The Hymn of Kassiani, also known as the Hymn of the Fallen Woman, is a work classified as a Penitential Hymn that is based on Mary Magdalene . This hymn is chanted only once a year and considered a musical high-point of the Holy Week, at the Matins of Holy Wednesday, in the Fourth Plagal Tone .
One story, related by Saint Theodora in The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church holds that Abbess Kassiani spent the afternoon in the garden composing this hymn. As she finished writing that verse which says, I shall kiss Thine immaculate feet, and wipe them again with the tresses of my head. she was informed that Emperor Theophilos had arrived at the convent. She did not wish to see him, and in her haste to conceal herself, left behind the scroll and pen. Theophilos, having entered the garden, found her half-completed poem, and added the phrase, those feet at whose sound Eve hid herself for fear when she heard Thee walking in Paradise in the Afternoon. After he departed, Kassiani came out from hiding. When she took up her composition, she beheld the phrase written in his handwriting. She retained it and went on to complete the poem.
Hymn of Kassiani text
Sensing Thy divinity, O Lord, a woman of many sins
- takes it upon herself to become a myrrh-bearer,
And in deep mourning brings before Thee fragrant oil
- in anticipation of Thy burial; crying:
"Woe to me!" For night is to me, oestrus of lechery,
- a dark and moonless eros of sin.
Receive the wellsprings of my tears,
- O Thou who gatherest the waters of the oceans into clouds.
Bend to me, to the sorrows of my heart,
- O Thou who bendedst down the heavens in Thy ineffable self-emptying.
I will kiss Thine immaculate feet
- and dry them with the locks of my hair;
Those very feet whose sound Eve heard at dusk in Paradise
- and hid herself in fear.
Who shall reckon the multitude of my sins,
- or the abysses of Thy judgment, O Saviour of my soul?
Do not ignore Thy handmaiden,
- O Thou whose mercy is endless.
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