Sunday, June 5, 2011

Where is the pleasure in life which is unmixed with sorrow?

Venerable John of Damascus ~ Funeral Hymns in the Eight Tones

Tone 1
Where is the pleasure in life which is unmixed with sorrow? Where the glory which on earth has stood firm and unchanged? All things are weaker than shadow, all more illusive than dreams; comes one fell stroke, and Death in turn, prevails over all these vanities. Wherefore in the Light, O Christ, of Thy countenance, the sweetness of Thy beauty, to him (her) whom Thou hast chosen grant repose, for Thou art the Friend of Mankind.

Tone 2
Like a blossom that wastes away, and like a dream that passes and is gone, so is every mortal into dust resolved; but again, when the trumpet sounds its call, as though at a quaking of the earth, all the dead shall arise and go forth to meet Thee, O Christ our God: on that day, O Lord, for him (her) whom Thou hast withdrawn from among us appoint a place in the dwellings of Thy Saints; yea, for the spirit of Thy servant, O Christ.

Another in Tone 2
Alas! What an agony the soul endures when from the body it is parting; how many are her tears for weeping, but there is none that will show compassion: unto the angels she turns with downcast eyes; useless are her supplications; and unto men she extends her imploring hands, but finds none to bring her rescue. Thus, my beloved brethren, let us all ponder well how brief is the span of our life; and peaceful rest for him (her) that now is gone, let us ask of Christ, and also His abundant mercy for our souls.

Tone 3
Vanity are all the works and quests of man, and they have no being after death has come; our wealth is with us no longer. How can our glory go with us? For when death has come all these things are vanished clean away. Wherefore to Christ the Immortal King let us cry, To him (her) that has departed grant repose where a home is prepared for all those whose hearts Thou hast filled with gladness.

Tone 4
Terror truly past compare is by the mystery of death inspired; now the soul and the body part, disjoined by resistless might, and their concord is broken; and the bond of nature which made them live and grow as one, now by the edict of God is rent in two. Wherefore now we implore Thy aid grant that Thy servant now gone to rest where the just that are Thine abide, Life-bestower and Friend of Mankind.

Another in Tone 4
Where is now our affection for earthly things? Where is now the alluring pomp of transient questing? Where is now our gold, and our silver? Where is now the surging crowd of domestics, and their busy cries? All is dust, all is ashes, all is shadow. Wherefore draw near that we may cry to our immortal King, Lord, Thy everlasting blessings vouchsafe unto him (her) that now has gone away, bringing him (her) to repose in that blessedness which never grows old.

Tone 5
I called to mind the Prophet who shouted, I am but earth and ash. And once again I looked with attention on the tombs, and I saw the bones therein which of flesh were naked; and I said, Which indeed is he that is king? Or which is soldier? Which is the wealthy, which the needy? Which the righteous, or which the sinner? But to Thy servant, O Lord, grant that with the righteous he (she) may repose.

Tone 6
My beginning and foundation was the form-bestowing Word of Thy commandment; for it pleased Thee to make me by compounding visible and invisible nature into a living thing. Out of earth was my body formed and made, but a soul Thou didst give me by the Divine and Life-creating In-breathing. Wherefore, O Christ, to Thy servant in the land of the living, in the courts of the righteous, grant repose.

Tone 7
Bring to his (her) rest, O our Savior, Thou giver of life, our brother (sister) whom Thou hast withdrawn from this transient world, for he (she) lifts up his (her) voice to cry: Glory to Thee.

Another in Tone 7
When in Thine own image and likeness Thou in the beginning didst create and fashion man, Thou didst give him a home in Paradise, and make him the chief of Thy creation. But by the devils envy, alas, beguiled to eat the fruit forbidden, transgressor then of Thy commandments he became; wherefore back to earth, from which he first was taken, Thou didst sentence him to return again, O Lord, and to pray Thee to give him rest.

Tone 8
Weep, and with tears lament when with understanding I think on death, and see how in the graves there sleeps the beauty which once for us was fashioned in the image of God, but now is shapeless, ignoble, and bare of all the graces. O how strange a thing; what is this mystery which concerns us humans? Why were we given up to decay? And why to death united in wedlock? Truly, as it is written, these things come to pass by ordinance of God, Who to him (her) now gone gives rest.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
The death which Thou hast endured, O Lord, has become the harbinger of deathlessness; if Thou hadst not been laid in Thy tomb, then would not the gates of Paradise have been opened; wherefore to him (her) now gone from us give rest, for Thou art the Friend of Mankind.

Both now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Virgin chaste and holy, Gateway of the Word, Mother of our God, make supplication that his (her) soul find mercy.

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