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Author Topic: Akathist Hymn to the Spiritual Ladder, The Precious Cross  (Read 1111 times) Average Rating: 0
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quietmorning
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« on: January 12, 2012, 09:42:16 PM »

I am reading this for the first time right now - does anyone have a brief history of this Akathist?  Or if you could tell me what you know about it, I would greatly appreciate it.  Please feel free to post any informational links as well, if you feel they might be helpful.

Thank you!
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2012, 09:44:04 PM »

Just as a side note:
I was just searching the forum for this very Akathist, and then you post a topic about it. How very odd.
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« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2012, 09:47:51 PM »

Just as a side note:
I was just searching the forum for this very Akathist, and then you post a topic about it. How very odd.

Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2012, 10:12:33 PM »

I found this:  http://orthodoxwiki.org/True_Cross

Quote
The True Cross is the name for those physical remnants and the subject of those literary records which, by a widely accepted Christian tradition, are believed to be those of the cross upon which, according to the Gospel writers, Jesus was crucified.
According to a number of early writers, the Empress Helen, (c.255-c.330 AD), mother of Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, at a date after 312 AD when Christianity was legalized throughout the Empire, traveled to the Holy Land, founding churches and establishing relief agencies for the poor. It was at this time that she discovered the hiding place of three crosses used at the crucifixion of Jesus and the two thieves that were executed with him.

It's very brief, but at least I have a little more bearing when I read the Akathist as to what is actually happening.
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2012, 06:17:46 AM »

I believe it goes hand in hand with "The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross" Feast on the 14th of September.
Part of the Akathist Hymn or even the whole Hymn might be used during the Services on that day.

See link:
http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=205
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2012, 09:13:24 AM »

I believe it goes hand in hand with "The Elevation of the Venerable and Life-Giving Cross" Feast on the 14th of September.
Part of the Akathist Hymn or even the whole Hymn might be used during the Services on that day.

See link:
http://www.goarch.org/chapel/saints_view?contentid=205

Wonderful!! Thank you!
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2012, 10:39:55 AM »

The Feast of the Elevation of the Cross dates to the 4th century, and St Helena's finding of the True Cross, yet the Akathist will be at least a couple of centuries later. The Akathist Hymn, is the Akathist hymn to the Mother of God, attributed to St Roman the Melodist (6th century) and not widely used until a century later in the early 600's A.D. All other Akathist hymns, whether to Christ, the True Cross, or one of the Saints are based (in terms of their form: 13 kontakion interspersed with 12 ikos) on the original to the Mother of God; some of them, like the beautiful Akathist of Thanksgiving, are as late as the 20th century.
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2012, 03:24:30 PM »

The Feast of the Elevation of the Cross dates to the 4th century, and St Helena's finding of the True Cross, yet the Akathist will be at least a couple of centuries later. The Akathist Hymn, is the Akathist hymn to the Mother of God, attributed to St Roman the Melodist (6th century) and not widely used until a century later in the early 600's A.D. All other Akathist hymns, whether to Christ, the True Cross, or one of the Saints are based (in terms of their form: 13 kontakion interspersed with 12 ikos) on the original to the Mother of God; some of them, like the beautiful Akathist of Thanksgiving, are as late as the 20th century.

Thanks! Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2012, 04:14:13 PM »

My question about this Akathist is this:
Why does it personify, and even say the cross is worthy of Worship?
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2012, 07:14:26 PM »

I would think the Cross is inextricably linked to Our Savior.
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2012, 07:19:48 PM »

My question about this Akathist is this:
Why does it personify, and even say the cross is worthy of Worship?

The English word "worship" is ambiguous. It can mean veneration (proskynesis or doulia) or adoration (latria). The text, obviously, is not calling for the Holy Cross to be idolatrized. Personification is poetic, a common feature of Eastern hymnody.
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2012, 07:22:46 PM »

I would think the Cross is inextricably linked to Our Savior.

I would just echo what biro said, and add a prayer said to the cross which I think illustrates this connection in Orthodox thought:

"Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered, and let them that hate Him flee from before His face. As smoke vanisheth, so let them vanish; as wax melteth before the fire, so let the demons perish from the presence of them that love God and who sign themselves with the sign of the Cross and say in gladness: Rejoice, most venerable and life-giving Cross of the Lord, for Thou drivest away the demons by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ Who was crucified on thee, Who went down to hades and trampled on the power of the devil, and gave us thee, His venerable Cross, for the driving away of every adversary. O most venerable and life-giving Cross of the Lord, help me together with the holy Lady Virgin Theotokos, and with all the saints, unto the ages. Amen."

EDIT--I'd also echo what Shanghaiski said...
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« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2012, 07:27:39 PM »

Links to the liturgical text for the Third Sunday in Great Lent, the Veneration of the Cross:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/cross_vespers.htm
http://www.anastasis.org.uk/matins.htm

I might add that the liturgical commemoration of the Cross is done at various times in the various services, such as the Prayer of Intercession at Vespers and Matins, and the dismissal during the Divine Liturgy. It is referred to there as the Precious and Life-giving Cross.
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« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2012, 06:23:05 AM »

My question about this Akathist is this:
Why does it personify, and even say the cross is worthy of Worship?

For why the word "worship" is used, I would point you to Shanghaiski's post. Whether the Akathist, in its modern English form, should continue using the word worship is another matter, but certainly the reason it is used is because of the more archaic meaning of worship = giving due worth to anything, divine or not.

As for personifying the Cross, and addressing prayers directly to it, that's a good question. I've thought about it before, and subsequently replied to someone else about the subject on another forum. This was part of my post:

The concept of personifying non-sensate things is not unknown in the Church, even the early Church, and of the Old Testament righteous before them. St Paul, repeated by St John Chrysostom, addresses death: "Where, o death, is your victory? Where, o death, is your sting?". "Death", or "Hades", are often depicted on Icons of the Resurrection in a human form, bound by the angels; the seas and the River Jordan are often shown in Theophany icons in human form:



 ... these depictions are based upon the Psalm verse: “the sea saw and fled, the Jordan turned back” (Psalm 114:3).

Now, both of these examples can be thought of as "literary", because Paul is not praying to "death", even though he is addressing it; conversely, David is praying (it is a Psalm), but only references "the sea" and "the Jordan", and doesn't directly address them. However, David does address non-sentient things in other parts of the Psalms, that is, in prayer:

Quote
1 I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.

 2 Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.

 3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together:

 4 Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD.

 5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David.

 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.

 7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces.

 8 For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.

 9 Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good.

 (Psalm 122)

 This is clearly a Psalm - a prayer - addressing the walled-city of Jerusalem: not the people of Jerusalem, but the city itself. There are other Psalms which directly address inanimate objects (the Lauds - Psalm 148-150 - being another example), but I think Psalm 122 is the best "prototype" of a Prayer/Hymn to a non-sensate thing. If David can sing a Psalm to the buildings, palaces and gates of a city, how much more can we sing praises to the wood through which Christ has saved us!

 Finally, we have to think of the context. Just as Psalm 122 appears among a whole section of Psalmody which was always intended to be sung as one (the "Psalms of Ascent" - Psalms 120-134), so to do hymns to the Cross appear as only a part of our daily office. We don't address the Cross apart from Our Lord Who suffered upon it, and turned such a cruel instrument of torture into a sign of victory. Even an Akathist hymn is always "inserted" into another service like Vespers or Compline, which contain prayers to Christ and the Holy Trinity. Below is an example from the vespers service before the feast of the Life-Giving Cross:

http://www.anastasis.org.uk/cross_vespers.htm

 As you can see, there are a number of hymns to the Cross, but also to Christ our God too.

As I said, most of the above I wrote some time ago, but it comes from my own wondering about why the Cross is addressed as a person in prayer (and the life-giving tomb too, in other Akathists). This is what put my mind at rest regarding the subject; I hope it helps you too.


 ps: for reference, I have not used LXX numbering of Psalms
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