Last night at church I heard one of the most beautiful litanies I’ve ever heard. It’s an Orthodox hymn called an akathistThis one is called the Akathist of Thanksgiving. Many people mistakenly think it was written by Grigory Petroff, an Orthodox priest who died in the gulag, because it was found in his papers. In fact the author was Metropolitan Tryphon of Moscow, who wrote it in 1929, at the start of the second wave of extreme persecution of the Church by the Soviet regime (read this account of what that was like). Here is an excerpt of what we sang in church last night, on the eve of Thanksgiving:

Kontakion 1

Everlasting King, Thy will for our salvation is full of power. Thy right arm controls the whole course of human life. We give Thee thanks for all Thy mercies, seen and unseen. For eternal life, for the heavenly joys of the Kingdom which is to be. Grant mercy to us who sing Thy praise, both now and in the time to come. Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age.

Ikos 1

I was born a weak, defenceless child, but Thine angel spread his wings over my cradle to defend me. From birth until now Thy love has illumined my path, and has wondrously guided me towards the light of eternity; from birth until now the generous gifts of Thy providence have been marvelously showered upon me. I give Thee thanks, with all who have come to know Thee, who call upon Thy name.

Glory to Thee for calling me into being
Glory to Thee, showing me the beauty of the universe
Glory to Thee, spreading out before me heaven and earth
Like the pages in a book of eternal wisdom
Glory to Thee for Thine eternity in this fleeting world
Glory to Thee for Thy mercies, seen and unseen
Glory to Thee through every sigh of my sorrow
Glory to Thee for every step of my life’s journey
For every moment of glory
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

More:

Kontakion 5

The dark storm clouds of life bring no terror to those in whose hearts Thy fire is burning brightly. Outside is the darkness of the whirlwind, the terror and howling of the storm, but in the heart, in the presence of Christ, there is light and peace, silence: Alleluia!

Ikos 5

I see Thine heavens resplendent with stars. How glorious art Thou radiant with light! Eternity watches me by the rays of the distant stars. I am small, insignificant, but the Lord is at my side. Thy right arm guides me wherever I go.

Glory to Thee, ceaselessly watching over me
Glory to Thee for the encounters Thou dost arrange for me
Glory to Thee for the love of parents, for the faithfulness of friends
Glory to Thee for the humbleness of the animals which serve me
Glory to Thee for the unforgettable moments of life
Glory to Thee for the heart’s innocent joy
Glory to Thee for the joy of living
Moving and being able to return Thy love
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age

Read the whole thing, or even better, pray it today. And remember that it was written by a bishop who was watching churches destroyed, icons and holy things defiled and burned, and priests, monks, nuns, and faithful lay Christians rounded up and sent to the gulag. The Orthodox faithful in Russia sang this akathist even as they were going to their doom.

Think about that.

One of the things I am most thankful for on this day is the gift of faith, and the gift of my little country mission church.