Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Presentation of the Virgin Mary 2019

The angels, on seeing the entrance of the Virgin, were amazed that She went with glory into the Holy of Holies. Since she is a living Ark of God, let profane hands in no way touch Her, but let the lips of believers unceasingly sing to the Mother of God, raising up a song with the angel’s voice, and cry out in rejoicing, “Truly, thou art exalted above all, O pure Virgin!” (The hymn to the Virgin at the Byzantine Divine Liturgy on the feast of the Presentation.)

An 18th-century Russian icon of the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple. (Now in the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
In the Byzantine Liturgy, after the consecration and the epiclesis, the choir sings the hymn “We sing of Thee”, while the priest silently reads a prayer of which the second part is as follows. “Moreover, we offer unto Thee this rational service for them that have reposed in faith: the forefathers, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, ascetics, and for every righteous spirit in faith made perfect.” He then sings out loud “Especially for our most holy, most pure and most blessed Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-virgin Mary”; at this, the choir sings a hymn to the Virgin, while the priest continues the anaphora in silence. The ordinary hymn “It is truly worthy to bless Thee”, is replaced with another on several occasions, including today’s feast, which is properly known in the Byzantine tradition as “The Entrance of the Our All-Holy Lady, the Mother of God, into the Temple.” Here is a recording of the hymn in Church Slavonic.

“Аггели вхожденїе Пречистыѧ зрѧще, оудивишасѧ, какѡ Дѣва вниде во свѧтаѧ свѧтыхъ. Якѡ ѡдушевленному Божїю кївѡту, да никакоже коснетсѧ рука скверныхъ, оустнѣ же вѣрныхъ Богородицѣ немолчнѡ, гласъ Аггела воспѣвающе, съ радостїю да вопїютъ: истинно выши всѣхъ еси, Дѣво Чистаѧ.”

And in the original Greek. “Ἄγγελοι τὴν Εἴσοδον τῆς Πανάγνου, ὁρῶντες ἐξεπλήττοντο πῶς ἡ Παρθένος εἰσῆλθεν, εἰς τὰ Ἅγια τῶν Ἁγίων. Ὁ Εἱρμός Ὡς ἐμψύχῳ Θεοῦ κιβωτῷ, ψαυέτω μηδαμῶς χεὶρ ἀμυήτων, χείλη δὲ πιστῶν, τῇ Θεοτόκῳ ἀσιγήτως, φωνὴν τοῦ Ἀγγέλου ἀναμέλποντα, ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει βοάτω· Ὄντως ἀνωτέρα πάντων, ὑπάρχεις Παρθένε ἁγνή.

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