Saturday, September 15

Beneath Thy Compassion...

The oldest prayer we know dedicated to the Virgin Mary is known as “Beneath Thy Compassion.” The earliest text of this hymn was found in a Coptic Vespers for Christmas of the 3rd century. It is written in Greek and dates to approximately 250 AD. It is used in the Coptic Liturgy to this day, as well as in the Orthodox Compline service, it being the last hymn to be sung.

The ancient date of the hymn tells us that the early Christians had an established devotion to the Theotokos and called upon her intercession. Long before the usage of the term “Theotokos” in the 5th century, the Church already knew the Virgin Mary as “Mother of God”.

Beneath thy compassion,
We take refuge, Virgin Theotokos.
Despise not our prayers in our necessity
But deliver us from harm
O only pure, only blessed one. 

Father John and I sing this hymn with our little ones before we kiss them goodnight each evening at bedtime.  It is one of my favorite hymns of the Church and when sung in four part harmony is magnificent!

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