Kontakion on the Raising of Lazarus

By Saint Romanos the Melodist
From On the Life of Christ: Kontakia, translated by Archimandrite Ephrem Lash

O Christ, Thou who knowest all things,
Thou hast asked to learn where the tomb of Lazarus is,
And arriving there, Thou hast raised him up on the fourth day,
O All-powerful One,
Taking pity, Merciful One, on
The tears of Mary and Martha.

The Master, checking the lamentations of Mary and Martha,
Immediately stilled them when He raised up their brother.
It was possible, then, to see marvel of marvels,
How the lifeless suddenly was seen to be alive.
For when His voice descended,
It caused the bolts of the gate of Hades
To shake; and it broke down the bars of the door of Death;
And on the fourth day, He raised up the dead; as the Merciful One,
He took pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Let us all, with love, hurry to Bethany to see Christ there,
Weeping for his friend.
For wishing all things to be ordained by law,
He controls all things in His dual nature.
He suffers as son of David; as Son of God,
He redeems the whole world from all the evil of the serpent,
And on the fourth day, He raises up Lazarus, taking pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Together sustained by faith,
The two announced to Christ and God the death
Of their brother, saying,
“Hasten, come, Thou who art always present in all places,
For Lazarus whom Thou dost love is ill: if Thou come near,
Death will vanish, and Thy friend will be saved from corruption,
And the Jews will see that Thou, the Merciful One,
Hast taken pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.

The Creator of all spoke on behalf of the disciples, saying:
“Friends and companions, our friend has fallen asleep.”
He was secretly teaching them in advance,
Because He knows and care for all things,
“Let us go, then, let us advance and see the unusual tomb,
And let us cause the mourning of Mary and Martha to cease
As I raise up Lazarus from the tomb,
And as the Merciful One take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.”

When the heard these words, the apostles
As with one voice cried out to the Lord,
“Sleep exists for man for his safety
And not at all for his destruction.”
And so He spoke to them openly: “He is dead.
As mortal I am away from him; but as God, I know all things.
If we truly arrive at the opportune time,
I shall resurrect the dead, and cause to cease
The tears of Mary and Martha.”

They all, then, arrived together,
When Mary and her sister came to meet them, crying bitterly,
“Lord, where wast Thou? For he whom Thou lovest has departed,
And lo, he is not here.”
As they cried out these words, He, himself, wept.
But he asked, “Where is the tomb of my friend? Now
I am going to release him from the chains of Hades,
Since as the only lover of mankind, I take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.”

When they arrived at the tomb,
He who is in the bosom of His Father, called out:
“Thou hast sent me into the world
That I might bring life to the dead.
I have come, then, to raise up Lazarus
And to reveal to the Jews that I am going to arise from my tomb
On the third day, I who after the fourth day resurrect my friend
And now take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.”

In order that He might bring an end to the mourning of Martha,
The Savior of all spoke to her and addressed
These divine words to her:
“I exist as the Light of the world
And the resurrection of all from the dead;
It was for this end that I appeared in order to resurrect Adam
And the descendants of Adam
And on the fourth day to resurrect Lazarus
Taking pity, as a Merciful One, on
The tears of Mary and Martha.”

When the command was given with a nod of His dead,
Hades was made to totter,
And also the power of Death and the arrogance of the Devil.
With the sound of His voice,
He raised up from the depths of the earth
The one who was four days dead.
When they saw this, Abraham and all the righteous cried out:
“Now, take courage, since the resurrection of all has come.
He has delivered from the bonds of death
The one whom He loves, as He, the Merciful One, takes pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.”

Hades, now a prisoner, sees himself despoiled of this Lazarus,
Whom a short time ago he held enchained below;
For when the King of angels came against him,
The strength of demons was destroyed;
And the serpent who trails over the earth on his stomach,
Now, pierced in the mouth by the Wooden Spear, appears as dead.
But Adam rejoices when he sees Christ,
In His goodness, take pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Rising from the tomb, the friend reveals his eyes
And hands bound by a cloth;
They release him – those who have their hearts
Bound by the ill will of slander,
Those who, as they plug up their ears like the adder,
Prepare their hands for most wicked slaughter,
That they may pour out
The harmless and innocent blood of the One
Who raises up the dead, and checks
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Having heard the words of the children,
Which came from pure hearts and innocent lips,
They were all filled with fear
Saying to one another, “Who is this man?”
O madness and complete stupidity!
A short time ago they saw raised from the dead
A corpse who had become fetid,
And they do not know who resurrected him,
And who destroyed with His voice the power of Hades,
And in accord with His merciful nature checked
The tears of Mary and Martha!

O Thy unspeakable compassion, all merciful Jesus!
Who didst consent to come for me and to me,
How didst Thou calmly ride upon the ass
And advance into the city of God-slayers?
Foreseeing their terrible lack of faith, Thou didst command them
To release the bonds of Lazarus, that they might see
The One whom in a short time they wish to put to death
With no pity for
The tears of Mary and Martha.

O Savior, all came with palms on the occasion of Thy arrival,
Crying, “Hosanna!” to Thee,
Now all of us bring hymns to Thee out of piteous mouths,
As we wave the branches of our spirit and cry out:
“O Thou, truly among those on high, save the world
Which Thou hast created, Lord,
And blot out our sins, just as formerly Thou hast dried
The tears of Mary and Martha.

O Lover of mankind, the holy Church holds a high festival,
Faithfully calling together her children;
It meets Thee with palms and spreads out garments of joy
So that, with Thy disciples and with Thy friend,
Thou mayest advance and legislate a deep peace for Thy servants,
And release them from oppression, as formerly Thou hast checked
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Incline Thine ear, O God of the universe, and hear our prayers,
And snatch us from the bonds of death,
For our enemies who always surround us, visibly and invisibly,
Threaten to have us put to death, and besides,
To deprive us of our faith.
Arise, and quickly let all be destroyed and let them know
That Thou art our God and dost pity us as Thou didst have pity on
The tears of Mary and Martha.

Let us, who are dead because of our sins, and who dwell in the tomb
Because of our knowledge of evil,
Imitate the sisters of faithful Lazarus as we cry to Christ
With tears, in faith and in love:
“Save us, Thou who didst will to become man.
And resurrect us from the tomb of our sins, Thou, alone immortal,
Through the prayers of Thy friend, Lazarus,
Whom Thou didst raise up, O Lord, in checking
The tears of Mary and Martha.”

Let us the mere material world, which is always in a state of flux,
And hasten to meet Christ the Savior in Bethany.
Let us then dine with Him
And with his friend Lazarus and the apostles
So that we may, by their prayers, be delivered from our past sins.
If we cleanse every stain from our hearts, we shall see perfectly
His divine resurrection, which He offered to us when He took away
The tears of Mary and Martha.