The Second Canon for Pentecost
The Second Canon for Pentecost is attributed to St. John of Damascus (†753), well known as the author of the “Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith”. However, the name John of Arklas is found on manuscripts of the canon, including the oldest ones. “Arkla” is the name of a region located not far from Damascus, and the nickname, “of Arkla” is a synonym of the word “Damascene”. Therefore, the traditional assignment of authorship to St. John Damascene is entirely reasonable. For a detailed discussion of the canon, and how it relates to St. John’s theology in the “Exact Exposition”, see this article by Deacon Vladimir Vasilik at orthochristian.com. The translation below is by Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash).
In Iambics, whose acrostic is contained in the following elegiac couplets:
Only-begotten of God, from the heart of the Father you sent to
Those upon earth once again other Advocate, Spirit divine,
Bringing, in tongues made of fire, of the pure, immaterial Godhead,
Sign of your nature and grace for those who are minstrels of praise.
A Composition of Kyr John Arklas.
Ode 1. Tone 4. Irmos.
The slow of tongue, covered in divine darkness,
Proclaimed the law written by God;
For shaking the dust from his mind’s eye,
He sees the One Who Is, and is initiated
Into knowledge of the Spirit, praising with songs inspired.
The revered and august mouth spoke,
’For you my friends there will be no parting.
For I, once seated with him on my Father’s lofty throne,
Will pour out the copious grace of the Spirit
To shine on those who yearn’.
The firm Definition, most precise Word,
Brings calm perfection to the heart;
For, his work accomplished, Christ gladdened his friends,
With a mighty wind and tongues of fire,
Apportioning the Spirit, as he had promised.
Ode 3. Irmos.
Only the prayer of Anna, the prophetess
Of old, who brought a broken spirit
To the Mighty One and God of knowledge,
Broke the fetters of a childless womb
And the harsh insult of one with many children.
Inapprehensible is the Godhead;
For it revealed the unlettered to be orators,
Bridling the mouths of sophists in abundance with a word,
And raising from deep night
Unnumbered peoples by the Spirit’s lightning flash.
From the unbegotten Light proceeded
The imperishable Splendour, illuminating with almighty operation,
Whose fiery sound in Sion now reveals
To the nations the consubstantial beacon
Of the Father’s authority through the Son.
Ode 4. Irmos.
Monarch of monarchs, Alone from the Alone,
Word issuing from the Father who has no cause,
As Benefactor you have unerringly sent out
To the Apostles your Spirit, equal in strength,
As they sing, ‘Glory to your might, O Lord!’
Having by a word mixed the divine bath of rebirth
With a compounded nature,
You rain down upon me a stream from your immaculate,
Pierced side, O Word of God,
Sealing me with the fervour of the Spirit.
All things bend the knee to the Advocate,
To the Offspring of the Father, to the consubstantial Father;
For they know unerringly in three Persons
One, unapproachable, timeless Essence;
For the grace of the Spirit has caused light to shine.
As many as are worshippers of the Essence with Triple Light,
All be consecrated to the Godhead.
For, as our Benefactor, Christ perfects supernaturally
And lights a fiery torch for our salvation,
Furnishing all the grace of the Spirit.
Ode 5. Irmos.
O light-formed children of the Church,
Receive the Spirit’s fire-breathing dew,
A redeeming purification of offences;
For now a law has gone out from Sion,
The torch-tongue-formed grace of the Spirit.
As he was well-pleased, of his own authority
The un-mastered Spirit comes down from the Father,
Making the Apostles wise with tongues,
Might of the Father, one in form, setting the seal
Upon the life-bearing word, which the Saviour spoke.
God the Word, all-sovereign, healed the minds
Of the Apostles of sin, and made ready
An immaculate dwelling for himself;
Now the light of the Spirit dwells in them,
Equal in strength and consubstantial.
Ode 6. Irmos.
As pardon and salvation for us,
Christ, our Master, you shone from the Virgin,
That like the prophet Jonas from the belly
Of the sea beast, you might snatch from corruption
The whole fallen race of Adam.
Almighty, renew a cherished, a right Spirit
Within us, to hold it eternally,
Who is ever united and proceeding from the Father,
Purging hateful matter, burning
Defilements and filth of minds.
For the Apostles who awaited your coming
In Sion you establish with fiery wind
A longed for dignity, O Spirit,
Knowledge of the Word begotten of the Father,
Swiftly exposing the harsh chatter of the nations’ cajoleries.
Harmonious melody of instruments decreed
Reverence to the lifeless idol wrought of gold.
But the Advocate’s life-bearing grace
Inspires with reverence to cry, ‘Only Trinity,
Equal in strength, without beginning, blessed are you!’
Fools did not recognise the voice spoken of
In prophecy, called it drunkenness wrought of wine,
When the strange sayings of the Apostles were heard.
We, the devout, inspired by God, cry out to you,
’Renewer of the universe, blessed are you!’
The seer Joel,inspired by God, thundered an oracle
Of the divine Word, who said,
’Those on whom I pour my Spirit
Will cry out together, “Nature,
Shining-with-threefold-splendour, blessed are you!”’
The third hour was blessed with grace,
To indicate that we should worship
Three Persons in singleness of authority;
But now on the one Lord of days,
Son, Father, Spirit, blessed are you!
The triple radiant type of Godhead’s source
Looses the bonds and turns the flame to dew;
Youths give praise; while all created nature
Blesses the only Saviour and Creator
Of all as Benefactor.
Coming to rest in appearance like-fiery-tongues,
The Spirit, caused remembrance of the mortal-saving words
Which Christ, heard-as-from-the-Father, spoke
To the Apostles. Creation, once estranged,
Now reconciled, sings of you as blessed.
As Saviour, coming of his own authority,
Light shining of itself and provider of light,
You sent to the Apostles, bringing himself
As a precious wind. While to your servants
You distribute the Spirit so earnestly prayed for.
The spirit-filled mouth of Prophets sang
Of your sojourning, high Lord, in bodily form.
And your Spirit proceeding from the Father’s bosom,
You send to believers for the worship of the incarnation.
Hail, Queen, glory of virgins and mothers;
For every mouth fluent and eloquent
With oratory has not the strength to sing you worthily;
But every mind is dizzy when it seeks to understand
Your giving birth; therefore with one accord we glorify you.
It is right to sing of the Maiden who produced life;
For she alone concealed in the vortex of her womb
The Word, who heals the ailing nature of mortals.
Now seated on the couch at the right hand
Of the Father, he has sent the grace of the Spirit.
On as many as the grace which flows from God has breathed,
Resplendent, dazzling, transformed
With a strange, most glorious transformation,
We have come to know the Essence of equal might, indivisible,
Wise, of triple radiance; and we give It glory.