February 23, 2017 </br>The First and Second Finding of the Precious Head of the Holy, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

February 23, 2017
The First and Second Finding of the Precious Head of the Holy, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John

(moved from February 24 according to Typikon)

After the Forerunner was beheaded at the order of Herod and his illicit wife Herodias, his head was discarded in what the Synaxarion calls “an unseemly location,” presumably a privy. According to some, it was secretly recovered by Joanna, one of the Myrrhbearing women, and given honourable burial near Jerusalem. There it was found, through a revelation of the Forerunner, by two monks who had come to Jerusalem to worship at the tomb of our Saviour (the first finding). Putting the head in a bag, the monks returned home. On the way, they met an indigent potter from Emesa. That night the Forerunner appeared to the poor man and instructed him to make off with the relic. He returned with it to Emesa and immediately began to prosper in his business. Just before he died, he put the holy relic in a chest, which he left to his sister with these instructions: never to open it without instructions from the one hidden inside it; and to pass it on to a pious man beloved of God. Thus, the Head of the Baptist passed through many generations, eventually being concealed in a cave near a monastery founded during the reign of Marcian (450-457), whose abbot was the godly Marcellus.

The blessed Forerunner appeared several times to Marcellus, embracing him and once even giving him a pot of honey. The Baptist ordered Marcellus to follow a star which led him to the cave and came to rest in front of a niche in the wall. Marcellus dug there and came upon a marble slab, under which was a large jar containing the precious Head. The holy relic was taken with rejoicing to the cathedral in Emesa, where it worked many wonders. In the reign of Michael III (842-867), it was taken to Constantinople. It was at this translation that the present Feast was instituted.

The version given here is that of St Symeon Metaphrastes.

 


GREAT VESPERS

At Psalm 140

In Tone 5

  1. Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord;* O Lord, hear my voice!

Rejoice, holy and light-bearing head, venerated by the angels!
Of old, you were cut off by the sword,
for you had cut through the shame of impurity with incisive reproofs!
Like a fountain refreshing the faithful with wonders,
you declared the saving coming of the Saviour,
and perceived the coming of the Spirit, which took up his abode in you,
as you stood between the grace of the Old and New Covenants.
Entreat Christ God to grant our souls great mercy!

  1. Let Yours ears be attentive* to the voice of my prayer.

Rejoice, holy and light-bearing head, venerated by the angels!
Of old, you were cut off by the sword,
for you had cut through the shame of impurity with incisive reproofs!
Like a fountain refreshing the faithful with wonders,
you declared the saving coming of the Saviour,
and perceived the coming of the Spirit, which took up his abode in you,
as you stood between the grace of the Old and New Covenants.
Entreat Christ God to grant our souls great mercy!

  1. If You mark iniquities, Lord, who can stand?* But with You forgiveness is that You may be revered.

Rejoice, holy and light-bearing head, venerated by the angels!
Of old, you were cut off by the sword,
for you had cut through the shame of impurity with incisive reproofs!
Like a fountain refreshing the faithful with wonders,
you declared the saving coming of the Saviour,
and perceived the coming of the Spirit, which took up his abode in you,
as you stood between the grace of the Old and New Covenants.
Entreat Christ God to grant our souls great mercy!

  1. I have waited for You as You have commanded; my soul patiently relies on Your promise,* for it has trusted in the Lord.

The head of the Forerunner is made manifest.
Once it was concealed in an earthen vessel;
now it is openly given up from the depths of the earth,
pouring forth streams of healing.
For he washed in the waters the Head of the One
who even now covers the chambers of the firmament with waters
and rains down divine forgiveness for all peoples!
Then let us bless this truly praiseworthy head
and joyfully celebrate its finding,
entreating Christ to grant our souls great mercy!

  1. From the morning watch until night* let Israel trust in the Lord.

The head of the Forerunner is made manifest.
Once it was concealed in an earthen vessel;
now it is openly given up from the depths of the earth,
pouring forth streams of healing.
For he washed in the waters the Head of the One
who even now covers the chambers of the firmament with waters
and rains down divine forgiveness for all peoples!
Then let us bless this truly praiseworthy head
and joyfully celebrate its finding,
entreating Christ to grant our souls great mercy!

  1. For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him there is plentiful redemption;* and He shall redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

The head of the Forerunner is made manifest.
Once it was concealed in an earthen vessel;
now it is openly given up from the depths of the earth,
pouring forth streams of healing.
For he washed in the waters the Head of the One
who even now covers the chambers of the firmament with waters
and rains down divine forgiveness for all peoples!
Then let us bless this truly praiseworthy head
and joyfully celebrate its finding,
entreating Christ to grant our souls great mercy!

  1. Praise the Lord, all the nations;* proclaim His glory, all you people.

The head which proclaimed the Lamb of God who appeared in the flesh
declared to all the ways of saving repentance with divine precepts,
before it had denounced the transgression of Herod
and therefore was severed from its body.
It was concealed for a time and has risen to us as a shining sun,
crying out: repent and with compunction of soul submit to the Lord
who grants the world great mercy!

  1. Strong is the love of the Lord for us;* eternally will His truth endure.

The head which proclaimed the Lamb of God who appeared in the flesh
declared to all the ways of saving repentance with divine precepts,
before it had denounced the transgression of Herod
and therefore was severed from its body.
It was concealed for a time and has risen to us as a shining sun,
crying out: repent and with compunction of soul submit to the Lord
who grants the world great mercy!

In Tone 6, Glory…

A treasury of divine gifts, your head, O Forerunner,
guarded by God, has risen from the depths of the earth!
As we faithfully receive it and venerate it, glorious one,
we are made rich through you, Baptist of Christ,
with marvellous wonders and remission of sins!

Now…

Who would not call you blessed, O Virgin most holy?
Who would not sing a hymn of praise
to the glory of your giving birth without pain or travail?
The Only-begotten Son Himself,
begotten of the Father before all ages,
was made flesh out of you in a manner
that cannot be explained, O Woman most pure!
And for our sake, He Who is God by nature
assumed the nature of a man.
He is not divided into two persons;
He is understood to have two natures
without commixion or confusion.
O noble and blessed Woman,
intercede with Him that He may mercy on our souls.

Readings
Isaiah 40:1-11; Malachi 3; Wisdom 4:7-15

Aposticha

In Tone 2

Come, O faithful,
let us honour today the precious head of the Forerunner,
which the raging Herod cut off when he was caught in the
web of Herodias’s passion!
Let us greet it with hymns on the day of its finding,
and honour it with love, as it pours forth graces of healing for us!

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

Like gold from the mines
so from the earth the head of the Forerunner shines forth,
gleaming through a jar and clearly speaking out,
rebuking the adultery and murder committed by Herod,
and enlightening our minds with its beams;
as we kiss it with faith let us the faithful today honour it with our hymns,
for it intercedes to God on our behalf.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

Of old the head of the Baptist was concealed in the earth,
like a divine treasure;
today it is revealed like riches to the ends of the earth
as it pours out founts of healings,
curing diseases and enlightening souls;
therefore as we delight in the grace of gladness of heart,
we devoutly sing its praise with hymns.

Glory…

Your head, O all-praised John,
the all-revered shrine of divine thoughts,
has shone forth today from the secret places of the earth.
From your mother’s womb it clearly foresaw the mystery of Ineffable Being
and has made the whole earth fragrant,
pouring forth the sweet oil of sanctification,
spiritually preaching the way of repentance,
and entreating the Saviour of all on behalf of our souls.

Now…

A new miracle surpasses all ancient miracles!
Who knows of a Mother who gave birth without a man,
who carried in her arms her Creator?
This birth is the will of God!
Since you carried Him as an infant in your arms, O most pure one,
and since you possess motherly boldness before Him,
do not cease praying for us who honour you,
that He may be bountiful and save our souls!

Troparia

In Tone 4
The head of the Forerunner has dawned from the earth* shedding rays of incorruption and healing on those who believe;* from on high it assembles the multitude of angels,* from below it summons the human race** to glorify Christ God with one voice.

Glory… Now…
O Mother of God, the mystery hidden from all eternity* and unknown even to the angels,* was revealed through you to those on earth:* God took on our human nature* and united it to His divine nature in a perfect but unconfused union.* Then, He willingly accepted the cross for our sake* and thereby raised again the first created man,** and saved our souls from death.

 


DIVINE LITURGY

Troparion and Kontakion
Troparion, Tone 4: The head f the Forerunner has dawned from the earth* shedding rays of incorruption and healing on those who believe;* from on high it assembles the multitude of angels,* from below it summons the human race* to glorify Christ God with one voice.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen.

Kontakion, Tone 2: O Forerunner of Grace and prophet of God,* having obtained your head from the earth like a sacred rose,* we always receive gifts of healing;* for again as of old you proclaim repentance in the world.

Prokeimenon, Tone 7
The just man shall be glad in the Lord and shall hope in Him.
verse: Hear, O God, my voice when I make my petition to You. (Psalm 63:11,2)

Epistle
2 Corinthians 4:6-15

Alleluia, Tone 4
verse: The just man shall flourish like the palm tree; and he shall grow like the cedar in Lebanon.
verse: They who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish the courts of our God. (Psalm 91:13,14)

Gospel
Matthew 11:2-15

Communion Hymn
The just man shall be in everlasting remembrance;* of evil hearsay he shall have no fear.* Alleluia, alleluia,* alleluia. (Psalm 111:6)

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