“I Confess with Faith”
The “Havadov Khosdovanim” prayer
St. Nerses the Gracious
Սուրբ Ներսէս Շնորհալի
“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, and for the strangers, and at last for ourselves; we the manifold sinners, acknowledging our sinfulness, through our true repentance and the hope for our eternal salvation.
It 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 first published in 1790 by the Mekhitarists’ printhouse in San Lazaro, Venice. Within the years from 1823 to 1882 Mekhitarists published “Havadov Khosdovanim” several times, translated in total into 36 languages.
Havadov Khosdovanim – St. Nerses Shnorhali, 1st page from 13th century manuscript