in my con­sciousness the memory of the glory that I had when I was en­tirely with You and entirely in You, before time and temporal illusions.

When I, too, was a harmonious trinity in holy unity, just as You are from eternity to eternity.

When the soul within me was also in friendship with consciousness and life.

When my soul also was a virginal womb, and my consciousness was wisdom in virginity, and my life was spiritual power and holiness.

When I, too, was all light, and when there was no darkness within me.

When I, too, was bliss and peace, and when there were no torments of imbalance within me.

When I also knew You, even as You know me, and when I was not mingled with darkness.

When I, too, had no boundaries, no neighbors, no partitions between “me” and “you.”

Do not blot out this memory, my Father, but strengthen it. Even if it reveals to me the abyss along which I am journeying in humbleness and nothingness.

Even if it separates me from friends and pleasantries, and demolishes all the barriers between Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.

Even if it leads me outside of myself, and makes me seem mad in the eyes of my fellow wayfarers.

In truth, no companionship pleases me except Yours, and no memory pleases me except the memory of You.

O my Merciful Father, blot out all my memories except one alone.

 

 

From the spiritual desert to the geographic desert, from a land surrounded by physical water to a land springing forth spiritual water.

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The miracle depicted and described in this video is so awe-inspiring. The hymn, sung first in Greek and then in English, is so beautiful. It is the same hymn chanted at the end of the Akathist services held on Friday nights during Great Lent.

May we have her blessing!

Awed by the beauty of thy virginity, and the exceeding radiance of thy purity;

Gabriel called out unto thee, O Theotokos,

What worthy hymn of praise can I offer unto thee?

And what shall I name thee?

I am in doubt and stand in awe! Wherefore as commanded, I cry to thee:

Rejoice, O full of grace.

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epiphany

The Oikos for the Feast of the Theophany:

Upon Galilee of the Gentiles, upon the land of Zebulon and the land of Nepthali, as the prophet said, a great light hath shone, even Christ. To Those that sat in darkness a bright dawn hath appeared as lighting from Bethlehem. The Lord born from Mary, Sun of Righteousness, sheds His rays upon the whole inhabited earth. Come then, unclothed children of Abraham, and let us clothe ourselves our Him, that we may warm ourselves. Thou Who art a protection and veil to the unclothed, a light to those in darkness, Thou has come, Thou art made manifest, O Thou Light unapproachable.

 

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The Arabic version of this beautiful moving icon from Hamatoura Monastery (in Lebannon) is my favourite, but you can hear the English version here and the Greek version here.

Merry Christmas all! May the light of Christ bring you peace and joy!

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Turning on the radio this time of year all manner of Christmas songs can be heard. There is one song that gets a lot of air time around this season and it always evokes a deep sadness within me whenever I hear it. It’s called “I Believe in Father Christmas” by Greg Lake.

It evokes such sadness because I think the singer conveys the feeling of unfulfilled hope that I believe is an unfortunate, but common, experience. The song begins thus:

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on earth
But instead it just kept on raining

These lyrics could be said by any individual in the modern era who has ever anticipated peace and joy during the Christmas season but was left with an even greater feeling of emptiness instead.

The song continues:

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a silent night
And they told me a fairy story
’till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked at the sky with excited eyes
’till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise

santa-clause-fly

And who sold him this false “dream of Christmas”? Was it the Creator of heaven and earth Who became Man so that mankind could become god by grace? Was it the poor shepherds who received the good news of the Incarnation from an angel? Maybe it was the three wise men who traveled from distant lands to satisfy their longing to see and know God? No. It was the world, the spirit of the world, that sold him this dream. A spirit that is contrary to the Gospel.

You’ll notice he points to two characters of a “fairy tale” he was duped into believing in: the Israelite (a rather derogatory title for Christ) and Father Christmas. And what happens when the dream of Truth is mingled with falsehood? Both the Truth and the falsehood are perceived as a fairy tale. This is why we need to be careful not to blur the lines between Christ’s Nativity and Santa Clause, between celebrating the feast with exaltation and celebrating it as an opportunity to acquire more stuff, eat more food.

Peace and joy at Christmastime are themes continually perpetuated but often people’s experience of Christmas is devoid of authentic peace or joy.  Many are left feeling cheated as the lyricist of this song so aptly conveys. Simply turning on pretty lights and giving gifts, while nice, is not enough to fill the human soul with the kind of joy it is actually longing for.

Worldly joy provides something temporary, something ephemeral for the moment. It cannot provide what spiritual joy provides.  Spiritual joy is life in Paradise, those who have first gone through the Crucifixion, and have been resurrected spiritually, live in the joy of Pascha.

-St. Paisios the Athonite

And so, I wish you all a good end to the fast, our minor “crucifixion” (of the passions) before our spiritual resurrection on the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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