As you sip your Monday morning coffee and prepare for your week, I offer you the following prayer for reflection:
PRAYER WHEN LEAVING THE CHURCH
ԱՂՕԹՔ ԵԿԵՂԵՑԻԷՆ ԴՈՒՐՍ ԳԱԼԷ ԱՌԱՋ
Excerpt from the Profound O Mystery Deep Hymn
- Khatchadour Vartabed Daronatzee, 12th Century
Թագաւոր երկնաւոր զԵկեցեցի քո անշարժ պահեա. եւ զերկրպագուս անուանդ քում պահեա ի խաղաղութեան։
երկնաւոր Թագաւոր, հաստատ պահէ Քու եկեղեցիդ, Եւ խաղաղաութեան մէջ թող միշտ մնան, երկրպագուներ քու սուրբ անուան։ Ամեն:
Takaor yergnavor, zegeghetzi ko ansharjh bahya yev zergurbaqoos anvanut koom bahya I khaghaghootyan
Heavenly king, preserve your Church unshaken and keep in peace those who worship
As we learned last week with the Prayer When Entering the Church, before we enter church we pray for our hearts and minds to be cleared of earthly distractions. This week’s Prayer When Leaving the Church is the matching bookend to last week’s prayer; it is the prayer we say as we leave the church, offering our respects. It is customary in the Armenian Apostolic Church as you leave the sanctuary to turn around towards the holy altar, bow your head, cross yourself and say this prayer. Furthermore, in addition to following the ritual above, the faithful in some countries will step backward while departing the sanctuary out of respect. Either way, it is our duty to pay our respects by praying that our church remain unshaken as we depart. The word unshaken has always struck me as a precisely fitting term to describe our Armenian Church and faith. Throughout her long history the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin has faced many occasions when outside invaders have tried to weaken her, undermine her or relocate her, yet throughout the ages she has persisted unshaken. One notable example is the effort made by Shah Abbas I of Iran in the early 1600s when he set about to bring the Armenians to Persia. Knowing that the hearts of the Armenian people were bound to the Mother Church of Holy Etchmiadzin, he sent his soldiers to dismantle the Cathedral and move it stone by stone to New Julfa, thinking this plan would surely push the Armenians to relocate to Persia. Though his efforts to undermine the Armenian’s attachment to their land were formidable, he soon learned that his efforts were no match for the Armenian’s unwavering devotion for their Holy Church to remain on the ground where St. Gregory the Illuminator had his vision. In the end, Holy Etchmiadzin endured unshaken. May we continue to pray together that our Armenian Church remain firmly unshaken and that peace reign over those who worship in her.
Khatchadour Vartabed Daronatzee wrote the O Mystery Deep hymn, which includes the Prayer When Leaving the Church as its final lines, at the Haghartsin Monastery in Armenia. His tomb is located at the Haghartsin Monastery as well. This powerful spiritual sharagan is sung during the Divine Liturgy at the time of the vesting of the celebrant and the procession. To listen to a recording of this magnificent hymn, click on the following link: http://www.armenianmusic.am/_hy/audio/authors=9
Let us remain faithful, mindful and spiritually strong, as we stand together in the face of this pandemic.