History, Poetry, VOLUME 12

St. Cassiane – Hymn for Holy Wednesday


(I know that I’m jumping ahead of things a bit by posting this hymn during Lent, but it also is an important piece of Women’s History)
 
St. Cassiane was a ninth century Eastern Roman abbess, poet, composer, and hymnographer. She is one of the first medieval composers whose scores are both extant and able to be interpreted by modern scholars and musicians. Approximately fifty of her hymns are extant and twenty-three are included in Orthodox Church liturgical books. The exact number is difficult to assess, as many hymns are ascribed to different authors in different manuscripts and are often identified as anonymous (adapted from Wikipedia)
 

Other Women Saints
Whose Stories You Should Know

 

Hymn for
Holy Wednesday
St. Cassiane

 

O Lord, the woman fallen among manifold sins
Perceiving Thy divinity,
Assumes the office of Myrrh-bearer,
And mourning beareth myrrh to Thee before the day of Thy burial,
Saying, Woe is me, for night is about me
The sting of passion twilight and moonless dark,
Even love of transgression.
Accept, I entreat, my tears’ fountains,
Who in vapours aloft drawest the waters of Ocean.
Bow down, I pray, and give ear to my heart’s bitter groanings,
Thou who didst bend the heavens, emptying Thee of Thy glory.
I will kiss Thy undented feet,
And will wipe them dry again
With the curling locks of my head,
The feet whose dread sound Eve in Paradise
Heard in her ears, and hid for terror.
The fulness of my sins, and the abysses of Thy judgments
Who can explore, Soul-saver, Deliverer mine!
Turn not Thy sight from Thy servant,
Thou whose compassion is infinite.

Source: The Scottish Review Vol 32, 311 (public domain)

 
 

Listen to a recording of this hymn:


 


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C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com


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