Return to Home Page
Commemoration of Our Venerable Mother Werburga
Composed by Reader Isaac Lambertson
Should the superior or rector so desire, the celebration of the memory
of the venerable Werburga may be transferred to the 4th of February, so
as not to displace the commemoration of the righteous Symeon the God-receiver
& Anna the Prophetess.
"Lord, I have cried ... , 6 stichera: 3 stichera of the feast, and
3 stichera of the venerable one, in Tone I: Spec. Mel: "Joy of the
ranks of heaven ..." -
rank and power had no hold upon thy soul, nor wast thou beguiled by the
vanities of life, O venerable mother Werburga; wherefore, putting away
all thought of marriage, thou didst hasten to betroth thyself to Christ,
Who brought thee into His bridal-chamber on high, where the sound is unceasing
of those who keep festival.
Embracing chaste virginity, O saint, on golden pinions thou hast flown
like a bird to the Tree of Life in the garden of Christ, where, making
thine abode with all the saints, thou dost forever chant with them in
sweet melody to the God of all, Who freeth us from the fowlers' nets of
Royal lineage and regal pomp didst thou treat as iron fetters, O blessed
Werburga and, casting them off, thou didst flee to Ely, where, clothed
in the angelic habit, thou didst apply thyself to prayer and manual labours,
mindful that the Saviour hath said that the last shall be first and the
first shall be last.
Glory ... , in the same tone -
Though thou wast the fruit of many regal lines, O Werburga, royal virgin,
yet didst thou not boast in thy lineage, nor did earthly allurements distract
thy soul from the contemplation of the Lord of lords, Whom from childhood
thou didst love with all thy heart. Then, mindful of the words of David
the King, that the daughters of kings forget their own people and their
fathers' house, with the virgins in the train of the Queen of heaven thou
didst bring thyself into His holy temple in gladness and rejoicing, arrayed
in all the virtues, as in gold-fringed garments of varied colours. Wherefore,
praising thy humility, all Christians commemorate thy name forever, O
Now & ever ... , of the feast.
Aposticha stichera of the feast; and Glory ...
, of the venerable one, in Tone VI -
Like a seed planted in the soil of piety, O pure and holy virgin Werburga,
thou wast cultivated by Ermenilda, thy saintly mother, who watered thee
with her wise admonitions, lovingly tending thee for the heavenly Husbandman;
wherefore, growing to spiritual maturity, thou didst shun the shade of
thy many suitors, delighting rather in the supernal rays of Christ, the
Sun of righteousness, for Whom thou hast borne abundant fruit by the grace
which burgeoned forth in thee, O our venerable mother.
Now & ever ... , of the feast.
Troparion of the venerable one, in Tone IV -
Thine illustrious life filled the angels with awe and put the demons to
flight in terror, while it adorneth the congregations of the faithful
with the splendour of grace, O venerable mother Werburga. As in thy charity
thou didst extend thy love to all thy fellow creatures, intercede with
God in our behalf, that our souls be saved from perdition.
... , Now & ever ... : Troparion of the feast.
"God is the Lord ...", the troparion of the feast, twice; Glory
... , that of the venerable one; Now & ever ... , that of the feast,
After the kathismata, the sessional hymns of the feast.
Canon of the feast, with 8 troparia, including the irmos; and this canon
of the venerable one, with 4 troparia, the acrostic whereof is "O
chaste bride of Christ, take pity on us", in Tone VIII -
The staff of Moses, once working a wonder, striking the sea in the form
of the Cross and dividing it, drowned the mounted tyrant Pharaoh, and
saved Israel who fled on foot, chanting a hymn unto God.
Of the holy King Ethelbert and four royal lineages wast thou sprung, O
venerable mother Werburga; yet more wast thou revered throughout the English
realms for thy great chastity of mind and wondrous purity.
Crowns and jewels held no allure for thee, O holy Werburga, for thy holy
mother, Queen Ermenilda, led thee in the ways of righteousness, rendering
the palace wherein thou wast reared a house of prayer.
Having been nurtured in piety by the holy Chad, thy brethren, Wulfhad
and Ruffin, did not oppose their murderers, but, imitating their Saviour,
laid down their lives without resisting; wherefore Stone rejoiceth in
Theotokion: As the precious receptacle
and holy table which held the Bread of life, as the unploughed field and
unquarried mountain do we magnify and glorify thee, O all-pure and most
immaculate Mother of God.
Irmos: O Lord, Fashioner of the vault
of heaven and Creator of the Church: establish me in Thy love, O summit
of desire, confirmation of the faithful, Who alone lovest mankind.
Saint Etheldreda the Abbess, thy royal kinswoman, received thee, O holy
Werburga, into the great Convent of Ely, to serve God with zeal in monastic
obedience and prayer.
The splendour of the grace which abode within thee now shineth forth from
Ely upon all who celebrate thy holy memory with faith, O pious Werburga,
chaste bride of Christ.
Ethelred, thy devout kinsman, seeing thee tending well the flock of Ely,
O wondrous Werburga, placed all the convents in his Kingdom of Mercia
under thine authority.
Theotokion: By thee, O Maiden full
of the grace of God, hath the human race been saved from death and sin,
for thou didst bear in thy pure womb Him Who, abasing Himself, became
Kontakion of the venerable one, in Tone II -
Fixing the watchful eyes of thy soul upon God alone, thou gavest no sleep
to thine eyes nor slumber to thine eyelids, overcoming the carnal passions
by vigilant prayer and fasting, and repelling the assaults of the demonic
hordes by mighty ascetic feats; wherefore, as thou shinest with the splendour
of grace divine, O Werburga our venerable mother, burn away the devil's
toils which entangle us.
Ikos: Great is the renown of Werburga
in Ely; famous is her name in Threckingham; venerated exceedingly is she
in Weedon; and Hanbury was first to boast of her holy shrine. But more
than these hath Chester been glorified, for long did her precious relics
rest in its midst, as in a safe refuge and haven, escaping the predations
of the heathen, like as a pure dove fleeing a host of ravening crows or
an unblemished lamb the jaws of savage wolves. Wherefore, trusting in
her mediation before the Lord, with fervour we call upon the gracious
intercession of our heavenly protectress: With thine abbatial staff, as
with a shepherd's crook, pull the erring lambs forth from the chasm wherein
they have fallen, and lead them back from the wilds of heresy into the
fold of Christ's one true Church, that together we may cry aloud with
one heart, one mouth and one mind: O Werburga our venerable mother, burn
away the devil's toils which entangle us!
Sessional hymn of the venerable one, in Tone
IV: Spec. Mel.: "Having been lifted up ... -
As a pure and undefiled bride of Christ, thou didst fill the lamp of thy
soul with the oil of good works, trimming the wick thereof with the pangs
of ascetic endeavour and setting it aflame with godly zeal; wherefore,
with the wise virgins thou hast entered in triumph the bridal-chamber
of His majesty. O holy Werburga, with boldness lay before Him our importunate
entreaties, that we who honour thy memory with love may be delivered from
, Now & ever
hymn of the feast.
Irmos: I have heard, O Lord, the mystery
of Thy dispensation; I have understood Thy works, and have glorified Thy
Reverently hearkening to Jesus, as thou didst desire to be first in His
love, by humility thou madest thyself as last among all.
Imitating thy Lord and Master, by thy many miracles thou didst draw many
unbelievers to the one true Faith of Christ.
Directing those in thy charge by thine excellent example, O blessed Werburga,
thou didst guide them most surely to God.
Theotokion: Ever do we fall prey to
vainglory, O Theotokos; but as thou gayest birth to the Word of God, yet
deign thou to save us.
Irmos: Enlighten us with Thy commandments,
O Lord, and with Thine upraised arm grant us Thy peace, O Thou Who lovest
Obedient to thy sacred duties, O God-bearer, thou didst found anew the
Convent at Threckingham, naming it for the chief apostles.
Fair Weedon, thy former home, welcomed thy return with joy, O saint, for
therein thou didst likewise establish a house of prayer.
Coursing past thy church in Hanbury, O fount of grace, the currents of
the River Trent lift their voices to thee in sweet harmony.
Theotokion: How can they who deny
thy perpetual virginity and divine motherhood find favour with thy Son,
the God of all, O holy Queen?
Irmos: I pour forth my prayer unto
the Lord, and to Him do I declare my grief; for my soul is full of evil
and m y life hath drawn nigh unto hell, and like Jonah I pray: Lead me
up from corruption, O God!
the assaults of temptations and putting down the uprisings of the passions,
thou wast resplendent with the virtues, O sanctified Werburga, with the
light whereof thou dost illumine us.
Intercede with the Saviour in our behalf, O venerable mother, that, taught
by thee to be humble and not to judge others, we may understand that signs
and wonders are as nought without virtue.
Showing surpassing love and compassion, O thou who art rich in grace divine,
thou dost teach us to cherish the work of God's hands, and to treat with
mercy and kindness all of His creatures.
Theotokion: The Son Who took flesh
of thine immaculate womb, O Virgin, in His divine comeliness surpasseth
all the earthly beauty of the children of men; wherefore, with joyous
hymns of praise we do thee honour.
Kontakion & Ikos of the feast.
In the furnace the Hebrew children boldly trod the flame underfoot and
transformed the fire into dew, crying out: Blessed art Thou, O Lord God,
The clamorous gaggle of wild geese, which were voraciously devouring thy
crops, O saint of God, thou didst swiftly render submissive to thy holy
As thou didst miraculously confine the wild geese to a pen, O venerable
mother, so lead all of us, in whom the wild passions rage, into the peaceful
fold of the Saviour.
Kindly admonishing the wicked servant who retained a wild goose for himself,
thou didst unite it to its flock, crying: "Praise ye the Lord above
all, O ye wingèd birds!"
Theotokion: Ever afflicted by the
multitude of mine evil deeds, I beseech thee to heal and cure me, O Lady
Theotokos, that I may cry: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord God, forever!"
Trampling down the fire and flame in the furnace, the divinely eloquent
youths did chant: Bless the Lord, O ye works of the Lord!
moved a wicked man to smite the holy Alnot, thy shepherd, O saint; but
with pity thou didst implore him to desist.
In distress of soul thou didst cast thyself down before the malefactor,
crying out: "For the love of God, spare this innocent man!"
Thine entreaties strangely turned the evil-doer's blows against his own
body, O holy one; wherefore, he cried out to thee for mercy.
Theotokion: Ye Christians, let us
magnify the Virgin with faith, for without corruption she gave birth unto
Him Who saveth from corruption.
Heaven was stricken with awe, and the ends of the earth were amazed, that
God hath appeared in the flesh, and that thy womb became more spacious
than the heavens. Wherefore, the ranks of men and angels magnify thee
as the Theotokos.
Offering praises to our glorious mother Werburga, let us celebrate her
holy feast with great devotion, rendering honour to Christ the Lord, Who
at His dread throne accepteth her ardent pleas in behalf of us who lovingly
cherish her memory.
Now chant we thy praises before God, O Werburga our protectress; for,
lacking in any virtue, we beseech thee to intercede with the Most High
in our behalf, that, hearkening to thy supplications, He grant us forgiveness
of all our sins.
Unto thee, O Werburga, hath Christ bestowed a crown of splendour, adorned
with thy virtues as with most brilliant gems; wherefore, as thou now dwellest
with Him in the mansions on high, beseech Him to vouchsafe that we may
abide with thee.
Theotokion: Save me, O Thou Who wast born
of the Virgin, and hast preserved her incorrupt since Thy birth; and when
Thou wilt sit to judge all mankind, O Thou Who alone art without sin,
take pity and spare us, overlooking our many sins and transgressions.
Exapostilarion of the venerable one: Spec. Mel.:
"Hearken, ye women ..." -
Hearken, ye Christian people, and let us honour the pious and God-pleasing
Werburga; for, spurning her royal dignity and rank as vanity, she willingly
made herself as one of low estate, following the peerless example of Christ
Jesus our Saviour, the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Glory ... , Now & ever ... : Exapostilarion
of the feast. Aposticha of the feast; and Glory ... : Idiomelon, in Tone
Yielding perforce to the will of God and the desire of Werburga, His favoured
one, Threckingham surrendered her holy body, which was born in triumph
to Hanbury and there laid to rest in the ground; but so great was the
multitude of wonders wrought at her grave, where the infirm, the leprous
and the demonised received healing, that her precious relics were recovered
from the earth, that like a candle taken from beneath a bushel, they might
shine forth with spiritual splendour. And - O the wonder! - they were
found to be untouched by decay, in eloquent witness to the universal resurrection.
But in latter times her sanctified remains were removed from her shrine
and taken away by the blasphemous hands of the ungodly. Yet trusting still
in her heavenly intercession, those who honour her holy memory continue
to receive health of body and soul from God, for she never ceaseth to
mediate for us before the All-holy Trinity.
Now & ever ... , of the feast.
the Beatitudes, 6 troparia from the appointed ode of the festal canon.
Prokimenon of the feast; and this prokimenon of the venerable one, in
Tone IV -
Wondrous is God in His saints, the God of Israel.
Epistle to the Galatians, § 208 [Gal. 3:23-29]
Brethren: Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto
the faith which should afterward be revealed. Wherefore the law was our
schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For
ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of
you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither
Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor
female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's then
are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Alleluia of the feast; and that of the venerable
one, in Tone I -
Stichos: With patience I waited patiently
for the Lord, and He was attentive unto me, and He hearkened unto my supplication.
Gospel according to Matthew, § 104 [Mt. 25: 1-13]
The Lord spake this parable: "The kingdom of heaven be likened unto
ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish
took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in
their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all
slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made: 'Behold, the
bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.' Then all those virgins arose,
and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise: 'Give us
of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.' But the wise answered, saying:
'Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to
those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the
bridegroom came; and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage:
and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying:
'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But he answered and said: 'Verily I say unto
you, I know you not.' Watch therefore; for ye know neither the day nor
the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
Communion Verse of the feast, amid that of the
venerable one -
In everlasting remembrance shall the righteous be; he shall not be afraid
of evil tidings.