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78

THE GREAT CANON,
CALLED ALSO
THE KING OF CANONS.

It would be unpardonable not to give a portion of that which the Greeks regard as the King of Canons—the Great Canon of the Mid-Lent week. It is a collection of Scriptural examples, turned to the purpose of penitential Confession. It is impossible to deny the beauty of many stanzas, and the ingenuity of some tropological applications. But the immense length of the Canon, for it exceeds three hundred stanzas, and its necessary tautology, must render it wearisome, unless devotionally used under the peculiar circumstances for which it is appointed. The following is a part of the earlier portion.

6,6,8,6,10,10

Andrew of Crete (~660-732)

Ποθεν αρξομαι θρηνειν;

Whence shall my tears begin?

What first-fruits shall I bear

Of earnest sorrow for my sin?

Or how my woes declare?

O Thou! the Merciful and Gracious One

Forgive the foul transgressions I have done.

79

With Adam I have vied,

Yea, passed him, in my fall;

And I am naked now, by pride

And lust made bare of all;

Of Thee, O GOD, and that Celestial Band,

And all the glory of the Promised Land.

No earthly Eve beguiled

My body into sin:

A spiritual temptress smiled,

Concupiscence within:

Unbridled Passion grasped the unhallowed sweet:

Most bitter—ever bitter—was the meat.

If Adam’s righteous doom,

Because he dared transgress

Thy one decree, lost Eden’s bloom

And Eden’s loveliness:

What recompence, O LORD, must I expect,

Who all my life Thy quickening laws neglect?

80

By mine own act, like Cain,

A murderer was I made:

By mine own act my soul was slain,

When Thou wast disobeyed:

And lusts each day are quickened, warring still

Against Thy grace with many a deed of ill.

Thou formed’st me of clay,

O Heav’nly Potter! Thou

In fleshly vesture didst array,

With life and breath endow.

Thou Who didst make, didst ransom, and dost know

To Thy repentant creature pity show!

81

My guilt for vengeance cries;

But yet Thou pardonest all,

And whom Thou lov’st Thou dost chastise,

And mourn’st for them that fall:

Thou, as a Father, mark’st our tears and pain,

And welcomest the prodigal again.

I lie before Thy door,

O turn me not away!

Nor in mine old age give me o’er

To Satan for a prey!

But ere the end of life and term of grace,

Thou Merciful! my many sins efface!

The Priest beheld, and passed

The way he had to go:

A careless glance the Levite cast,

And left me to my woe:

But Thou, O JESU, Mary’s Son, console,

Draw nigh, and succour me, and make me whole!

82

Thou Spotless Lamb divine,

Who takest sins away,

Remove, remove, the load that mine

Upon my conscience lay:

And, of Thy tender mercy, grant Thou me

To find remission of iniquity

[In Mr. Young’s book: composed by Dr. Schroeder.]

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