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Contemplations on the Melismatic Praxis Response – Part 2.
The Annual Praxis Response ends with the words, `m`V] Pilogoc, which may be chanted in a melismatic tune. The fact that it may be chanted in this way gives us an opportunity in our prayer to contemplate for a moment on the Coptic and Greek words: “God the Logos.”
Who is God the Logos, whom we say that the Virgin Mary gave birth to? You, God the Logos, is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second Hypostasis who is begotten of the Father before all ages. You are of the same substance with the Father, such that the Father is not greater than the Son, and the Son is not lesser than the Father.
You are the Wisdom of God, according to Solomon, and have always been with God the Father. There never was a time when You did not exist, but You were with the Father and the Holy Spirit, united together in pure and perfect love. For who can ever think that God was ever without Wisdom? Hence, You, the Logos, are uncreated, and with the Father and the Holy Spirit You created the whole world.
In the last days, You looked upon us with compassion and love – we, Your creation. You assumed flesh and took the form of a servant, and was born of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Theotokos. You, O God the Logos, became the Word whom we listen to and learn from; the Truth who teaches us the way of perfection; the Resurrection, who conquered sin and death that reigned over us; the Life, who brought us back to the Father, so that we may live in unity with Him through You and in the Holy Spirit.
Blessed are You indeed, O God the Logos, who came and saved our souls.
“God the Logos”
When Moses ascended the Mountain of Sinai, he heard God the Logos and spoke with Him face-to-face, as one speaks to a friend (Ex. 33:11). On the mountain he heard the Logos proclaim about Himself: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
When St. John the Beloved ascended the lofty Mountain of Contemplation of the Logos, upon which it is said that “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived” (1 Cor. 2:9); there, he learnt and taught us about the Logos: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1).
In the last times, too, God the Logos descended on Mount Zion, the City of God, because of His love for our weak human nature. He took flesh from the Virgin Mary, uniting the Divine Nature with the Human Nature without change to the one nature of the Incarnate Logos. The Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, is Jerusalem, the City of God, whom God the Logos chose to dwell in her in order to save us.
Let us also join the saints and ascend the mountains and hills, where we will find our help and salvation: “I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1,2). There we will meet God the Logos, the Lord who was “in the beginning,” who created heaven and earth. There we are re-created, and our nature is renewed. We are “in the beginning”… we are “in Christ.”
“God the Logos”
He united His Divine Nature with the Human Nature, to make our human nature united to God. He came to those who were imprisoned in the sins of the world to free them and give them peace. We traded our mortality for death; He, the Immortal, assumed a mortal flesh, and used His mortality for the sake of those who were dead – He came to destroy Death and give us immortal life.
We fell through the guile of the serpent, which ensnared us with his wisdom and lies; but we rose through God’s foolishness. Through the woman, Eve, we inherited original sin and death; but through the Second Eve, the Virgin Mary, we received the Medicine, Jesus Christ our Lord, who heals the wounds, cures the diseases of the soul, and gives us ever-lasting life.
Glory is yours, O Lord, God the Logos, and glory to Your Mother, the Virgin.
“God the Logos”
The melismatic hymn `m`V] Pilogoc is one which begins with two pushes, followed by a jump to a higher tune, where it continues to rise and fall alternatively in the beginning, although with a high tone. It is followed by a dramatic fall to a lower tune by the time we get to the ] and the beginning of Pi . Then again the tune rises and falls alternatively, but this time with a lower tone. When we get to the end, the tune rises slightly, followed by the conclusion of the hymn, `K`cmarwout .
I think that the tune is quite interesting and suites this hymn nicely! Here’s what I think we may contemplate about the meanings of the tunes of the hymn:
The first two pushes are a resemblance of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The first part, where the tune of the hymn rises and falls, reminds us of God the Logos in the Old Testament. He revealed Himself to the prophets and righteous people of the Old Testament, yet not fully. Every time he revealed Himself, He would hide Himself again. This is emphasized in the rising and falling tune of the hymn, but the tone is high because He continued to give us hope.
The part where the tune falls dramatically marks the Incarnation of our Savior and His birth from the Virgin Mary – the beginning of the New Testament.
The part where the tune rises and falls alternatively again marks the life of Christ in the New Testament. The tone is lower, though, unlike the beginning, since He humbled Himself as a servant. He showed His power and miracles, yet He looked like a poor human being, a simple carpenter. He amazed people with His wisdom and speech, but remained silent against those who accused Him of blasphemy. He had all the power over death and sin, yet was crucified and nailed to the cross like a thief and a slave.
Finally, the tune rises again, which is where we realize our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Logos who was Incarnate for our salvation, and who after His death on the cross and burial, He rose from the dead on the third day, declaring His victory over death and announcing the salvation that was completed by His death. With the commemoration of the Logos’ resurrection through the rising tune, we end the hymn by praising and blessing Him, with His good Father and the Holy Spirit, for He came, died and rose, and saved us.