I always look forward to the time in during Divine Liturgy when we sing St. Justinian’s Hymn. I don’t have to wait long, as it comes only a few minutes into the service. Nov 14 is the day we commemorate St. Justinian (along with St Gregory Palamas, St. Justinian’s wife St. Theodora, and the Apostle Philip), so I thought it a good day to share this hymn with you.
St. Justinian reigned as Byzantine emperor for nearly forty years during the sixth century. He was responsible for the construction of the glorious Hagia Sophia, and though he may not have written the ancient hymn affirming the Incarnation, he did command that it be sung every Sunday.
I love the way our choir sings this part of the Liturgy, and I always try to sing along. I found two examples on YouTube that most resemble the way I know it:
The words are simple but so fundamental to our faith:
Only begotten Son and Word of God,
Thou Who art immortal
And didst deign for our salvation
to become incarnate
of the Holy Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary,
without change becoming man,
and who was crucified O Christ God,
trampling down death by death;
Thou who art one of the Holy Trinity,
glorified together with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
You might be interested in this series on the Divine Liturgy in which Fr. Thomas Hopko gives a lecture about the theology of “Only-Begotten Son.”
And finally, an icon of the Incarnation: