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March 30, 2010

"Bring More Evils Upon Them, O Lord"

By John Sanidopoulos

In the Septuagint version of Isaiah 26:15, we read the following:

"Bring more evils upon them, O Lord, bring more evils upon those who are glorious upon the earth."

Orthodox are familiar with this verse because it is chanted during Great Lent and Holy Week for the Orthros service. Those unfamiliar with the Old Testament, in which verses like these are quite common, often get scandalized by such verses due to misunderstanding and ignorance. Below is an explanation by Elder Paisios the Athonite taken from the book With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man:

Someone asked me, "Isn't the hymn we chant during Great Lent: 'Bring more evils upon them, O Lord, bring more evils upon those who are glorious upon the earth' a curse? And if it is, why do we still chant it?"

"When the barbarians are attacking," I replied, "and are ready to destroy a people just like that, and the people are praying that their enemies encounter obstacles, that their chariots break down and their horses get harmed, is that good or bad? That's what it means: that they may run into obstacles. It's not a curse."

Of course, unless we are being attacked by an enemy, it is difficult to apply this prayer literally. In this case we should pray it in a spiritual sense that those who are glorious and successful upon the earth may be humbled by the Lord for the sake of their salvation.