the stars that shine and the powers in motion
all vanish in the splendour of your light
and remain still before the power of your greatness.
You alone are visible,
you reveal the image of the Father almighty,
and thus you manifest the sublimity of the Father and the Son. As the Father is almighty in the heavenly sphere,
so are you, the Son, in our universe
the first-born, the guide and lord of all power;
you, from the beginning, are the second grandeur
that comes from that of the Father;
you are the foundation of all the world.
You are our archetype,
the mind which ordains and the one who steers;
you are the way and the door that opens into light.
You are the image of justice;
you are ever our shining star.
To you we render thanks, praise and blessing.
Before you we bend the knee
and we ask, with trust, that we be made holy.
Grant that we may be ever strong in faith,
sound in mind and body
to sing for ever and without ceasing your praises,
that you, the Immortal, ,the Infinite, the Eternal
may be celebrated in every place.
You are the model and essence of the Spirit,
you are our blessed Father,
our king and our God.
With eyes fixed on you, we shall not die, O Lord;
if we confess your name we shall not be lost.
On the banks of the Jordan
[Father] your voice resounded in the roll of thunder coming from heaven making manifest the Saviour,
showing yourself as Father of eternal light.
You have rent the heavens,
blessed the air,
purified the water,
made manifest your only Son
through the Holy Spirit
appearing in the form of a dove.
Today the fountains, having received your blessing,
cast off the ancient curse;
and so, the faithful, purified from their sins,
are presented to God, for eternal life,
as sons by adoption.
In fact those who through birth in the flesh
were destined for the life of time,
those whom death had seized through the complicity of sin are welcomed into eternal life
and brought back to the glory of heaven.
Christ Incarnate makes me worthy of God,
Christ humbled for me, raises me high,
Christ, the giver of life,
suffering in human nature,
makes me impassive.
And so, I sing a hymn of thanksgiving,
to him who is glorified.
Christ crucified raises me high,
Christ who is slain makes me rise again with him;
Christ gives me life.
And so, clapping my hands with joy,
I sing to the saviour a hymn of victory,
to him who is glorified.
Cosmas of Maiuma
Give to us, 0 Lord, the peace of the evening
and save us from the snares of the enemy
in the strength of your Holy and victorious Cross.
Lord of my salvation,
I implore you day and night,
may my prayers come unto you,
bend your ear to my pleading.
May there come to us, a Lord,
a guardian sent by you
to protect us always.
Implant in us, a Lord,
the power of your Holy Cross
which will protect us always.
Make us worthy, o Lord,
to spend this evening
in peace and without temptation.
Deign, a Lord,
during this night,
to keep us in peace and without sin.
The Lord God is with us;
know this, you nations, and be bewildered;
for God is with us.
In him will we hope
and he will be our salvation;
because God is with us. . .
And the people that dwelt in darkness
see the great light;
for God is with us.
And you who live in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
light will shine upon you;
because God is with us.
And we have been given a Son; for God is with us.
And the dominion
will be on his shoulders;
because God is with us.
And his name will be
“Messenger of the great mystery”; for God is with us.
And “Wonderful Counsellor”;
because God is with us.
And “God the strong prince”; because God is with us.
And the “Prince of peace”,
“Father of the world to come”;
the “Lord God with us”.
The Chinese use plants: bamboo, plum blossoms, chrysanthemums and the orchid as symbols which speak about life and virtue.
The significance of the plum blossom runs deep in Chinese history - it signifies feminine beauty and the ideal of chosen seclusion and moral rectitude.
The story is told that Meifei had become the favorite concubine of the Emperor. She surrounded herself with plum blossom trees and at blooming time lingered among them into the night. Meifei was retiring, cultivated and compliant. In time, she lost favor with the Emperor to Yang Gifei who was aggressive, vulgar, vindictive and shrewd.
Now Meifei spent her lonely hours writing about plum blossoms, comparing her fleeting happiness to the short life of the plum petals that soon fell to the ground. At her death, she was buried beneath the flowering plums, and so, the plum tree came to symbolize feminine inner beauty of soul.
In the Song Period, the plum became an enduring emblem of the high minded scholar. Li Bu lived a life of modest retirement on Gushan ("
[end from the web]
Also, note that what is sometimes called the Lotus flower is actually the Crocus and in the ancient world a symbol of the Resurrection (not reincarnation). The crocus we refer to here are the ones growing from earth (not swamps like reincarnation lotuses) especially the snow crocus for its early bloom while snow is on the ground. Jesus Christ is the First born of Mary (the blessed virgin who is the Christmas rose of pure white), He is also the First born from the dead in the flesh – the first one resurrected – who will resurrect us. The snow crocus is deep blue just like the traditional color associated with nativity scenes.
"All Wisdom comes from the LORD...
He poured it forth upon all his creatures." (Sir 1:1,8)
Mary is the spikenard (fragrance of incense before the Lord) of whom was the Christ, Who is the Word Wisdom and Power of the Father in the Unity and Power and Bond of love of the Holy Spirit, may the Holy Trinity especially by the prayer of Mary bless you.
Sun of Justice, blessed ray,
the first source of light;
O ardently Desired, above all else; powerful, inscrutable, ineffable;
joy of the good, vision of fulfilled hope,
praised and heavenly, Christ the Creator;
king of glory, assurance of life,
fill the void of my miserable voice
with your almighty word;
and offer it as a supplication
pleasing to your Father Most High,
for you have come into the world in likeness to me, subjecting yourself to human suffering,
the heritage of the curse.
O blessing of life, watchful providence
for all, both small and great!
If you accepted to die for me,
you, God and Lord of all,
how much more,
for the sake of the body you assumed, of your nature, will you pardon the weakness that leads me into danger, interceding for me, a sinner,
with the Father whose glory you share.
Gregory of Narek
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
GLORY to God on high, and on earth peace to men of good will. We praise Thee; we bless Thee; we adore Thee; we glorify Thee. We give Thee thanks for Thy great glory, O Lord God, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Who takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For Thou alone art holy; Thou alone art The Lord; Thou alone art most high, O Jesus Christ, together with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not the Light, but was sent to bear witness to the Light. That was the true Light that gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world did not know Him. He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt in us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of His Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him, and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, `He who comes after me is preferred before me: for He was before me.’ ” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Glory be to God forever. Amen.
Jesus, the Ransomer of man,
Who, ere created light began,
Didst from the sovereign Father spring,
His power and glory equaling.
The Father's Light and Splendour thou,
Their endless Hope to thee that bow:
Accept the prayers and praise today
That through the world thy servants pay.
Salvation's Author, call to mind
How, taking form of humankind,
Born of a Virgin undefiled
Thou in man's flesh becam'st a Child.
Thus testifies the present day
Through every year in long array,
That thou, salvation's source alone,
Proceedest from the Father's Throne.
Whence sky, and stars, and sea's abyss,
And earth, and all that therein is,
Shall still, with laud and carol meet,
The Author of thine Advent greet.
And we who, by thy precious Blood
From sin redeemed, are marked for God,
On this, the day that saw thy Birth,
Sing the new song of ransomed earth.
All honour, laud, and glory be,
O Jesus, Virgin-Born, to thee;
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Spirit, for evermore. Amen.
Called forth creation from its rest,
Before the ages thou art Lord,
In thine eternal Father's breast.
Thou, when earth's dawning sun began
To chase the chaos shades away,
In thine own Image madest man,
And didst inspire the senseless clay.
But Satan's craft and Satan's wile
Could mar that work so very good:
And Eden's wood must man beguile,
That God may reign from off the Wood.
O born of Mary's virgin womb,
First-fruits of Death's dark womb to be,
Thou bidst us waken from the tomb,
And rise to light and life with thee.
Eternal Shepherd of the sheep,
The stones lie heavy on the well;
The clear baptismal spring lies deep,
Come thou and feed thine
Redeemer of the sons of men
Thou hungest dying on the Rood,
That thou mightst pay the price again
Of our salvation in thy Blood.
Grant, Lord, in thee each faithful mind
Unceasing Paschal joy may find;
And from the death of sin set free
Souls newly born to life by thee.
All praise be thine, O risen Lord,
From death to endless life restored;
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Spirit, for evermore. Amen.
Eternal Monarch, King most high,
Whose blood hath brought redemption nigh,
By whom the death of Death was wrought,
And conquering grace to man was brought:
Ascending to the throne of might,
And seated at the Father's right,
All power, O Jesu, is thine own
That here thy Manhood had not known.
To thee the whole creation now
Doth in its three-fold order bow,
Of things on earth, and things on high,
And things that underneath do lie.
With awe the Angels contemplate
The wondrous change of man's estate;
Though flesh hath sinned, Flesh purged the stain,
And in that Flesh our God doth reign.
Be thou our joy, O mighty Lord,
As thou wilt be our great reward;
Earth's joys to thee are nothing worth,
Thou joy and crown of heaven and earth.
We therefore beg, dear Lord, of thee
To pardon our iniquity;
Yea, of thine own supernal grace
Uplift our hearts to seek thy face:
That when in clouds, O Judge of doom,
Thy glory shall this earth illume,
Thou mayst remit our debt of pain,
And grant our long-lost crowns again.
All praise from every heart and tongue
To thee, ascended Lord, be sung;
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Spirit, for evermore. Amen.
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
Vouchsafe within our souls to rest;
Come with thy grace and heavenly aid,
And fill the hearts which thou hast made.
Vouchsafe within our souls to rest;
Come with thy grace and heavenly aid,
And fill the hearts which thou hast made.
To thee, the Paraclete, we cry,
To thee, the Gift of God most high,
The Fount of life, the Fire of love,
The soul's Anointing from above.
The sevenfold gifts of grace are thine,
O Finger of the Hand Divine;
True Promise of the Father thou,
Who dost the tongue with speech endow.
Thy light to every sense impart,
And shed thy love in every heart;
Thine own unfailing might supply
To strengthen our infirmity.
Drive far away our preternatural foe,
And thine abiding peace bestow;
If thou be our preventing Guide,
No evil can our steps betide.
Make thou to us the Father known,
Teach us the eternal Son to own,
Be this our neverchanging creed,
That thou dost from the Father through the Son proceed.
All praise be thine, O risen Lord,
From death to endless life restored;
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Spirit, for evermore. Amen.
O God of mercy passing thought,
Who hast the world contrived and wrought;
In might, essential Unity,
In Persons, blessed Trinity:
Uplift us with thine arm of might,
And let our hearts rise pure and bright,
And, ardent in God's praises, pay
The thanks we owe him every day.
Glory to thee, O Father, Lord,
And to thy Sole-begotten Word,
Both with the Holy Spirit One
While everlasting ages run. Amen.
The Kings and the shepherds adore without fear
There is much to behold for the wise and the fool:
Let us adore the little child
With pleasure and happy cheer;
Let us adore as the Magi do
As the Magi adore Him here.
A child is born in
Low in the manger lieth He,
Whose kingdom without end shall be...
All glory, Lord, to Thee be done,
Now seen in flesh, the Virgin's Son.
Thou camest down, O heaven's King,
From starry sky,
And in a cave so poor and cold
I see Thee lie.
I see Thee tremble, blessed God;
Why should this be?
Thy sacrifice, O love Divine,
Is all for me.
About the field they piped full right,
Even about the midst of the night;
They saw come down from heaven a light:
Tirle, tirle--so merrily
The shepherds began to blow.
Noel, Noel, Noel,
Tidings good I think to tell.
The boar's head that we bring here,
Betokeneth a prince without peer
Is born today to buy us dear.
Noel, Noel, Noel.
In dulci jubilo
Sing ye, and gladness show!
See our bliss reclining
The very sun outshining
Matris in gremio.
Alpha es et O,
Alpha es et O.
Thy shining eyes, so blue and light,
Thy tender cheeks, so soft and bright;
I will remain forever Thine,
O dearest Son, O child Divine....
Hajej, nynej, Jesus dear,
Sleep in peace, and do not fear.
We shall bundle you to rest,
Keep you close to our breast.
Hajej, nynej, darling Child,
Son of Mary, Saviour mild.
As Joseph was a-walking,
He heard an angel sing:
This night shall be born
Our heavenly king.
He neither shall be born
In housen or in hall,
Nor in the place of
But in an ox's stall.
He neither shall be clothed
In purple nor in pall,
But all in fair linen,
As were babies all..
The gates of Heaven's glory did spring open suddenly
So came we running to the crib,
I and also you,
A beeline into Bethlehem, Hopsa, trala loo:
"O, baby dear, take anything
Of all the little gifts we bring:
Have apples or have butter,
Maybe pears or yellow cheese;
Or would you rather have some nuts,
Or plums, or what you please.
Alle-, alle-, Alleluja."
Now Christmas is here again,
And Christmas is here again,
And Christmas we'll have till Easter.
Then Easter is here again,
And Easter is here again,
And Easter we'll have till Christmas.
Now He is with us forever,
And He is with us forever,
For He is here now and comes again.
Joseph, dearest Joseph mine,
Help me rock my baby fine!
What Gabriel foretold
Is now fulfilled,
The Virgin bore a child
As the Father's wisdom willed.
Joseph, dearest Joseph mine,
Help me rock my baby fine!
Sweet hope of mortals here below,
Art thou, O Jesu, who the love
Of human home and hearth didst know.
O Mary, thou art full of grace,
Who careth for Jesus with tender love,
And kissed his blessed, smiling face
Whilst in thine arms he took his rest.
O Joseph, thou of all our race
Elected wast to guard the fame
Of Mary, Virgin full of grace,
And give her Son a father's name.
O Mary! Joseph! holy twain
From Jesse's root and David's seed,
Who ushered in salvation's reign,
Help all who at Christ's altars plead.
The sun declineth towards the west,
And dusk of night is drawing near,
O take to God the heart's behest
Of each and all who linger here.
Sweet home of
All grace and virtue can we see;
Lord, grant each Christian home to be,
Like thine, a holy family.
Praise God, who served, whilst here on earth,
Joseph, and her who gave him birth;
Whom with the Father, we adore,
And Holy Spirit, for evermore. Amen.
I fall in adoration at your feet, Lord! I thank you, God of goodness;
God of holiness, I invoke you,
on my knees, in your sight. . .
For me, an unworthy sinner,
you have willed to undergo the death of the cross, setting me free from the bonds of evil.
What shall I offer you in return for your generosity?
Glory to you, friend of men!
Glory to you, most merciful!
Glory to you, most patient!
Glory to you who forgive sin!
Glory to you who have come to save us!
Glory to you who have been made man in the womb of a Virgin!
Glory to you who have been bound!
Glory to you who have been scourged!
Glory to you who have been derided!
Glory to you who have been nailed to the cross!
Glory to you, laid in the sepulchre, but risen again!
Glory to you who have preached the Gospel to men and have been believed!
Glory to you who have ascended to heaven!
Glory to you, seated at the right hand of the Father
and who will return with him, in majesty, among the angels, to judge those who have disregarded your passion!
The powers of heaven will be shaken;
all the angels and archangels, the cherubim and seraphim will appear in fear and trembling before your glory;
the foundations of the earth will quake
and all that has life will cry out before your majesty.
In that hour let your hand draw me beneath your wings, and save me from the terrible fire, from the gnashing of teeth,
from the outer darkness and from despair without end. That I may sing to your glory:
glory to him who through his merciful goodness
has designed to redeem the sinner.
This is the day that gladdened them, the Prophets, Kings, and Priests, for in it were their words fulfilled, and thus were the whole of them indeed performed! For the Virgin this day brought forth Immanuel in
Risen is the Light of the kingdom, in Ephrata the city of the King. The blessing wherewith Jacob blessed, to its fulfilment came to-day! That tree likewise, [the tree] of life, brings hope to mortal men! Solomon's hidden proverb6 had to-day its explanation! To-day was born the Child, and His name was called Wonder!7 For a wonder it is that God as a Babe should show Himself. By the word Worm did the Spirit foreshow Him in parable,8 because His generation was without marriage. The type that the Holy Ghost figured to-day its meaning was [explained.] He came up as a root before Him, as a root of parched ground.9 Aught that covertly was said, openly to-day was done! The King that in
Shamed is that people which holds the prophets as true; for unless our Saviour has come, their words have been falsified! Blessed be the True One Who came from the Father of the Truth and fulfilled the true seers' words, which were accomplished in their truth. From thy treasure-house put forth, Lord, from the coffers of Thy Scriptures, names of righteous men of old, who looked to see Thy coming! Seth who was in Abel's stead shadowed out the Son as slain, by Whose death was dulled the envy Cain had brought into the world! Noah saw the sons of God, saints that sudden waxed wanton, and the Holy Son he looked for, by whom lewd men were turned to holiness. The brothers twain, that covered Noah,11 saw the only Son of God who should come to hide the nakedness of Adam, who was drunk with pride. Shem and Japhet, being gracious, looked for the gracious Son, Who should come and set free
Melchizedek expected Him; as His vicegerent, looked that he might see the Priesthood's Lord whose hyssop12 purifies the world.
Caleb the spy bore the cluster on the staff, and came and longed to see the Cluster, Whose wine should comfort the world. Him did Jesus son of Nun long for, that he might conceive the force of his own surname: for if by His name he waxed so mighty,15 how much more would He by His Birth? This Jesus that gathered and carried, and brought with him of the fruit, was longing for the Tree of Life to taste the Fruit that quickens all. For Him Rahab too was looking; for when the scarlet thread in type redeemed her from wrath, in type she tasted of the Truth. For Him Elijah longed, and when Him on earth he saw not, he, through faith most throughly cleansed, mounted up in heaven to see Him. Moses saw Him and Elijah; the meek man from the depth ascended, the zealous from on high descended, and in the midst beheld the Son. They figured the mystery of His Advent: Moses was a type of the dead, and Elijah a type of the living, that fly to meet Him at His coming.16 For the dead that have tasted death, them He makes to be first: and the rest that are not buried, are last caught up to meet Him.
Who is there that can count me up the just that looked for the Son, whose number cannot be determined by the mouth of us weak creatures? Pray ye for me, O beloved, that another time with strength endued, I in another legend may so set forth their foretaste, as I am able. Who is adequate to the praising of the Son of the Truth that has risen to us? For it was for Him the righteous longed, that in their generation they might see Him. Adam looked for Him, for He is the Cherub's Lord, and could minister an entrance and a residence hard by the branches of the Tree of life. Abel longed after Him, that in his days He might come; that instead of that lamb that he offered, the Lamb of God he might behold. For Him Eve also looked; for woman's nakedness was sore, and He capable to clothe them; not with leaves, but with that same glory that they had exchanged away. The tower that the many builded, in mystery looked for One, who coming down would build on earth a tower that lifts up to Heaven. Yea the ark of living creatures looked in a type for our Lord; for He should build the
The soul of just men perceive in the Son a Medicine of life; and so it felt desires that He might come in its own days, and then would it taste His sweetness. Enoch was longing for Him, and since on earth the Son he saw not, he was justified by great faith, and mounted up in Heaven to see Him. Who is there that will spurn at grace, when the Gift that they of old gained not by much labour, freely comes to men now? For Him Lamech also looked who might come and lovingly give Him quiet from his labour and the toiling of his hands, and from the earth the Just One had cursed.20 Lamech then beheld his son, Noah,-him, in whom were figured types relating to the Son. In the stead of the Lord afar off, the type at hand afforded quiet. Yea Noah also longed to see Him, the taste of whose assisting graces he had tasted. For if the type of Him preserved living things, Himself how sure to bestow life upon souls! Noah longed for Him, by trial knowing Him, for through Him had the ark been established. For if the type of Him thus saved life, assuredly much more would He in person. Abraham perceived in Spirit that the Son's Birth was far of; instead of Him in person he rejoiced to see even His day.21 To see Him Isaac longed, as having tasted the taste of His redemption;22 for if the sign of Him so gave life, much more would He by the reality.
Joyous23 were to-day the Watchers,24 that the Wakeful came to wake us! Who would pass this night in slumber, in which all the world was watching? Since Adam brought into the world the sleep of death by sins, the Wakeful came down that He might awake us from the deep sleep of sin. Watch not we as usurers, who thinking on money put to interest, watch at night so oft, to reckon up their capital, and interest. Wakeful and cautious is the thief, who in the earth hath buried and concealed his sleep. His wakefulness all [comes to] this, that he may cause much wakefulness to them that be asleep. Wakeful likewise is the glutton, who hath eaten much and is restless; his watching is to him his torment, because he was impatient of stint. Wakeful likewise is the merchant; of a night he works his fingers telling over what pounds are coming, and if his wealth doubles or trebles. Wakeful likewise is the rich man, whose sleep his riches chase away: his dogs sleep; he guards his treasures from the thieves. Wakeful also is the careful, by his care his sleep is swallowed: though his end stands by his pillow, yet he wakes with cares for years to come. Satan teaches, O my brethren, one watching instead of another; to good deeds to be sleepy, and to ill awake and watchful. Even Judas Iscariot, for the whole night through was wakeful; and he sold the righteous Blood, that purchased the whole world. The son of the dark one put on darkness, having stripped the Light from off him: and Him who created silver, for silver the thief sold. Yea, Pharisees, the dark one's sons, all the night through kept awake: the dark ones watched that they might veil the Light which is unlimited. Ye then watch as [heaven's] lights in this night of starry light. For though so dark be its colour yet in virtue it is clear.
For whoever is like this clear One, wakeful and prayerful in darkness, him in this darkness visible a light unseen surrounds! The bad man that in daylight stands, yet as a son of darkness deals; though with light clad outwardly, inly is with darkness girt. Be we not deceived, beloved, by the fact that we are watching! For whoso does not rightly watch, his watch is an unrighteous watch. Whoso watches not cheerfully, his watching is but a sleeping: whoso also watches not innocently, even his waking is his foe. This is the waking of the envious one! a solid mass, compact with harm. That watch is but a trafficking, with scorn and mockery compact. The wrathful man if he wakes, fretful with wrath his wake will be, and his watching proves to him full of rage and of cursings. If the babbler be waking, then his mouth becomes a passage which for sins is ready but for prayers shows hindrance.
The wise man, if so be he that watches, one of two things chooseth him; either takes sweet, moderate, sleep, or a holy vigil keeps.25 That night is fair, wherein He Who is Fair26 rose to come and make us fair. Let not aught that may disturb it enter into our watch! Fair be kept the ear's approach,27 chaste the seeing of the eye! hallowed the musing of the heart! the speaking of the mouth be cleared. Mary hid in us to-day leaven that came from Abraham. Let us then so pity beggars as did Abraham the needy. To-day the rennet fell on us from the gentle David's house. Let a man show mercy to his persecutors, as did Jesse's son to Saul.28 The prophets' sweet salt29 is to-day sprinkled among the Gentiles. Let us gain a new savour30 by that whereby the ancient people lost their savour. Let us speak the speech of wisdom; speak we not of things outside it, lest we ourselves be outside it!
In this night of reconcilement let no man be wroth or gloomy! in this night that stills all, none that threatens or disturbs! This night belongs to the sweet One; bitter or harsh be in it none! In this night that is the meek One's, high or haughty be in it none! In this day of pardoning let us not exact trespasses! In this day of gladnesses let us not spread sadnesses! In this day so sweet, let us not be harsh! In this day of peaceful rest, let us not be wrathful in it! In this day when God came to sinners, let not the righteous be in his mind uplifted over sinner! In this day in which there came the Lord of all unto the servants, let masters too condescend to their servants lovingly! In this day in which the Rich became poor for our sakes, let the rich man make the poor man share with him at his table. On this day to us came forth the Gift, although we asked it not! Let us therefore bestow alms on them that cry and beg of us. This is the day that opened for us a gate on high to our prayers. Let us open also gates to supplicants that have transgressed, and of us have asked [forgiveness.] To-day the Lord of nature was against His nature changed; let it not to us be irksome to turn our evil wills. Fixed in nature is the body; great or less it cannot become: but the will has such dominion, it can grow to any measure. To-day Godhead sealed itself upon Manhood, that so with the Godhead's stamp Manhood might be adorned.
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn II. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Blessed be that Child, Who gladdened
Praise to the Fountain that was sent1 for our propitiation. Praise be to Him Who made void the Sabbath by fulfilling it! Praise too to Him Who rebuked the leprosy and it remained not, Whom the fever saw and fled! Praise to the Merciful, Who bore our toil! Glory to Thy coming, which quickened the sons of men!
Glory to Him, Who came to us by His first-born! Glory to the Silence,2 that spake by His Voice. Glory to the One on high, Who was seen by His Day-spring! Glory to the Spiritual, Who was pleased to have a Body, that in it His virtue might be felt, and He might by that Body show mercy on His household's bodies!
Glory to that Hidden One, Whose Son was made manifest! Glory to that Living One, Whose Son was made to die! Glory to that Great One, Whose Son descended and was small! Glory to the Power Who did straiten His greatness by a form, His unseen nature by a shape! With eye and mind we have beheld Him, yea with both of them.
Glory to that Hidden One, Who even with the mind cannot be felt at all by them that pry into Him; but by His graciousness was felt by the hand of man! The Nature that could not be touched, by His hands was bound and tied, by His feet was pierced and lifted up. Himself of His own will He embodied for them that took Him.
Blessed be He Whom free will crucified, because He let it: blessed be He Whom the wood also did bear, because He allowed it. Blessed be He Whom the grave bound, that had [thereby] a limit set it. Blessed be He Whose own will brought Him to the Womb and Birth, to arms and to increase [in stature]. Blessed He whose changes purchased life for human nature.3
Blessed He Who sealed our soul, and adorned it and espoused it to Himself. Blessed He Who made our Body a tabernacle for His unseen Nature. Blessed He Who by our tongue interpreted His secret things. Let us praise that Voice whose glory is hymned with our lute, and His virtue with our harp. The Gentiles have assembled and have come to hear His strains.
Glory to the Son of the Good One, Whom the sons of the evil one rejected! Glory to the Son of the Just One, Whom the sons of wickedness crucified! Glory to Him Who loosed us, and was bound for us all! Glory to Him Who gave the pledge, and redeemed it too! Glory to the Beautiful, Who conformed us to His image! Glory to that Fair One, Who looked not to our foulnesses!
Glory to Him Who sowed His Light in the darkness,4 and was reproached in His hidden state, and covered His secret things. He also stripped and took off from us the clothing of our filthiness.5 Glory be to Him on high, Who mixed His salt6 in our minds, His leaven in our souls. His Body became Bread, to quicken our deadness.
Praise to the Rich, Who paid for us all, that which He borrowed not;7 and wrote [His bill], and also became our debtor! By His yoke He brake from us the chains of him that led us captive. Glory to the Judge Who was judged, and made His Twelve to sit in judgment on the tribes, and by ignorant men condemned the scribes of that nation!
Glory to Him Who could never be measured by us! Our heart is too small for Him, yea our mind is too feeble. He makes foolish our littleness by the riches of His Wisdom. Glory to Him, Who lowered Himself, and asked;8 that He might hear and learn that which He knew; that He might by His questions reveal the treasure of His helpful graces!
Let us adore Him Who enlightened with His doctrine our mind, and in our hearing sought a pathway for His words. Praise we Him Who grafted into our tree His fruit. Thanks to Him Who sent His Heir, that by Him He might draw us to Himself, yea make us heirs with Him! Thanks to that Good One, the cause of all goods!
Blessed He Who did not chide, because that He was good! Blessed He Who did not spurn, because that He was just also! Blessed He Who was silent, and rebuked; that He might quicken us with both! Severe His silence and reproachful. Mild His severity even When He was accusing; for He rebuked the traitor, and kissed the thief.
Glory to the hidden Husbandman of our intellects! His seed fell on to our ground, and made our mind rich. His increase came an hundredfold into the treasury of our souls! Let us adore Him Who sat down and took rest; and walked in the way, so that the Way was in the way, and the Door also for them that go in,9 by which they go in to the kingdom.
Blessed the Shepherd Who became a Lamb for our reconcilement! Blessed the Branch Who became the Cup of our Redemption! Blessed also be the Cluster, Fount of medicine of life! Blessed also be the Tiller, Who became Wheat, that He might be sown; and a Sheaf,10 that He might be cut![Blessed be] the Architect Who became a Tower for our place of safety!11 Blessed He Who so tempered the feelings of our mind,12 that we with our harp should sing that which the winged creatures' mouth knows not with its strains to sing! Glory to Him, Who beheld how we had pleased to be like to brutes in our rage and our greediness; and came down and was one of us, that we might become heavenly!
Glory be to Him, Who never felt the need of our praising Him; yet felt the need as being kind to us, and thirsted13 as loving us, and asks us to give to Him, and longs to give to us. His fruit was mingled with us men, that in Him we might come nigh to Him, Who condescended to us. By the Fruit of His stem He grafted us into His Tree.
Let us praise Him, Who prevailed and quickened us by His stripes! Praise we Him, Who took away the curse by His thorns! Praise we Him Who put death to death by His dying! Praise we Him, Who held His peace and justified us! Praise we Him, Who rebuked death that had overcome us! Blessed He, Whose helpful graces cleansed out the left side!14
Praise we Him Who watched and put to sleep him that led us captive. Praise we Him Who went to sleep, and chased our deep sleep away. Glory be to God Who cured weak manhood! Glory be to Him Who was baptized, and drowned our iniquity in the deep, and choked him15 that choked us! Let us glorify with all our mouths the Lord of all creatures!
Blessed be the Physician Who came down and amputated without pain, and healed wounds with a medicine that was not harsh. His Son became a Medicine, that showed sinners mercy. Blessed be He Who dwelt in the womb, and wrought therein a perfect Temple, that He might dwell in it, a Throne that He might be in it, a Garment that He might be arrayed in it, and a Weapon that He might conquer in it.
Blessed be He Whom our mouth cannot adequately praise, because His Gift is too great for skill of orators [to tell]; neither can the faculties adequately praise His goodness. For praise Him as we may, it is too little.
And since it is useless to be silent and to constrain ourselves, may our feebleness excuse such praise as we can sing.
How gracious He, Who demands not more than our strength can give! How would Thy servant be condemned in capital and interest, did he not give such as he could, and did he refuse that which He owed! Ocean of glory Who needest not to have Thy glory sung, take in Thy goodness this drop of praise; since by Thy Gift Thou hast supplied my tongue a sense for glorifying Thee.
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn III. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Blessed be that first day of thine, Lord, wherewith this day of Thy Feast is stamped Thy day is like Thee, in that it shows mercy unto men, in that it is handed down and comes with all generations.
This is the day that ends with the aged, and returns that it may begin with the young! a day that by its love refreshes itself, that it may refresh by its might us decayed creatures. Thy day when it had visited us and passed, and gone away, in its mercy returned and visited us again: for it knows that human nature needs it; in all things like unto Thee as seeking us.
The world is in want of its fountain; and for it, Lord, as for Thee, all therein are athirst. This is the day that rules over the seasons! the dominion of Thy day is like Thine, which stretches over generations that have come, and are to come! Thy day is like unto Thee, because when it is one, it buds and multiplies itself, that it may be like Thee!
In this Thy day, Lord, which is near unto us, we see Thy Birth that is far off! Like to Thee be Thy day to us, Lord; let it be a mediator and a warranter of peace.
Thy day reconciled Heaven and earth, because therein the Highest came down to the lowest.
Thy day was able to reconcile the Just One, who was wroth at our sins; Thy day forgave thousands of sins, for in it bowels of mercy shone forth upon the guilty!
Great, Lord, is Thy day; let it not be small upon us, let it show mercy according as it used to do, upon us transgressors!
And if every day, Lord, Thy forgiveness wells forth, how exceeding great should itbe upon this day! All the days from the Treasure of Thy bright day gain blessings. All the feasts from the stores of this feast have their fairness and their ornaments. Thy bowels of mercy upon Thy day make Thou to abound unto us, O Lord! Make us to distinguish Thy day from all days! for great is the treasure-house of the day of Thy Birth; let it be the ransomer of debtors! Great is this day above all days, for in it came forth mercy to sinners. A store of medicines is this Thy great day, because on it shone forth the Medicine of Life to the wounded! A treasure of helpful graces is this day, for that on it Light gleamed forth upon our blindness! Yea, it also brought a sheaf unto us; and it came, that from it might flow plenty upon our hunger. This day is that forerunning Cluster, in which the cup of salvation was concealed! This day is the first-born feast, which, being born the first, overcomes all feasts. In the winter which strips the fruit of the branches off from the barren vine, Fruit sprang up unto us; in the cold that bares all the trees, a shoot was green for us of the house of Jesse. In December when the seed is hidden in the earth, there sprouted forth from the Womb the Ear of Life. In March when the seed was sprouting in the air, a Sheaf sowed itself in the earth. The harvest thereof, Death devoured it in Hell; which the Medicine of life that is hidden therein did yet burst open! In March when the lambs bleat in the wilderness, into the Womb the Paschal Lamb entered! Out of the stream whence the fishers came up, He was baptized and came up Who incloses all things in his net; out of the stream the fish whereof Simon took, out of it the Fisher of men came up, and took him. With the Cross which catches all robbers, He caught up unto life that robber! The Living by His death emptied Hell, He unloosed it and let fly away from it entire multitudes! The publicans and harlots, the impure snares, the snares of the deceitful fowler the Holy One seized! The sinful woman, who was a snare for men, He made a mirror for penitent women! The fig that cast its fruit, that refused fruit, offered Zacchaeus as fruit; the fruit of its own nature it gave not, but it yielded one reasonable fruit! The Lord spread His thirst over the well, and caught her that was thirsty with the water that He asked of her. He caught one soul at the well, and again caught with her the whole city: twelve fishers the Holy One caught, and again caught with them the whole world. As for Iscariot, that escaped from His nets, the strangling halter fell upon his neck! His all-quickening net catches the living, and he that escapes from it escapes from the living.
And who is able, Lord, to tell me up the several succours that are hid in Thee? How shall the parched mouth be able to drink from the Fountain of the Godhead! Answer today the voice of our petition; let our prayer which is in words take effect in deeds. Heal us, O my Master; every time that we see Thy Feast, may it cause rumours that we have heard to pass away. Our mind wanders amid these voices. O Voice of the Father, still [other] voices; the world is noisy, in Thee let it gain itself quiet; for by Thee the sea was stilled from its storms. The devils rejoiced when they heard the voice of blasphemy: let the Watchers rejoice in us as they are wont. From amongst Thy fold there is the voice of sorrowfulness; O Thou that makest all rejoice, let Thy flock rejoice! as for our murmur, O my Master, in it reject us not: our mouth murmurs since it is sinful. Let Thy day, O Lord, give us all manner of joy, with the flowers of peace, let us keep Thy passover. In the day of Thy Ascension we are lifted up: with the new Bread shall be the memorial thereof. O Lord, increase our peace, that we may keep three feasts of the Godhead. Great is Thy day, Lord, let us not be despised. All men honour the day of Thy birth. Thou righteous One, keep Thou the glory of Thy birth; for even Herod honoured the day of His birth! The dances of the impure one pleased the tyrant; to Thee, Lord, let the voice of chaste women be sweet! Thee, Lord, let the voice of chaste women please, whose bodies Thou guardest holily. The day of Herod was like him: Thy day too is like Thee! The day of the troubled one was troubled with sin; and fair as Thou art is Thy fair day! The feast of the tyrant killed the preacher; in Thy feast every man preaches glory. On the day of the murderer, the Voice was put to silence; but on Thy day are the voices of the feast. The foul one in his feast put out the Light, that darkness might cover the adulterers. The season of the Holy One trims lamps, that darkness may flee with the hidden things thereof. The day of that fox stank like himself; but holy is the feast of the True Lamb. The day of the transgressor passed away like himself; Thy day like Thyself abideth for ever. The day of the tyrant raged like himself, because with his chain it put to silence the righteous Voice. The feast of the Meek One is tranquil like Himself, because His sum shines upon His persecutors. The tyrant was conscious that He was not a king, therefore to the King of kings he gave place. The whole day, Lord, suffices me not to balance Thy praise with his blame. May Thy Gracious day cause my sin to pass away, seeing that it is with the day of the impure one, that I have weighed Thy day! For great is Thy day beyond comparison! nor can it be compared with our days. The day of man is as of the earthy: the day of God is as of God! Thy day, Lord, is greater than those of the prophets, and I have taken and set it beside that of the murderer! Thou knowest, O Lord, as knowing all things, how to hear the comparison that my tongue hath made. Let Thy day grant our requests for life, since his day granted the request for death. The needy king swore on his feast that half his kingdom should be the reward of the dance! Let Thy feast then, O Thou that enrichest all, shed down in mercy a crumb of fine wheat flour! From the dry land gushed the Fountain, which sufficed to satisfy the thirst of the Gentiles! From the Virgin's womb as from a strong rock sprouted up the seed, whence was much fruit! Barns without number did Joseph fill; and they were emptied and failed in the years of the famine. One true Sheaf gave bread; the bread of Heaven, whereof there is no stint. The bread which the First-born brake in the wilderness, failed and passed away though very good. He returned again and broke the New Bread which ages and generations shall not waste away! The seven loaves also that He brake failed, and the five loaves too that He multiplied were consumed; the Bread that He brake exceeded the world's needs, for the more it was divided, the more it multiplied exceedingly. With much wine also He filled the waterpots; they drew it out, yet it failed though it was abundant: of the Cup that He gave though the draught was small, very great was its strength, so that there is no stint thereto. A Cup is He that contains all strong wines, and also a Mystery in the midst of which He Himself is! The one Bread that He brake has no bound, and the one Cup that He mingled has no stint! The Wheat that was sown, on the third day came up and filled the Garner of Life. The spiritual Bread, as the Giver of it, quickens the spiritual spiritually, and he that receives it carnally, receives it rashly to no profit. This Bread of grace let the spirit receive discerningly, as the medicine of Life. If the dead sacrifices in the name of devils were offered, yea eaten, not without a mystery; at the holy thing of the offering, how much more does it behove us that this mystery be circumspectly administered by us. He that eateth of the sacrifice in the name of devils, becomes devilish without all contra- diction. He that eateth the Heavenly Bread, becomes Heavenly without doubt! Wine teaches us, in that it makes him that is familiar therewith like itself: for it hates much him that is fond of it, and is intoxicating and maddening, and a mocker to him! Light teaches us, in that it makes like unto itself the eye the daughter of the sun: the eye by the light saw the nakedness, and ran and chastely hid the chaste man. As for that nakedness it was wine that made it, which even to the chaste skills not to show mercy!
With the weapon of the deceiver the First-born clad Himself, that with the weapon that killed, He might restore to life again! With the tree wherewith he slew us, He delivered us. With the wine which maddened us, with it we were made chaste! With the rib that was drawn out of Adam, the wicked one drew out the heart of Adam. There rose from the Rib a hidden power, which cut off Satan as Dagon: for in that
Glory to that Voice Which became Body, and to the Word of the High One Which became Flesh! Hear Him also, O ears, and see Him, O eyes, and feel Him, O hands, and eat Him, O mouth! Ye members and senses give praise unto Him, that came and quickened the whole body! Mary bare the silent Babe, while in Him were hidden all tongues! Joseph bare Him, and in Him was hidden a nature more ancient than aught that is old! The High One became as a little child, and in Him was hidden a treasure of wisdom sufficing for all! Though Most High, yet He sucked the milk of Mary, and of His goodness all creatures suck! He is the Breast of Life, and the Breath of Life; the dead suck from His life and revive. Without the breath of the air no man lives, without the Might of the Son no man subsists. On His living breath that quickeneth all, depend the spirits that are above and that are beneath. When He sucked the milk of Mary, He was suckling all with Life. While He was lying on His Mother's bosom, in His bosom were all creatures lying. He was silent as a Babe, and yet He was making His creatures execute all His commands. For without the First-born no man can approach unto the Essence, to which He is equal. The thirty years He was in the earth, Who was ordering all creatures, Who was receiving all the offerings of praise from those above and those below. He was wholly in the depths and wholly in the highest! He was wholly with all things and wholly with each. While His body was forming within the womb, His power was fashioning all members! While the Conception of the Son was fashioning in the womb, He Himself was fashioning babes in the womb. Yet not as His body was weak in the womb, was His power weak in the womb! So too not as His body was feeble by the Cross, was His might also feeble by the Cross. For when on the Cross He quickened the dead, His Body quickened them, yea, rather His Will; just as when He was dwelling wholly in the womb, His hidden Will was visiting all! For see how, when He was wholly hanging upon the Cross, His Power was yet making all creatures move! For He darkened the sun and made the earth quake; He rent the graves and brought forth the dead! See how when He was wholly on the Cross, yet again He was wholly everywhere! Thus was He entirely in the womb, while He was again wholly in everything! While on the Cross He quickened the dead, so while a Babe He was fashioning babes. While He was slain, He opened the graves; while He was in the womb, He opened wombs. Come hearken, my brethren, concerning the Son of the Secret One that was revealed in His Body, while His Power was concealed! For the Power of the Son is a free Power; the womb did not bind it up, as it did the Body! For while His Power was dwelling in the womb, He was fashioning infants in the womb! His Power compassed her, that compassed Him. For if He drew in His Power, all things would fall; His Power upholds all things; while He was within the womb, He left not His hold of all. He in His own Person shaped an Image in the womb, and was shaping in all wombs all countenances. Whilst He was increasing in stature among the poor, from an abundant treasury He was nourishing all! While she that anointed Him was anointing Him, with His dew and His rain He was anointing all! The Magi brought myrrh and gold, while in Him was hidden a treasure of riches. The myrrh and spices which He had prepared and created, did the Magi bring Him of His own. It was by Power from Him that Mary was able to bear in Her bosom Him that bears up all things! It was from the great storehouse of all creatures, Mary gave Him all which she did give Him! She gave Him milk from Himself that prepared it, she gave Him food from Himself that made it! He gave milk unto Mary as God: again He sucked it from her, as the Son of Man. Her hands bare Him in that He had emptied. His strength; and her arm embraced Him, in that He had made Himself small. The measure of His Majesty who has measured? He caused His measures to shrink into a Raiment. She wove for Him and clothed Him because He had put off His glory. She measured Him and wove for Him, since He had made Himself little.
The sea when it bore Him was still and calmed, and how came the lap of Joseph to bear Him? The womb of hell conceived Him and was burst open, and how did the womb of Mary contain Him? The stone that was over the grave He broke open by His might, and how could Mary's arm contain Him? Thou camest to a low estate, that Thou mightest raise all to life! Glory be unto Thee from all that are quickened by Thee! Who is able to speak of the Son of the Hidden One who came down and clothed Himself with a Body in the womb? He came forth and sucked milk as a child, and among little children the Son of the Lord of all crept about. They saw Him as a little Child in the street, while there was dwelling in Him the Love of all. Visibly children surrounded Him in the street; secretly Angels surrounded Him in fear. Cheerful was He with the little ones as a child; awful was He with the Angels as a Commander: He was awful to John for him to loose His shoe's latchet: He was gentle to sinners that kissed His feet! The Angels as Angels saw Him; according to the measure of his knowledge each man beheld Him: according to the measure of each man's discernment, thus he perceived Him that is greater than all. The Father and Himself alone are a full measure of knowledge so as know Him as He is! For every creature whether above or below obtains each his measure of knowledge; He the Lord of all gives all to us. He that enriches all, requires usury of all. He gives to all things as wanting nothing, and yet requires usury of all as if needy. He gave us herds and flocks as Creator, and yet asked sacrifices as though in need. He made the water wine as Maker: and yet he drank of it as a poor man. Of His own He mingled [wine] in the marriage feast, His wine He mingled and gave to drink when He was a guest. In His love He multiplied [the days of] the aged Simeon; that he, a mortal, might present Him who quickeneth all. By power from Him did Simeon carry Him; he that presented Him, was by Him presented [to God]. He gave imposition of hands to Moses in the Mount, and received it in the midst of the river from John. In the power of His gifts John was enabled to baptize, though earthy, the heavenly. By power from Him the earth supported Him: it was nigh to being dissolved, and His might strengthened it. Martha gave Him to eat: viands which He had created she placed before Him. Of His own all that give have made their vows: of His own treasures they placed upon His table.
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn IV. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
This is the month which brings all manner of joy; it is the freedom of the bondsmen, the pride of the free, the crown of the gates, the soothing of the body, that also in its love put purple upon us as upon kings.
This is the month that brings all manner of victories; it frees the spirit; it subdues the body; it brings forth life among mortals; it caused, in its love, Godhead, to dwell in Manhood.
In this day the Lord exchanged glory for shame, as being humble; because Adam changed the truth for unrighteousness as being a rebel: the Good One had mercy on him, justified and set right them that had turned aside.
Let every man chase away his weariness, since that Majesty was not wearied with being in the womb nine months for us, and in being thirty years in Sodom among the madmen.1
Because the Good One saw that the race of man was poor and humbled, He made feasts as a treasure-house, and opened them to the slothful, that the feast might stir up the slothful one to rise and be rich.
Lo! The First-born has opened unto us His feast as a treasure-house. This one day in the whole year alone opens that treasure-house: come, let us make gain, let us grow rich from it, ere they shut it up.
Blessed be the watchful, that have taken by force2 from it the spoil of Life. It is a great disgrace, when a man sees his neighbor take and carry out treasure, and himself sits in the treasure-house slumbering, so as to come forth empty.
In this feast, let each one of us crown the gates of his heart. The Holy Spirit longs for the gates thereof, that He may enter in and dwell there, and sanctify it, and He goes round about to all the gates to see where He may enter.
In this feast, the gates are glad before the gates,3 and the Holy One rejoices in the holy temple, and the voice resounds in the mouth of children, and Christ rejoices in His own feast as a mighty man.
At the Birth of the Son the king was enrolling all men for the tribute-money, that they might be debtors to Him: the King came forth to us Who blotted out our bills,4 and wrote another bill in His own Name that He might be our debtor. The sun gave longer light, and foreshadowed the mystery by the degrees which it had gone up.5 It was twelve days since it had gone up, and to-day is the thirteenth day: a type exact of the Son's birth6 and of His Twelve.
Moses shut up a lamb in the month Nisan on the tenth day; a type this of the Son that came into the womb and shut Himself up therein on the tenth day.7 He came forth from the womb in this month in which the sun gives longer light.
The darkness was overcome, that it might proclaim that Satan was overcome; and the sun gave longer light, that it might triumph, because the First-born was victorious. Along with the darkness the dark one was overcome, and with the greater light our Light conquered!
Joseph caressed the Son as a Babe; he ministered to Him as God. He rejoiced in Him as in the Good One, and he was awe-struck at Him as the Just One, greatly bewildered.
"Who hath given me the Son of the Most High to be a Son to me? I was jealous of Thy Mother, and I thought to put her away, and I knew not that in her womb was hidden a mighty treasure, that should suddenly enrich my poor estate. David the king sprang of my race, and wore the crown: and I have come to a very low estate, who instead of a king am a carpenter. Yet a crown hath come to me, for in my bosom is the Lord of crowns!"
With rival words Mary burned, yea she lulled Him, [saying,] Who hath given me, the barren, that I should conceive and bring forth this One, that is manifold; a little One, that is great; for that He is wholly with me, and wholly everywhere?
The day that Gabriel came in unto my low estate, he made me free instead of a handmaid, of a sudden: for I was the handmaid of Thy Divine Nature, and am also the Mother of Thy human Nature, O Lord and Son!
Of a sudden the handmaid became the King's daughter in Thee, Thou Son of the King. Lo, the meanest in the house of David, by reason of Thee, Thou Son of David, lo, a daughter of earth hath attained unto Heaven by the Heavenly One!
How am I astonied that there is laid before me a Child, older than all things! His eye is gazing unceasingly upon Heaven. As for the stammering of His mouth, to my seeming it betokens, that with God its silence speaks.
Who ever saw a Child the whole of Whom beholdeth every place? His look is like one that orders all creatures that are above and that are below! His visage is like that Commander that commandeth all.
How shall I open the fountain of milk to Thee, O Fountain? Or how shall I give nourishment to Thee that nourishest all from Thy Table? How shall I bring to swaddling clothes One wrapped round with rays of glory?
My mouth knows not how I shall call Thee, O Thou Child of the Living One: for to venture to call Thee as the Child of Joseph, I tremble, since Thou art not his seed: and I am fearful of denying the name of him to whom they have betrothed me.
While Thou art the Son of One, then should I be calling Thee the Son of many. For ten thousand names would not suffice Thee, since Thou art the Son of God and also the Son of man, yea, David's Son and Mary's Lord.
Who hath made the Lord of mouths to be without a mouth? For my pure conception of Thee wicked men have slandered me. Be, O Thou Holy One, a Speaker for Thy Mother. Show a miracle that they may be persuaded, from Whom it is that I conceived Thee!
For Thy sake too I am hated, Thou Lover of all. Lo! I am persecuted who have conceived and brought forth One House of refuge for men. Adam will rejoice, for Thou art the Key of Paradise.
Lo, the sea raged against Thy mother as against Jonah. Lo, Herod, that raging wave, sought to drown the Lord of the seas. Whither I shall flee Thou shalt teach me, O Lord of Thy Mother.
With Thee I will flee, that I may gain in Thee Life in every place. The prison with Thee is no prison, for in Thee man goes up unto Heaven: the grave with Thee is no grave, for Thou art the Resurrection!8
A star of light which was not nature, shone forth suddenly; less than the sun and greater than the sun, less than it in its visible light, but greater than it in its hidden might, by reason of its mystery.
The Morning Star cast its bright beams among the darknesses, and led them as blind men, and they came and received a great light: they gave offerings and received life, and they worshipped and returned.
In the height and the depth two preachers were there to the Son: the bright star shouted above; John also preached below, two preachers, an earthly and a heavenly.
That above showed His Nature to be from the Majesty, and that below too showed his Nature to be from mankind. O great marvel, that His Godhead and His Manhood each was preached by them.
Whoso thought Him earthly, the bright star convinced him that He was heavenly; and whoso thought Him spiritual, John convinced him that He was also corporeal.
In the Holy temple Simeon carried Him, and lulled Him, [saying,] "Thou art come, O Merciful One, showing mercy on my old age, making my bones to go into the grave in peace. In Thee shall I be raised from the grave into
Anna embraced Him, and put her mouth to His lips, and the Spirit dwelt upon her own lips. As when Isaiah's mouth was silent, the coal9 which approached his lips opened his mouth; so Anna burned with the Spirit of His mouth, yea, she lulled Him, [saying,] "Son of the Kingdom, Son of the lowliness, that hearest and art still, that seest and art hidden, that knowest and art unknown, God, Son of Man, glory be unto Thy Name."
The barren also heard, ran, and came with their provisions: the Magi came with their treasures, the barren came with their provisions. Provisions and riches were suddenly heaped up in the house of the poor.
The barren woman cried out, as at that which she looked not for, Who hath granted me this sight of thy Babe, O Blessed One, by whom the heaven and earth are filled! Blessed be thy Fruit, which made the barren vine to bear a cluster.
Zacharias came and opened his venerable mouth and cried, "Where is the King, for whose sake I have begotten the Voice that is to preach before His face? Hail, Son of the King, to whom also our Priesthood shall be given up!"
John approached with his parents and worshipped the Son, and He shed glory upon his countenance; and he was not moved as when in the womb! Mighty miracle, that here he was worshipping, there he leaped.
Herod also, that base fox, that stalked about like a lion, as a fox crouched down, and howled, when he heard the roaring of the Lion, who came to sit in the kingdom according to the Scriptures. The fox heard that the Lion was a whelp, and as a suckling; and he sharpened His teeth, that while He was yet a child the fox might lie in wait and devour the Lion ere He had grown up, and the breath of His mouth should destroy him.
The whole creation became mouths to Him, and cried concerning Him. The Magi cried by their offerings! the barren cried with their children, the star of light cried in that air, lo! the Son of the King!
The Heavens were opened, the waters were calmed, the Dove glorified Him, the voice of the Father, louder than thunder, was instant and said, This is my beloved Son. The Angels proclaim Him, the children shout to Him with their Hosannas.
These voices above and below proclaim Him and cry aloud. The slumber of Sion was not dispersed by the voice of the thunders, but she was offended, stood up, and slew Him because He aroused her.
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn V. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Blessed be that Babe in whom Eve and Adam were restored to youth! The shepherds also came laden with the best gifts of their flock: sweet milk, clean flesh, befitting praise! They put a difference, and gave Joseph the flesh, Mary the milk, and the Son the praise! They brought and presented a suckling lamb to the Paschal Lamb, a first-born to the First-born, a sacrifice to the Sacrifice, a lamb of time to the Lamb of Truth. Fair sight [to see] the lamb offered to The Lamb!
The lamb bleated as it was offered before the First-born. It praised the Lamb, that had come to set free the flocks and the oxen from sacrifices: yea that Paschal Lamb, Who handed down and brought in the Passover of the Son.
The shepherds came near and worshipped Him with their staves. They saluted Him with peace, prophesying the while, "Peace, O Prince of the Shepherds." The rod of Moses praised Thy Rod, O Shepherd of all; for Thee Moses praises, although his lambs have become wolves, and his flocks as it were dragons, and his sheep ranged beasts. In the fearful wilderness his flocks became furious, and attacked him.
Thee then the Shepherds praise, because Thou hast reconciled the wolves and the lambs within the fold; O Babe, that art older than Noah and younger than Noah, that reconciled all within the ark amid the billows!
David Thy father for a lamb's sake slaughtered a lion. Thou, O Son of David, hast killed the unseen wolf that murdered Adam, the simple lamb who fed and bleated in
At that voice of praise, brides were moved to hallow themselves, and virgins to be chaste, and even young girls became grave: they advanced and came in multitudes, and worshipped the Son.
Aged women of the city of
The old men cried, "Blessed be that Son Who restored Adam to youth, Who was vexed to see that he was old and worn out, and that the serpent who had killed him, had changed his skin and had gotten himself away. Blessed be the Babe in Whom Adam and Eve were restored to youth."
The chaste women said, O Blessed Fruit, bless the fruit of our wombs; to Thee may they be given as first-born. They waxed fervent and prophesied concerning their children, who, when they were killed for Him, were cut off, as it were first-fruits.
The barren also fondled Him, and carried Him; they rejoiced and said, Blessed Fruit born without marriage, bless the wombs of us that are married; have mercy on our barrenness, Thou wonderful Child of Virginity!
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn VI. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Blessed be the Messenger that was laden, and came; a great peace! The Bowels of the Father brought Him down to us; He did not bring up our debts to Him, but made a satisfaction to that Majesty with His own goods.
Praised be the Wise One, who reconciled and joined the Divine with the Human Nature. One from above and one from below, He confined the Natures as medicines, and being the Image of God, became man.
That Jealous One when He saw that Adam was dust, and that the cursed serpent had devoured him, shed soundness into that which was tasteless, and made him [as] salt, wherewith the accursed serpent should be blinded.
Blessed be the Merciful One, who saw the weapon by Paradise, that closed the way to the Tree of Life; and came and took a Body which could suffer, that with the Door, that was in His side, He might open the way into
Blessed be that Merciful One, who lent not Himself to harshness, but without constraint conquered by wisdom; that He might give an ensample unto men, that by virtue and wisdom they might conquer discerningly.
Blessed is Thy flock, since Thou art the gate thereof, and Thou art the staff thereof. Thou art the Shepherd thereof, Thou art the Drink thereof, Thou art the salt thereof, yea, the Visitor thereof. Hail to the Only-Begotten, that bare abundantly all manner of consolations!
The husbandmen came and did obeisance before the Husbandman of Life. They prophesied to Him as they rejoiced,[saying,] "Blessed be the Husbandman, by Whom the ground of the heart is tilled, Who gathereth His wheat into the garner of Life."
The husbandmen came and gave glory to the Vineyard that sprang of the root and stem of Jesse, the Virgin Cluster of the glorious Vine. "May we be vessels for Thy new Wine that renews all things."
"In Thee may the Vineyard of my Well-beloved that yielded wild grapes1 find peace! Graft its vines from Thy stocks; let it be laden entirely from Thy blessings with a fruit which may reconcile the Lord of the Vineyard, Who threatens it."
Because of Joseph the workmen came to the Son of Joseph saying, "Blessed be Thy Nativity, Thou Head of Workmen, the impress whereof the ark bore, after which was fashioned the Tabernacle of the congregation that was for a time only!"2
"Our craft praises Thee, Who art our glory. Make Thou the yoke which is light, yea easy, for them that bear it; make the measure, in which there can be no falseness, which is full of Truth; yea, devise and make measures3 by righteousness; that he that is vile may be accused thereby, and he that is perfect, may be acquitted thereby. Weigh therewith both mercy and truth, O just One, as a judge."
"Bridegrooms with their brides rejoiced. Blessed be the Babe, whose Mother was Bride of the Holy One! Blessed the marriage feast, whereat Thou wast present, in which when wine was suddenly wanting, in Thee it abounded again!"
The children cried out, "Blessed He that hath become unto us a Brother, and Companion in the midst of the streets. Blessed be the day which by the Branches4 gives glory to the Tree of life, that made His Majesty be brought low, to our childish age!"
Women heard that a Virgin should conceive and bring forth a Son: honourable women hoped that thou wouldest rise from them; yea noble ladies that Thou mightest spring up from them! Blessed be Thy Majesty, that humbled Itself, and rose from the poor!
Yea the young girls that carried Him prophesied, saying, "Whether I be hated or fair, or of low estate, I am without spot for Thee. I have taken Thee in charge for the bed of Childbirth."
Sarah had lulled Isaac, who as a slave5 bare the Image of the King his Master on his shoulders, even the sign of His Cross; yea, on his hands were bandages and sufferings, a type of the nails.
Rachel cried to her husband, and said, Give me sons.6 Blessed be Mary, in whose womb, though she asked not, Thou didst dwell holily, O Gift, that poured itself upon them that received it.
Hannah with bitter tears asked a child;7 Sarah and Rebecca with vows and words,
Blessed be Mary, who without vows and without prayer, in her Virginity conceived and brought forth the Lord of all the sons of her companions, who have been or shall be chaste and righteous, priests and kings.
Who else lulled a son in her bosom as Mary did? who ever dared to call her son, Son of the Maker, Son of the Creator, Son of the Most High?
Who ever dared to speak to her son as in prayer? O Trust of Thy Mother as God, her Beloved and her Son as Man, in fear and love it is meet for thy Mother to stand before Thee!
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn VII. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
The Son of the Maker is like unto His Father as Maker! He made Himself a pure body, He clothed Himself with it, and came forth and clothed our weakness with glory, which in His mercy He brought from the Father.
From Melchizedek, the High Priest, a hyssop came to Thee, a throne and crown from the house of David, a race and family from Abraham.
Be thou unto me a Haven, for Thine own sake, O great Sea. Lo! the Psalms of David Thy Father, and the words also of the Prophets, came forth unto me, as it were ships.
David Thy father, in the hundred and tenth Psalm, twined together two numbers as it were crowns to Thee, and came [to Thee], O Conqueror! With these shalt Thou be crowned, and unto the throne shalt Thou ascend and sit.
A great crown is the number that is twined in the hundred, wherein is crowned Thy Godhead! A little crown is that of the number ten, which crowns the Head of Thy Manhood, O Victorious One!
For Thy sake women sought after men. Tamar desired him that was widowed, and Ruth loved a man that was old, yea, that Rahab, that led men captive, was captivated by Thee.
Tamar went forth, and in the darkness1 stole the Light, and in uncleanness stole the Holy One, and by uncovering her nakedness she went in and stole Thee, O glorious One, that bringest the pure out of the impure.
Satan saw her and trembled, and hasted to trouble her. He brought the judgment to her mind, and she feared not; stoning and the sword, and she trembled not. He that teacheth adultery hindered adultery, because he was a hinderer of Thee.
For holy was the adultery of Tamar, for Thy sake. Thee it was she thirsted after, O pure Fountain.
She was a widow for Thy sake. Thee did she long for, she hasted and was also an harlot for Thy sake. Thee did she vehemently desire, and was sanctified in that it was Thee she loved.
May Tamar rejoice that her Lord hath come and hath made her name known for the son of her adultery! Surely the name she gave him2 was calling unto Thee to come to her.
For Thee honorable women shamed themselves, Thou that givest chastity to all! Thee she stole away in the midst of the ways, who pavest the way into the kingdom! Because it was life that she stole, the sword was not able to put her to death.
Ruth lay down by a man in the threshingfloor for Thy sake; her love made her bold for Thy sake, O Thou that teachest all penitents boldness. Her ears refused [to listen to] any voices for the sake of Thy voice.
The live coal that glowed went up into the bed, of Boaz, lay down there, saw the High Priest, in whose loins was hidden a fire for his incense!3 She hasted and was a heifer to Boaz, that should bring forth Thee, the fatted Calf.
She went gleaning for her love of Thee; she gathered straw. Thou didst quickly pay her the reward of her lowliness; and instead of ears of corn, the Root of Kings, and instead of straws, the Sheaf of Life, didst Thou make to spring from her.
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn VIII. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
That Thy Resurrection might be believed among the gainsayers, they sealed Thee up within the sepulchre, and set guards; for it was for Thee that they sealed the sepulchre and set guards, O Son of the Living One!
When they had buried Thee, if they had neglected Thee and left Thee, and gone, there would have been room to lie [and say] that they did steal, O Quickener of all! When they craftily sealed Thy sepulchre, they made Thy Glory greater.
A type of Thee therefore was Daniel, and also Lazarus; one in the den, which the Gentiles sealed up, and one in the sepulchre, that the People opened. Lo! their signs and their seals reproved them.
Their mouth had been open, if they had left Thy sepulchre open. But they went away because they had shut Thy sepulchre and sealed it, and closed up their own mouths. Yea they closed it, and when they had senselessly covered Thy sepulchre, all the slanderers covered their own heads.
But in Thy Resurrection Thou persuadest them concerning Thy Birth; since the womb was sealed, and the sepulchre closed up; being alike pure in the womb, and living in the sepulchre.1 The womb and the sepulchre being sealed were witnesses unto Thee.
The belly and hell cried aloud of Thy Birth and Thy Resurrection: The belly conceived Thee, which was sealed; hell brought Thee forth which was closed up. Not after nature did either the belly conceive Thee, or hell give Thee up!
Sealed was the sepulchre whereto they had entrusted Thee, that it might keep the dead [safe], Virgin was the womb which no man knew. Virgin womb and sealed sepulchre, like trumphets, proclaimed Him in the ears of a deaf people.
The sealed belly and the closed rock were amongst the accusers. For they slandered the Conception as being of the seed of man, and the Resurrection as being of the robbery of man; the seal and the signet convicted them, and pleaded that Thou wert of Heaven.
The people stood between Thy Birth and Thy Resurrection. They slandered Thy Birth, Thy Death condemned them: they set aside Thy Resurrection, Thy Birth refuted them; they were two wrestlers that stopped the mouth that slandered.
For Elijah they went and searched the mountains:2 as they sought him on earth, they the more confirmed that he was taken up. Their searching bare witness that he was taken up, in that it found him not.
If then prophets that had had forewarning of Elijah's ascension, doubted as it were of his going up, how much more would impure men speak slander of the Son? By their own guards He convinced them that He was risen again.
To Thy Mother, Lord, no man knew what name to give. Should he call her Virgin, her Child stood [there]; and married no man knew her to be! If then none comprehended Thy Mother, who shall suffice for Thee?
For she was, alone, Thy Mother; along with all, Thy Sister. She was Thy mother, she was Thy Sister. She along with chaste women3 was Thy betrothed. With everything didst Thou adorn Her, Thou ornament of Thy Mother.
For she was Thy Bride by nature ere Thou hadst come; she conceived Thee not by nature after Thou wast come, O Holy One, and was a Virgin when she had brought Thee forth holily.
Mary gained in Thee, O Lord, the honours of all married women. She conceived[Thee] within her without marriage. There was milk in her breasts, not after the way of nature. Thou madest the thirsty land suddenly a fountain of milk.
If she carried Thee, Thy mighty look made her burden light; if she gave Thee to eat, it was because Thou wert hungry; if she gave Thee to drink [it was], because Thou wert thirsty; willingly if she embraced Thee, Thou, the coal of mercies, didst keep her bosom safe.
A wonder is Thy Mother. The Lord entered her, and became a servant: the Word entered her, and became silent within her; thunder entered her, and His voice was still: the Shepherd of all entered her; He became a Lamb in her, and came forth bleating.
The Belly of Thy Mother changed the order of things, O Thou that orderest all! The rich went in, He came out poor: the High One went in, He came out lowly. Brightness went into her and clothed Himself, and came forth a despised form.
The Mighty went in, and clad Himself with fear from the Belly. He that giveth food to all went in, and gat hunger. He that giveth all to drink went in, and gat thirst. Naked and bare came forth from her the Clother of all.
The daughters of the Hebrews that cried in the Lamentations of Jeremiah, instead of lamentations of their Scriptures, used lulling-songs from their own books: a hidden Power within their words was prophesying.
Eve lifted up her eyes from Sheol and rejoiced in that day, because the Son of her daughter as a medicine of life came down to raise up the mother of His mother. Blessed Babe, that bruised the head of the Serpent that smote her!
She saw the type of Thee from the youth of Isaac the fair. For Thee Sarah, as seeing that types of thee rested on his childhood, called him, saying, O child of my vows, in whom is hidden the Lord of vows.
Samson the Nazarite shadowed forth a type of Thy working. He tore the lion, the image of death, whom Thou didst destroy, and caused to go forth from his bitterness the sweetness of life for men.
Hannah also embraced Samuel; for Thy righteousness was hidden in him who hewed in pieces Agag as [a type] of the wicked one. He wept over Saul, because Thy goodness also was shadowed forth in him.4
How meek art Thou! How mighty art Thou, O Child!5 Thy judgment is mighty Thy love is sweet! Who can stand against Thee? Thy Father is in Heaven, Thy Mother is on earth; who shall declare Thee?6
If a man should seek after Thy Nature, it is hidden in Heaven in the mighty Bosom of the Godhead; and if a man seek after Thy visible Body, it is laid down before their eyes in the lowly bosom of Mary.
The mind wanders between Thy generations, O Thou Rich One! Thick folds are upon Thy Godhead. Who can sound Thy depths, Thou great Sea that made itself little?
We come to see Thee as God, and, lo! Thou art a man: we come to see Thee as man, and there shineth forth the Light of Thy Godhead!
Who would believe that Thou art the Heir of David's Throne? A manger hast Thou inherited out of [all] his beds, a cave has come down to Thee out of all his palaces. Instead of his chariots a common ass's colt, perchance, comes down to Thee.
How fearless art Thou, O Babe, that dost let all have thee [to carry]: upon every one that meets with Thee dost Thou smile: to every one that sees Thee, art Thou glad-some! Thy love is as one that hungers after men.
Thou makest no distinction between Thy fathers and strangers, nor Thy Mother and maidservants, nor her that suckled Thee and the unclean. Was it Thy forwardness or Thy love, O Thou that lovest all?
What moves Thee that Thou didst let all that saw Thee have Thee, both rich and poor? Thou helpedst them that called Thee not. Whence came it that Thou hungeredst so for men?
How great was Thy love, that if one rebuked Thee, Thou wast not wroth! if a man threatened Thee, Thou wast not terrified! if one hissed at Thee, Thou didst not feel vexed! Thou art above the laws of the avengers of injuries.
Moses was meek, and [yet] his zeal was harsh, for he struggled and slew. Elisha also, who restored a child to life, tore a multitude of children in pieces by bears. Who art Thou, O Child, whose love is greater than that of the Prophets?
The son of Hagar who was wild, kicked at Isaac.7 He bore it and was silent, and his mother was jealous. Art Thou the mystery of him, or is not he the type of Thee? art thou like Isaac, or is it not he that is like Thee?
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn IX. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Come rest, and be still in the bosom of Thy Mother, Son of the Glorious. Forwardness fits not the sons of kings. O Son of David, Thou art glorious, and [yet] the Son of Mary, who dost hide Thy beauty in the inner chamber.
To whom art Thou like, glad Babe, fair little One, Whose Mother is a Virgin, Whose Father is hidden, Whom even the Seraphim are not able to look upon? Tell us whom Thou art like, O Son of the Gracious!
When the wrathful came to see Thee, Thou madest them gladsome: they exchanged smiles one with another: the angry were made gentle in Thee, O sweet One. Blessed art Thou, little One, for that in Thee even the bitter are made sweet.
Who ever saw a Babe that was gladsome when in arms to those that came near him, lo! reached Himself unto them that were far off? Fair sight [to see] a Child, that takes thought for every man that they may see him!
He that hath care came and saw Thee, and his care fled away. He that had anxiety; at Thee forgat his anxiety; the hungry by Thee forgat his victuals; and he that had an errand, by Thee was errant and forgot his journey!
O still Thyself, and let men go to their works! Thou art a son of the poor, learn from Thyself that all the poor had to leave their work to come. Thou who lovest men, hast bound men together by Thy gladsomeness.
David, that stately king, took branches,1 and in the feast amongst the children as he danced, he gave praise. Is it not the love of David Thy father that is warm in Thee?
That daughter of Saul! her father's devil spake in her: she called the stately [king] a vile fellow, because he gave an ensample to the elders of her people of taking up branches with the children in the day of praise to Thee.
Who would not fear to lay it to Thee that Thou art forward? For lo, the daughter of Saul who mocked the child, cut off her womb from childbearing; because her mouth derided, the reward of its mouth was barrenness.2
Let mouths tremble at blasphemy, lest they be shut up! Refrain, O daughter of Sion, thy mouth from Him, for He is the Son of David, Who is gladsome before thee. Be not unto Him as the daughter of Saul, whose race is extinct.
Because Elijah restrained the desire of the body, he withheld rain from the adulterous; because he kept under his body, he withheld dew from the whoremongers, who let their fountains be loosely poured out.
Because the hidden fire of the lust of the body ruled not in him, to him the fire from on high was obedient. And since he subdued on the earth the lust of the flesh, he went up thither where holiness dwells and is at peace.
Elisha also who deadened his own body, quickened the dead. The resurrection of the dead was in the usual course by a sanctification not in the usual course; He raised the child, because he purified his soul like a weaned child.
Moses, who divided and separated himself from his wife, divided the sea before the harlot. Zipporah though daughter of a heathen priest kept sanctity: with a calf the daughter of Abraham3 went a whoring.
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn X. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
In Thee will I begin to speak, Thou Head that didst begin all created things.1 I, even I will open my mouth, but it is Thou that fillest my mouth.2 I am the earth to Thee, and Thou art the husbandman. Sow Thy voice in me,3 Thou that sowedst Thyself in the womb of thy Mother.
"All the chaste daughters of the Hebrews,4 and the virgins' daughters of the chief men, are astonished at me! For Thee doth the daughter of the poor meet with envy, for Thee, the daughter of the weak with jealousy. Who hath given Thee to me?
"O Son of the Rich One, Who abhorred the bosom of the rich women, who led Thee to the poor? for Joseph was needy and I also in want, yet Thy merchants have come, and brought gold, to the house of the poor."
She saw the Magi: her songs increased at their offerings; "Lo! Thy worshippers have surrounded me, yea thy offerings have encircled me. Blessed be the Babe who made His Mother a harp for His words:
"And as the harp waiteth for its master, my mouth waiteth for Thee. May the tongue of Thy Mother bring what pleases Thee; and since I have learnt a new Conception by Thee, let my mouth learn in Thee, O new born Son, a new song of praise.
"And if hindrances are no hindrances to Thee, since difficulties are easy to Thee, as a womb without marriage conceived Thee, and a belly without seed brought Thee forth, it is easy for a little mouth to multiply Thy great glory.
"Lo! I am oppressed and despised, and yet cheerful: mine ears are filled with reproof and scorn; and it is a small thing to me to bear, for ten thousand troubles can a single comfort of Thine chase away.
"And since I am not despised by Thee, O Son, my countenance is bright; and I am slandered for having conceived, and yet have brought forth the Truth who justifies me. For if Tamar was justified by
David Thy father sung in a psalm of Thee before Thou hadst come, that to Thee should be given the gold of Sheba.5 This psalm that he sung of Thee, lo! it, whilst Thou art yet a child, in reality heaps before thee myrrh and gold.
And the hundred and fifty Psalms that he wrote, in Thee were seasoned, because all the sayings of prophecy stood in need of Thy sweetness, for without Thy salt all manner of wisdom were tasteless.6
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn XI. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
(The Virgin Mother to Her Child.)
I Shall not be jealous, my Son, that Thou art with me, and also with all men. Be Thou God to him that confesses Thee, and be thou Lord to him that serves Thee, and be Brother to him that loves Thee, that Thou mayest gain all!
When Thou didst dwell in me, Thou didst also dwell out of me, and when I brought Thee forth openly, Thy hidden might was not removed from me. Thou art within me, and Thou art without me, O Thou that makest Thy Mother amazed.
For [when] I see that outward form of Thine before mine eyes, the hidden Form is shadowed forth "in my mind," O holy One. In Thy visible form I see Adam, and in Thy hidden form I see Thy Father, who is joined with Thee.
Hast Thou then shown me alone Thy Beauty in two Forms? Let Bread shadow forth Thee, and also the mind; dwell also in Bread and in the eaters thereof. In secret, and openly too, may Thy Church see Thee, as well as Thy Mother.
He that hates Thy Bread is like unto him that hates Thy Body. He that is far off that desires Thy Bread, and he that is near that loves Thy Image, are alike. In the Bread and in the Body, the first and also the last have seen Thee.
Yet Thy visible Bread is far more precious than Thy Body; for Thy Body even unbelievers have seen, but they have not seen Thy living Bread. They that were far off rejoiced! their portion utterly scorns that of those that are near.
Lo! Thy Image is shadowed forth in the blood of the grapes1 on the Bread; and it is shadowed forth on the heart with the finger of love, with the colors of faith. Blessed be He that by the Image of His Truth caused the graven images to pass away.
Thou art not [so] the Son of Man that I should sing unto Thee a common lullaby; for Thy Conception is new, and Thy Birth marvellous. Without the Spirit who shall sing to Thee? A new muttering of prophecy is hot within me.
How shall I call Thee a stranger to us, Who art from us? Should I call Thee Son? Should I call Thee Brother?2 Husband should I call Thee? Lord should I call Thee, O Child that didst give Thy Mother a second birth from the waters?
For I am Thy sister, of the house of David the father of us Both. Again, I am Thy Mother because of Thy Conception, and Thy Bride am I because of Thy sanctification, Thy handmaid and Thy daughter, from the Blood and Water wherewith Thou hast purchased me and baptised me.
The Son of the Most High came and dwelt in me, and I became His Mother; and as by a second birth I brought Him forth so did He bring me forth by the second birth, because He put His Mother's garments on, she clothed her body with His glory.
Tamar, who was of the house of David, Amnon put to shame; and virginity fell and perished from them both. My pearl is not lost: in Thy treasury it is stored, because Thou hast put it on.
The scent of her brother-in-law slunk from Tamar, whose perfume she had stolen. As for Joseph's Bride, not even his breath exhaled from her garments, since she conceived Cinnamon.3 A wall of fire was Thy Conception unto me, O holy Son.
The little flower was faint, because the smell of the Lily4 of Glory was great. The Treasure-house of spices stood in no need of flower or its smells! Flesh stood aloof because it perceived in the womb a Conception from the Spirit.
The woman ministers before the man, because he is her head. Joseph rose to minister before his Lord, Who was in Mary. The priest ministered before Thy ark by reason of Thy holiness.
Moses carried the tables of stone which the Lord wrote, and Joseph bare about the pure Tablet in whom the Son of the Creator was dwelling. The tables had ceased, because the world was filled with Thy doctrine.
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn XII. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
The Babe that I carry carries me, saith Mary, and He has lowered His wings, and taken and placed me between His pinions, and mounted into the air; and a promise has been given me that height and depth shall be my Son's.
I have seen Gabriel that called him Lord, and the high priest the aged servant, that carried Him and bare Him. I have seen the Magi when they bowed down, and Herod when he was troubled because the King had come.
Satan also who strangled the little ones that Moses might perish,1 murdered the little ones that the Living One might die. To Egypt He fled, Who came to
In her virginity Eve put on the leaves of shame: Thy Mother put on in her Virginity the garment of Glory that suffices for all. She gave the little vest of the Body to Him that covers all.
Blessed is she in whose heart and mind Thou wast! A King's palace she was by Thee, O Son of the King, and a Holy of Holies by Thee, O High Priest! She had not the trouble nor vexation of a family, or a husband!
Eve, again, was a nest and a den for the accursed serpent, that entered in and dwelt in her. His evil counsel became bread to her that she might become dust. Thou art our Bread, and Thou art also [of] our race and our garment of glory.
He that has sanctity, if he be in danger, lo! here is his Guardian! He that has iniquity, lo! here is his Pardoner! He that has a devil, here is the Pursuer thereof! They that have pains, lo! here is the Binder up of their breaches.
He that has a child, let him come and become a brother to my Well-beloved!2 He that has a daughter or a young woman of his race, let her come and become the bride of my Glorious One! He that has a servant, let him set him free, that he may come and serve his Lord.
The son of free men that bears Thy yoke, my Son, shall have one reward; and the slave that bears the burden of the yoke of two masters, of Him above and of Him below, there are two blessings for him, and two rewards of the two burdens.3
The free woman, my Son, is Thy handmaid: also if she who is in bondage serve Thee, in Thee she is free: in Thee she shall be comforted, because she is freed; hidden apples in her bosom are stored up,4 if she love Thee!
O chaste woman, long ye for my Well-beloved, that He may dwell in you; and ye also that are impure that He may sanctify you! ye Churches also, that the Son of the Creator Who came to renew all creatures, may adorn you!
He received the foolish who worshipped and served all the stars; He renewed the earth which was worn out through Adam, who sinned and waxed old. The new formation was the creature of its Renewer, and the all-sufficient One repaired the bodies along with their wills.
Come ye blind, and without money receive lights! Come ye lame, and receive your feet! ye deaf and dumb, receive your voice! come thou also whose hand is cut off; the maimed also shall receive his hands.
It is the Son of the Creator Whose treasure-houses are filled with all manner of helps. Let him that is without eyeballs come to Him that makes clay and changes it, that makes flesh, that enlightens eyes.
By the small portion of clay He shows that it was with His hand that Adam was formed: the soul of the dead also bears Him witness, that by Him it was that the breath of man was breathed in; by the last witnesses He was accredited to be the Son of Him Who is the First.
Gather ye together and come, O ye lepers, and receive purification without labour. For He will not wash you as Elisha, who baptized seven times in the river: neither will He trouble you as the priests did with their sprinklings. Foreigners and also strangers have betaken themselves to the Great Physician.
The rank of strangers hath no place with the King's Son; the Lord makes not Himself strange to His servants, [or conceal] that He is Lord of all. For if the Just makes the body leprous, and Thou purifiest it; then, the Former of the body hateth the body; but Thou lovest it.
And if it be not Thy forming, being Just, Thou wouldest not have healed it;5 and if it were not Thy creature, when in health, Thou wouldest not have afflicted it. The punishments that Thou has cast upon it, and the pains which Thou hast healed, proclaim that Thou art the Creator's Son.
St. Ephraim of Syria Hymn XIII. for the Nativity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
1. In the days of the King whom they called by the name of Semha,1 our Lord sprang up among the Hebrews: and Semha and Denha2 ruled, and came, King upon earth, and Son in Heaven; blessed be His rule!
2. In the days of the king who enrolled men in the book of the dead, our Redeemer came down and enrolled men in the book of the living. He enrolled, and they also: on high He enrolled us, on earth they enrolled Him. Glory to His Name!
3. In the days of the king whose name was Semha, the type and the Reality met together, the king and the King, Semha and Denha. His Cross upon His shoulders, was the sign of His Kingdom. Blessed be He Who bare it.
4. Thirty years He went in poverty upon the earth! The sounds of praise in all their measures let us twine, my brethren, to the years of the Lord, as thirty crowns to the thirty years. Blessed be His Birth!
5. In the first year, that is chieftain over the treasures and Dispenser of abundant blessings, let the Cherubim who bare up the Son in glory,3 praise Him with us! He left His glory, and toiled and found the sheep that was lost. To Him be thanksgiving!
6. In the second year, let the Seraphim praise Him yet more with us. They that had proclaimed the Son Holy,4 by and by saw Him when He was reviled among the gainsayers; He bore the contempt and taught praise. To Him be Glory!
7. In the third year, let Michael and his followers, that ministered to the Son in the highest, praise Him with us. They saw Him on the earth when He was ministering, washing feet, cleansing souls. Blessed be His lowliness!
8. In the fourth year, let the whole earth praise Him with us. It is but small for the Son, and it marvelled because it saw that it entertained Him in its bed that is so very mean. He filled the bed, and filled the Heaven. To Him be Majesty!
9. In the fifth year, the Sun shone unto the earth. With its breath let it praise our Sun Who brought His breadth down low, and humbled His mightiness, that the subtle eye of the unseen soul might be able to look upon Him. Blessed be His brightness!
10. In the sixth year again, let the whole air praise Him with us, in whose wide space it is that all things are made glorious, which saw its mighty Lord that had become a little Child in a little bosom. Blessed be His dignity!
11. In the seventh year, the clouds and winds rejoiced with us and sprinkled the dews over the flowers, for they saw the Son who enslaved His brightness and received disgrace and foul spitting. Blessed be His Redemption!
12. In the year also that is eighth, let the fields give praise, that suckle their fruits from His fountains. They worshipped because they saw the Son in arms and the pure One sucking pure milk. Blessed be His good pleasure!
13. In the ninth year, let the earth glorify the might of her Creator, Who laid seed in her in the beginning that she might bring forth all her produce; for it saw Mary, a thirsty land, who yielded the fruit of a Child that was a wonder, yea, a marvel. [Then] it praised Him more exceedingly, for that He was a great Sea of all good things. To Him be exaltation!
14. In the tenth year, let the mount Sinai glorify Him, it which trembled before its Lord. It saw that they took up stones against its Lord; He received stones, Who should build His Church upon a Stone.5 Blessed be His building!
15. In the eleventh year, let the great sea praise the fists of the Son that measured it,6 and it was astonished and saw that He came down, was baptized in a small water, and cleansed the creatures. Blessed be His noble act!
16. In the twelfth year, let the holy
17. In the thirteenth year, let the crowns praise with us the King who conquered, that died and was crowned with a crown of thorns, and bound upon Adam a great crown at His right hand. Blessed be His Apostleship!
18. In the fourteenth year, let the passover in
19. In the fifteenth year, let the lamb of the gluttons praise Him: since our Lord was so far from slaughtering it as Moses did, that He even redeemed mankind with His own Blood. He that feeds all, died for all. Blessed be His Father!
20. In the sixteenth year, let the wheat praise by its type that Husbandman,8 Who sowed His Body in the barren earth, since it covers all, spreads itself out and yields new Bread. Blessed be the Pure One!
21. In the seventeenth year, let the Vine praise the Lord that garnished it. He planted a vineyard, souls were as vineplants. He gave peace to the vineyard, but destroyed the vineyard that brought forth wild grapes. Blessed be its Uprooter!
22. In the eighteenth year, let the Vine which the wild boar out of the wood had eaten, praise the True Vine which trimmed Himself, and kept His fruit, and brought the fruits to the Lord of the Vineyard.9 Blessed be His Vintage!
23. In the nineteenth year, let our leaven praise the true leaven which worked itself in among those that were in error, and drove them all together, and made them one mind by one Doctrine. Blessed be thy doctrine!
24. In the twentieth year, let salt praise Thy living Body, wherewith are salted the bodies and the souls of all the faithful, and faith is the salt of men wherewith they are preserved.10 Blessed be Thy preserving!
25. In the twenty-first year, let the waters of the desert praise Thee. They are sweet to them afar off, they are bitter to them11 that are near, who did not minister to Him. The [chosen] people and the nations were bitter in the desert, and He destroyed them. They were sweetened by the Cross which redeemed them. Blessed be Thy pleasantness!
26. In the twenty-second year, let arms and the sword praise Thee: they sufficed not to kill our adversary. It was Thou that killed him, even Thou who didst fix the ear on, which Simon's sword cut off. Blessed be Thy healing!
27. In the twenty-third year, let the ass praise Him, that gave its foal for Him to ride on, that loosed the bonds, that opened the mouth of the dumb, that opened also the mouth of the wild asses12 when the race of Hagar gave a shout of praise.13 Blessed be the praise of Thee!
28. In the twenty-fourth year, let the Treasury praise the Son. The treasures marvelled at the Lord of treasures, when in the house of the poor He was increasing, Who made Himself poor that He might enrich all.14 Blessed be Thy rule!
29. In the twenty-fifth year, let Isaac praise the Son, for by His goodness he was rescued upon the Mount from the knife, and in his stead there was the victim, the type of the Lamb for the slaughter.15 The mortal escaped, and He that quickens all died.16 Blessed be His offering!
30. In the twenty-sixth year, let Moses praise Him with us, for that he was afraid and fled from his murderers. Let him praise the Lord that bore the spear and that received the nails in His hands, in His feet. He entered into hell and spoiled it,17 and came forth. Blessed be Thy Resurrection!
31. In the year which is the twenty-seventh, let the eloquent speakers praise the Son, for they found no cloke to save our cause. He was silent in the judgment-hall, and He carried our cause. Honour be to Him!
32. And in this year let all judges praise Him, who, as being just men, killed the ungodly; let them praise the Son who died for the wicked, as being good. Though Son of the Just One, He gave them all manner of good things in abundance. Blessed be His bowels of mercy!
33. In the eight and twentieth year, let all mighty men of valour praise the Son, because they delivered not from him who took us captive. He only is to be praised, who being slain showed us life.18 Blessed be His delivery!
34. In the twenty-ninth year, let Job praise Him with us, who bore sufferings for himself, and our Lord bore for us the spitting and the spear, and the crown of thorns, and scourges, contempt and reproach, yea mocking. Blessed be His mercy!
35. In the year that is thirteenth, let the dead praise Him with us, because they are quickened, and the living, because they have turned to repentance,19 because height and depth were set at one by Him. Blessed be He and His Father!