Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A Hymn to Mary

We mention Mary and pray, at least, a short prayer to the God-bearer at every service, but last night, during the Great Canon I was struck by how much we Orthodox pray to her during Lent.  I got me to thinking about a hymn we sing all the time during Lent.  It is sung by the Orthodox every day during Lent, The Coptic and the Roman Catholic. I've read, also sing it but I do not know when.   While it probably isn't the oldest hymn to Mary, it is the one for which we have the oldest evidence:  A fragment, which scholars date to about A.D. 250, written in Greek that was found in Egypt.

Ὑπὸ τὴν σὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν,
καταφεύγομεν, Θεοτόκε.
Τὰς ἡμῶν ἱκεσίας,
μὴ παρίδῃς ἐν περιστάσει,
ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ κινδύνων λύτρωσαι ἡμᾶς,
μόνη Ἁγνή, μόνη εὐλογημένη.

Beneath thy compassion,
We take refuge, O Theotokos:
do not despise our petitions in time of trouble,
but rescue us from dangers,
only pure one, only blessed one.

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