Dane Johnson is a writer based out of Northern California. In 2013, he was a founding student in an experience-based graduate program, engaging in apprenticeships and self-guided projects as an alternative form of higher education. During this program, he travelled to an Orthodox Christian monastery in New Mexico where he lived and prayed alongside a small brotherhood for three months. The experience led him to an awareness of another mode of existence and, eventually, to Chrismation in July 2015. You can read more of his writings, and sign up to receive his newsletter, by visiting his website: www.ramblewithaplan.com
It was in a simple church beneath a red mesa where my heart was softened to the tune of Have Mercy on Us – an old Christian Orthodox hymn sung every morning during Lent by monks at the Monastery of the Holy Archangel Michael in Cañones, New Mexico. Though there were countless songs sung over the course of the 90 days I spent there, this was the one that moved me.
At the beginning of my spiritual retreat, I critiqued the song – the notes where the brothers missed their harmony, or were out of tune. But eventually, the song became a prayer; a melody of heart and mind where thinking gave way to embodied grace.
Before leaving the monastery, I asked one of the brothers for the music to the hymn so that I could show it to my sister, Aimee, who I’ve made music with in a folk rock band called The Music Room for many years. I had it in my mind that, someday, we’d sing this song together.
Last month, we finally made that hope a reality.
With this song, and accompanying visuals of the monastery, I hope that you will experience a bit of the peace and perspective gifted to me during my time in the desert.
Have mercy on us o Lord have mercy on us,
for at a loss for any plea,
we sinners offer to Thee as Master
this supplication have mercy on us.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
O Lord have mercy on us, for in Thee have we trusted.
Be not very angry with us, neither remember our iniquities,
but as the compassionate one look down upon us even now
and deliver us from our enemies for Thou art our God.
and we are Thy people all being the works of Thy hands
and we call upon Thy name.
Both now and ever and unto ages of ages amen.
Open unto us the door of Thy loving kindness
O blessed Theotokos
so that hoping in thee we may not perish,
but through thee may be delivered
from adversities, for thou art the salvation
of Christian peoples.
If you’d like to download the song, please know that a portion of each sale will be donated to the brotherhood at the monastery as they go about praying for God’s mercy on humankind.
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