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The 17th Day of the Month of September

Afterfeast of the Exaltation of the Precious Cross of the Lord

Commemoration of the Holy Martyrs Sophia & Her Three Daughters: Faith (Vera), Hope (Nadjezhda) and Charity (Liubov)

[Editor’s Note: The English names Faith, Hope and Charity have been used in the text throughout, instead of Vera, Nadjezhda and Liubov, or Pistis, Elpidis and Agape. The English names relate more immediately to the textual references to the virtues, as well as being more familiar and readily pronounced in chant for English-speaking readers. It would be, of course, perfectly appropriate to substitute the Russian or Greek names where desired.]

At Vespers

At “Lord, I have cried…,” six stichera; three for the Feast, in Tone I, Special Melody: “Joy of the ranks of heaven…”

The Cross is uplifted, and the demons are driven away; the thief openeth the gates of Eden, death is slain and hath now been shown to be desolate; Christ is magnified. Wherefore, be glad, all ye earthborn, for the curse hath been lifted!

Come, all ye who love God, and beholding the precious Cross uplifted, let us magnify it together and give glory to the one Deliverer and God, crying aloud: O Thou Who wast crucified on the wood of the Cross, disdain not us that pray to Thee!

Moses of old, changing bitterness into sweetness, delivered Israel, inscribing the image of the Cross beforehand; and all of us, the faithful, ever mystically making the sign thereof in our hearts in godly manner, are saved by its might.

And 3 stichera of the Martyrs, in Tone IV, Special Melody: “Thou hast given us a sign…”

The virgin maidens, bound by the law of nature and manifestly strengthened by the love of the Creator, with faith loosed the bonds of deception; and, becoming manly, they broke the feeble enemy underfoot and have been radiantly adorned with the crown of victory; and, rejoicing, they have made their abode in the heavenly bridal chamber.

The most laudable Faith and the glorious Charity, and the divinely wise Hope, showing themselves to be the namesakes of the virtues most splendid, as athletes cast down the evil one, who with cunning had deceived our first mother; and having become deified, they have received mansions in paradise, praying for us all.

Faith, Hope and Charity, the offspring of Sophia, seeking with faith the beauty of the most comely Bridegroom, united themselves to Him, having adorned themselves with divine wounds; and they disdained the fire, the multifarious torments and an ignominious death. For their sake, O Lord, free us from evils.

Glory…, Now and ever…, of the feast, idiomelon in Tone I

Elevated today, the Tree of life, which was planted in the place of the skull, whereon the preëternal King wrought salvation in the midst of the earth, sanctifieth the ends of the earth; and the temple of the resurrection is renewed. The angels rejoice in heaven, and men make merry on earth, crying like David and saying: Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship the footstool of His feet, for it is holy, granting great mercy to the world!

At the Aposticha, these stichera, in Tone II, Special Melody: “O house of Ephratha…”

Like a bride is the Church splendidly adorned with the water of grace and Thy blood, O Word, hymning the glory of the Cross.

Stichos: Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship the footstool of His feet, for it is holy.

Raising aloft the spear and the Cross, the nails and all else wherewith the life-bearing body of Christ was pierced, let us worship them.

Stichos: God is our King before the ages; He hath wrought salvation in the midst of the earth.

When Moses conquered Amalek, keeping his arms raised aloft, he prefigured the all-pure suffering of Christ in the form of the Cross.

Glory…, Now and ever…, in Tone I

Prefiguring Thy Cross, O Christ, in giving his blessing to his grandsons, the Patriarch Jacob crossed his hands over their heads. And raising it aloft today, O Savior, we cry out: Grant victory to all Orthodox Christians over their adversaries, as Thou gavest the victory to Constantine.

Troparion of the Feast, in Tone I

O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance; grant victory unto Orthodox Christians over their adversaries, and by the power of Thy Cross preserve Thou Thy commonwealth.

At Matins

After the first chanting of the Psalter, this Sessional hymn, in Tone II, Special Melody: “Of compassion…”

When Thou wast crucified, O Master Christ, the might and strength of death were destroyed, and all the tyranny of the enemy was trampled underfoot. And we who of old were slain by the crime of eating of the tree, have been restored to life by the tree of the Cross. Wherefore, we glorify Thy sufferings.

Glory…, Now and ever…, and the above is repeated.

After the second chanting of the Psalter, this Sessional hymn, in Tone IV, Special Melody: “Go thou quickly before…”

Rejoicing in thee, O thrice blessed and life-bestowing Cross, the people celebrate together with the immaterial choirs, the ranks of hierarchs reverently hymn thee, multitudes of monastics and fasters bow down before thee in adoration, and we all glorify Christ Who was crucified on thee.

Glory…, Now and ever, and the above is repeated.

Canon of the Feast, with eight Troparia, including its Irmos; and that of the martyrs, with four Troparia.

Ode I

Canon of the Feast, in Tone VIII

Irmos: Tracing an upright line with his staff, Moses divided the Red Sea for Israel, which was travelling on foot; and striking it a transverse blow, he brought the waters together over the chariots of Pharaoh, thereby inscribing the invincible weapon of the Cross. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified.

Of old, Moses prefigured in himself the image of Christ’s most pure sufferings, standing between the priests; for, forming a cross with his outstretched arms, he raised up victory, vanquishing the might of the tyrant Amalek. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified!

Upon a pole did Moses set the cure of the deadly and venomous sting of the serpents, and the deliverance therefrom; for to the tree, in the image of the Cross, he bound a serpent which crawleth upon the ground, triumphing over the sinister bane therein. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ God, for He hath been glorified!

The sky showed forth the victory of the Cross to the divinely wise Emperor Constantine, the pious ruler; and therein the audacity of the hostile foe was cast down, delusion was destroyed and the divine Faith spread to the ends of the earth. Wherefore, let us hymn Christ our God, for He hath been glorified!

Canon of the Martyrs, the acrostic whereof is: “I hymn the children of Sophia, who are manifest as exceeding splendid,” the composition of Theophanes, in Tone I

Irmos: Thy victorious right arm hath in godly manner been glorified in strength; for as almighty, O Immortal One, it smote the adversary, fashioning anew the path of the deep for the Israelites.

O Master Christ, grant me the effulgence of Thy transcendent and ineffable wisdom, that I may hymn Thy magnificent and right glorious martyrs, the offspring of Sophia.

Thy name was manifestly adorned by thy manner of life, O divinely wise and glorious Sophia; for, illumined with the grace of wisdom, thou didst spend thy whole life in desiring wisdom.

Thy most blessed fruit, adorned with the number of the all-divine Trinity, struggled like athletes for Him, O most wise Sophia, thou namesake of the divine Wisdom.

The three virgin maidens, Faith, Hope and glorious Charity, having cleansed body and soul with the virtues, were brought in martyrdom to Thee, O Christ, the noetic Bridegroom.

Theotokion: He Who made His abode as God in thy womb, O all-pure one, Who took upon Him my whole form and was seen before in the form of God, hath renewed all. Wherefore, all we, the faithful, glorify thee as the Theotokos.


Canon of the Feast

Irmos: The rod of Aaron is taken to be an image of the mystery, for by its budding forth it chose one priest over others; and for the Church, which before was barren, the Tree of the Cross hath now budded forth, for her might and confirmation.

The rough stone, struck, put forth water for a disobedient and hardhearted people, and showed forth the mystery of the divinely elect Church, whereof the Cross is the might and confirmation.

When Christ’s all-pure side was pierced by the spear, blood and water flowed therefrom, renewing the covenant and washing sin away, for the Cross is the boast of the faithful, the might and confirmation of kings.

Canon of the Martyrs

Irmos: O Thou Who alone hast known the weakness of human nature, having in Thy mercy formed Thyself therein: Thou dost gird me about with power from on high, that I may chant to Thee: Holy is the living temple of Thine ineffable glory, O Thou Who lovest mankind!

Hearkening to the voice of Christ calling them to a life devoid of death and suffering, the crowned virgin martyrs followed Thee, crying out to Thee, O Holy One: O Thou Who lovest mankind, holy is the animate temple of Thy pure glory!

As He promised, Christ gave you strength as ye stood before the tribunal as martyrs; and He filled you with divinely inspired wisdom and showed you forth as radiant, O victorious martyrs, resplendent in the grace of virginity.

Ye dulled the greatly arrogant mind of the enemy and cast down his pride, contending with great wisdom; and with the streams of your blood ye drowned him who of old boasted that he would destroy the sea.

Filled to abundance with the exalted wisdom of Christ, with elect and sage wisdom the three daughters of Sophia put to shame the savagery of the torturers and their unbearable cruelty, giving utterance to divine teachings.

Theotokion: In holy manner thou gavest birth to Christ, the Holy of Holies, the holy tabernacle of sanctity, Who resteth in the saints; and to Him do we cry out: Holy is the animate temple of Thine ineffable glory, O Thou Who lovest mankind!

Kontakion of the Martyrs, in Tone I, Special Melody: “Thy tomb, O Savior…”

Faith, Hope and Charity, revealed as most sacred branches of the honored Sophia, through grace made foolish the wisdom of the Hellenes; and having suffered and been shown to be victorious, they were crowned with an incorruptible crown by Christ the Master of all.

Sessional hymn, in Tone I, Special Melody: “The choir of the angels…”

O reason-endowed ewe-lambs of the Lamb and Shepherd, ye were given over to cruel torments and have been shown to be equal in honor with the angels. Wherefore, in gladness of heart we all celebrate your sacred memory, O divinely wise maidens.

Glory…, Now and ever…, of the Feast, in the same tone and melody

Once the weapon of the Cross was revealed to the pious Emperor Constantine in time of battle as invincible victory over the enemy, for the sake of his faith; before it the adverse powers tremble, for it hath become the salvation of the faithful and the boast of Paul.

Ode IV

Canon of the Feast

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

Of old, Moses transformed with a tree the bitter springs in the desert, showing forth the conversion of the gentiles to piety through the Cross.

Jordan, having hidden in its depths an axe-head, gave it forth again through the power of a stick, signifying the cutting off of deception by the Cross and baptism.

In a sacred manner did the people encamp in four divisions; and preceding in this fashion the Tabernacle of the Witness, they were glorified in the cross-like formation of their ranks.

Wondrously stretched forth, the Cross emitted rays like the sun’s, and the heavens declared the glory of our God.

Canon of the Martyrs

Irmos: Habbakuk, gazing with the eyes of foresight upon thee, the mountain overshadowed by the grace of God, prophesied that the Holy One of Israel would come forth from thee, for our salvation and restoration.

Strengthened by divine grace, the right victorious Faith, Charity and Hope manfully put to shame the threats of the tyrant; and burnt by the fire, the most wise ones were led to Christ the Bridegroom.

Protected by the armor of the Cross, the holy Faith, Charity and Hope were able to endure the wounds of their torturers with fortitude, opposing sin most mightily even to the shedding of their blood.

Faith, Charity and Hope, the three radiant lamps of the wisdom of the Trinity, illumined and manifestly shining, enlighten the Church most splendidly, for our salvation and defense.

Theotokion: O most lauded Theotokos, thou holy of holies, from thee shone forth the Deliverer, the expectation of the nations and the salvation of the faithful, the Lord and Bestower of life, unto the salvation of us who hymn thee.

Ode V

Canon of the Feast

Irmos: O thrice-blessed Tree, whereon Christ, our King and Lord, was crucified, and whereby he who beguiled mankind by the tree did fall, when God was nailed in the flesh, Who granteth peace to our souls!

O ever-hymned Tree, whereon Christ was stretched, the whirling sword which guarded Eden stood in awe of thee, O Cross, and the dread cherubim withdrew, when Christ was nailed to thee, He that granteth peace unto our souls.

The adverse powers of the netherworld fear when the sign of the Cross is traced in the air in which they live, and the generations of the earthborn and the heavenly bend the knee to Christ, Who granteth peace unto our souls.

Having shone forth a divine light and revealed itself in rays of incorruption unto the benighted gentiles astray in error, the divine Cross acquireth them for Christ, Who was nailed thereto, and granteth peace unto our souls.

Canon of the Martyrs

Irmos: O Christ Who hast enlightened the ends of the world with the radiance of Thy coming and hast illumined them with Thy Cross: with the light of Thy divine knowledge enlighten the hearts of those who hymn Thee in Orthodox manner.

The three God-bearing virgins, bound by faith and nature, endured tortures with patience of will, and they put to shame the audacious one, uttering mysteries of wisdom which are in God.

Our first mother rejoiceth, seeing the deceiver, who of old drove her from Eden, vanquished by Hope, Faith and Charity, the divinely wise women born of Sophia.

Wounded by Thy love and Thy divine ardor, O Christ, the honored maidens spurned the venomous flattery of the tyrant and willingly endured the wounds of tortures.

Theotokion: Beholding thee, the hosts of heaven rejoice, and with them the assemblies of men make merry; for they have been united by thy nativity, O Virgin Theotokos, which we glorify as is meet.

Ode VI

Canon of the Feast

Irmos: Stretching forth his arms in the form of the Cross in the belly of the sea monster, Jonah clearly prefigured the saving passion. And issuing forth after three days, he foreshadowed the transcendent resurrection of Christ God, Who was nailed in the flesh and hath enlightened the world by His rising on the third day.

Bent with age and weighed down with infirmity, Jacob drew himself up when he crossed his hands, showing forth the power of the life-bearing Cross; for God Who was nailed thereon in the flesh hath set aright the obsolescence of the law of the Scripture which was written in shadows, and hath dispelled the soul-destroying disease of deception.

Divine Israel, laying his hands crosswise upon the heads of the young, revealed that the people that hath the honor of being the elder is a slave to the law. Wherefore, when suspected of erring in so doing, he did not alter the life-bearing image; for, he said, protected by the Cross, the newly established people of Christ God surpass them.

Canon of the Martyrs

Irmos: The uttermost abyss hath surrounded us, and there is none to deliver us. We are accounted as lambs for the slaughter. Save Thy people, O our God, for Thou art the strength and correction of the weak!

Rejoicing, O Master, the three honored and laudable maidens, equal in number to the Trinity, placed their hope in Thine all-pure hands.

Resplendent with the beauties of virginity, they adorned themselves with the wounds of martyrdom, and have received from on high a twofold crown from Christ, the most compassionate Bestower of life.

Into the temple of Thee, Who reignest over all, were the precious treasures of virginity brought, O Master, to share in Thy kingdom; for Thou art their light and gladness.

Theotokion: The forefathers of our race rejoice in thee, O all-pure Virgin, receiving Eden through thee which they had lost through their transgression; for thou wast pure before giving birth and art pure even after thy birthgiving.

Kontakion of the Feast, in Tone IV

O Thou Who wast lifted up willingly on the Cross, bestow Thy compassions upon the new community called after Thee, O Christ God; gladden by Thy power Orthodox Christians, granting them victory over all adversaries. May they have as an ally the invincible trophy, Thy weapon of peace.

Ikos: He who was caught up to the third heaven of paradise and heard unspeakable and divine words which the human tongue cannot utter, what writeth he to the Galatians, which, as lovers of the Scriptures, ye have both read and come to understand? God forbid, saith he, that I should glory, save only in the Cross of the Lord, whereon having suffered He slew the passions. Let us all then firmly hold this boast, the Cross of the Lord; for this Wood is our salvation, the invincible trophy, the weapon of peace.


Canon of the Feast

Irmos: The mad command of the ungodly tyrant, breathing forth threats and blasphemy hateful to God, cast the people into confusion. Yet the three youths feared not the fury of the wild beasts, nor the raging blaze; but in the midst of the fire, when the dew-bearing wind blew upon it, they sang: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

The first man, tasting of the tree, made his abode in corruption; for, having condemned himself by an inglorious rejection of life, he imparted a certain taint as a corruption to the whole race. But we, the earthborn, gaining utterance through the Tree of the Cross, cry out: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Disobedience violated the commandment of God, and the tree brought death to man by its being partaken of unseasonably; for, for the preservation of that which is most precious, the tree of life was forbidden; but God disclosed it to the hapless thief, who cried out rightly: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Israel, foreseeing things to come, laid hold of the tip of Joseph’s staff, revealing beforehand that the most glorious Cross would seize the power of the kingdom, for it is the victorious boast of kings and a light for those who cry out with faith: O all-hymned God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!

Canon of the Martyrs

Irmos: O Theotokos, we, the faithful, perceive thee to be a noetic furnace; for, as the supremely Exalted One saved the three youths, in thy womb the praised and most glorious God of our fathers wholly renewed the world.

Manifestly illumined with the thrice-radiant grace of unity, the virgins destroyed the utter darkness of the demons, theologizing concerning the Light in three Hypostases, and chanting: Praised and all-glorious is the God of our fathers!

Possessing mansions in the heavens, O light-bearing souls, with gladness ye now join chorus with the angels, gazing upon eternal glory and saying: Praised and all-glorious is the God of our fathers!

Showing steadfast opposition like the three youths, the maidens manfully trampled upon the fire; for, being equal in number with them, the God-bearing virgins acquired the same understanding of the praised and all-glorious God of our fathers.

Theotokion: O pure one, thou givest remission of transgressions unto those who hymn thee with faith, delivering them from temptations and every evil circumstance; for we have now acquired thee as a refuge, O Bride of God, in that thou didst bear the praised God of our fathers in thine arms.


Canon of the Feast

Irmos: O children, equal in number to the Trinity, bless ye God, the Father and Creator; hymn ye the Word, Who came down and transformed the fire into dew; and the all-holy Spirit, Who imparteth life unto all, exalt ye supremely forever!

O hosts of heaven, chant ye to the exalted Tree which was drenched with the Blood of God the Word incarnate, celebrating the restoration of those on earth. Ye people, worship the Cross of Christ, whereby the resurrection of the world is accomplished forever!

O ye earthborn stewards of grace, in sacred manner raise on high with your hands the Cross whereon Christ God stood and the spear which pierced the Body of God the Word, that all the nations may see the salvation which is of God, glorifying Him forever.

O faithful Christian kings, forechosen by divine decree, be ye glad! And having received from God the precious Cross, rejoice therein, the victorious weapon, for thereby tribes of warriors seeking courage are scattered abroad forever.

Canon of the Martyrs

Irmos: The children of Israel in the furnace, shining more brightly than gold in a crucible in the beauty of their piety, said: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord; hymn and exalt Him supremely for all ages!

The divinely radiant virgins Faith, Hope and Charity, were more lustrous than gold in the beauty of their piety, saying: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord; hymn and exalt Him supremely for all ages!

The virgins who are radiant and were manifestly splendid amid their torment let us hymn, O ye faithful, saying: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord; hymn and exalt Him supremely for all ages!

The shrines of the athletes ever pour forth a stream of healing abundantly, copiously and richly upon those who with faith cry out: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord; hymn and exalt Him supremely for all ages!

Theotokion: Holy ground wast thou, O pure one, giving birth to the life-bearing Ear of grain: Christ, the Mediator of everlasting life, to Whom we all cry out: Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord; hymn and exalt Him supremely for all ages!

Ode IX

Canon of the Feast

Irmos: O Theotokos, thou art a mystical garden of paradise, which, untilled, didst put forth Christ, by Whom the life-bearing Tree of the Cross was planted. Wherefore, worshipping it as it is now raised aloft, we magnify thee.

Let all the trees of the forests rejoice, for their nature hath been sanctified by Him Who planted them in the beginningChrist Who wast stretched upon the Tree. Wherefore, worshipping it as it is now raised aloft, we magnify thee, O Theotokos.

A sacred horn hath arisen, the chief horn for all the divinely wisethe Cross, whereby all the horns of the sinful are noetically broken. Wherefore, worshipping it as it is now raised aloft, we magnify thee, O Theotokos.

Canon of the Martyrs

Irmos: The bush which burnt with fire yet was not consumed showed forth an image of thy pure birthgiving. And now we pray that the furnace of temptations which rageth against us may be extinguished, that we may magnify thee unceasingly, O Theotokos.

Filled with thrice-radiant light, and delighting now in the divine radiance, O ye who are equal in number to the virtues and bear their names: love, hope and faith, make us steadfast by hope, love and faith.

Let the might of heaven now subdue the tempest of heresy which besetteth us, O invincible athletes. We entreat you, O good virgins: pray ye unceasingly, that God grant oneness of mind to the faithful.

Having passed through the night of this life, O most wise ones, ye have reached the unwaning day, making merry as martyrs and boasting in grace as virgins, being counted worthy of the divine and incorruptible kingdom.

Theotokion: O, how hath the Virgin given birth unto the eternal and hypostatic Word, the effulgence of the hypostasis of the Father, our Benefactor and Lord, Who became incarnate of her, whom we magnify as is meet.

Exapostilarion of the Feast

The Cross is the preservation of the whole world; the Cross is the adornment of the Church; the Cross is the might of kings; the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful; the Cross is the glory of angels and the wounding of demons!

Glory…, Now and ever…, and the above is repeated.

At the Aposticha, these stichera, in Tone VI, Special Melody: “On the third day…”

We bow down before the place where the feet of Christ stood, exalting the thrice-blessed Cross whereon the blood of the Master poured forth, Who hath poured forth resurrection upon the world.

Stichos: Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship the footstool of His feet, for it is holy.

Having mortified the passions of the flesh and spirit, having crucified ourselves with Christ the Master, O ye divinely wise, let us strive to elevate ourselves, through the elevation of the Cross, to the rest of heaven.

Stichos: God is our King before the ages; He hath wrought salvation in the midst of the earth.

A life-bearing wellspring hath manifestly welled forth from the divine side of the Savior, giving drink to the souls of those who with faith worship His divine Passion, Cross and Resurrection.

Glory…, Now and ever…, in Tone II

Come, all ye nations, let us worship the blessed Tree whereby everlasting righteousness hath come to be; for he who by the tree deceived our forefather Adam, is himself deceived by the Cross, and he who by tyranny held fast the royal house, falleth, cast down by a strange fall. By the blood of God the venom of the serpent is washed away, and the curse of the just condemnation was lifted by the Righteous One when He was condemned by an unjust sentence; for it was fitting that the tree be healed by a Tree, and that, by the sufferings of the Dispassionate One on the Tree, the sufferings of the condemned be loosed. Glory, O Christ our King, to Thy wise dispensation toward us, whereby Thou hast saved all, in that Thou art good and lovest mankind.

At Divine Liturgy

On the Beatitudes, six Troparia, from Ode VI of the canon of the Feast.

The Menaion of the Orthodox Church © Isaac E. Lambertsen