Service to our Venerable Mother Werburga

Month of February


Commemoration of Our Venerable Mother Werburga
Composed by Reader Isaac Lambertson

N.B.: Should the superior or rector so desire, the celebration of the memory of the venerable Werburga may be transferred to the 4th of February, so as not to displace the commemoration of the righteous Symeon the God-receiver & Anna the Prophetess.

At Vespers

On “Lord, I have cried … , 6 stichera: 3 stichera of the feast, and 3 stichera of the venerable one, in Tone I: Spec. Mel: “Joy of the ranks of heaven …” –

Wealth, rank and power had no hold upon thy soul, nor wast thou beguiled by the vanities of life, O venerable mother Werburga; wherefore, putting away all thought of marriage, thou didst hasten to betroth thyself to Christ, Who brought thee into His bridal-chamber on high, where the sound is unceasing of those who keep festival.

Embracing chaste virginity, O saint, on golden pinions thou hast flown like a bird to the Tree of Life in the garden of Christ, where, making thine abode with all the saints, thou dost forever chant with them in sweet melody to the God of all, Who freeth us from the fowlers’ nets of demonic illusions.

Royal lineage and regal pomp didst thou treat as iron fetters, O blessed Werburga and, casting them off, thou didst flee to Ely, where, clothed in the angelic habit, thou didst apply thyself to prayer and manual labours, mindful that the Saviour hath said that the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

Glory … , in the same tone –

Though thou wast the fruit of many regal lines, O Werburga, royal virgin, yet didst thou not boast in thy lineage, nor did earthly allurements distract thy soul from the contemplation of the Lord of lords, Whom from childhood thou didst love with all thy heart. Then, mindful of the words of David the King, that the daughters of kings forget their own people and their fathers’ house, with the virgins in the train of the Queen of heaven thou didst bring thyself into His holy temple in gladness and rejoicing, arrayed in all the virtues, as in gold-fringed garments of varied colours. Wherefore, praising thy humility, all Christians commemorate thy name forever, O glorious one.

Now & ever … , of the feast.

Aposticha stichera of the feast; and Glory … , of the venerable one, in Tone VI –

Like a seed planted in the soil of piety, O pure and holy virgin Werburga, thou wast cultivated by Ermenilda, thy saintly mother, who watered thee with her wise admonitions, lovingly tending thee for the heavenly Husbandman; wherefore, growing to spiritual maturity, thou didst shun the shade of thy many suitors, delighting rather in the supernal rays of Christ, the Sun of righteousness, for Whom thou hast borne abundant fruit by the grace which burgeoned forth in thee, O our venerable mother.

Now & ever … , of the feast.

Troparion of the venerable one, in Tone IV –

Thine illustrious life filled the angels with awe and put the demons to flight in terror, while it adorneth the congregations of the faithful with the splendour of grace, O venerable mother Werburga. As in thy charity thou didst extend thy love to all thy fellow creatures, intercede with God in our behalf, that our souls be saved from perdition.

Glory … , Now & ever … : Troparion of the feast.

At Matins

At “God is the Lord …”, the troparion of the feast, twice; Glory … , that of the venerable one; Now & ever … , that of the feast, once
After the kathismata, the sessional hymns of the feast.

Canon of the feast, with 8 troparia, including the irmos; and this canon of the venerable one, with 4 troparia, the acrostic whereof is “O chaste bride of Christ, take pity on us”, in Tone VIII –

Ode 1

Irmos: The staff of Moses, once working a wonder, striking the sea in the form of the Cross and dividing it, drowned the mounted tyrant Pharaoh, and saved Israel who fled on foot, chanting a hymn unto God.

Of the holy King Ethelbert and four royal lineages wast thou sprung, O venerable mother Werburga; yet more wast thou revered throughout the English realms for thy great chastity of mind and wondrous purity.

Crowns and jewels held no allure for thee, O holy Werburga, for thy holy mother, Queen Ermenilda, led thee in the ways of righteousness, rendering the palace wherein thou wast reared a house of prayer.

Having been nurtured in piety by the holy Chad, thy brethren, Wulfhad and Ruffin, did not oppose their murderers, but, imitating their Saviour, laid down their lives without resisting; wherefore Stone rejoiceth in them.

Theotokion: As the precious receptacle and holy table which held the Bread of life, as the unploughed field and unquarried mountain do we magnify and glorify thee, O all-pure and most immaculate Mother of God.


Irmos: O Lord, Fashioner of the vault of heaven and Creator of the Church: establish me in Thy love, O summit of desire, confirmation of the faithful, Who alone lovest mankind.

Saint Etheldreda the Abbess, thy royal kinswoman, received thee, O holy Werburga, into the great Convent of Ely, to serve God with zeal in monastic obedience and prayer.

The splendour of the grace which abode within thee now shineth forth from Ely upon all who celebrate thy holy memory with faith, O pious Werburga, chaste bride of Christ.

Ethelred, thy devout kinsman, seeing thee tending well the flock of Ely, O wondrous Werburga, placed all the convents in his Kingdom of Mercia under thine authority.

Theotokion: By thee, O Maiden full of the grace of God, hath the human race been saved from death and sin, for thou didst bear in thy pure womb Him Who, abasing Himself, became incarnate.

Kontakion of the venerable one, in Tone II –

Fixing the watchful eyes of thy soul upon God alone, thou gavest no sleep to thine eyes nor slumber to thine eyelids, overcoming the carnal passions by vigilant prayer and fasting, and repelling the assaults of the demonic hordes by mighty ascetic feats; wherefore, as thou shinest with the splendour of grace divine, O Werburga our venerable mother, burn away the devil’s toils which entangle us.

Ikos: Great is the renown of Werburga in Ely; famous is her name in Threckingham; venerated exceedingly is she in Weedon; and Hanbury was first to boast of her holy shrine. But more than these hath Chester been glorified, for long did her precious relics rest in its midst, as in a safe refuge and haven, escaping the predations of the heathen, like as a pure dove fleeing a host of ravening crows or an unblemished lamb the jaws of savage wolves. Wherefore, trusting in her mediation before the Lord, with fervour we call upon the gracious intercession of our heavenly protectress: With thine abbatial staff, as with a shepherd’s crook, pull the erring lambs forth from the chasm wherein they have fallen, and lead them back from the wilds of heresy into the fold of Christ’s one true Church, that together we may cry aloud with one heart, one mouth and one mind: O Werburga our venerable mother, burn away the devil’s toils which entangle us!

Sessional hymn of the venerable one, in Tone IV: Spec. Mel.: “Having been lifted up … –

As a pure and undefiled bride of Christ, thou didst fill the lamp of thy soul with the oil of good works, trimming the wick thereof with the pangs of ascetic endeavour and setting it aflame with godly zeal; wherefore, with the wise virgins thou hast entered in triumph the bridal-chamber of His majesty. O holy Werburga, with boldness lay before Him our importunate entreaties, that we who honour thy memory with love may be delivered from all tribulations.

Glory … , Now & ever …: Sessional hymn of the feast.

Ode IV

Irmos: I have heard, O Lord, the mystery of Thy dispensation; I have understood Thy works, and have glorified Thy divinity.

Reverently hearkening to Jesus, as thou didst desire to be first in His love, by humility thou madest thyself as last among all.

Imitating thy Lord and Master, by thy many miracles thou didst draw many unbelievers to the one true Faith of Christ.

Directing those in thy charge by thine excellent example, O blessed Werburga, thou didst guide them most surely to God.

Theotokion: Ever do we fall prey to vainglory, O Theotokos; but as thou gayest birth to the Word of God, yet deign thou to save us.

Ode V

Irmos: Enlighten us with Thy commandments, O Lord, and with Thine upraised arm grant us Thy peace, O Thou Who lovest mankind.

Obedient to thy sacred duties, O God-bearer, thou didst found anew the Convent at Threckingham, naming it for the chief apostles.

Fair Weedon, thy former home, welcomed thy return with joy, O saint, for therein thou didst likewise establish a house of prayer.

Coursing past thy church in Hanbury, O fount of grace, the currents of the River Trent lift their voices to thee in sweet harmony.

Theotokion: How can they who deny thy perpetual virginity and divine motherhood find favour with thy Son, the God of all, O holy Queen?

Ode VI

Irmos: I pour forth my prayer unto the Lord, and to Him do I declare my grief; for my soul is full of evil and m y life hath drawn nigh unto hell, and like Jonah I pray: Lead me up from corruption, O God!

Repelling the assaults of temptations and putting down the uprisings of the passions, thou wast resplendent with the virtues, O sanctified Werburga, with the light whereof thou dost illumine us.

Intercede with the Saviour in our behalf, O venerable mother, that, taught by thee to be humble and not to judge others, we may understand that signs and wonders are as nought without virtue.

Showing surpassing love and compassion, O thou who art rich in grace divine, thou dost teach us to cherish the work of God’s hands, and to treat with mercy and kindness all of His creatures.

Theotokion: The Son Who took flesh of thine immaculate womb, O Virgin, in His divine comeliness surpasseth all the earthly beauty of the children of men; wherefore, with joyous hymns of praise we do thee honour.

Kontakion & Ikos of the feast.


Irmos: In the furnace the Hebrew children boldly trod the flame underfoot and transformed the fire into dew, crying out: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, forever!

The clamorous gaggle of wild geese, which were voraciously devouring thy crops, O saint of God, thou didst swiftly render submissive to thy holy authority.

As thou didst miraculously confine the wild geese to a pen, O venerable mother, so lead all of us, in whom the wild passions rage, into the peaceful fold of the Saviour.

Kindly admonishing the wicked servant who retained a wild goose for himself, thou didst unite it to its flock, crying: “Praise ye the Lord above all, O ye wingèd birds!”

Theotokion: Ever afflicted by the multitude of mine evil deeds, I beseech thee to heal and cure me, O Lady Theotokos, that I may cry: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, forever!”


Irmos: Trampling down the fire and flame in the furnace, the divinely eloquent youths did chant: Bless the Lord, O ye works of the Lord!

Pride moved a wicked man to smite the holy Alnot, thy shepherd, O saint; but with pity thou didst implore him to desist.

In distress of soul thou didst cast thyself down before the malefactor, crying out: “For the love of God, spare this innocent man!”

Thine entreaties strangely turned the evil-doer’s blows against his own body, O holy one; wherefore, he cried out to thee for mercy.

Theotokion: Ye Christians, let us magnify the Virgin with faith, for without corruption she gave birth unto Him Who saveth from corruption.

Ode IX

Irmos: Heaven was stricken with awe, and the ends of the earth were amazed, that God hath appeared in the flesh, and that thy womb became more spacious than the heavens. Wherefore, the ranks of men and angels magnify thee as the Theotokos.

Offering praises to our glorious mother Werburga, let us celebrate her holy feast with great devotion, rendering honour to Christ the Lord, Who at His dread throne accepteth her ardent pleas in behalf of us who lovingly cherish her memory.

Now chant we thy praises before God, O Werburga our protectress; for, lacking in any virtue, we beseech thee to intercede with the Most High in our behalf, that, hearkening to thy supplications, He grant us forgiveness of all our sins.

Unto thee, O Werburga, hath Christ bestowed a crown of splendour, adorned with thy virtues as with most brilliant gems; wherefore, as thou now dwellest with Him in the mansions on high, beseech Him to vouchsafe that we may abide with thee.

Theotokion: Save me, O Thou Who wast born of the Virgin, and hast preserved her incorrupt since Thy birth; and when Thou wilt sit to judge all mankind, O Thou Who alone art without sin, take pity and spare us, overlooking our many sins and transgressions.

Exapostilarion of the venerable one: Spec. Mel.: “Hearken, ye women …” –

Hearken, ye Christian people, and let us honour the pious and God-pleasing Werburga; for, spurning her royal dignity and rank as vanity, she willingly made herself as one of low estate, following the peerless example of Christ Jesus our Saviour, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Glory … , Now & ever … : Exapostilarion of the feast. Aposticha of the feast; and Glory … : Idiomelon, in Tone III –

Yielding perforce to the will of God and the desire of Werburga, His favoured one, Threckingham surrendered her holy body, which was born in triumph to Hanbury and there laid to rest in the ground; but so great was the multitude of wonders wrought at her grave, where the infirm, the leprous and the demonised received healing, that her precious relics were recovered from the earth, that like a candle taken from beneath a bushel, they might shine forth with spiritual splendour. And – O the wonder! – they were found to be untouched by decay, in eloquent witness to the universal resurrection. But in latter times her sanctified remains were removed from her shrine and taken away by the blasphemous hands of the ungodly. Yet trusting still in her heavenly intercession, those who honour her holy memory continue to receive health of body and soul from God, for she never ceaseth to mediate for us before the All-holy Trinity.

Now & ever … , of the feast.

At Liturgy

On the Beatitudes, 6 troparia from the appointed ode of the festal canon.

Prokimenon of the feast; and this prokimenon of the venerable one, in Tone IV –

Wondrous is God in His saints, the God of Israel.

Epistle to the Galatians, § 208 [Gal. 3:23-29]

Brethren: Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterward be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Alleluia of the feast; and that of the venerable one, in Tone I –

Stichos: With patience I waited patiently for the Lord, and He was attentive unto me, and He hearkened unto my supplication.

Gospel according to Matthew, § 104 [Mt. 25: 1-13]

The Lord spake this parable: “The kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made: ‘Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise: ‘Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.’ But the wise answered, saying: ‘Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying: ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But he answered and said: ‘Verily I say unto you, I know you not.’ Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

Communion Verse of the feast, amid that of the venerable one –

In everlasting remembrance shall the righteous be; he shall not be afraid of evil tidings.