Gregory Narek - Prayers - Prayer 93
A Prayer of Instruction on the Holy Chrism,
the light-giving oil of consecration
A Holy, awe-inspiring name, too sublime to utter,
ever desired object of our yearning,
praised without end by the glorious seraphim,1
who sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy,”
to you who dwell in the Holy of Holies,
who are filled with bountiful goodness,
you pour forth generously and without end,
awesome and incomprehensible.
You are all and are in all.2
With these words, as my contract of hope,
may I enter into a covenant with you, Almighty?
Yes, amen, alleluia!3
venerated king of the universe,
God of all, creator of beings and sovereign Lord,
sole cause of all consequences,4
forever adored, Savior and Christ, the anointed Messiah.
B The meaning of this priceless treasure and
is given to us by your very name,
Jesus Christ heavenly king,
whom the immortal and sublime beings,
with mouths of light and breath of fire,
serve with trembling,
bowing to you on bended knee in thanksgiving,
gladly without mental reservations,5
Creator of all beings visible and invisible.6
You who are and were totally perfect and
lacking nothing, took our nature truly and in its entirety,7
in order to complete it with your perfection.
O blessed and praised Lord,
forever proclaimed for the incomprehensible
sacrifice you made for our salvation,
to you, glory and praise for your goodness,
you, who are exalted beyond words,
sublime and awe-inspiring.
You are the source of grace given through anointing,
a great mystery that miraculously adorns us,8
for through it your light was revealed to us,9
O incomprehensible ray,
sun shining fairly on all,11
star that divides the day in two,12
lamp unto our feet and light upon the path,13
thanks to you we see the meaning of this sacrament
and compose this prayer,
celebrating with angelic singing and jubilation,
with a pure spirit,
venerating with incense fit for our Savior
your generous allotment of gifts, most wise Lord,
through the oil of gladness and spotless belief.14
For the first created man, my forefather, who,
scarcely created, tragically lost the greatest gift,
the breath of eternal life,15
and forever withering in the hands of sin,
became a captive of death.16
He was tied into an undoable knot,
into deadly decadence,
and fell because of the tree of knowledge,
unable to stand, stumbling toward destruction,
expelled from the light,
he was condemned to the darkness of this world.17
But you, compassionate Lord,
always knew your creature
better than he knew himself.
In pursuit of the divine knowledge he could not have,
he lost the innocence he had,
thereby becoming unable to look upon
your sublimity which dwells in unapproachable light,18
O infinite God.
For this reason you did not reveal yourself
in an ever radiant light that does not wane,
but only as an aid against the terrors of the night,
when the feet stumble.
You gave the oil, and in this oil you placed a wick,
which exemplifies your union, without imperfection, with our condition,
formed and woven with your love of mankind,
so that we, who find ourselves banished, in the
shadow of death,
because of the first transgressions against the tree,19
through the fruit of the tree akin to it,20
might be enlightened with the flame of faith
and restored to that former blessed state.
And also by being spread upon the tree of death
you spread us upon it as well,
and thanks to this great mystery21
united us with the tree of life.
C Now, just as the day is incomplete without night,
so the household is incomplete without the staple oil.
For as ordinary, unconsecrated oil illumines the sight of the physical eyes,
so the oil sanctified and chosen by the mystery of your breath of grace
gives luster to our invisible souls in a glorious,
uniting us with you, Lord who cannot be seen.
For as we believe, that by the washing of the body
in the glow of holy baptismal font
our souls are cleansed,
so when anointed with chrism, that oil of hope,
we believe, without the least doubt,
that we receive through it the Holy Spirit.
And since by your blessed commandment, Lord,
you arranged in advance the pardoning of
those afflicted with sin,
and for those who do not believe in this pardon,22
you performed before their eyes the miracle
of healing as evidence for doubters.
Similarly, this oil of salvation, sanctified with light,
is poured on us to anoint our outer temple,
and enters us in secret and unseen,
whereby the inner man is born again.
D This physical thing is a superb analogy for you,
for the wise maidens who bore the oil
received the benefit of your mercy,23
and in praise you defined yourself as merciful, saying:
“I am merciful, said the Lord.” 24
As your name is synonymous with love, O God,25
so in part your mercy and love are manifested
by coming down to be reimprinted upon our nature
according to the divine plan of salvation.
The sacrificial fat is a fitting analogy for a great
and sublime mystery,26
for as the fat is to the animal,
so the oil is to the plant – its heavy, earthen part.
And as you commanded in the Old Law
that this part of the animal should not be eaten,
but should be offered as a sacrifice to you, O Creator,27
so under the New Testament,
this oil is a potent offering ceremonially given
for your favor, fitting only for you Lord,
the God who is,
as the true travel-mate of my soul,
to be kept and pledged to you, Creator.
For neither the lifeblood nor the savor of the burning
fat,28 which are the symbols of the soul and strength,
are burnt to ashes with the meat of sacrifice,
but are the portion offered before your throne
in the heavenly kingdom, O Lord,
so this light-giving substance
may always burn bright and inextinguishable.
E The first-born male could not preside as a judge
unless he was anointed,
nor could the clergy set foot in the Holy of Holies,
unless he were ordained and consecrated with oil29
Jacob poured oil upon the stone on which he slept,30
thus consecrating the distant archetype of
the altar of God.
This pouring out moreover symbolized your descent
on that splendid ladder, O God exalted beyond words,
to take me up on my heavenly journey.
And for this reason, he erected and anointed a monument
to remind later generations.
The splendor of Aaron’s priesthood
was fulfilled by anointing him
according to your commandment, great God31
In the words of the Psalmist,32
when oil poured down over his head and beard,
he was miraculously transformed,
regaining the original glory of Adam,
and receiving your life-giving Holy Grace through union with our nature.
The kings of this world would have no legitimacy,
as the image of your creatorship on earth,
were it not for their consecration with a horn
filled with oil,33 and the placing of the crowns upon their
heads in your name, Christ.
And how could I forget the first among these sublime
figures, Melchisedek, the servant of your greatness and
your image beyond understanding?
Is it possible that Melchisedek
the symbol of your awesome truth,
on the Mount of Olives,34
where later your feet, God incarnate, walked,
can it be possible he was not anointed by the fruits of this
place by the angels on high?.35
Thus he was invested by you
to guard the tomb of our forefather Adam36
in princely episcopal honor,
until you appeared, Lord,
the true priest fully revealed,
the regeneration and regenerator of Adam.
F Since yours is grace,
and to you is befitting thanksgiving,
O blessed Son of God,
may you yourself place the seal of your blessed image
upon these prayers, imbued with the oil of humble love,
the incense of adoration
and the myrrh of repentance
that they may bring glory for you
and healing for me, a wretched sinner.
Apply, Lord Jesus, this oil of light to my invisible sores,37
and on the cauterized parts of these deadly wounds,
put a drop of the blessed oil of your salvation
with the ever sweet wine of your love,
bound by you with the protective bandages of your care,
so that this testament, my explanatory discourse in prayer,
might be endowed with fitting dignity,
under the wings of your Holy Spirit.
Your Spirit, O exalted God, came upon David,
only after the day he was consecrated and anointed.38
Saul became a different man and joined the
band of prophets, when the anointing oil
descended upon his head.39
The Assyrian Empire was conquered and taken captive
by the anointed and joined to the house of Israel.40
Certain illustrious rulers, great and prominent
among the uncouth and barbarous nations,
upon whom was sprinkled the dew of this
life-giving oil, were caught as if in a trap,
joining your family in service to you, great God.41
The heavenly word, spoken through the prophets,
calling Cyrus, chosen of God,
also honored him by referring to him as
“the Anointed One.”42
The Psalmist esteemed the title, “anointed”
greater than that of “prophet,” first stating the
prohibition, “Do not approach the anointed.”
and then adding, “and do not harm the prophets.”43
The divine mission entrusted to Elijah on Mount Horeb,
which marked the end of the pagan cult of Baal,
was the anointing Jehu and Hazael.44
Your name, O bridegroom, the Christ,
“the oil poured out,”45
is witnessed long ago by the inspired
words of the sage.
In this way, the Spirit, the eternal image and sign of God,
might imprint your great image on this small drop of oil
that we may be united with you, receiving your grace.
G Why do I belabor this point
with images and farfetched analogies
in long, complicated, poetic prayers to you,
O exalted and awesome Lord
O Lord and giver of life,
O creator of heaven and earth?
You began to preach the good news of your kingdom,46
only after you were anointed and proclaimed by
John the Baptist as the Anointed One and “Lamb of God,
who takes away the sins of the world.”47
Although the Holy Spirit was always in you with its
complete essence, and your perfect union of divinity
with humanity was an anointing in itself,
the word, anointed, when applied to the saints
describes the miraculous grace acting upon them,
and through this word you prepare the servile
flesh of Adam to be eternally ennobled.
Opening the book of the prophet Isaiah,
you read about yourself, O incarnate divinity,
and in fulfillment of the words of your servants, O Lord,
revealed yourself as the anointed,
through the prophetic words:
“the Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me.”48
Then you closed the book,
thereby showing the great difference in degree
between these two anointings, ours and yours,
and defined the great distance between them:
ours is a bit of luster from a drop of grace,
and yours is the revelation of your divine essence
shared equally with your Father and your Holy Spirit.
When you first made your incarnation known
at your birth, the angels in high praise proclaimed you
the Anointed One by which name you became known to all the creatures of earth.49
The Prophet foretold the descent
of your Father’s voice from the heavens
at the River Jordan and on the chosen Mount Tabor,50
saying “He proclaims among the people his
And the Psalmist also foretold your glory, Almighty,
and of the honor bestowed by consecrating the human
nature you have assumed, “God, your God has anointed
you with the oil of gladness.”52
H “The breath of our face,” Lord Christ,53
your name is truly, “the Anointed One,”
for in your goodness, you gave our souls
the breath of life54 and light of your countenance.55
The wise words of one favored by God56
proclaimed your love for mankind,
while telling of a certain prophet:57
“He shall testify before the Lord and his anointed,”58
and confirmed the good news, saying:59
“I have not taken so much as a pair of sandals
from any man.”60
In praise of Christ’s bride, the holy church,
the Song of Songs, from beginning to end,
explains the divine mystery,
comparing incarnation to spiced wine61
and virtue to myrrh mixed with choice oil62
and perfect morals to a sweet perfume of
myrrh and incense mixed with delicious powders.63
When Daniel described in words that seemed
beyond human expression your life-giving death,
Christ King of heaven, he predicted “the anointed one
will be killed in sixty-nine weeks,”
calling you the anointed leader.64
The lamp stand of Zechariah, son of Berechiah
and grandson of Iddo,65
through its ingenious system of oil supply
to the seven lamps, keeping them constantly lit,
symbolizes the anointing and salvation
poured from your bounty upon us.
And according to the Old Law of prophecy,
cereal offerings of round loafs of unleaven bread
of fine flour mixed with the oil66
and peace offering of the anointed calf,67
the portion called the Lord’s, and
purification sacrifice performed with two birds,
the living one dipped in the blood of the other,68
as if with anointing oil,
all were performed at your altar in the temple.
All these are manifestations of the mystery,
all are signs relating to you,
only begotten Son, blessed of great God.
You alone are anointed in a new and marvelous way,
in and through yourself, with your whole essence,
perfectly and lacking absolutely nothing.
I But does it make sense to multiply examples of
this great, inexplicable mystery?
To understand, we must taste you, sweet Lord,69
and learn through you
the true meaning of the oil
for what is it, if not
the gladness praised by the Psalmist70
that you grant by curing the grief
of the tree of our transgression?
What is it, if not the rich, fullness of heart,
by which you make us forget the food of death?
What, if not the anointing, that transforms our ashen
wretchedness into the brightness of perpetual good
cheer,71 that through the salvation of your name,
O Spirit of Might, we might become the
children of God? 72
What, if not the cure that is the fervent desire of the
prophet’s heart, that is, to be anointed in his old age
with rich oil73 that he might be anointed upon
his head with oil74
by which with the help of your protecting hand,
we are saved from the tragedy of the fall,75
which brings death.
What, if not the thanks
expressed for the lamp76
that shed light on the fog of sin and the darkness
of idolatry, your union in my nature to
become in me, Emmanuel?77
What, if not the consolation prophesied by the prophet
of gladdening blessings as a sign saying:
“They will be anointed with oil free of impurities.”78
Or when the wiseman in the name of bride, says to the
maids of honor, “Sustain me with oil,
shower me in apples,” 79
and “Keep me in the embrace of the
sweet balsam orchard,” 80
referring to that fine substance, filled with your Spirit,
whose light enables us to see
your finer, higher, ungraspable element, praised Lord.
And now, our only provider and
cause of all good things,
listen with compassion, Lord,
to the supplications I call to you,
with my arms lifted up in prayer,
bolstered from within,
with the sighs of my heart,
with the cries of my tongue and lips.
Expressing thanks through these offerings,
I offer up my gratitude to you,
almighty, awesome, exalted, incomprehensible,
forever embraced in unending love,
constantly praised with the chant,
Holy, Holy, only and always Holy,81
Out of your great goodness,
grant me yet more help,
for I am completely lost.
Give me hope of sweetness,
though I am not worthy of the least drop of your light,
so that I might understand through you, good Lord,
the subtle secret of this mystery.
and mix thanks with my prayer,
saying with David,
“We have received your mercy, Lord,” 82
and “your hidden and invisible secrets,
you have revealed through your wisdom.”83
J And now, majesty to you, God almighty,
whose generosity never ceases,
whose compassion streams in all directions,
who is always ready in healing,
because you merged and mixed
your splendid miracles, awe-inspiring beyond telling,
into such a common and familiar material.
For that force which the heavens in their height,
and the earth in its breadth,
and the abyss in its depth,
and the seas in their multitude
could not hold, you fit in this small drop of oil,
a mere speck, compared with your immensity,
truly and not just in appearance,
so that when it performs a new miracle,
unrelated to its nature,
it does not appear to be some kind of
illusion to onlookers.
Instead it heals the doubting souls
rather than wounding them.
Just as out of the flour of wheat,
blessed Son of God, you made your body,
in reality and not in semblance,
and out of the wine of the grape
the blood of your side,
and out of the bountiful water,
the womb of spiritual birth,
so you also bestowed on us, as you did upon
your disciples, the immortal breath of your Holy Spirit84
through and in this oil.
For the people who walked in darkness85
you brought the dawn through your incarnation,
and through your labors you gave birth to new life.
You placed a seal upon them
that cannot be effaced even by idolatry,
just as no one can follow your example
to further consecrate the wood of the cross, Lord.
For by this mark of grace
you brought light to the world,
manifesting yourself in your perfect fullness,
in such a way, that the poor shall not want
and the rich shall not take on airs,
for like the air is distributed
and the sunlight is spread
and the stream waters flow
equally to all, just as the manna was equally
distributed to all people on earth alike,86
with more for the poor than the rich and powerful.
K The deep mystery of this substance is
marvelously explained by its very nature,
for it does not shift around constantly
as if it cannot make up its mind,87
nor does it steal away from its place of rest,88
nor can it be removed by the strongest soap,
nor is it washed away by any other kind of liquid.
And just as color is a necessary and permanent attribute
of physical existence,
because when there is color, the body exists,
and when there is no color, the body seems not to exist,
in the same way, by virtue of its natural powers,
this oil takes hold and does not let go,
and through it you were united and joined with us,
Lord Jesus Christ,
joining the inner substance with its outward form.
You rendered visible
that which was invisible for the eyes
and incomprehensible for the desires of our hearts,
by providing us this oil,
made by pressing and squeezing fruits of the earth.
Moreover, you did not command that this anointing oil
be prepared by mixing together all manner of flowers
into a strange concoction,
in accordance with the old and benighted law.89
Instead, turning your name into reality,
you mixed yourself into this pure oil,
making it radiant with heavenly light.
And although the savors of your sweetness are
beyond expression and cannot be compared to anything,
although you have variously been referred to as
the flowers of the field or the lilies-of-the-valley,90
exquisite nard or sandalwood mixed with aloe,91
the scent of saffron, the blossoms of the vine or
a fine wine, you, Lord beyond understanding,
deemed it fitting
that your name be glorified simply as “oil poured out,” 92
for you are the consummation of all things
and lacking in nothing.
Thus, not by the mixing of opposing elements,
which at once symbolize a divided will,
but rather in confirmation of our love,
you revel in divine joy,
for our sake, you manifest yourself in all your splendor,
according to our needs,
as the light of goodness
or as a warming fire,
or as the fervor of love,
devoid of any hard-hearted coldness,
in ways to make understandable to our minds
that this drop of oil can really unite us with God.
With Solomon the anointed and adopted of God,
I sing with the mouth of a bride, to you heavenly
bridegroom, a song of praise and thanksgiving,
yearning with the fervent desire of my heart
for your sweet scent, more than for any incense.
In the inspired words of the wiseman93 and the
theological evangelist,94 let us hasten in your footsteps
and the trace of your scent.95
Like one who has the words of eternal life,96
having washed my face with the water of life,97
which is more exalted than the waters above the
heavenly firmament,98 and having anointed my head
with the heavenly oil of incorruptibility,99
I come before you with joy, cheerfully and
L This venerated and blessed oil,
would not be an ointment for the chamber of my brain,
or do the hair on my head any good,
were it not sealed with the sign of your
life-giving cross, Lord.
This miraculous oil brings the blessing of the Light to
the Jew and the Gentile,
the Indian and the barbarian,
the Scythian and the Greek,
the cruel savage and the fearsome dog-headed giants,
the freeborn master and the slave by birth,100
making them Christians,
baptizing them in your name,
dedicating them to your Holy Spirit, and
adopting them as the true sons of your Heavenly Father.
See how varied its powers,
first in the physical and then in inner strength.
For as a wooden vessel easily cracks unless it is
rubbed with oil
and becomes useless and worthless,
so a person, if not anointed, is easily led astray,
and separated from you, and
This oil is your finger, O Jesus,102
with which you perform miracles,
which like unscratchable, impenetrable armor,
covers us with an ever protective cloak,
from dark and foreign marauders.
For one pure as wool, dipped in this oil,103
can neither be stained with blood,
nor fade into somber colors.
Spiritually, this oil enters
and penetrates the very substance of our being.
And if the curse of the Psalmist
could soak the bones of the evildoer like oil,104
how much more will your Spirit
through this oil of light,
heal and make whole
our invisible inner beings,
from our windpipes
to our toes,
any disturbing thought of death.
For your awesome, life-giving power, Lord Christ,
is mixed in this oil and truly dwells in it.
M Oil, this magnificent substance applied by wrestlers
to their naked bodies, as an enhancement
during tournaments, making it difficult for their
opponents to take hold of them,
sets demons and diseases to flight.
For, in the words Ezekiel addressed to the
spiritual Pharaoh,105 in the form of a satirical allegory:
“On the day you were created,
I placed you with an anointed guardian cherub
amidst the fiery stones of the holy mountain of God.”
O blessed and awesome universal help,
who is always beyond words and beyond understanding,
who is constantly venerated through the gospel of life
as the new-born, anointed one from the city of David,106
and constantly sought as in the question of the
“Are you the Christ, son of the blessed?” 107
and in the blessed proclamation by Peter,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,”108
and by your suspicious interrogators,
“If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”109
And because of your teachings,
we believe you to be the Christ,
teacher and Lord of all.
And even before this,
Herod directly asked for you by name, O Christ,110
and you yourself answered, “How is it written
that the anointed of God, the Son without beginning,
the one David calls Lord, could be his son in time?”111
And we understand from this as a fitting interpretation,
that the consummation of this mystic calling is
realized in us,who have the honor of being called Christians.112
N The awesome word “anointing,”
evokes at once trepidation, veneration and
rich adoration, that no earth-dweller dares be called God,
but only godly.
Likewise, no human being has been called the Christ,
but only Christian.
Not even the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist,113
who by baptizing with water
prepared the way for the baptism with the spirit,
could claim this name,114
for he said, “I am not the Christ, but was sent
In the words of the evangelist Mark,
the disciples set out in pairs,116
and as if acting with the genuine hand of God
they would anoint with oil
and without invoking any other human devices,
they would heal people.
For as darkness yields to the light,
and ailments to health
and night to day
and death to life,
so by virtue of this substance, given by the Lord,
all evil works are rejected, checked, and
And just as for flies, spiders and insects that
crawl into the ears,
the oil is a deadly poison that kills them,
so this oil strengthened with the abundant
blessings of grace,
wards off demons, dissolves the mortgage of evil and
tears up the death sentence.
The baptismal font is not complete
unless accompanied by anointing.
To the first man left mortally wounded by brigands,
this salve of salvation was applied,117
and it also served honorably
as ointment for the incurable wounds of
Jacob and Israel.118
David wanted this oil
as a fruitful olive tree in the house of the Lord,
dwelling there always in trust,119
predicting abandonment of circumcision
and adoption of the grace of baptism.
But how can I discourse
convinced that I understand this completely,
especially regarding holiness,
when even the angels cannot explain it in words?
How indeed could I hope to describe its true essence?
O Glory to you always and in all things,
immortal king, in the praise I now sing,
which you created and perfected through me,
good, caring, merciful and patient,
wealthy and abundant, Lord, triumphant over all.
The idea of anointing sketched by our forefathers,
you made a reality in the fullness of time.
Yu are light in your very nature120
and the ever-shining sun,
and you called your disciples the light of the world,121
for through them you filled the creatures of all the earth
with rays of blissful grace.
You accepted the anointing of your feet with the
oil of sweetness122
as a symbol that our prayers are acceptable to you.
And by the anointing of your head by a
woman of ill-repute,123
you showed your compassionate love for us.
And with such great pleasure, O infinite Lord,
did you inhale the aroma of the oil,
that you ordered as an inviolable commandment
that wherever the gospel is preached
throughout the world
that seemingly insignificant act of anointing
should be remembered,124
to the amazement of your listeners
and raising the hopes of future generations.
“You have been anointed by the Holy One,”
said that most blessed of your disciples,
explaining the mystery poured out upon us
from your overflowing bounty, O source of life.
This drop of blessing from you who are praised on high,
which endlessly innoculates us,
bears a close, fitting and lasting resemblance
to you who are light and to your Holy Spirit.
It is called light,
because it is like the first element of creation,125
and the very symbol of you, our Creator,
by which you drive away the gloomy
darkness of evil.
It is called fire,
because in every element of creation
there is distributed in some measure, your essence,
hidden and manifest, silent and known,
that unless provoked by the devilish adversary,
it will not flare up by itself.
It is also called anointing,
because through it we are adopted
into your majesty
and are offered to your Father as his inheritance126
and marked indelibly with your mercy by this oil, like you, so we might shine brightly in the next life.
It is also called spirit,
because we are cleansed of the calamities of deceit,
cunningly instigated by that troublemaker Satan,
so we might worship our heavenly Father
renewed in soul and with truth,127
nailed to you with faith and hope,
P In truth, eternally and in reality,
this oil filled with light is
a venerable proof of your love, God on high.
This is why Paul himself deemed it fitting
to say directly in his teaching on grace and thanksgiving,
“He who establishes us with you in Christ and has
anointed us is God, who has also sealed us and given
us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee,”128
and also, “Do not,” he said, “grieve the
Holy Spirit of God,
by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”129
“Anointed” is a title honorable and invincible
in the Old Testament, yet more so in the New.
In the words of the Psalm of David,
that predict faithfully the mystery of your providential
suffering, Lord, “The rulers of the people band together against the Lord and his anointed.”130
A great prophecy that imprinted upon the
Jewish throngs the unredeemable sin of
spilling your blood, caused by audacity toward you,
Lord, “Who can put forth his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?”131
For although Saul was killed by one of his own,132
still they were not rejected in shame
or subject to the insults of foreign nations,
until they were implicated in the spilling of
your blood, Lord.
And these pleas in the Psalms are a great pledge,
reminding us of the inheritance of future generations:
“For the sake of your beloved servant David,
you do not turn away the face of your anointed one,”133
and again, “Look upon the face of your anointed”134
and “show steadfast love for your anointed.”135
Q This light-filled fluid, O Christ,
is the venerated gift of your hand,
for out of all riches in your kingdom,
the Prophet deemed nothing higher, Lord,
than that you would say,
“I have found David, my servant,
and with my holy oil I have anointed him.”136
Thus, by this instructive example,
embracing your anointing with the light, our
Lord Jesus Christ,
you are known to us, unchanging and eternal.137
You are all and in all, the only king of kings,
and the true anointed one among the anointed,
glorified and worshiped yesterday and today.138
For as the wick, soaked in oil, does not give light
until lit with a flame,
so we, who are anointed with the light,
do not glow until we are lit like torches in heaven.
This is a clear explanation of its nature,
transmitted from the ancients till today,
painted in marvelously brilliant colors
through these felicitous analogies.
R Now, the cause of these sublime, life-giving,
characteristic of you, Creator,
without which one cannot be considered a Christian,
or named a Nazarite,139
or be remembered as a son of Judah,
or raise a battle cry in the name of the Lord of Jacob,140
is this substance, the oil of blessings,
in which your Holy Trinity is mixed and joined:
the ray of grace, the splendor of our forehead,
the image of our face, the comeliness of our traits,
the light of our eyes, the sign of the cross on our pupils,
the tenderness of our cheeks, the decoration of
the guardian of our lips, the attendant of our faith,
the guide of our behavior, the tie that binds,
the strength of souls, the fortitude of resistance,
the barrier to spells, the destroyer of talismans,
the repeller of wizards, the confounder of sorcerers,
the exposer of heretics, the vanquisher of demons,
the dispeller of pain, the fulfiller of the baptized,
the fervent desire of converts, the incomprehensible
mystery of outsiders,
the bewilderment of pagans,141
the envy of non-believers,142
the unmasker of secrets, the honor of the humble,
the glory of slaves, the adornment of women,
the growth of children, the joy of the aged,
the consecrator of the ordained, the counsel of the pure,
the crown of kings, the grandeur of monarchs,
the excellence of emperors.
For as a sealed container indicates the value of
so the sublimity of your grace sealed in us
by being anointed in your name, God and
Lord Jesus Christ,
is beautifully symbolized by anointing.
And the name of this substance, muron,
according to the inspired wisemen,
originated with the Egyptians and
expresses its very essence
as an image of an awe-inspiring mystery.
S For this blessed muron,
which the prophet foreshadowed,
referring in his prayer to the light of his eyes, 143
according to its etymology is derived from homeron, 144
which means mother for me,
that is to say, that which strongly attracts our
nature to itself,
and solidifies through a wonderful transformation,
the fluid water of the font of light,
and like the ingredient that curdles milk into yogurt,
so it stabilizes my untame ravings and
the perpetually flowing stream of my consciousness.
According to another etymology,
the word muron means ‘somber,’
that is, ‘obscure,’
since it refers to something dark, hidden or unseen.145
And this name is not some baseless metaphor,
since this word truly refers to something
that symbolizes a secret deeper than the holy of holies.
For muron does not wash away dirt like water,
or bolster the heart like bread.
Instead in a fittingly new way, with divine providence,
it imprints the Lord on our senses,
nevertheless remaining exalted beyond our
comprehension, thus its name is beyond our understanding.
For as God truly dwells in light that
cannot be approached,146
with your boundless glory in its infinity,
you covered yourself in impenetrable cloud147
externally sealed from our faculties.
In the same way, the flow of light
from the eloquent tongues of some,
in appropriate poetic composition is called obscure,
because worldly natures cannot understand
The holy chrism richly and properly
commands both these divine names,
for the very name chrism resembles the name of our
exalted Lord, Christ, doubly glorifying this oil,
consecrated with fine and fragrant incense.
For “Our God is a consuming fire,”
according to Moses,148 and also,
“the light,” according to John,149
thus Isaiah’s allusion is justified:
“The light of Israel shall become a fire.”150
T Once again I shall express the same idea
in different words and comparisons,
with renewed praise and blessings,
for I cannot forget my bitterness,
which you sweetened in your great compassion.
For mera, which means ‘bitterness [in Hebrew],’151
appropriately signifies ‘wearisome torment and pain,’
so in Armenian, muron is explained etymologically
as a derivative of merelutyun, that is, ‘mortification.’152
For by being anointed with this spirit-bearing oil,
we are cut off from the vanities of this world,
those vile and deadly excesses of the Adversary,
whose dankness makes my lyre go out of tune,
whose dampness muffles the sound of my drums153
that used to resound strong and bold when struck
but whose soggy wetness drags us down
into the deaf numbness of death.
Yet again through this anointing we are bound with hope
to the miracle of your cross, beyond telling, O Christ,154
for by baptism into your death, O living God,155
we partake in your divine immortality through you
yourself, God, placing complete trust in you,
forever, fully and inseparably.
U This oil seals us in your name, Jesus,
with a four-pointed mark in the form of your sign,156
conferring grace in glory and dignity to your blood,
O Savior and giver of life,
and crowned with the same invincible glory
this oil is exalted.
It is called the wood-blessing oil,
in the words of the Prophets,157
for when this oil is miraculously applied
to common wood of the forest,
raw material, wild with evil and strange ideas,
becomes the mature equivalent of your cross,
to be offered up to you, O Creator.
Similarly, the windows of our soul, which are
always open, were sealed by you, in the name of your
awesome majesty, with the sign of the cross
in providential modesty,
that we might inhabit a dwelling favored by your
Holy Spirit,158 and might be impervious to the evil
delusions of the trickster
and his dark fog.
Restrained by this light, we gather for the
hymns of thanksgiving at the evening service
with the stars, your heavenly lamps,
symbolic of the light of your grace, the muron,
that burns in us.
And in this light, the oil reminds us of the
salvation of the good, planting this thought in our souls,
making it blossom and bear fruit.159
To make ready for the banquet
on the last night of your Second Coming,160
we use this light like a torch.161
V Now, if using the numerical value of the
we take the 24th letter with the value of 400 [n],
and apply it to the profound mystery of the oil,
we come up with an easily digestible explanation
to nourish those hungry for understanding.
For when we multiply twenty times four, we get 80 [dz],
which is the first letter of the word oil [dzet/dzyut]
And when we substitute the letter 400 [n] for 80 [dz],
we change the word for oil [dzyut] in to the word
for matter [nyut], which symbolizes the new leaven
that miraculously raises up the lump of dough.162
And as the Gospel parable teaches,
though the smaller  does not contain the larger ,
nevertheless it can transform the whole mass and
make it grow, so the anointing oil mixed into
our nature transforms and makes us grow.
W This gentle oil is a constant reminder
of elevation and humility.
For when eaten in food it goes down soft,
like a balanced and kind word,
but when put on liquids, slippery and unstable,
it rises above them,
showing its glorious excellence and superiority,
symbolizing its miraculous mystery.
And when applied to a leather container,
it is not absorbed like water or wine,
but rather stays on the surface within its proper bounds.
Thus understanding the incomparable excellence of
O Son of the living God,
by virtue of your blood,
we write on our foreheads
with this oil of sacred gifts,
and we imprint the breath of our nature with your
believing with the conviction of our heart
that this oil will forever show forth and shine anew with
brilliant radiance upon the varied and marvelous expanse
like a beacon toward the glory of everlasting life.
And may this spiritual oil,
full of bliss and heavenly glow,
make the sign of your cross
shine upon my face, in your image.163
X And being incomprehensible, a power too
great for understanding,
even soaring with the swift wings of the mind,
before the pursuit of my thought
flying without trace into infinity,
completely disappeared, hid from me,
and it left no likeness,
resembled no parallel,
was defined by no formula,
and could be measured by no companion,
but rather was spiritually superior to them,
like the sign of your divine cross,
the equal to your blood, O Savior.
And now, Lord, bless us through it and in it.
And by it may your name become our salvation,
O awesome, light, heavenly and marvelous,
venerated with incense by the pure in spirit in praise of
your ineffable glory,
holy, holy, beyond understanding, beyond telling,
exalted, merciful, lauded, true, doer of good and holiness,
Grant us healing.
Cloth us in grace.
Endow us with bliss.
By being anointed with this oil, this heavenly
shower of light, may I be found sinless.
Do not let the sorrow of sinful infirmity,
invade and take over this anointed rational
fabric of mine, and commingle with the image of my soul.
For those who present themselves to be anointed
with this oil, let them be like a bride,
as for a glorious wedding,
beautifully arrayed in holy splendor,165
their souls adorned with happiness.
And for those who approach it for purification,
may this light, this glorious fire, given by God,
be a double tempering and second immersion,
with fervent striving for the good,
through which they emerge as if newly created.
And in all ways fully armed with ever-ready
steadfastness, may I dwell upon your unshakeable rock,166
standing firm, my faith grounded in you without any doubt.
For those who are on fire with this gift,
by this sign of victory, may they
not be doused with water,
not be burned by the fire,
not be frozen by the cold,
not be extinguished by the harmful wind,
not be stained by unclean dreams,
not betray Jesus’ own to the Evil One,167
not throw away the accumulated treasures of life
at their moment of exit from this world,
not be outside the protection of your wings,168
not be stripped of our being anointed by unclean living.
But by your grace, may we be set on fire by it,
be filled with it,
be enlightened through it,
be justified by it,
be liberated, crowned and reign by it.169
And to you alone, the only Anointed,
together with your Father and your Holy Spirit,
may all give
hymns of blessing, alleluias in all tongues,
resounding voices, triumphant praise,
lips lauding your goodness,
holy words of the Psalms,
forever and ever.
The previous prayer (92) was about what is holy, and this prayer (93) was a meditation on the holy of holies.
1. Is 6,2-3.
2. 1Co 15,28, He 1,2.
3. Ap 1,7 Ap 19,4.
4. Jn 1,3.
5. Ph 2,10, He 1,6.
6. Col 1,16.
7. Ph 2,7.
8. 1Jn 2,27.
9. Lc 2,32.
10. Lc 1,78-79.
11. Mt 5,45.
12. Ap 22,16.
13. Ps 119,105 (Arm 118):105, Lc 1,79.
14. Ps 45,7 (Arm. 44):7, He 1,9.
15. Gn 2,7.
16. Gn 3,9.
17. Lc 1,79.
18. 1Tm 6,16.
19. Gn 3,22-23.
20. The olive.
21. The spreading of Christ on the Cross is likened to the spreading of anointing oil.
22. Mt 9,2-9.
23. Mt 25,4-10.
24. Jr 3,12.
25. 1Jn 4,8.
26. St. Gregory refers here to the mystery of redemption, in a play on the Greek words, helaiov = ‘oil’ and heleos = ‘mercy.’ K?chichian, p. 492, n. 3.
27. Lv 7,22-25 Ex 29,13.
28. Gn 9,4, Lv 7,26.
29. Lv 8,30 Lv 21,10.
30. Gn 28,18 Gn 35,14.
31. Lv 8,30.
32. Ps 133,2 (Arm. 132):2.
33. 1S 16,1 1S 16,13.
34. Gn 14,18-20 Ps 110,4 (Arm. 109):4; He 7,13.
35. Although the anointing of Melchisedek is not mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, St. Gregory relies on Armenian church tradition and the Synaxarion, marking Melchisedek’s consecration on Mar. 25. K?chichian, p. 493, n. 8.
36. According to Jewish tradition, Noah buried the head of Adam at Golgotha, the Place of the Skull. Jn 19,17.
37. Lc 10,33-34 (the Good Samaritan).
38. 1S 16,13.
39. 1S 10,6 1S 10,1-12.
40. Is 45,1 Esd 1,2 (referring to Cyrus as the anointed, who in 538 BC helped the Jews out of their captivity to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple).
41. Among pagan emperors and kings who converted, Constantine of Rome, Trdat of Armenia, Clovis in France. K?chichian, p. 495, n. 1.
42. Is 45,1.
43. Ps 105,15 (Arm. 104):15 (saying in effect that it is a sin to harm the prophets, but it is forbidden even to approach the anointed).
44. 1R 19,15-16 2R 9-10 (9th cent. BC).
45. Ct 1,3.
46. Lc 4,18.
47. Jn 1,29 Jn 1,36.
48. Lc 4,18; Is 61,1.
49. Lc 2,11.
50. Mt 3,17; Mt 17,5.
51. Am 4,13 (per the Armenian version).
52. Ps 45,7 (Arm 44):7.
53. Lm 4,20.
54. Gn 2,7.
55. Ps 4,7.
56. Jesu or Ecclesiasticus, the son of Sirach.
59. Lc 10,4.
60. Si 46,19.
61. Ct 8,2 Ct 1,2 Ct 4,4 Ct 4,10.
62. Ct 5,1.
63. Ct 3,6 Ct 4,14.
64. Da 9,25-26.
65. Za 1,1 Za 4,1-14.
66. Ex 29,2 Ex 25,10 Lv 2-3.
67. Lv 3,1, Lv 7,11-16.
68. Lv 14,5-7.
69. Ps 34,8 (Arm. 33):8.
70. Ps 104,15 (Arm. 103):15.
71. Is 61,3.
72. Is 11,2 Is 61,3 Is 61,9.
73. Ps 92,10-11 (Arm. 91):10-11.
74. Ps 23,5 (Arm. 22):5.
75. Gn 3.
76. Ps 18,28 (Arm. 17):28.
77. Is 7,14 Mt 1,23.
78. Is 25,6 (per the Armenian version).
79. Ct 2,5.
80. Ct 6,2.
81. Is 6,3.
82. Ps 48,10 (Arm. 47):10 (per the Armenian version).
83. Ps 51,8 (Arm. 50):8 (per the Armenian version).
84. Jn 20,22.
85. Is 9,1.
86. Ex 16,16.
87. A reference to mercury. K?chichian, p. 502, n. 2.
88. A reference to water, which evaporates. K?chichian, p. 502, n. 2.
89. Ex 30,22-25.
90. Ct 2,1.
91. Si 24,15.
92. Ct 1,3.
93. Pr 4,10-11.
94. St. John.
95. Ct 1,4.
96. Jn 6,68.
97. Mt 6,17.
98. Gn 1,7.
99. Ps 23,5 (Arm. 22):5, Ps 45,7 (Arm. 44):7.
100. Col 3,11; Ga 3,26-28.
101. Jn 15,5.
102. Ex 8,15; Lc 11,20.
103. Is 1,18.
104. Ps 109,18 (Arm. 108):18.
105. Prideful man or Satan, cf. Ez 28,14.
106. Lc 2,11; Mt 2,5-6.
107. Mc 14,61.
108. Mt 16,16.
109. Jn 10,24.
110. Mt 2,4.
111. Mt 22,43-45.
112. Rm 8,29-30.
113. Mt 11,9-11.
114. Mt 3,11-16.
115. Jn 1,20-23.
116. Mc 6,7-13.
117. Lc 10,30 (The traveler on the way to Jericho is symbolically Adam beaten by the brigands who symbolize Satan, and cared for by the Good Samaritan with oil. K?chichian, p. 508, n. 1)
118. Is 1,6; Jr 30,12.
119. Ps 52,8 (Arm. 51):8.
120. Jn 1,9.
121. Mt 5,14.
122. Jn 12,3.
123. Lc 7,46.
124. Mc 14,3-9.
125. Gn 1,3.
126. Rm 8,17.
127. Jn 4,23.
128. 2Co 21-22.
129. Ep 4,30.
130. Ps 2,2.
131. 1S 26,9.
132. 2S 1,14. St. Gregory assumes that the killer was a Jew, when in fact it was an Amalechite employed by Israel. K?chichian, p. 511, n. 3.
133. Ps 132,10 (Arm. 131):10.
134. Ps 84,9 (Arm. 83):9.
135. Ps 18,51 (Arm. 17):51.
136. Ps 89,21 (Arm. 88):21.
137. Ap 19,16, 1Tm 6,16.
138. He 13,8.
139. NM 6,2.
140. 1S 17,45.
141. Ac 2,6-13.
142. Ac 8,18.
143. Ps 13,3 (Arm. 12):3.
144. St. Gregory, in a poetic etymology, discerns two Greek roots, mi which he equate with “me,” and ro which he equates with “flowing, or source,” resulting in, “the source of me” or “mother of me.” Critical Edition, p. 1120, n. 77.
145. Some scholars derive muron from the Greek mauros, “dark” or “black.” H. Acharian derives it from the Greek muros ‘fragrant oil,’ coming from Proto-Indo-European *smer (without s-movable), English smear. Critical Edition, p. 1120, n. 77.
146. 1Tm 6,16.
147. Ps 18,12 (Arm. 17):12.
148. Dt 4,24.
149. 1Jn 1,5.
150. Is 10,17.
151. Cf. Hebrew marah, English myrrh.
152. Critical Edition, p. 1120, n. 77.
153. Per the Haykazyan Bararan, q.v. t’mpuk, a reference to the deafening of the eardrum.
154. During baptism, the priest makes cross-shaped seals of muron on the forehead, eyes, ears, mouth, heart, back, hands and feet of the person being baptized.
155. Rm 6,3.
156. See note 233.
157. The Olive Tree. Is 41,19 Ag 2,19.
158. 1Co 6,19.
159. Jn 15,16.
160. Ap 19,9.
161. Mt 25,4 Mt 25,10.
162. Mt 13,33 Lc 13,21.
163. Gn 1,26 Rm 8,29.
164. Lc 1,68.
165. Ap 21,2.
166. 1Co 10,4 Mt 7,24.
167. Jud 1,1.
168. Ps 17,8 (Arm. 16):8.
169. 1P 2,9.
Gregory Narek - Prayers - Prayer 93