The last of a group of stichera is always a Theotokion, a hymn to the Virgin Mary, and that of Mid-Lent is particularly beautiful. The references to the Crucifixion look back to the preceding Sunday, that of the Veneration of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross, and forward to Good Friday and the end of Lent.
“Today, He that is by nature unapproachable becometh approachable to me, and undergoeth His sufferings to deliver me from sufferings; He that giveth light to the blind is spit upon by impious lips, and giveth His cheek unto blows, for the sake of those held captive. The holy Virgin and Mother, seeing Him upon the Cross, cried out, ‘Alas, my Child! What is this Thou hast done? Beautiful beyond the sons of men, dost Thou appear without life or spirit, having no beauty or comeliness? Alas, my Light! I cannot look upon Thee sleeping, I am wounded to the core, and a terrible sword passeth through my heart. I sing of Thy sufferings, I adore Thy compassion; long-suffering Lord, glory to Thee!’ ” (In the video below, the Old Church Slavonic version.)
|A 16th-century Russian icon of the Holy Mandylion, the cloth with Christ’s face impressed upon it, and below, the Lamentation over the Dead Christ.|