The Cancer Akathist


Ser­vice Music by Robert Sirico

View the Entire Ser­vice on YouTube!


This Musi­cal Offer­ing of the Akathist, ‘Healer of Can­cer’ is ded­i­cated to the Blessed Mem­ory of my late-Wife, Lisa Sirico, who after nearly four years of fight­ing for her life, fell asleep in the Lord on Pascha 2009. While it may seem to the sur­vivors that she lost her bat­tle, she was eter­nally cured as she entered into her eter­nal rest in a place of refresh­ment where sor­row and sigh­ing have fled away. “And he that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” Rev 21:5  May the Blessed Mem­ory of the Ser­vant of the Lord, Lisa, Beloved Wife and Mother,  be Eternal †

Lisa Sirico (d. Pascha April 19, 2009)

“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eter­nal life, to which you were also called and have con­fessed the good con­fes­sion in the pres­ence of many wit­nesses.” 1 Tim­o­thy 6:12


The Sacred Ser­vice of Prayer for those Affected by Cancer

Pan­tanessa; Queen of All, Healer of Cancer

The Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian Music Project is pleased to col­lab­o­rate with the highly tal­ented musi­cians of the Holy Vir­gin Pro­tec­tion Cathe­dral Choir (OCA) and the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Syn­odal Choir (ROCOR) under the expert direc­tion of Peter Fekula.  The CD fea­tures the orig­i­nal Akathist ser­vice music set­ting com­posed by OCMP founder Robert Sirico dur­ing the Sum­mer of 2010, as well as tra­di­tional hymns of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church sung in English.

The events of the night included the Can­cer Prayer Ser­vice con-celebrated by Bishop Michael (OCA) and Bishop Jerome (ROCOR), as well as a mov­ing pre­sen­ta­tion (not recorded here) by Dr. Steven Sug­ar­man, Direc­tor of Onco­log­i­cal Research Memo­r­ial Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Hos­pi­tal, NYC fol­low­ing the ser­vice.  This stun­ning live record­ing was dig­i­tally cap­tured and mas­tered by record­ing Engi­neer Seraphim Hul­ing, and processed to the finest stan­dards for com­mer­cial release.  The sound qual­ity on the CD is so clear, that the lis­tener will feel as if she or he is really present in the cathe­dral with the hun­dreds of faith­ful who came to pray and sing for them­selves and their loved ones affected by cancer.

A Per­sonal Note from the Composer

The inspi­ra­tion for the new musi­cal set­ting of the ‘Healer of Can­cer’ Akathist comes from a per­sonal con­nec­tion of fre­quent pri­vate devo­tion through­out the nearly four years that my late-wife Lisa bat­tled metasta­tic breast can­cer. One of the high­lights of the sacred text is how the prayer of the Ortho­dox Church responds to the needs of the suf­fer­ing ser­vant as well as all those con­cerned with the mod­ern treat­ment and care of the afflicted from the dis­ease of Can­cer in its mul­ti­plic­ity of types.  While pray­ing through this text, one will undoubt­edly iden­tify with at least one of those men­tioned in the peti­tions, and come to know that this prayer was com­posed ‘about’ us and ‘for’ us all: that the ten­der­ness and com­pas­sion of the Mother of God is extended to all who ask that She heal our infir­mi­ties by Her grace.


The Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian Music Project grate­fully acknowl­edges and thanks the Rev. Abbess Michaila of the St. Pai­sius Ser­bian Ortho­dox Monastery in Saf­ford Ari­zona for her sup­port, encour­age­ment, and bless­ing for the com­ple­tion of a new musi­cal set­ting of the Akathist to the Mother of God, “Healer of Can­cer”. The St. Pai­sius monas­tic com­mu­nity pub­lishes selected ser­vice texts and ‘puts the jewel of faith into the hands of the peo­ple’ so that the lay­man can offer pri­vate devo­tion. It is my hope that those who lis­ten will be moved by this music and find in it com­fort and peace.


Robert Sirico

Com­poser & Founder OCMP

Recent Posts

A Blessed Discovery

The Biographical Icon depicting significant events in the Life of St. Seraphim of Sarov

The Bio­graph­i­cal Icon depict­ing sig­nif­i­cant events in the Life of St. Seraphim of Sarov


St. Seraphim giving Spiritual Counsel to a young Monk

Excerpt of lower left cor­ner of Bio­graph­i­cal Icon:  St. Seraphim giv­ing Spir­i­tual Coun­sel to a young Monk










Dear Friends of the OCMP,

The event that I am about to relate in today’s post hum­bles me, and encour­ages me to con­tinue in all earnest­ness com­pos­ing the can­tata ‘The Life of St. Seraphim’, of which I have been ded­i­cated for nearly the past two years.   

As can be seen on the cir­cum­fer­ence of the full length icon of our beloved Elder, there are 20 unique life scenes depict­ing note­wor­thy events in the life of this great Saint.  I have been musi­cally set­ting each scene, often with a uniquely com­posed text of orig­i­nal hymnog­ra­phy that include essen­tial details that are con­veyed by the music, and are not found in the ser­vice texts.

For the past two weeks, I have been reeval­u­at­ing my research on the scene in the lower left cor­ner, not being con­vinced that I had accu­rately por­trayed the event.   I reached out to many an icono­g­ra­pher, com­poser, and Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian church musi­cian seek­ing to iden­tify who was in that scene, and what event was tak­ing place.  Unfor­tu­nately, the old Slavonic writ­ing at the top of each icon scene is illeg­i­ble, and this has thwarted the best efforts to deci­pher it.  Other ver­sions of this bio­graph­i­cal icon show a dif­fer­ent scene in that posi­tion, and we could not rely on those for ref­er­ence.   Many vol­un­teers sym­pa­thetic to my cause had offered valid sug­ges­tions based on posi­tion, and other clues in the image.  

Last week, I vis­ited Holy Cross Monastery in Setauket, NY, and inquired of Hierodea­con Parthe­nios Miller, who has been a dear friend and Litur­gics men­tor for many years.  He is inti­mately con­nected to this project because it was through his min­istry that I was intro­duced to St. Seraphim nearly 10 years ago.  I posed the dilemma to him, and we sat for nearly an hour going through dif­fer­ent resources that he had on hand.  Not being sat­is­fied with the lack of find­ings, he rec­om­mended that I read ‘St. Seraphim of Sarov’ by Valen­tine Zan­der (SVS Press).  Admit­tedly, I do not own every biog­ra­phy on St. Seraphim, and I jumped at the chance to acquire another source text.  ’Iron­i­cally’, Fr. Parthe­nios just hap­pened to have that book on order to restock the monastery book­store, and as a cour­tesy he changed the ship­ping address to my home.  He said to me, you will have great joy when you dis­cover the answer to your quest.   The book arrived at my home on two days ago (Aug 20th), and I began read­ing it immediately.  

Today, August 22, 2014, I dis­cov­ered the mean­ing of the event in ques­tion, and Fr. Parthe­nios’ words that ‘I will have great joy’ were ful­filled dou­bly: the sec­ond way which I could have never imag­ined.   The mean­ing of the scene is sim­ply depict­ing the time when St. Seraphim ended his 5 year monas­tic seclu­sion, opened his door, and began to wel­come vis­i­tors, many of whom were monks.   Had this been all I learned I would have been been sat­is­fied and con­tented that my research yielded a solu­tion to the mys­tery, and  I could con­tinue with my composition.

 How­ever, after read­ing the pas­sage begin­ning on page 22, and con­tin­u­ing on to page 23, some­thing very strik­ing man­i­fested itself to me.  Zan­der chron­i­cles that on 15 August 1815, the Bishop of Tam­bov was denied and audi­ence with St. Seraphim, but “a week later” St. Seraphim opened his door for the first time in 5 years and blessed the Gov­er­nor of Tam­bov and his wife.  The next para­graph goes on to describe how the ‘time of enclo­sure had come to an end’, and that he was then heard singing ser­vices, teach­ing, and bless­ing vis­i­tors with an opened door.  

 Here is what made me shud­der in my core:  St. Seraphim opened his door to the world  “a week later”… August 22, 1815!   199 years ago TODAY

I hope that you are edi­fied by this story, and may we always remem­ber that we are NOT spir­i­tu­ally alone in our holy works, and that all things hap­pen in God’s time for his greater pur­pose.  I ask you to con­tinue to pray for the suc­cess of this project, that through it, the biog­ra­phy of St. Seraphim and the inter­ces­sor we have in him, may be pre­sented to the world in an unprece­dented way.  
May St. Seraphim bless us and help us to acquire the spirit of peace.    


Robert Sirico ,  

Founder:  Ortho­dox Chris­t­ian Music Project 

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