Hymn of Kassiani

Sensing Thy divinity, O Lord, a woman of many sins

takes it upon herself to become a myrrh-bearer,

And in deep mourning brings before Thee fragrant oil

in anticipation of Thy burial; crying:

“Woe to me! For night is unto me, oestrus of lechery,

a dark and moonless eros of sin.

Receive the wellsprings of my tears,

O Thou who gatherest the waters of the oceans into clouds.

Bend to me, to the sorrows of my heart,

O Thou who bendedst down the heavens in Thy ineffable self-emptying.

I will kiss Thine immaculate feet

and dry them with the locks of my hair;

Those very feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise

and hid herself in fear.

Who shall reckon the multitude of my sins,

or the abysses of Thy judgment, O Saviour of my soul?

Do not ignore Thy handmaiden,

O Thou whose mercy is endless.

Saint Kassia

The Hymn of Kassiani, also known as the Hymn of the Fallen Woman, is a Penitential Hymn that is based on the Gospel reading for Holy Wednesday morning (Matthew 26:6-16), which speaks of a sinful woman who anoints Jesus’ feet with costly ointment (distinguished from a similar incident with a different woman, St. Mary Magdalene). This hymn is chanted only once a year and considered a musical high-point of the Holy Week, at the Matins and Presanctified Liturgy of Holy Wednesday, in the Troparion Fourth Tone.

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