Ninth Ode Refrain to the Theotokos


This well know hymn, composed by St Kosmas the Melodist (8th century A.D) is the refrain for the 9th Biblical Ode, which is dedicated to the Mother of God. The Biblical Odes were passages selected from the Scriptures for use in the worship of the Early Church. The 9th Ode is the only ode that is from the New Testament. It is made up of the exultant words of praise to God the Virgin Mary herself spoke when she visited Elizabeth, the mother of St John the Baptist (Luke 1:46-55). In liturgical use, we hear it near the end of the Orthros service.

To boldly call the Mother of God, “More honourable than the Cherubim, incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim” is not some clichéd figure of speech or a lyrical turn of phrase by an overenthusiastic poet. It expresses the Truth of God’s work for our salvation.

St Nicholas Cabasilas so eloquently describes why so much glory and honour is given to the Theotokos. Mary agreed to the words of the angel, saying: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” … Her voice was a “mighty voice,” as David puts it; and the Word of the Father is formed by the word of a mother, and the Creator is created by the voice of a creature. And just as when God said, “Let there be light,” “at once there was light, “so, as soon as the Virgin spoke, the true Light dawned; and He Who “lighteth every man that cometh into the world” was joined to the flesh and carried in the womb.

Let us conclude with the thoughts of Saint Nicodemus the Agiorite: “For she became another, Second Cosmos, incomparably better than all of the physical and spiritual world, enough and solely to eternally glorify the Creator, from the beauty and variety of its gifts, greater than all of creation” (Footnote to Chapter 49, Unseen Warfare).


Source: August-September 2014 Lychnos Edition