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Preparatory Canon for the Nativity of Christ

Below is an evening service for use at home in preparation for the Nativity Feast as a downloadable booklet. It is the Canon for compline on the Christmas Eve (in the Slav tradition on the evening of 23 Dec/5 Jan) with some prayers taken from the small compline service (night-time prayers). The stand-alone text for the canon is also below to be used in the run up to the Nativity.



Canon of Preparation for the Nativity
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PREPATORY CANON FOR THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST



Ode I

Irmos: The One who in ancient times covered the pursuing tyrant with the waves of the sea, is hidden in a manger and Herod seeks to kill Him. But let us like the Magi sing to the Lord, for He has been greatly glorified.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

O Lord my God, I will sing a birthday hymn, a song on the Forefeast, to Thee who by Thy Nativity givest me a divine rebirth and leadest me up to my first excellence.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

The things above the earth and on the earth were amazed at Thy power, as they beheld Thee, O my Saviour, upon Thy throne on-High and in the manger below. For beyond our understanding Thou hast appeared in two natures, God and man.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

That Thou mightiest fill all tings with Thy glory, Thou hast come and bowed the heavens till they touched the earth. For as rain upon the fleece hast Thou descended into a virgin womb, from which Thou now comest forth to be born in two natures, O God and man.

Lord have mercy. (Thrice) (+)Glory…, now and ever….

Katavasia: The One who in ancient times….


Ode 3

Irmos: When creation beheld Thee born in a cave, who didst suspend the whole earth immovably upon the waters, it quaked with great amazement and cried aloud: There is none holy save Thee, O Lord!

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

O merciful Lord, making manifest the figures of Thine ineffable Incarnation, Thou hast unfolded the vision and breathed forth prophecies; and now Thou art come and hast fulfilled them, being born in the flesh from a pure Maid in the city of David.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Earth has spread out its wide spaces and receives the Creator, as He receives from angels glory, from heaven the star, from shepherds praise, from the Magi gifts, and acknowledgement from the whole world.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

The riddles of Balaam, the soothsayer and diviner, are now fulfilled. For a star has dawned from Jacob and led the Magi, kings from Persia bringing gifts, toward the Sun of Glory.

Lord have mercy. (Thrice) (+)Glory..., now and ever….

Katavasia: When creation beheld Thee born in a cave….


Ode IV

Irmos: When Habákkuk foresaw Thy coming from the Virgin, he cried in amazement: Thou art come incarnate from Teman, O Good One, to call back Adam from his exile.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

The Lord now draws nigh and comes, expectation of the nations and salvation of the world. O city of Bethlehem, prepare the cave: and ye shepherds with the Magi, make haste.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

In the strength of Thy Godhead Thou hast been joined with mortal men, through a union without confusion, O Saviour, in the likeness of the flesh of Adam; and in thus assuming human nature Thou dost bestow upon it immortality and salvation.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

The Word is made manifest and assumes the material substance of our flesh; and in His ineffable providence He takes up His dwelling among us.

Come ye, O faithful, and let us look upon His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten Son from God the Father.

Lord have mercy. (Thrice) (+)Glory..., now and ever….

Katavasia: When Habákkuk foresaw ….


Ode V

Irmos: When Isaiah beheld the light that knows no evening, the Light of Thy divine appearance coming to us graciously; His soul, O Christ, longed for Thee in the night, and he cried aloud: ‘Behold a Virgin shall conceive and shall bear the incarnate Word, and all those born on earth shall rejoice exceedingly.’

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

O Creator, Thou makest new those born on earth by Thyself becoming clay. A manger and swaddling clothes and a cave are the marks of Thy lowliness. The betrothed of Thy Mother is thought by men to be Thy father according to the flesh, and so he takes the place of the Father who begat Thee by His counsel.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

The Kings, the first fruits of the Gentiles, bring Thee gifts at Thy birth in a cave in Bethlehem, from a Mother who suffered no pangs of travail; by myrrh they point to Thy death, by gold to Thy royal power, and by frankincense to the pre-eminence of Thy divinity.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Coming forth in the flesh, O Word coeternal with the Father, from a Mother who suffered no pangs of birth,

Thou hast made Thy dwelling in the cave, using the manger as Thy throne. Through Thy fearful dispensation Thou dost amaze the Magi and the shepherds, and Thou fillest the angels with awe as they cry: ‘Glory to Thy Dominion, O Lord.’

Lord have mercy. (Thrice) (+)Glory..., now and ever….

Katavasia: When Isaiah beheld the light….


Ode VI

Irmos: Jonah was caught but not held in the belly of the whale, revealing a sign of Thy birth and Thine appearance in the flesh; He came forth from the monster as from a chamber. For, born now in the flesh, Thou shalt in the flesh undergo burial and death, and Thou shalt rise again on the third day.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

The middle wall of partition and the ancient enmity is now laid low and destroyed by Thy coming in the flesh, O Christ, and the flaming sword now gives way before all who approach. And I partake in faith of the life-giving tree in Eden, becoming once again a husbandman in the gardens of immortality.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Hell reigned with sin from Adam even down to Thee; but their shameless tyranny is brought to naught, now that Thou art born according to the flesh from the tribe of David, O Deliverer. Thou hast set a light upon the throne of his kingdom and Thou reignest unto all ages.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Herod the wicked became a slayer of children but not of Christ. For though he reaped a bitter harvest of children he failed to seize and slay the Bread of Life. For being the Giver of life, as God He escaped from the pursuer by His divine power.

Lord have mercy. (Thrice) (+)Glory…, now and ever….

Katavasia: Jonah was caught….


Ode VII

Irmos: O wonder beyond speech: He who saved the holy children from the fire of the furnace is laid as a babe in a poor manger for the salvation of us who sing: Blessèd art Thou, O God our Redeemer.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

The enemy and deceiver was wounded when he saw God laid in a poor an narrow manger as a babe, and by the hand of God was he cast down, for the salvation of us who sing: Blessèd art Thou, O God our Redeemer.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

O happy manger! Receiving the Creator as a babe, it is made the throne of the Cherubim, for the salvation of us who sing: Blessèd art Thou, O God our Redeemer.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

According to the law of mortal men, appearing as a babe Thou dost accept to be wrapped in swaddling bands; and thereby Thou didst loose the bands of my offences, bestowing freedom upon those who sing: Blessèd art Thou, O God our Redeemer.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!


In Thy Birth without beginning and in Thy Nativity after the flesh, Thou hast remained, O Christ, One in the Godhead with the Father and the Spirit, for the salvation of us who sing: Blessèd art Thou, O God our Redeemer.

Lord have mercy. (Thrice) (+)Glory..., now and ever….

Katavasia: O wonder beyond speech….


Kontakion (Tone III)

Today the Virgin cómes tó the cave /

To give birth ineffably to the pre-etérnal Word. /

Hearing this, be of good cheer, O inhábited earth, /

And with the angels and the shépherds ///

Glorify Him whose will it was to be made manifest a young Child, the pré-etérnal God.


Ode VIII

Irmos: Be amazed and afraid, O heaven, and let the foundations of the earth be shaken. For lo, He who bears the whole world in the hollow of His hand, is wrapped in swaddling clothes and is guest for a while in a narrow manger. You children, bless Him; you priest, sing praises; you people exalt Him throughout all ages.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Adam the prisoner has been loosed and freedom has been given to all the faithful, now that Thou art wrapped in swaddling bands, O Saviour, and laid in a small cave in a manger for dumb beasts. Therefore, rejoicing, we offer Thee in faith a hymn on this the Forefeast of Thy Nativity.

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

The error of Persia has ceased: for the stargazers, the kings of the east, bring gifts to Christ the King of all at His birth, gold and myrrh and frankincense. You children, bless Him; you priest, sing praises; you people exalt Him throughout all ages.

Let us bless the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Lord!

O strange wonders! O goodness and infinite forbearance! Behold, He who dwells on High is counted as a babe, and He who is God flees of His own will from Herod. You children, bless Him; you priest, sing praises; you people exalt Him throughout all ages.

We praise, bless, and worship the Lord, singing and exalting Him throughout all ages.

Katavasia: Be amazed and afraid….


Ode IX

Irmos: “Be not amazed, O Mother, seeing Me now as a babe, whom the Father begat from the womb before the morning star. For I have come openly to restore and glorify with Myself the fallen nature of mortal man, that magnifies thee with faith and love.”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

“O Son without beginning, I am blessed beyond words in Thy strange birth, wherein I have been spared all travail. And as I behold Thee fleeing from Herod with his sword of sorrow, I am torn in soul. But do Thou live and save those who honour Thee.”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

“I have gone down into the land of Egypt but, O Mother, I have laid low with an earthquake the idols of Egypt made by the hand of man. And sending into hell the enemies that seek My life in vain, with the power that I alone possess, I shall lift up and save those that honour thee.”

Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee!

Let the creation rejoice exceedingly: for the Creator now makes Himself to be created, and He who was before all things now makes Himself known as God newly revealed. Let the Magi with their gifts go out to meet Him, let the shepherds clap their hands in faith at the wonder, and let mortal men join the angels and make glad.

Lord have mercy. (Thrice) (+)Glory..., now and ever….

Katavasia: Be not amazed, O Mother ….

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