March 21, 2010

Triodion is almost over... *snif*

The three hymns that in some measure define the liturgical period of the Triodion have become real favorites of mine this year. I'll miss them when we go back to the normal liturgical cycle. Though the bare text hardly captures the flavor, here they are:

Open to me the gates of repentance, O Giver of Life, for early in the morning my spirit hastens to Your holy temple, bringing the temple of my body all defiled. But as one compassionate, cleanse me, I pray, by Your loving‐kindness and mercy.

Guide me in the paths of salvation, O Theotokos, for I have befouled my soul with shameful sins and I heedlessly squandered all of my life’s resources. By your intercession deliver me from every uncleanness.

When I ponder in my wretchedness on the many terrible things that I have done, I tremble for that fearful day, the Day of Judgment. But trusting in the mercy of Your compassion, like David I cry to You, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy.”
I'm the chanter at my church, and for some time now I've been carrying out Matins each Sunday (except when I'm out of town at a tournament, of course). I usually get at least a little bit of a late start on it, so sometimes I feel the need to rush through so I can get at least most of the material in. It's too bad so few people are there to hear it until the last few minutes. But today, even though I started late as usual, I made a point of slowing down a bit so as to express the readings and hymns more accurately, which really does help accentuate their content.

Over time, there have been certain hymns that I've taken such a liking to that I give them my own stamp in certain details, and these three are some of those. I actually do most of Matins in Greek, which makes it harder to really shape them with complete understanding of the hymns' contents, simply because I'm not really a Greek speaker. But that's where the music helps--it can express things inaccessible to the mere words. I understand the contents of these services much more than I did when I began all of this.

And in a few days, we start Holy Week. Please, don't let my coworkers sneeze on me for another week!

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