Month of April
THE 19TH DAY
Commemoration of the Holy Hieromartyr Ælphege, Archbishop of Canterbury
Composed by Reader Isaac Lambertson
At Lord, I have cried, these stichera, in Tone VI: Spec. Mel.: On the third day.
Having lived well the monastic life, O saint, thou didst withdraw farther from the world, to dwell in a solitary cell for stillness sake; but thy light could not be hid, and many, seeking instruction from thee, made thy wilderness a city.
Full of grace divine, O Ælphege, thou wast made bishop of the royal city, yet didst not falter in thine austerities, laying waste to thy flesh by fasting; and to mortify the carnal passions thou didst in secret stand vigil in the cold river’s streams.
Great was thy glory in the eyes of thy flock, O Ælphege hierarch of God; wherefore, thou wast set over the Church of the English land, and didst govern it with wisdom. And when the time of tribulation arrived, thou wast not found lacking in virtue and bravery.
Glory, of the hieromartyr: Idiomelon, in Tone II
When the barbarian hordes assailed the land of England, plundering its riches, slaughtering its clergy and monastics, and enslaving countless Christians, the holy Ælphege bravely confronted them, bidding them cease their carnage; wherefore, the pagans reviled him and cast him into durance vile; and when he refused to beggar his flock by paying great ransom, but offered them instead Christ, the Pearl beyond price, they rushed upon him like ravening wolves and savagely put him to death by beating. But the rocks wherewith they slew him became as stairs, which he mounted unto paradise, where he prayeth continually that we all be saved.
Now & ever, from the Pentecostarion; or Theotokion; or this Stavrotheotokion: Spec. Mel.: When from the Tree.
When the unblemished ewe-lamb beheld her Lamb led, of His own will, as a man to the slaughter, she said, weeping: ‘Dost Thou now hasten to leave me childless, O Christ, who gave Thee birth? What is this that Thou hast done, O Deliverer of all? Yet will I hymn and glorify Thine extreme goodness, which passeth understanding and recounting, O Thou Who lovest mankind!’
Aposticha from the Triodion or Pentecostarion; and Glory, of the hieromartyr: Idiomelon, in Tone VI
Great was the mourning of the English Christians when, having begged the body of their holy primate, they interred it with honour, parting from him with tears and lamentations; but still greater was their joy and astonishment, when after eleven years in the grave the sacred relics of the hieromartyr were found to be untouched by corruption, in witness to his holiness and the great boldness he hath acquired with the Lord. Wherefore, O ye who love the martyrs, with confidence let us approach him in prayer, that by his supplications he may move the Saviour to take pity on us.
Now & ever, from the Pentecostarion; or Theotokion; or this Stavrotheotokion: Spec. Mel.: On the third day.
Beholding Thee crucified, O Christ, she who gave Thee birth cried out: ‘What is this strange mystery which I see, O my Son? How is it that Thou diest, suspended in the flesh upon the Tree, O Bestower of life?’
Troparion of the hieromartyr, Tone III
As thou didst willingly lay down thy life for thy flock, O glorious hieromartyr Ælphege, thine innocent blood crieth out to God like that of Abel and Zachariah; wherefore, standing now with boldness before the Most High, with them thou dost ever beseech Him to have mercy and save the souls of those who honour thy sacred memory with love.
Canon of the saint, with 4 troparia, the acrostic whereof is ‘The Danes slew thee, who art their glory’ in Tone I
Irmos. Of old, the most godly Moses provided a prefiguration, leading Israel in the Red Sea with Thy Cross, parting the water with his staff, and singing a hymn of exodus unto Thee, O Christ God.
The English land exulteth greatly in the sacred memory of the martyred Ælphege, its glory and boast, who, wielding his archpastoral staff, defended well Thy flock, O Christ God.
Bishops and priests, monks and nuns, nobles and commons, all praise the hieromartyr Ælphege, who as a good shepherd laid down his life for the flock entrusted to him by Christ God.
Ever let us magnify the godly Ælphege, who fearlessly went forth to defend those whom the barbarians were brutally slaying, offering up his own life as a pure sacrifice to Christ God.
Theotokion: Deadened in mind and soul, utterly corrupted by pleasures and passions, yet do we lift our eyes in repentance to the merciful Virgin, begging her to entreat mercy from her Son, Christ God.
Irmos: O Master Christ, by Thy Cross establish me upon the rock of faith, that my mind may not be shaken by the assaults of the evil foe; for Thou alone art holy.
Ælphege, following the steps of the saints, enrolled in holy Deerhurst, that rock of faith arising in Gloucestershire, and there strove against the wicked foe.
Neither sleep did the saint give to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, as he waged the good fight of spiritual warfare for the just Judge, Who alone is holy.
Exalted of soul, mounting from glory to glory in his heart, the wondrous Ælphege was truly deified by grace divine, ascending the ladder of all the virtues.
Theotokion: Sorrow and grief weigh down our souls, O Lady, and we are engulfed in the abyss of despair; but establish us on the rock of faith in thy Son, Christ our Master.
Sessional hymn of the hieromartyr, in Tone III: Spec. Mel: Awed by the beauty of thy virginity
Awed by the beauty of thy holiness and the effulgence of the grace which dwelt in thee, in gladness we cry out to thee, O Ælphege: What praise can we offer that is worthy of thee? What fitting name shall we call thee? We are at a loss and are sore perplexed. Wherefore, we can but say: Rejoice, O wondrous hieromartyr!
Glory, Now & ever, from the Pentecostarion; or this Theotokion, in the same melody
As an uncultivated vine, O Virgin, thou didst sprout forth the most comely Cluster of grapes Who poureth forth upon us the wine of salvation, which maketh glad the souls and bodies of all. Wherefore, blessing thee ever as the cause of good things, with the angel we cry out to thee: Rejoice, O thou who art full of grace!
Thy pure Mother who kneweth not wedlock, O Christ, seeing Thee hanging, dead, upon the Cross, said, weeping maternally: ‘How hath the iniquitous and thankless council of the Jews repaid Thy many and great wonders, O my Son Who filled them with Thy gifts? I hymn Thy divine condescension!’
Irmos: Seeing Thee upon the Cross, O Mighty One, the great luminary was seized with trembling, and, furling it rays, it hid them; and all creation hymned Thy long-suffering with fear. For the earth hath been filled with Thy praise.
Solitude and inner stillness didst thou earnestly seek near Bath of Somerset, O venerable one, giving thyself wholly over to ascetic feats to achieve greater union with the Mighty One, Whose praise rightly filleth all the earth.
Loving thy monastic fortitude and zeal, the holy bishop Dunstan prevailed upon thee, O blessed Ælphege, to undertake the governance of his community at Bath, which thou didst earnestly do with great prudence and rigor.
Ever cherishing the Rule of the venerable Benedict, O glorious luminary, thou didst piously espouse the strict observance of all his statutes, always seeking to strengthen the spiritual edifice of that which was entrusted to thy care.
Theotokion: When thou stoodest at the Cross of thy Son, O all-immaculate and most blessed Virgin Mother, thou didst behold the sun hiding its rays and all creation trembling with fear, crying out: O Mighty One, the earth is full of Thy praise!
Irmos: Illumine our minds with the light of Thy commandments and with the splendour of Thy grace, O God, granting us Thy mercy, for Thy precepts are light and peace, O Good One.
Thy precepts were a light unto the feet of thy monastics, O holy one, for thou didst teach them that it is better to remain in the world than to become a slothful and negligent monk.
Having attained the age of Christ, O Ælphege, at the repose of the holy Ethelwold thou didst receive the light of grace when thou becamest his successor in the see of Winchester.
Exalted upon the episcopal see and invested with power from on high, Ælphege shone forth with the splendor of grace, like a lamp set upon a lamp-stand, shedding light and peace.
Theotokion: Every tongue of the pious uttereth praise and laudation to the unblemished ewe-lamb, who without corruption gave birth to the good Lamb, Whose precepts are light and peace.
Irmos: With his arms stretched forth in the belly of the sea monster, Jonah showed forth an image of the divine Cross and saw himself saved from the beast by Thy power, O Word.
With thy hands outstretched in charity, O holy bishop, thou didst fill the hands of the poor of thy city with abundant alms, so that there were none left who suffered in want.
Harrying his body with fasting and ascetic labors, Ælphege so reduced his frail body, that light shone through his holy hands when he uplifted them during the Holy Sacrifice.
O the sorrow of the royal city when its holy bishop was taken from it! But, O the jubilation throughout the English land to receive such a primate for its Holy Church!
Theotokion: Adoration dost thou receive, as is meet, from all the angelic orders, O Bride of God, and thee do all the choirs of men praise, saved from the beast by the power of thy Son.
Kontakion, in Tone II
Celebrating the sacred memorial of the holy Ælphege, who willingly shed his blood for Christ the Master, let us clap our hands in gladness, O ye Christians, ever mindful of his heavenly intercession; for, abiding in eternal glory, he prayeth continually before the throne of the Lord, that all who honour his memory with love may have their sins forgiven.
Ikos: The glorious Ælphege, who wore the episcopal mitre in life, received the unfading wreath of martyrdom from the hand of the Judge; for having fought the good fight and kept the Faith, having run with patience the race set before him, he was invested with an incorruptible crown, for he valiantly strove right lawfully, enduring all things for the sake of the elect, that we also might obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory, and that all who honor his memory with love may have their sins forgiven.
Irmos: Captivated by the love of the King of all, the youths despised the godless threats of the tyrant raging uncontrollably; and when the great fire submitted to them, they said to the Master: Blessed art Thou forever!
Ravaged and assailed, the city of Canterbury fell prey to the savagery of the Danes, who raged uncontrollably, breathing threats; but though called upon to flee their onslaught, O Ælphege, thou wouldst not abandon thy flock.
The barbarians showed their disdain for Christians, putting all to the sword, men, women and children, young and elderly alike. Yet even seeing them slain the saint cried out to the King of all: Blessed art Thou forever!
Thou didst call with a loud voice to the savage slayers: Spare these innocents! Turn your uncontrollable rage against me in their stead! For I despise your heathen fury, and cry unto my God: Blessed art Thou forever!
Theotokion: How can vile tongues of clay utter fitting praise unto her whose glory and majesty transcend all human thought? How can such defiled mouths dare to sing praises to her who is blessed among all women?
Irmos: Once, when Daniel, who is great among the prophets, was cast into the lions’ den, stretching forth his arms in the form of the Cross he was saved from being devoured by them, blessing Christ God forever.
Even though, stretching forth thy hands, thou didst cure many of the barbarians of the contagion which sorely afflicted them, O saint, the thankless ones would not free thee of the captivity wherein they held thee.
In no wise sparing thine own life, O Ælphege, mindful of the poverty of thy flock thou didst refuse to pay the ransom demanded by thy brutal captors; wherefore, they took thee away to be tortured and slain.
Released from thy body of flesh by the blades of the Danes, thy soul took wing to the heavenly Sion, where it dwelleth with the prophets and all the saints, blessing Christ our God, the King of all, forever.
Theotokion: God the Father willed that His only-begotten Son, the preëternal Logos, dwell in thy immaculate womb, O Mistress; and, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, thou didst supernaturally conceive Jesus.
Irmos: With hymns do we honor thee, O Virgin Theotokos, the gate beheld by the Prophet Ezekiel, through which no one passed save God alone.
London rejoiced to receive the relics of the honored hieromartyr, enshrining them with solemnity in the Cathedral of the Holy Apostle Paul.
O the wonder! For, moved by piety and remorse, Canute the Dane ordered that the sacred remains of Ælphege be translated to Canterbury.
Rejoice, ye Christians of England, and with hymns let us magnify the holy hieromartyr Ælphege, our tireless intercessor before God!
Theotokion: Ye prophets and forefathers, apostles and martyrs, holy bishops and monastics, together let us honor the Virgin Theotokos with hymns.
Exapostilarion: Spec. Mel.: He hath visited us.
From on high our Savior stretched forth his hand, bestowing a diadem of light upon the martyred archbishop Ælphege, who had borne glorious witness to Him before the heathen.
Glory, Now & ever, from the Pentecostarion.
Aposticha stichera from the Triodion or Pentecostarion; and Glory, of the hieromartyr: Idiomelon, in Tone VIII
Disdainful of thy witness, the prideful Norman cast aspersions on thy holiness, O holy Ælphege; but the devotion of thy faithful was unshaken by his scorn, for the blood of thy martyrdom bore eloquent testimony to thy favour with God, and the manifold wonders which He wrought through thee are true witness to the heavenly glory wherein thou dwellest forever.
Now & ever, from the Pentecostarion; or Theotokion; or this Stavrotheotokion: Spec. Mel.: O all-glorious wonder
‘What is this sight which I see, which mine eyes behold, O Master? How is it that Thou Who sustainest all creation diest, uplifted upon the Tree, granting life unto all?’ The Theotokos said, weeping, when she saw the God and man Who had shone forth from her ineffably hanging on the Cross.
At the Liturgy
Prokimenon, in Tone VIII
The saints shall boast in glory, and they shall rejoice upon their bed.
Stichos: Sing unto the Lord a new song; His praise is in the Church of the saints.
Epistle to the Hebrews, §335 [Heb. 13: 17-21]
Brethren: Obey those who have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as ones who must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. Now the God of peace, Who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Alleluia, in Tone II
Stichos: Thy priests shall be clothed with righteousness, and Thy righteous shall rejoice.
Stichos: For the Lord hath elected Sion; He hath chosen her to be a habitation for Himself.
Gospel according to Luke, § 67 [Lk. 12: 32-40]
The Lord said: Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men who wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
In everlasting remembrance shall the righteous be; he shall not be afraid of evil tidings.