How Can I Hold Thee?

Detail from Icon – Greece 2017

St. Luke 2: 22-40 describes the Feast of the Presentation of the Infant Jesus Into the Temple. (February 15/2)

When Jesus was forty days old, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph the Betrothed brought Christ to the temple, in order to fulfill the law and dedicate Him to God. 

The Orthodox Christian tradition of Churching a mother on her return to church with her child for a blessing, 40 days after the birth of the baby, comes from the Jewish rite observed in this feast. 

Sharing one of the many beautiful hymns for this Feast written by 9th Century female saint, St. Kassiani:

How can I hold Thee as a Child,
Thou, who holdest everything together?
How do I bring Thee to the temple,
Thou, who art beyond goodness?
How do I deliver Thee into the arms of the elder,
Thou, who sitteth in the bosom of the Father?
How dost Thou endure purification,
Thou, who purifieth the whole corrupt nature?”
So sayeth the Virgin, the temple, who containeth God –
Marveling at Thy great condescension, O Christ.

Since 450 AD, church candles are also blessed on this day, because of elder St. Simeon’s reference to Christ as a Light of revelation to the Gentiles. (Candlemas)

Hymn of Kassiani

This ethereal hymn by the brilliant female Byzantine hymnographer Saint Kassiani, is sung only during Holy Week’s Tuesday evening Bridegroom service (the Wednesday Matins), and again at the Presanctified Liturgy on Great and Holy Wednesday. A spiritual treat.

Hymn of Kassiani

The woman who had fallen into many sin, O Lord, yet when she perceived Thy divinity, she joined the ranks of the Myrrh-Bearers.In tears, she brought Thee myrrh before Thy burial. She cried “Woe! woe is me; I live in the heart of licentiousness, shrouded in the dark and moonless love of sin. But accept the fountain of my tears, Thou who dost gather the waters of the sea to clouds. Bow down Thine ear to the sighing of my heart, Thou who didst bow the heavens in Thine ineffable condescension. Once Eve heard Thy footsteps in Paradise, in the noon of the day, and in fear, she ran and hid herself. But now I will tenderly embrace those pure feet, and dry them with the hairs of my head. Who can measure the multitude of my sins, or the depth of Thy judgments? O Saviour! O Saviour of my soul, despise not Thy servant. For Thine mercy, for Thine mercy is beyond measure. 

error: Content is protected !!