The Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is the longest Canon of the Orthodox Church, prescribed during the first week of Great Lent. It is a dialogue between St. Andrew and his soul, written for his own personal meditation.
The prevailing theme is the urgent exhortation to change one’s life before it is too late. Throughout the Canon, St. Andrew mention’s his own sinfulness placed in juxtaposition to God’s mercy, using hundreds of examples of good and bad, from both Old and New Testament to “convince himself” and thereby ourselves to Repent.
A Canon is a special liturgical hymn consisting of a specified number of odes with accompanying number of verses in a very strict format, sung in a somber and penitentiary tone with numerous prostration and petitions to Almighty God, with a mournful humility and hope in the God of Salvation. This Canon is the longest one ever composed and is considered to be a concise survey of the Old and New Testament concerning repentance, mixed with Trinitarian Doxologies and hymns to the Mother of God.
It is a guide for us to come to terms with our own sinful ways during the first week of Great Lent in order to aid us in our Lenten journey.