“I Confess with Faith”

The “Havadov Khosdovanim” prayer

ՀԱՎԱՏՈՎ ԽՈՍՏՈՎԱՆԻՄ

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St. Nerses the Gracious

Սուրբ Ներսէս Շնորհալի

 

nerses-shnorali._assyrian_script

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“I Confess with Faith” is a collection of twenty-four prayers (in Armenian: Havadov Khosdovanim “Հաւատով խոստովանիմ”). A prayer for every Christian, and for every hour of the day. It has been considered as one of St. Nerses’ most important works, intended to provide comfort, peace and spiritual strength to the Christians.
“Havadov Khosdovanim” is one of the most touching and inspiring prayers of St. Nerses, one of the best known and the most translated. Even though it is not a poetic work, it is characterized by a rich and intense poetic rhythm. It consists of 24 prayers (stanzas) that symbolize the 24 hours of the day. There is one prayer to be recited at each hour of the day.
Understanding that this sometimes becomes impracticable, St. Nerses suggests that the prayer can be recited in three parts: in the morning, at noon, and at night. He also suggests that in special circumstances the prayer can be recited in two parts: in the morning and in the evening.
Scholars have noticed in “Havadov Khosdovanim” many similarities to the work and the teachings of St. Gregory of Narek “Narekatsi” – U. Գրիգոր Նարեկացի (951-1003). St. Nerses chronologically lived almost a century after Narekatsi, in a period when the works of St. Narek were already spread and widely known.
“Havadov Khosdovanim” is a confession of faith, but above all a confession of our sins. It is a pledge to God for His divine mercy and forgiveness. Firstly, for everyone else; for our beloved ones, for our enemies, for the strangers, and at last for ourselves. We the manifold sinners, acknowledging our sinfulness, we raise our humble prayers to God, through our true repentance and the hope for our eternal salvation.
“I Confess with Faith” comprises of all types of prayers. It is a prayer of adoration towards God. A prayer of praise, glorifying the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a prayer of petition to the Holy Trinity for our salvation, and a request for intercession for the salvation of the world. There are numerous miracles attributed to the power of this prayer, as reported throughout history.
The prayer in its authentic form was printed and published for the first time in 1790 by the Mekhitarists’ printhouse in San Lazaro, Venice. Within the years, from 1823 to 1882 Mekhitarists published “Havadov Khosdovanim” in several more times. As a result of those fruitful efforts, “Havadov Khosdovanim” has been translated so far into more than 36 languages.
We may hereby view in detail, the structure and the elements of “I Confess with Faith” prayer, by closely examining each of its 24 stanzas. Keys # 1 – # 24 as shown below, stand for the respective 24 prayers / stanzas :
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 “I Confess with Faith”   

St. Nerses the Gracious

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Praise and adoration
Petition for mercy
Penitence and repentance
1
I confess with faith and worship you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Uncreated and immortal Essence. Creator of angels, humans and of all that exists..
Have mercy upon your creatures, and on me a manifold sinner.
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2
O Indivisible Light. Unified Holy Trinity and one Godhead. Creator of light and dispeller of darkness.
Enlighten my mind, so that I may pray to you according to your will, and receive from you the fulfillment of my requests.
Dispel from my soul the darkness of sin and ignorance.
3
Heavenly Father, true God, who sent your beloved Son to seek the lost sheep.
Receive me as the prodigal son, and clothe me with my former garment, of which I was deprived by sin.
I have sinned against heaven and before you.
4
Son of God, true God, who descended from the bosom of the Father, and took on flesh from the holy Virgin Mary for our salvation.
Remember me like the penitent thief when you come into your kingdom.
I have sinned against heaven and before you.
4
Crucified, buried, and raised from the dead; ascended in glory to the Father.
5
Spirit of God, true God, who descended on the river Jordan, and into the Upper Room; who enlightened me by the baptism of the Holy Font.
Purify me again with your divine fire, as the fiery tongues purified the Holy Apostles.
I have sinned against heaven and before you.
6
Uncreated Essence
Remember not my former sins for the sake of your Holy Name.
I have sinned against you, with my mind, with my soul and with my body.
7
Beholder of all
Erase the record of my transgressions, and write my name in the book of Life.
I have sinned against you, in thought, word and deed.
8
O Searcher of secrets
I have sinned against you, willingly and inadvertently, knowingly and unknowingly.
8
Grant forgiveness unto me a sinner.
8
Since from my birth through the holy baptism, until this day, I have sinned before you Lord.
8
I have sinned with all my senses and in all the members of my body.
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Praise and adoration
Petition for guidance
9
All-provident Lord
Place your holy awe as a guardian before my eyes, so that I may not look with askance.
9
Place your holy awe before my ears, so as not to delight in hearing evil discourses.
9
Place your holy awe before my mouth, so as not to speak falsehood.
9
Place your holy awe before my heart, so as not to mediate wickedness.
9
Place your holy awe before my hands, so as not to commit injustice.
9
Place your holy awe before my feet, so as not to walk on the paths of iniquity.
9
Guide always my motions, that they may be according to all your commandments.
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Praise and adoration
Petition for blessing
10
O Christ, the quickening fire
Inflame my soul with the fire of your love that you dispersed over the earth, so that it may consume the stains of my soul.
10
Cleanse my conscience and my mind.
10
Purify my body from sin.
10
Kindle the light of your knowledge in my heart.
11
O Jesus, wisdom of the Father
Grant me the wisdom that I may always think, speak, and do what is good in your sight.
11
Deliver me from evil thoughts, words and deeds.
12
Benevolent Lord, your will encompasses all that is good. You are the director of the will.
Do not let me follow the inclinations of my heart.
12
Guide me to always walk according to your good pleasure.
13
Heavenly King
Grant me your kingdom which was promised to your beloved.
13
Strengthen my heart to hate sin, and to love only you, and to do your will.
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Praise and adoration
Petition for protection
14
Upholder of all creatures
Preserve by the sign of your cross, my soul and body, from the allurements of sin, from the temptations, from unjust people, and from all dangers physical and spiritual.
15
O Christ, guardian of all
May your right hand guard and shelter me, day and night; while at home and while traveling; while I am sleeping and while I am awake, so that I may never falter.
16
My God, inside your open hand, the whole creation is filled with your bounty. Unto you I commit my being.
Take care of me and provide the needful for my soul and body, from this time and for ever.

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Praise and adoration
Petition for salvation
Penitence and repentance
17
Finder of the lost
Imprint on my soul the dreadful day of death, the fear of eternal punishement, and the love of your kingdom.
Turn me away from my evil habits to good ones.
17
So that I may repent of my sins, and I may follow the path of righteousness.
18
Fountain of immortality
Cause the tears of repentance to flow from my heart, like those of Mary Magdalene. So that before I depart this world, I may wash away the sins of my soul.
19
Grantor of mercy
Grant that I may come to you, with true faith, with good works, and the communion of your Holy Body and Blood.
20
Benevolent Lord
Commit me to a good angel, who may deliver up my soul in peace.
20
Convey my soul undisturbed through the malice of evil, to heavenly places.
21
O Christ, the true Light
Make my soul worthy to encounter with joy the light of your divine glory on the day I will be called by you.
21
Make my soul worthy to rest in good hope, in the mansions of the righteous, until the great day of your coming.
22
Righteous judge
Make me worthy to hear the most blessed call of the righteous, for those who will enter to your heavenly kingdom.
When you come with the glory of the Father to judge the living and the dead, do not enter into judgement with your servant, but save me from the eternal fire.
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Praise and adoration
Petition for intercession
23
All-merciful Lord
Have mercy on all those who believe in you; on my beloved ones, and on those who are strangers to me; on all those I know, and on those unknown to me; on the living and on the dead.
23
Even forgive my enemies, and those who hate me, forgive the trespasses they have committed against me.
23
Relieve my enemies from the malice they bear towards me, so that they become worthy of your mercy.
24
O glorious Lord
Receive the prayers of your servant, and fulfill my requests that are deemed good.
24
O indivisible Holy Trinity
Through the intercession of the Holy Mother of God, of St. John the Baptist, of St. Stephen the first martyr,  of St. Gregory our Illuminator, of the Holy Apostles, prophets, doctors of the Church, martyrs, patriarchs, hermits, virgins, and all the saints in heaven and on earth.
24
Unto you be glory and worship, forever and ever. Amen.
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Confess with Faith script

Havadov Khosdovanim – St. Nerses Shnorhali, 1st page from 13th century manuscript

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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