John 11:1–53—Raising of Lazarus

Romanos the Melodist (ca. 485–85) was a Byzantine liturgical poet associated with the Orthodox Church in Syria. He is known for having composed kontakia, chanted sermons presented in verse with refrains for congregational participation. Each kontakion consists of a prelude and thirteen to twenty-four metrically identical stanzas, each of which concludes with the same refrain.

Here is the first verse from Romanos’s kontakion on the raising of Lazarus. The verses would have been sung from the pulpit, accompanied by music. The italicized line would have been sung by a choir or, probably, the entire congregation. The story on which this kontakion is based may be found in John 11:1–53.

O Christ, Thou who knowest all things,

Thou hast asked to learn where the tomb of Lazarus is,

And arriving there, Thou hast raised him up on the fourth day,

O All-powerful One,

Taking pity, Merciful One, on

The tears of Mary and Martha.