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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Western Orthodox Hymn to St. Nicholas

December 6 is the universal commemoration of one of the greatest bishops of the Christian Church, St. Nicholas of Myra. This most blessed man was a true theologian and teacher, a man who did not write theology, but lived it--to such a degree that, nearly two thousand years later, he is venerated by millions of Christians as a model of Christian charity and love, not to mention a miracle worker.

The following is a Western Orthodox hymn to Saint Nicholas taken from the Orthodox Web site on St. Nicholas:
(If the address won't work, look up "St.Nicholas" on the Internet and go to "St. Nicholas the Wonderworker - Main Page.")

Take a moment to visit the Web site and read some biographical material on the saint. That will make the references to St. Nicholas' life and miracles in the following hymn more understandable.

"Together rejoicing, let us exult in harmony of the voice,
At the festive acclamations of the blessed Nicholas.
For he, lying still within the cradle, kept the fasts;
At the breast he was resolved to seize the highest joys.

As a youth he doth embrace the study of his letters,
A joyful confessor, bound by no kind of carnal pleasure, a stranger thereunto,
A voice from the heavens declareth of which rank he is found worthy;
Promoted to the episcopate by it, he is exalted to the highest peaks.

Great loving-kindness lay within his soul;
Gifts many and good did he lay upon the heavy-laden.
By him with gold the virgins' ill-repute was taken from them
And their father's penury relieved.

Men at sea aboard their ship, battling the fury of the waves,
Despairing already of their lives, the boat being nearly shattered,
They, being set amidst such fearsome danger,
All cry aloud, with one united voice:

'O blessed man, O Nicholas, pull us from the straits of death
To a haven of the sea.
Pull us to a haven of the sea, thou who hast helped so many
By reason of thy tenderheartedness.'

Whilst they were crying out aloud—for they cried not in vain—
Behold, a man who told them, 'I am here to help you.'
Straightway a favourable breeze was granted,
The storm was stilled, the sea was made serene.

From his sepulchre streameth an abundance of anointing oil,
Which healeth all the sick, at his interceding prayers.
Us who in this world have suffered shipwreck in the abyss of sins,
O glorious Nicholas, pull to salvation's harbour, where there is peace and glory.

Mayst thou obtain for us that very unction from the Lord
Which healed the wound of many sinful deeds upon the billows of the sea.
May those who celebrate thy feast be filled with joy throughout the ages,
And may Christ crown them, following the race-course of this life. Amen."

from The Old Sarum Rite Missal, (c) 1998 St. Hilarion Press.


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