Today at Matins we hear the Gospel warning of the dangers of rejecting Christ, that we should not be like those who “loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” We should he moved, yet again, not to take the grace of God for granted in our lives. Since we have known the Gospel, since we do know Christ, since we belong to the Church, our responsibility is that much greater. At Vespers and the Presanctified Liturgy we hear the Gospel about the woman who came to the house of Simon the leper in Bethany and anointed the head of Jesus with expensive, fragrant oil. The liturgical poetry combines this with the account of similar event in Luke, and another in John. (Bishop Basil Losten)
LITURGY OF THE PRESANCTIFIED GIFTS
At Psalm 140
In Tone 1
10. In You, born of the Virgin, the harlot recognized her God;
ashamed of her sinful deeds, she sighed and wept, and said:
O Lord, loosen my debt to You, as I unloosen my hair.
Grant Your love to the one who loves You, despite all my unworthiness;
and I shall exalt Your love for all,
harlots and publicans alike,
O Lover of humankind and their Benefactor.
9. The harlot mixed her tears with the precious myrrh,
as she poured them over Your most pure feet,
which she covered with kisses;
thus You showed her to be justified.
O Lord, who suffered for us,
grant us Your forgiveness and save us.
8. While the sinful woman was offering You her ointment,
Your disciple conspired against You.
She rejoiced to pour out the precious myrrh,
while he hastened to sell the One who is beyond price.
As she came to recognize her Lord,
the disciple separated himself;
she was set free,
while Judas became enslaved to the Enemy.
She was ennobled through repentance,
while he was disgraced by his vile actions.
O Saviour, who suffered for us,
grant us Your forgiveness and save us.
7. O the misery of Judas!
He saw the sinful woman kiss the feet of the Lord,
and he shamefully thought of his kiss of betrayal.
She loosened her hair,
while he let himself be bound up by passion;
instead of the fragrance of myrrh, he bore the odour of his perverse and evil ways;
for jealousy does no know how to seek what is good.
O the misery of Judas!
O Lord, keep our souls from falling like him.
In Tone 2
6. The sinful woman hastened to buy the precious myrrh,
in order to anoint her Saviour.
She said to the merchant:
Give me the myrrh that I might anoint the One
who washed me of all my sins.
In Tone 6
5. Drowning in the abyss of sin,
the harlot found in You a harbour of salvation.
She poured out myrrh with her tears, and said:
O Lord, You can forgive sins,
but You await the repentance of sinners.
Behold me, O Master, for I am sinking in the storm of sin;
in Your great goodness, save me.
4. Today Christ comes to the house of the Pharisee,
and the sinful woman falls at His feet.
She bows before Him and says:
Behold, I am drowning in the abyss of sin;
I have lost all hope because of my deeds.
In Your goodness, do not turn away from me;
but grant me forgiveness, O Lord, and save me.
3. The harlot loosened her hair for You, O Lord,
while Judas reached out his hand to the godless ones.
One acted to receive Your forgiveness, the other to gain money.
Therefore, we cry out to You:
O Lord, sold for our deliverance, glory to You.
2. Filled with the odour of sin, the woman drew near to You, O Saviour;
she poured out her tears over Your feet and thus proclaimed Your Passion.
“O Master, how shall I dare to raise my eyes to You,” she cried.
Yet You came to save the fallen;
You raised Lazarus from the tomb;
so lift me also from the abyss of death.
O Lord, accept me in my misery and save me.
1. She who was rejected because of her life,
and who was accepted because of her conversion,
came to You, bearing myrrh, and saying:
Do not cast me out, O Son of the Virgin, for I am a wretched one;
O Joy of the angels do not despise my tears;
but receive me in repentance, and in Your goodness, accept me a sinful one.
In Tone 8, Glory… Now…
O Lord, the woman who had fallen into a multitude of sins,
recognized Your divinity and thus joined the ranks of the myrrh-bearing women;
before Your burial, she offered You myrrh with her tears:
“Alas,” she said, “Woe is me!
The stinging night of pleasure seizes me;
the dark and moonless love of sin grasps me.
Accept the stream of my tears and my copious weeping, O Lord,
for You make the waters fall from the clouds into the sea.
Incline Your ear to the cry of my heart,
for You incline the heavens in Your ineffable condescension.
Allow me to kiss Your most pure feet,
and to dry them with the locks of my hair;
for these are the feet that Eve heard in Paradise,
and, trembling at their approach, she hid herself.
O Lord, who can search out the number of my sins?
Who shall search the depth of Your judgments, O Redeemer and Saviour of our souls?!
In Your infinite love, do not despise Your servant.”
Prokeimenon I, Tone 4
To the God of heaven give thanks* for His love endures forever.
verse: Give thanks to the God of gods, for His love endures forever.
Prokeimenon II, Tone 4
Your love, O Lord, is eternal,* do not discard the work of Your hands.
verse: I thank You, Lord, with all my heart.