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date: 17 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Russian Spiritual Verses are a repertoire of hymns to be sung, which developed over centuries in an oral culture and were performed primarily by wandering minstrels. They are strikingly free of close adherence to the Gospels. We hear of Christ being baptized as an infant, and by his Mother. There are moving laments of the Virgin at the foot of the Cross, in which she laments that her Son will be unable to look after her in her old age, and Christ consoles her with a promise that he will set up her image in every church and pray to it himself. Other hymns attribute to the Virgin an important role in the bestowal of life on earth and at the Last Judgement. The Verses show an imagination untrammelled by literary texts and often inspired by icons rather than the written word.

Keywords: Assumption, cross, Holy Sepulchre, hymns, icons, Last Judgement, oral culture

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