Hymns of the Eastern Church, by J.M. Neale, , at sacred-texts.com
by Theodore of the Studium
Apocreos is our Sexagesima, and is so called, because meat is not eaten beyond it. The Synaxarion (which will explain the following poem) begins thus:
"On this day, we commemorate the second and impartial Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Stichos. When He, the Judge of all things, sits to doom,
Oh grant that I may hear his joyful Come!'
This commemoration the most Divine Fathers set after the two parables" (i.e., the Gospels of
the two preceding Sundays, The Pharisee and Publican, and the Prodigal Son) "lest any one, learning from them the mercy of God, should live carelessly, and say, 'God is merciful, and whenever I wish to relinquish sin, it will be in my power to accomplish my purpose.' They therefore here commemorated that fearful day, that, by the consideration of death, and the expectation of the dreadful things that shall hereafter be, they might terrify men of negligent life, and bring them back again to virtue, and might teach them not simply to put confidence in God's mercy, considered by itself, but to remember also that the Judge is just, and will render to every man according to his works."
As the Eastern Church has no such season as Advent, this commemoration becomes more peculiarly appropriate. The Canon that follows is unfortunate in provoking a comparison with the unapproachable
majesty of the Dies Iræ. Yet during the four hundred years by which it anticipated that Sequence, it was undoubtedly the grandest Judgment-hymn of the Church. Its faults are those of most of the class: it eddies round and round the subject, without making way,—its different portions have no very close connexion with each other,—and its length is accompanied by considerable tautology. Yet, in spite of these defects, it is impossible to deny that the great common-places of Death and Judgment are very nobly set forth in this poem. On account of its length, I give the first three and last Odes only.