In the wake of yesterday’s great and solemn Feast of Mary’s divine maternity, I share this gorgeous liturgical text from the Eastern Church. It is actually a small part of a lengthy “Akathist” hymn to the Theotokos (Mother of God), and is named by the first words of the stanza, “Awed by the Beauty.” It takes us into the mind of the Archangel Gabriel as he is sent from God to Mary of Nazareth bearing a question from the Eternal. As he encounters her, he is set off balance by her overpowering beauty.
My wife and I love to sing it together in harmony.
The text is below, followed by a choir’s rendition of it on youtube.
Awed by the beauty of thy virginity
and the exceeding radiance of thy purity,
Gabriel stood amazed and cried to thee, O Mother of God:
“What praise can I offer thee that is worthy of thy beauty?
By what name shall I call thee?
I am lost and bewildered.
But I shall greet thee as I was commanded:
Hail! thou that art full of grace.