Canon for the Conception of the Honorable Glorious Prophet,
Forerunner and Baptist John
By St. John of Damascus
In Plagal of the First Mode
Irmos: Traversing the deep on foot, as though it were dry land, and seeing the tyrant Pharaoh drowned, Israel cried aloud: Let us chant unto God a hymn of victory!
O offspring of the barren woman: uproot thou the barren thoughts of my barren soul, as I begin to praise thy holy conception in thy mother's womb.
The sacred Zechariah, entering the temple, beheld the divine angel, who manifestly proclaimed to him: O priest, in thine old age thou shalt receive a son, the Forerunner.
The great Forerunner, the radiant beacon of the Sun of glory, is conceived to shine forth in his mother's womb, by whom the darkness of the passions is rent asunder and the bonds of barrenness are loosed.
Theotokion: Perceiving the Master borne in thy womb, O all-pure Theotokos, John, as His Forerunner, manifestly leapt for joy in his mother's womb.
Irmos: There is none as holy as Thou, O Lord my God, Who hast uplifted the horn of Thy faithful and established us on the rock of the confession of Thee, O Good One.
Today the barren one conceiveth the sacred fruit, who in later times will cut down all the barrenness of souls with grace, the noetic axe.
Having been struck dumb within the temple, the great Zechariah receiveth the yoke of the Word by an awesome announcement, and radiantly doth magnify the compassionate Lord.
The glorious Forerunner, who hath shown the faithful the firm path of repentance, by divine counsel surpassing hope hath at the angel's command sprung forth in his mother's womb.
Theotokion: As he who was born of the barren woman perceived Christ borne in the Virgin's womb, he leapt up, heralding the Joy which had come into the world to deliver all from grief.
Irmos: Christ is my power, my God and my Lord, the honored Church doth sing, crying out in godly manner with a pure mind, keeping festival in the Lord.
O blessed Forerunner, the voice of the angel proclaimed thee in sacred manner to the priest as the herald of the coming of Christ, who wast to spring forth from a barren womb.
O barren one, who before wast childless and hadst not given birth, be thou now glad, for most gloriously art thou bringing forth as fruit the Baptist and Forerunner, O right wondrous Elizabeth.
O Forerunner, with the axe of thy prayer cut down the thorns of my passions and remove the stumbling block of mine evil thoughts; and by thy virtues render my mind fertile, O most blessed one.
Theotokion: The womb of the Virgin held Thee Who holdest all things, O Christ; and when the Baptist, borne in his mother's womb, worshipped Thee, he rejoiced, leaping up.
Irmos: With Thy divine light illumine the souls of them that with love rise at dawn unto Thee, O Good One, that they may know Thee, O Word of God, to be the true God Who calleth all forth from the darkness of sin.
To the prophet who entered the sanctuary and was offering up to the Creator the services of the Law, the holy angel appeared, announcing the divine conception of the Forerunner.
"How can this happen to me, for I am an old man, as thou seest, and I have a barren wife?" Zechariah said to the archangel. "Thou dost utter to me words which are contrary to nature!"
"Look at Sarah, the wife of Abraham, and behold how she brought forth Isaac in her old age, O man; and believe thou those things which have been justly spoken," the great angel exhorted the elder.
Theotokion: "Blessed art thou among women, O thou who art full of the joy of God," Elizabeth manifestly cried to thee when she knew thee to be her who would give birth without having known man, her who alone would remain incorrupt after giving birth.
Irmos: Beholding the sea of life surging with the tempest of temptations, fleeing to Thy calm haven I cry unto Thee: Lead up my life from corruption, O greatly Merciful One!
"My thoughts are filled with doubt, and I shall not believe thy words," the priest said to the archangel, "for I am asking for the salvation of the people, not for the fruit of my loins."
"The Creator of nature, the King of angels, hath been well pleased that thou give birth unto the herald of His own coming," the ministering angel replied; "Do not disbelieve my words, O man!"
"Fiery is thine aspect, awesome thy visage, and wondrous thy discourse," said Zechariah to the servant of God; "yet will I not believe thee who utterest strange words to me which surpass nature!"
Theotokion: In the dark abode of the womb, the lamp of the Sun offered worship and leapt up, rejoicing, recognizing the One concealed in the cloud of His Mother's womb.
Irmos: The Angel made the furnace pour forth dew upon the pious children, and the command of God, which consumed the Chaldeans, prevailed upon the tyrant to cry out: Blessed art Thou, O God of our fathers!
"Since thou dost not believe my words, receive thou most manifest muteness; and when thou shalt see the voice of the Word born, receive again thy voice, crying out: 'Blessed art Thou, O God of Israel!'"
As radiant as the sun, Zechariah, cleaving unto Elizabeth, the moon, begat the light-bearing beacon of the Light, which shineth upon us who are cruelly held fast in the darkness of the passions.
Using leaps instead of words, the great Forerunner worshipped Thee in the Virgin's womb, O Christ Jesus, while he himself was borne in the womb of Elizabeth. O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou!
Theotokion: Elizabeth, the moon, bearing within herself a star, the divine Forerunner, bowed down before Mary, the radiant cloud, was bearing Christ, the Sun, Who had taken flesh of her for our salvation.
Irmos: From the flame didst Thou pour forth dew upon the venerable ones, and didst consume the sacrifice of the righteous one with water; for Thou, O Christ, dost do all things whatsoever Thou desirest. Thee do we exalt supremely for all ages!
The friend of the Bridegroom is prepared; the voice of the Word receiveth his beginning; the great warrior of the King of all is now nourished in the womb of the barren one.
A husbandman hath come forth to tend barren hearts; an axe is already forged to fell the passions; an honorable bullock is nurtured on abstinence: the great Forerunner. Be glad, O ye people!
Break thou the stoniness of my mind, O Forerunner, as of old thou didst loose the bonds of the barren; and cause me to increase the fruits of repentance and to live forever.
Theotokion: As Elizabeth beheld thee pregnant, O Maiden, she rejoiced in godly manner, while within her babe leapt as he recognized his Master.
Irmos: It is not possible for men to behold God, upon Whom the ranks of angels dare not gaze; but through thee, O most pure one, hath the Word appeared incarnate unto men; and magnifying Him with the armies of heaven, we call thee blessed.
Now having thrown wide the gate of the barren one, the great and divine Forerunner of Christ taketh up his abode within his mother's womb, as within royal chambers, that he may issue forth as a warrior, preparing the way for the King of all.
Dance thou, O prophet of God and elder, for thou shalt bring forth a son, than whom none greater shall arise among men: John, the Forerunner of the Lord! Leap up, O Elizabeth! Rejoice, all the earth, offering praise to God, the Creator of all!
O prophet and Forerunner of the Lord, remember us now who praise thee in faith, delivering us from spiritual passions. Save us from misfortunes, guiding us in godly manner along the path to heaven, O ever-blessed one.
Theotokion: Sensing herself loosed of the bonds of barrenness and bearing the Forerunner of Him Who dwelt within thy womb, Elizabeth manifestly acknowledged thee to be the pure Mother, O pure Virgin Mary, full of the joy of God.