Orthodox Cycle of Services,
The Great Canon of Repentence

Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church

Rt. Reverend Archpriest Alexander Androsov, Rector

306 Beech Street
Manchester, New Hampshire 03103

Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church

    The Great Canon of St. Andrew, Bishop of Crete, is read each year as part of the ascetic labor of the Great Lent. Divided into four portions, the canon is read during the service of Great Compline on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings of the first week ('Pure Week') of the Fast. The whole canon is then read in its entirety on Thursday Matins of the fifth week (normally served on Wednesday evening).
    The Great Canon is one of the great works, if not the great work, of the Church's "hymnography of repentance." It is steeped in Biblical imagery, yet it is not simply a condensation of Biblical themes. In the Canon, all the human events of Scripture-- creation, fall, exile, return, longing, redemption-- all are made personal. They become myevents; my creation, my fall, my redemption. The stories are my stories, and I am made intensely aware of all its depth. The Canon begins:

Where shall I begin to weep over the cursed deeds of my life?
What foundation shall I lay, O Christ, for this lamentation?

    The Canon brings each of us into the story of Holy Scripture; stirs us with moving imagery to realize the depths of our sin. We begin to see our exile, our distance from Christ; and from that distance, we begin to repent.

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