Lenten Hymn of Great Compline
Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός, γνῶτε ἔθνη καὶ ἡττᾶσθε. Ὅτι μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός.
God is with us, learn you nations and be defeated, for God is with us.
In our Church’s daily Services cycle the Compline service is performed after supper, hence the name Απόδειπνο. There are Small and Great versions of this service.
The Great Compline is performed in Monasteries and Parishes alike, from Monday to Thursday of each week of Great Lent and this hymn, “God is with us” is chanted during the service. This ancient hymn is derived from verses in the 8th and 9th chapters of the Book of Isaiah with the refrain, “for God is with us.”
In Chapter 8 Isaiah speaks about the Assyrian invasion of Syria and Samaria. His mention of the prophetess who conceived and bore a son led early Christian commentators to interpret Christ into the text. Therefore, the Fathers in unison attribute the phrase, “God is with us” to Jesus. Saint Basil the Great is characteristic: “Accordingly, the phrase ‘God is with us!’ refers to the Saviour. For earlier, He who was born of the Virgin was called this name in the Hebrew language: Emmanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us’.”
Another commentator, Origen sees the allegorical reference to all Christians in the phrase, “learn you nations and be defeated”: “For we who are from the nations have been conquered and overcome. And we who bend our necks beneath his grace stand forth as a kind of spoils of his victory.”
Great Lent is the greatest opportunity to allow us to be ‘defeated’ by the Word of God who dwelt amongst us, Emmanuel. An opportunity to be ‘conquered’ by fasting, more intense prayer and the grace of the Holy Spirit.
St Cyril of Alexandria explains: “Now, those who are defeated and agree to concede the victory to the teachers of truth will readily accept their message, and by believing in Christ they will advance directly in every good, and by practicing virtue that is pleasing to Him they will inherit a glory that is splendid and worthy of emulation.”
Source: Lychnos Feb 2019 / Mar 2019