Orthodox Christians employ several elements in their Lenten worship. One of them is the Great Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. This prayer was written in the seventh century. In the hymn, St. Andrew contemplates the great history of salvation and applies its various images to the state of his sinful soul. This Canon is sung and read twice during Lent. Of it Alexander Schmemann says, “It is a real introduction to Lent, it sets its tone and spirit, it gives us–from the very beginning–the true dimension of repentance”.
How shall I begin to deplore the deeds of my miserable life?
What beginning shall I make, O Christ, to this lament?
But since Thou art compassionate, grant me remission of my trespasses.
Like as the potter gives life to his clay,
Thou hast bestowed upon me
Flesh and bones, breath and life;
Today, O my Creator, my Redeemer and My Judge,
Receive me a penitent …
I have lost my first made beauty and dignity
And now I lie naked and covered with shame …