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Hymns About What is Important

This last week I buried a man who was a parishioner and a close friend. His name was Euphrosyn Greenfield (a tonsured Reader) and he was a successful businessman, a philanthropist, a deeply pious Orthodox Christian and a beloved father. He will be missed by all in our community here in Portland. May his memory be eternal!


During the service we came to the part where the "last kiss" is given by those in attendance, and goodbyes are said to the reposed. During this moment in the service, a number of compunctionate hymns are chanted or read. I had forgotten how powerful they are; they very poetically describe the stark reality of life and death. What is life all about? What does it mean in the face of our impending death? I will include the burial service over in our Library section so that you may read more. I ask that you focus on both this section of verses that I will reproduce here, and the canon in the file I will provide in the Library.


One verse (see below) that stands out to me is this one" "Alas! what a life is this of ours; * truly like a blossom or vapour, or like the

morning dew.  Therefore come, and let us gaze with seeing eyes on the grave.

Where the beauty of body now?  And where is its springtime?  Where the sight enjoying

eyes, the shapeliness of the flesh? * All these things like grass are now

withered;  all these things are gone and are vanished.  Come, let us fall down

and worship Christ with tears."

Life is made up of very important things. We who have fallen for the lies the World has told us believe it to be about things that it is not. Let us pray that our dearest Lord grant us the grace to see things clearly. The coming Great Fast is the perfect time to do so!




Brethren, come, let us a farewell kiss * give to him whom death hath now

taken and offer thanks unto God. * For he hath departed from among his brethren

now; and he goeth to burial, and careth no longer * for all vanity, nor yet for

the much-suffering flesh. Where are all our friends and our kinsmen, for we

have now been separated? * Wherefore, let us pray the Lord to grant him rest.


Brethren, what at this last moment is * your distress of parting, your wailing?

What this your fun’ral dirge? * Come, and give a kiss to him so lately still with us;

for consigned to the grave is he, with stone is he covered; * darkness is his

dwelling place, he with the dead is entombed. * Come, now all ye friends and his

brethren; now is come the hour of parting; let us pray the Lord to bring him to

his rest.


Lo now, all the evil works of life, * all its foolish revel and turmoil,

dissolveth, passing away; for the spirit going forth hath left its fleshly abode;

and the clay now becometh black; the vessel is broken. Voiceless and with

senses stilled, yea, dead and motionless, now behold him, as in procession to

the grave we bear him, imploring * that to him the Lord may grant eternal rest.


Alas! what a life is this of ours; * truly like a blossom or vapour, or like the

morning dew. Therefore come, and let us gaze with seeing eyes on the grave.

Where the beauty of body now? And where is its springtime? Where the sight enjoying

eyes, the shapeliness of the flesh? * All these things like grass are now

withered; all these things are gone and are vanished. Come, let us fall down

and worship Christ with tears.


Mighty is the wailing and the grief, * mighty is the groaning and suff’ring

when soul from body is reft. * Hades and ruin then is proved that life of transient

employ proved the shadow of things not real, the slumber of error, * poor

mistimed imaginings, and toil of life on earth. * Therefore, ev’ry worldly

transgression let us flee and let us abandon, that the things of Heav’n may be

our heritage.


As we see him that lieth here dead, * let us all take this as example of our last

hour on earth, for like unto smoke doth he now pass away from the earth. Like

a flower he blossomed forth, like grass was he cut down, wrapped in a coarse

garment, he is covered by the earth. As we leave him hidden from sight now,

let us all beseech Christ the Saviour * that He grant unto him blest, eternal rest.


Draw nigh, all Adam’s descendants, now, * and let us see him who was made

in our image, laid in the earth, having cast off all his comeliness and majesty,

and dissolving now in the grave, consumed in the darkness by decay and

worms, and covered over by the earth. As we leave him hidden from sight now,

let us all beseech Christ the Saviour * that He grant unto him blest, eternal rest.


When the soul from the body must go, * wrenched away with force by the

angels who are most awesome and dread, * all its kin it then forgetteth, all whom

once it knew; and it thinketh how soon shall come the time of the Judgment *

which awaiteth all its vanities and much-suff’ring flesh. * Let us all then make

supplication to the Judge, with prayer and entreaty, that the Lord may pardon

all that he hath done.


Draw nigh, let us gaze into the grave * to behold, O brethren, the ashes and

dust from which we were made. * Whither now are we to go? And what are we

become? Who is poor man, or who is rich? Or who is the master? * Who

among us all is free, for are we not mere dust? * Lo, the face of beauty is

mouldered; and the ardent blossom of youthhood death hath made to wither

and to pass away.


Truly all the sweet things of this life * are but vanity and corruption, yea, all

things glorious. For we all shall pass away; each one of us shall die, kings and

princes both equally, all judges and rulers, rich man and the pauper, yea, and

every mortal man. For thus, all those formerly living are laid down within a

small grave now. * Wherefore, let us pray the Lord to grant them rest.


Alas! all the body’s tools of life * now we see inert and all idle, though lately

moving at will; all are useless for their work, and dead, unfeeling things; for

the light of his eyes is quenched, his feet are in fetters; hands are resting

unemployed, his hearing also is gone, and his tongue with silence imprisoned.

To the grave is he now surrendered. * Vain indeed are all the quests and cares of

man.

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