Ta Egkomia – The Lamentations Before the Holy Sepulchre

Ta Egkomia

The Lamentations Before the Holy Sepulchre

English Translation by N. Takis
Dedicated to His Eminence, Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh


1. In a grave they laid Thee, yet, O Christ Thou art Life,
and the armies of the angels beheld amazed,
giving glory that Thou chose to condescend.

2. How, O Life, dost Thou die? How dost Thou dwell entombed,
Who hast slashed through all the bonds in the realm of death,
and hast raised the dead in Hades from their graves?

3. We, O Lord, exalt Thee, O Christ Jesus, our King,
and we venerate Thy Passion and burial
through which Thou hast brought redemption from our sins.

4. Thou hast set the measures of the earth, yet this day
in a narrow tomb dost dwell, Jesus, King of all,
Who hast raised those who were dead up from their tombs.

5. O mine own Christ Jesus, Thou art King of the world.
Why hast Thou come down to Hades to seek the dead?
Is it not to set the race of mortals free?

6. He Who is the Master of creation appears
as a corpse and lies entombed in a fresh-hewn grave,
though He emptied every gravesite of its dead.

7. In a grave they laid Thee, yet, O Christ, Thou art Life.
By Thy death hast Thou abolished the realm of death
and upon the world hast poured down streams of Life.

8. Fairer in His beauty than all creatures on earth,
He is seen now lying lifeless, his beauty gone,
yet all beauty in creation springs from Him.

9. O mine own sweet Jesus, Saving Light of the world,
can the darkness of the grave hide Thy Light within?
Neither thought nor word can say what Thou hast borne.

10. Neither Nature’s reason, nor the angels, O Christ,
grasp the mystery enfolding Thy burial,
beyond all our understanding and all words.

11. I revere Thy passion, Thine entombment I praise,
and I magnify Thy might, Loving Friend of man;
they have ransomed me from passions that corrupt.

12. When Thy mother saw Thee brought to slaughter, O Lamb,
she was stabbed with painful torment; her anguished sobs
called the flock to join her bitter cries of grief.

13. “Woe is me!” the Virgin mourned through heart-breaking sobs.
“Thou art, Jesus, my most precious, beloved Son!
Gone is my light, and the Light of all the world!”

14. “God and Word eternal, O my Gladness and Joy!
How shall I endure Thy three days inside the tomb
when my heart is breaking with a mother’s grief?”

15. “Who will give me water, and a fountain of tears,”
cried the Virgin Bride of God in her deep despair,
“that in grief for my sweet Jesus I might weep.”
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

16. We will sing Thy praises, Word and God of all things,
with Thy Father and Thy Holy Spirit Thou art praised,
and we glorify Thy burial divine.
Both now and forever and unto the ages of ages. Amin.

17. Thou art known as blessed, Theotokos, most pure.
With our faithful hearts we honour the burial
suffered three days by Thy Son, Who is our God.

18. In a grave they laid Thee, yet, O Christ Thou art Life,
and the armies of the angels beheld amazed,
giving glory that Thou chose to condescend.

* * *

(This is the first of the three stases of this burial hymn of the Church of the East. I attach below the entire hymn, including the English text, the transliteration, and the English translation.)

Ta Egkomia – The Lamentations before the Holy Sepulchre



Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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