Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saintly Saturday: St. Samuel the Prophet

Today is the feast day of Samuel the Prophet, of I & II Samuel (or as we Orthodox Christians like to call I & II Kings). Rather than doing my usual schtick of writing a summary of the life of the saint and riffing off of that (because most can simply read about him in the Bible), today I would like to highlight something that happens in the second chapter of I Samuel.

Of late, I have been concentrating on prayers and hymns, specifically those found in the Carmina Gadelica. I should, however, point out that Scripture is oozing with hymns and prayers. In fact, the entire book of Psalms is meant to be sung.

There are nine specific prayers from Scripture that the Orthodox Church uses as the frame work for an entire set of hymns called the Canon. One of these prayers is that of Hannah, Samuel's mother in that second chapter of I Samuel. Here is the complete list:

  • The (First) Song of Moses (Exodus 15:1-19)
  • The (Second) Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:1-43)
  • The Prayer of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10)
  • The Prayer of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 3:1-19)
  • The Prayer of Isaiah (Isaiah 26:9-20)
  • The Prayer of Jonah (Jonah 2:2-9)
  • The Prayer of the Three Holy Children (Daniel 3:26-56])*
  • The Song of the Three Holy Children (Daniel 3:57-88)*
  • The Song of the Theotokos (the Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55); the Song of Zacharias (the Benedictus, Luke 1:68-79)

* These are from those sections of Daniel that were originally written in Greek, therefore not found in the Mesoretic text of the OT — the basis of the OT for most modern English bibles. Most commonly these hymns will be found in what Protestants call the Apocrypha

For those that doubt that there are a plethora of potential ideas found within these prayers, take this from the opening verse of the Prayer of Hannah:
My heart is strengthened in the Lord;
My horn is exalted in my God.
I smile at my enemies.
The word horn is a symbol for strength and power and therefore plays off the word strengthened in the first line (which is a typical poetic form in Hebrew). It is also the inspiration for this:

The Horn of Strength

This rare magical item looks like a hollowed out ram horn fitted with a golden mouth piece. When the horn is sounded by blowing through the mouth piece, everyone in a 15'r. is granted the strength of an ogre (as per Gauntlets of Ogre Strength) for 1d6 rounds. This effect may be used once per day.


Anthony said...

So, how are what I would call 1 and 2 Kings named in the Orthodox canon? 3 and 4 Kings?

That's a marvelously evocative item, btw. What immediately jumped out at me is how fitting it would be in a Bronze Age game, even more so than Medieval. By the time of your Faussesflammes game, I'd imagine an object like this would have become something of a holy relic.

FrDave said...

So, how are what I would call 1 and 2 Kings named in the Orthodox canon? 3 and 4 Kings?

That's a marvelously evocative item, btw

Chris Kutalik said...

A practicing Jew can be an Orthodox saint? He's a pretty critical figure in rabbinical law.

FrDave said...

From the Orthodox Christian POV, we know more about Christ from the OT than we do from the NT. In other words, the prophets and other OT figures, like Samuel, reveal to us Christ. Thus, they are as much a part of the Church as any other saint throughout history.