He that was greater than all who are born of women, the
Prophet who received God's testimony that he surpassed all the Prophets,
was born of the aged and barren Elizabeth (Luke 1: 7) and filled all
his kinsmen, and those that lived round about, with gladness and wonder.
But even more wondrous was that which followed on the eighth day when
he was circumcised, that is, the day on which a male child receives his
name. Those present called him Zacharias, the name of his father. But
the mother said, "Not so, but he shall be called John." Since the
child's father was unable to speak, he was asked, by means of a sign, to
indicate the child's name. He then asked for a tablet and wrote, "His
name is John." And immediately Zacharias' mouth was opened, his tongue
was loosed from its silence of nine months, and filled with the Holy
Spirit, he blessed the God of Israel, Who had fulfilled the promises
made to their fathers, and had visited them that were sitting in
darkness and the shadow of death, and had sent to them the light of
salvation. Zacharias prophesied concerning the child also, saying that
he would be a Prophet of the Most High and Forerunner of Jesus Christ.
And the child John, who was filled with grace, grew and waxed strong in
the Spirit; and he was in the wilderness until the day of his showing to
Israel (Luke 1:57-80). His name is a variation of the Hebrew "Johanan,"
which means "Yah is gracious."
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
O Prophet and Forerunner of the presence of Christ, we who
fervently honor you cannot worthily praise you. For by your revered and
glorious birth the barrenness of your mother and the muteness of your
father were unbound, and the incarnation of the Son of God is proclaimed
to the world.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
She that once was barren doth today bring forth Christ's
Forerunner, John, the culmination and the crown of all the Prophets. For
when he, in River Jordan, laid his hand on Him Whom the Prophets
preached aforetime, he was revealed as God the Word's fore-chosen
Prophet, His mighty preacher, and His Forerunner in grace.