Fifteen Hymns For the Feast of the Epiphany
St. Ephraim the Syrian
St. Ephraim (306 – 373) composed hundreds of hymns in the Syriac language. This small collection celebrates the feast of Theophany (Epiphany in the West). See notes at the end of this page for additional information.
Response: To Thee be praise from Thy flock in the day of Thy Epiphany!
1. The heavens He has renewed, for that fools worshipped all the luminaries: He has renewed the earth, for that in Adam it was wasted. That which He fashioned has become new by His spittle: and the All-Sufficing has restored bodies with souls.
2. Gather yourselves again ye sheep and without labour receive cleansing! for one needs not as Elisha to bathe seven times in the river, nor again to be wearied as the priests are wearied with sprinklings.
3. Seven times Elisha purified himself in a mystery of the seven spirits; and the hyssop and blood are a mighty symbol. There is no room for division; He is not divided from the Lord of all Who is Son of the Lord of all.
4. Moses sweetened in Marah the waters that were bitter, because the People complained and murmured: Thus he gave a sign of baptism, wherein the Lord of life makes sweet them that were bitter.
5. The cloud overshadowed and kept off the burning heat from the camp; it showed a symbol of the Holy Spirit, which overshadows you in baptism tempering the flaming fire that it harm not your bodies.
6. Through the sea the People then passed, and showed a symbol of the baptism wherein ye were washed. The People passed through that and believed not: the Gentiles were baptized in this and believed and received the Holy Ghost.
7. The Word sent the Voice to proclaim before His Coming, to prepare for Him the way by which He came, and to betroth the Bride till He should come, that she might be ready when He should come and take her from the water.
8. The voice of prophecy stirred the son of the barren woman, and he went forth wandering in the desert and crying, “Lo! the Son of the Kingdom comes! prepare ye the way that He may enter and abide in your dwellings!”
9. John cried, “Who comes after me, He is before me: I am the Voice but not the Word; I am the torch but not the Light; the Star that rises before the Sun of Righteousness.”
10. In the wilderness this John had cried and had said, “Repent ye sinners of your evils, and offer the fruits of repentance; for lo! He comes that winnows the wheat from the tares.”
11. The Lightgiver has prevailed and marked a mystery, by the degrees he ascended: Lo! there are twelve days since he ascended, and to-day this is the thirteenth: a perfect mystery of Him, the Son, and His twelve!
12. Darkness was overcome to make it manifest that Satan was overcome; and the Light prevailed that he should proclaim that the Firstborn triumphs: darkness was overcome with the Dark Spirit, and our Light prevailed with the Lightgiver.
13. In the Height and the Depth the Son had two heralds. The star of light proclaimed Him from above; John likewise preached Him from beneath: two heralds, the earthly and the heavenly.
14. The star of light, contrary to nature, shone forth of a sudden; less than the sun yet greater than the sun. Less was it than he in manifest light; and greater than he in secret might because of its mystery.
15. The star of light shed its rays among them that were in darkness, and guided them as though they were blind; so that they came and met the great Light: they gave offerings and received life and adored and departed.
16. The herald from above showed His Nature to be from the Most High; likewise he that was from beneath showed His Body to be from humankind, mighty marvel! that His Godhead and His Manhood by them were proclaimed!
17. Thus whoso reckons Him as of earth, the star of light will convince him that He is of Heaven: and whoso reckons Him as of spirit, this John will convince him that He is also bodily.
18. John drew near with his parents and worshipped the Sun, and brightness rested on His Face. He was not moved as when in the womb. Mighty marvel! that here he worships and there he leaped!
19. The whole creation became for Him as one mouth and cried out concerning Him. The Magi cry out in their gifts; the barren cry out with their children; the star of light, lo! it cries out in the air, “Behold the Son of the King!”
20. The heavens are opened, the waters break forth, the dove is in glory! The voice of the Father is stronger than thunder, as it utters the word, “This is My Beloved”; the Watchers brought the tidings, the children acclaimed Him in their Hosannas.
Response: To Thee be praise Who in this feast makest all to exult!
1. In the time of the King whom they called by the name Semha [Augustus – tr.] our Lord was manifested among the Hebrews. Thus Semha and Denha [i.e., Dayspring – tr.] reigned together, the King on earth and the Son on high blessed be His power!
2. In the days of the King who wrote down men in the taxing, our Saviour came down and wrote down men in the Book of Life; He wrote and was written; on high He wrote us, on earth He was written; glory to His Name!
3. His Birth was in the days of the King whose name was Semha. Symbol and truth met one another; King and King, Semha and Denha. That kingdom bore His Cross; blessed be He Who took it up!
4. Thirty years abode He on earth in poverty. Voices of praise in all measures, let us weave my brethren for our Lord’s years; thirty crowns for thirty years; Blessed be His number!
5. In the first year, mistress of treasure and filled with blessings, let the Cherubin give thanks with us, they who bear the Son in glory Who gave up His glorious state, and toiled and found the sheep that was lost; to Him be thanksgiving!
6. In the second year let the Seraphin multiply thanksgiving with us; they who cried “Holy” to the Son, and turned and saw Him among unbelievers put to shame. He endured scorn and taught us glory; to Him be glory given!
7. In the third year let Michael and his hosts give thanks with us; they who were wont to serve the Son on high, and saw Him on earth doing service. He washed men’s feet and cleansed men’s souls; blessed be His meekness!
8. In the fourth year let all the heavens give thanks with us! Too narrow for the Son it shall burst to see how He lay on the couch of despised Zaccheus. He filled the couch and had filled the heavens; to Him be thanksgiving!
9. In the fifth year let the Sun that burns the earth with its heat give thanks to our Sun that He straitened His largeness, and tempered His force that the eye might endure to see Him; the inward eye of a pure soul; blessed be His radiance!
10. In the sixth year again let all the air give thanks with us, in the vastness whereof all things exult. It saw its great Lord that He became a little babe in a lowly bosom; blessed be His honour!
11. In the seventh year let the clouds and winds sound the trumpet with us, they whose dew sprinkles the faces of the flowers, yet saw they the Son that He subdued His brightness, and endured scorn and shameful spitting; blessed be His salvation!
12. Yet again in the eighth year let Creation give glory, from whose fountain the fruits draw nurture. She adored when she saw the Son at the breast, pure babe nurtured by pure milk; blessed be His good pleasure!
13. In the ninth year let the earth give glory, which when her lap is watered then brings forth the root. She saw Mary an unwatered soil whose fruit that she yielded is a mighty sea; to Him be exultation!
Response: To Thee be glory, Son of the Lord of all, Who givest life to all!
14. In the tenth year let Mount Sinai give glory, which melted before its Lord! It saw against its Lord stones taken up: but He took stones to build the Church upon the Rock; blessed be His building!
15. In the eleventh year let the great sea give thanks to the hand of the Son Who measured it! And it wondered to see how He came down and was washed in humble waters, He that cleanses Creation; blessed be His triumph!
16. In the twelfth year let the holy Temple give thanks which beheld the Child as He sat among the elders: the doctors were silenced as the Lamb of the feast bleated in the feast; blessed be His atonement!
17. In the thirteenth year let diadems with us give thanks to the King Who triumphed and was crowned with a crown of thorns: He wove for man a mighty diadem at His right hand; blessed be He That sent Him!
18. In the fourteenth year let the Passover of Egypt give thanks to the Passover that came and made passover for all, and instead of Pharaoh overwhelmed Legion, and instead of horsemen drowned demons; blessed be His retribution!
19. In the fifteenth year let the lamb of the flock give thanks, that our Lord slew it not as did Moses, but redeemed by His Blood mankind. He the Shepherd of all died for all; blessed be He That begat Him!
20. In the sixteenth year let the seed-corn in mystery give thanks to that Husbandman Who gave His Body for seed in a barren soil that corrupts all things. It proved fertile and yielded new bread; blessed be He that is pure!
21. In the seventeenth year let the Vine give thanks to our Lord, the Vineyard of truth, wherein souls were as the scions. He gave peace to this vineyard, but laid waste that vineyard which bare wild grapes; blessed be the Uprooter!
22. In the eighteenth year let our leaven give thanks to the leaven of truth that penetrates and draws all minds and makes them to become one mind in one doctrine; blessed be His doctrine!
23. In the nineteenth year let the Salt give thanks for Thy Body. O blessed Babe it is the soul that is the salt of the Body, and Faith the salt of the soul whereby it is preserved; blessed be Thy preservation!
Response: Glory to Thy Epiphany, O God and Man!
24. In the twentieth year let temporal wealth with us give thanks, which men that are perfect have cast off and abandoned because of the “Woe”; and have gone and loved poverty because of its beatitude; blessed be He Who desired it!
25. In the one-and-twentieth year let the waters give thanks that were sweetened in a mystery of the Son. In the honey of Samson the nations tasted bitterness therein that destroyed them: they had life in the Cross that redeemed them; blessed be its pleasantness!
26. In the two-and-twentieth year let arms and the sword give thanks, for they could not slay our Adversary. Thou art He Who slew him as Thou art He Who restored the ear that Simon’s sword cut off; blessed be Thy healing!
27. In the three-and-twentieth year let the ass likewise give thanks, that gave the colt whereon He should ride; He opens likewise the mouth of wild asses, the offspring gave Him praise; blessed be the praise of Thee!
28. In the four-and-twentieth year let wealth give thanks to the Son! Treasures were amazed at the Lord of treasures, how He grew up among the poor. He made Himself poor that He might make all rich; blessed be His participation!
29. In the five-and-twentieth year let Isaac give thanks to the Son Who in the mount saved him from the knife, and became in his stead the lamb to be slain. The mortal escaped, and He died Who gives life to all; blessed be His offering!
30. In the six-and-twentieth year let Moses with us give thanks, who feared and fled from the slayers; let him give thanks to the Son, for He it was Who on His feet entered Sheol and spoiled it and came forth; blessed be His Resurrection!
31. In the seven-and-twentieth year let the eloquent Orators give thanks to the Son, for they could not find means whereby we should prevail in our judgment: He was silent in judgment and made our judgment prevail; to Him be applause!]
32. In the seven and twentieth year let all Judges give thanks, who as being just have put to death illdoers; let them give thanks to the Son Who instead of the evil died as being good, though He was Son of the Just One; blessed be His mercies!
33. In the eight-and-twentieth year let them give thanks to the Son, all the mighty men who saved us not from the captors. One is to be worshipped, Who was slain and laid hold and saved us; blessed be His deliverance!
34. In the nine-and-twentieth year let Job with us give thanks, who bare sufferings in his own behalf: but our Lord bare on our behalf the spitting and the stripes, the thorns and the nails; blessed is His compassion!
35. In the year that is the thirtieth let them give thanks with us; the dead that have lived through His dying, the living that were converted in His Crucifixion, and the height and the depth that have been reconciled in Him! Blessed be He and His Father!
Response: Christ with chrism, lo! He is sealing the newborn lambs in His flock!
1. Christ and chrism are conjoined; the secret with the visible is mingled: the chrism anoints visibly, Christ seals secretly, the lambs newborn and spiritual, the prize of His twofold victory; for He engendered it of the chrism, and He gave it birth of the water.
2. How exalted are your Orders! For she that was a sinner anointed, as a handmaid, the feet of her Lord. But for you, as though His minister, Christ by the hand of His servants, seals and anoints your bodies. It befits Him the Lord of the flock, that in His own person He seal His sheep.
3. Since then she, that sinner, stood in need of forgiveness, the anointing was for her an offering, and by it her love reconciled her Lord. But you who are the flock, among the profane and unbelievers, the Truth by the chrism is your seal, to separate you from the strayed.
4. From the peoples he separated the People, by the former seal of circumcision; but by the seal of anointing, the peoples He separates from the People. When the peoples were in error, the People He separated from the peoples; now when the People has erred from Him, He separates the peoples from thence.
5. Of the dust of the pure soil, Naaman bore away and returned to his place; that he by this holy dust, might be separated and known from the unclean. The chrism of Christ separates, the sons of the mystery from strangers: and by it they that are within are separated, and known from them that are without.
6. The oil which Elijah multiplied, might be tasted with the mouth; for the cruse was that of the widow, it was not that of the chrism. The oil of our Lord that is in the cruse, it is not food for the mouth: the sinner that was a wolf without, it makes him a lamb in the flock.
7. The chrism of the meek and lowly One, changes the stubborn to be like its Lord. The Gentiles were wolves and feared, the severe rod of Moses. Lo! the chrism seals them and makes, a flock of sheep out of the wolves! And the wolves that had fled from the rod, lo! they have taken refuge in the Cross!
8. The leaf of olive arrived, brought as a figure of the anointing; the sons of the Ark rejoiced to greet it, for it bore good tidings of deliverance. Thus also ye rejoiced to greet it, even this holy anointing. The bodies of sinners were glad in it, for it brought good tidings of deliverance.
9. The oil again that Jacob poured, upon the stone when he sealed it, that it should be between him and God, and that he might offer there his tithes; lo! in it is a symbol of your bodies, how by chrism they are sealed as holy, and become temples for God, where He shall be served by your sacrifices.
10. When Moses had sealed and anointed, the sons of Aaron the Levite, the fire consumed their bodies; the fire spared their vestments. But ye my brethren blessed are ye, for the fire of grace has come down, has consumed utterly your offences, and cleansed and hallowed your bodies!
11. As for the anointing of Aaron my brethren, it was the vile blood of beasts, that it sprinkled in the horns of the altar. The anointing of truth is this; wherein the living and all-lifegiving Blood, is sprinkled inwardly in your bodies, is mingled in your understandings, is infused through your inmost chambers.
12. The anointed priests used to offer, the slain bodies of beasts; Ye, O anointed and excelling, your offerings are your own bodies. The anointed Levites offered, the inward parts taken, from beasts: ye have excelled the Levites, for your hearts ye have Consecrated.
13. The anointing of the People was a foreshadowing of Christ; their rod a mystery of the Cross; their lamb a type of the Only begotten; their tabernacle a mystery of your Churches; their circumcision a sign of your sealing. Under the shadow of your goodly thing, sat the People of old.
14. Thus the truth is likened, to a great shadowing tree: it cast its shade on the People; it struck its root among the peoples. The People abode under its shadows, whose shadows were its mysteries; but the Gentiles lodged on its bough, and plucked and ate of its fruits.
15. As for the anointing of Saul to be king; the sweeter was its savour, so much fouler was the savour of his heart. The Spirit struck him and fled. Your anointing which ye have is greater; for your minds are censers, in your temples the Spirit exults, a chamber forever shall ye be unto Him.
16. As for the anointing of David my brethren; the Spirit came down and made sweet savour, in the heart of the man wherein He delighted; the savour of his heart was as the savour of his action. The Spirit dwelt in him and made song in him. Your anointing which ye have is greater, for Father and Son and Holy Ghost, have moved and come down to dwell in you.
17. When the leper of old was cleansed, the priest used to seal him with oil, and to lead him to the waterspring. The type has passed and the truth is come; lo! with chrism have ye been sealed, in baptism ye are perfected, in the flock ye are intermixed, from the Body ye are nourished.
18. What leper when he has been cleansed, turns again and desires his leprosy? Ye have put off transgressions forsake it! None puts on the leprosy he had put off. It has fallen and sunk let it not be drawn out! It is wasted and worn let it not be renewed! Let not corruption come out upon you, whom the chrism of Christ has anointed!
19. The vessel moulded of clay, gains beauty from the water, receives strength from the fire; but if it slips it is ruined, it cannot be afresh renewed. Ye are vessels of grace; be ye ware of it, even of justice, for it grants not two renewals.
20. How like are ye in comparison, with the Prophet whom the fish yielded up! The Devourer has given you back for he was constrained, by the Power Which constrained the fish. Jonah was for you as a mirror, since not again did the fish swallow him, let not again the Devourer swallow you: being yielded up be ye like Jonah!
21. Goodly ointment on the head of our Lord did Mary pour; its savour was fragrant through all the house. Likewise the savour of your anointing, has been fragrant and perfumed the heavens, to the Watchers on high; doing pleasure to Satan its savour is overpowering; to God its odour is sweet.
22. The crowds in the desert were like unto sheep that have no shepherd. The Merciful became their shepherd, and multiplied to them the pasture of bread. Yea, blessed are ye that are perfect, that are sealed as lambs of Christ, that of His Body and Blood are made worthy; the Pastor Himself is become pasture for you!
23. Out of water He made the wine, He gave it for drink to the youths in the feast. For you who are keeping the fast, better is the unction than drink. In His wine the betrothed are wedded, by His oil the wedded are sanctified. By His wine is union; by His oil sanctification.
24. The sheep of Christ leaped for joy, to receive the seal of life, that ensign of kings which has ever put sin to flight. The Wicked by Thy ensign is routed, iniquities by Thy sign are scattered. Come, ye sheep, receive your seal, which puts to flight them that devour you!
25. Come, ye lambs, receive your seal, for it is truth that is your seal! This is the seal that separates, them of the household from strangers. The steel circumcised alike, the gainsayers and the sons of Hagar. If circumcision be the sign of the sheep, lo! by it the goats are signed.
26. But ye, who are the new flock, have put off the doings of wolves, and as lambs are made like to the Lamb. One by changing has changed all; the Lamb to the wolves gave Himself to be slain; the wolves rushed and devoured Him and became lambs; for the Shepherd was changed into a Lamb; likewise the wolf forgot his nature.
27. Look on me also in Thy mercy! be not branded on me the seal, of the goats the sons of the left hand! let not Thy sheep become a goat! For though to justify myself I sufficed not, yet to be a sinner I willed not. Turn thine eyes, O my Lord, from what I have done, and seek not only what I have willed.
28. From them that write and them that preach, from them that hear and them that are sealed, let glory go up to Christ, and through Him to His Father be exaltation! He Who gives words to them that speak, and gives voice to them that preach, has given understanding to them that hear, and consecrates chrism for him that is sealed.
Response: Blessed be He that blots out in water misdeeds that are without measure!
1. Descend my sealed brethren, put ye on our Lord, and be rejoined to His lineage, for He is son of a great lineage, as He has said in His Word.
2. From on high is His Nature, and from beneath His Vesture. Each that puts off his vesture, commingled is that vesture, with His Vesture forever.
3. Ye too in the water, receive from him the vesture, that wastes not or is lost for it is the vesture that vests them that are vested in it forever.
4. But the blessed Priest, is daysman between two: the covenant shall be made before Him, He is daysman of his Lord, and surety on our part.
5. The Godhead in the water, lo! has mingled His leaven; for the creatures of dust, that leaven raises up, and the Godhead joins them.
6. For it is the leaven of the Lord, that can glide into the bondman, and raise him to freedom; it has joined the bondman to the lineage, of Him the Lord of all.
7. For the bondman who has put on Him, Who makes all free in the waters, though bondman he be on earth, is son of the free on high, for freedom he has put on.
8. The freeman who has put on, that Angel in the waters, is as the fellow of servants, that he may be made like to the Lord, Who became bondman unto bondmen.
9. He Who enriches all came down, and put on poverty, that He might divide to the poor, the stores that were hidden, out of the treasure-house of the water.
10. The lowly one again that has put on, the Giver of all greatness, in the water, even though he be base in the sight of fools, yet is great in the sight of the Watchers, for that he is clad in greatness.
11. For like as He Who is great, Who became lowly in His love, by the unbelievers was persecuted, and by the Watchers was worshipped, was made lowly and makes the lowly great.
12. Thus let him be lowly who is great, that in him the lowly may be great: Let us be like to Him Who is greater than all, Who became less than all: He was made lowly, and makes all men great.
13. The meek man who has put on Him Who is great, in the water, though humble be his countenance, very great is his discernment, for He Who is exalted above all dwells in him.
14. For who could be found to despise the bush of thorn, the despised and humble, wherein the Majesty in fire, made its dwelling within?
15. Who again could be found, to despise Moses, the meek and slow of speech, when that excelling glory dwelt upon his meekness?
16. They that despised him despised his Lord; the wicked that despised him the earth swallowed up in anger; the Levites who scorned Him, the fire devoured in fury.
17. Of Him Christ commanded, “Thou shalt not call him Raca,” who is baptized and has put Him on; for whoso despises the despised, despises with him the Mighty.
18. In Eden and in the world, are parables of our Lord; and what tongue can gather, the similitudes of His mysteries? for He is figured all of Him in all things.
19. In the Scriptures He is written of; on Nature He is impressed; His crown is figured in kings, in prophets His truth, His atonement in priests.
20. In the rod was He of Moses, and in the hyssops of Aaron, and in the crown of David: to the prophets pertains His similitude, to the Apostles His Gospel.
21. Revelations beheld Thee, proverbs looked for Thee, mysteries expected Thee, similitudes saluted Thee, parables showed types of Thee.
22. The Covenant of Moses looked forward to the Gospel: all things of old time, flew on and alighted thereon, in the new Covenant.
23. Lo! the prophets have poured out on Him, their glorious mysteries; the priests and kings have poured out upon Him, their wonderful types: they all have poured them out on all of Him.
24. Christ overcame and surpassed, by His teachings the mysteries, by His interpretations the parables; as the sea into its midst receives all streams.
25. For Christ is the sea, and He can receive the fountains and brooks, the rivers and streams, that flow from the midst of the Scriptures.
Response: Blessed be He that ordained baptism, for the atonement of the sons of Adam!
1. Descend, my brethren, put on from the waters of baptism the Holy Spirit; be joined with the spirits that minister to the Godhead!
2. For lo! He is the fire that secretly, seals also His flock, by the Three spiritual Names, wherein the Evil One is put to flight.
3. John when he cried and said “This is the Lamb of God,” thereby showed concerning the Gentiles that they are Abraham’s children.
4. This is he that testified of our Saviour, that with fire and the Spirit He should baptize. Lo! the fire and the Spirit, my brethren, in the baptism of truth.
5. For greater is Baptism than Jordan that little river; for that in streams of water and oil, the misdeeds of all men are washed out.
6. Elisha by seven times washing, cleansed Naaman’s leprosy: in Baptism are cleansed the secret misdeeds in the soul.
7. Moses baptized the People in the midst of the sea, yet availed not to wash their heart within, that was full of the defilements of misdeeds.
8. Lo! the priest in the likeness of Moses purges the defilements of the soul; and with oil of anointing, lo! he seals new lambs for the Kingdom.
9. Samuel anointed David to be king among the People: but lo! the priest anoints you to be heirs in the Kingdom.
10. For with the armour that David put on, after the anointing he fought and laid low the giant who sought to subdue Israel.
11. Lo! again in the chrism of Christ, and in the armour that is from the water the haughtiness of the Evil One is humbled, who sought to subdue the Gentiles.
12. By the water that flowed from the rock, the thirst of the People was quenched. Lo! in the fountain of Christ, the thirst of the peoples is quenched.
13. The rod of Moses opened the rock, and the streams flowed forth; and they were refreshed by its draught, who had grown faint with thirst.
14. Lo! from the side of Christ flowed the stream that bestowed life. The Gentiles drank that were weary, and in it forgot their pains.
15. With Thy dew besprinkle my vileness, and my crimes in Thy blood shall be atoned! And I shall be, O my Lord, at Thy right hand, and with Thy Saints I shall be joined!
Response: Blessed be He Who was baptized that He might baptize you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.
1. The Spirit came down from on high, and hallowed the waters by His brooding. In the baptism of John, He passed by the rest and abode on One: but now He has descended and abode, on all that are born of the water.
2. Out of all that John baptized, on One it was that the Spirit dwelt: but now He has flown and come down, that He may dwell on the many; and as each after each comes up, He loves him and abides on him.
3. A marvel it is that surpasses all! To the water He went down and was baptized. The seas declared it blessed, that river wherein Thou wast baptized: even the waters that were in heaven envied, because they were not worthy to be Thy bath.
4. A marvel it is, O my Lord, now also, that while the fountains are full of water, it is the water of baptism, that alone is able to atone. Mighty is the water in the seas, yet is it too weak for atonement.
5. Thy might, O my Lord, if it abides, within the humble it exalts him; like as royalty if it abide within the desert gives it peace. Water by Thy might has triumphed over sin, for Life has encompassed it.
6. The sheep exulted when they saw the hand draw nigh to baptize them. Receive, O ye sheep, your sealing; enter and be mingled in the flock! for more than over all the flock, over you rejoice the Watchers to-day.
7. The Angels and the Watchers rejoice over that which is born of the Spirit and of water: they rejoice that by fire and by the Spirit, the corporeal have become spiritual. The Seraphins who sing “Holy” rejoice, that they who are made holy have been increased.
8. For lo! the Angels rejoice over one sinner if he repent: how much more do they now rejoice that in all churches and congregations, lo! Baptism is bringing forth the heavenly from the earthly!
9. The baptized when they come up are sanctified; the sealed when they go down are pardoned. They who come up have put on glory; they who go down have cast off sin. Adam put off his glory in a moment; ye have been clothed with glory in a moment.
10. A house that is of dust when it has fallen, by means of water can be renewed: the body of Adam that was of dust, which had fallen by water has been renewed. Lo! the priests as builders afresh renew your bodies.
11. A great marvel is this of the wool, that it can take every dye, as the mind takes every discourse. By the name of its dye it is called; as ye who were baptized when “Hearers,” have gained the name of “Recipients.”
12. The common waters he sanctified even Elisha through the Name that is secret. In them washed the leper openly, and was cleansed by the Power that is secret: the leprosy was done away in the water, as transgressions in Baptism.
13. To-day, lo! your offences are blotted out, and your names are written down. The priest blots out in the water; and Christ writes down in Heaven. By the blotting out and the writing down lo! doubled is your rejoicing.
14. Lo! mercy has dawned to-day; and from bound to bound it stretches: the sun has sunk and mercy has dawned. Justice has drawn in her wrath; Grace has spread forth her love, lo! she pardons and quickens freely.
15. The sheep that beforetime were in the fold lo! they hasten forth to greet the new lambs that have been added to it. They are white and are clad in white; within and without white are your bodies as your vestments.
16. From every mouth “Blessed are ye,” on every side “Blessed are ye.” Sin from you is driven out, and the Holy Spirit on you is dwelling. The Evil One is become sad of countenance; the Good God makes glad your countenance.
17. The gift that ye have received freely, cease not from watching over it: this pearl if it shall be lost cannot again be sought out, for it is like to virginity which if it be lost is not to be found.
18. May ye from all defilement be kept by the power of your white robes! and he whose freedom has defiled itself may it be able to wash itself clean by his weeping! For me who am servant of the community may the supplication of the community win pardon!
19. To the author who has toiled in words, be reconciliation in rest! to the teacher who has toiled with voice, be forgiveness through grace! to the priest who has toiled in baptizing, let there come the crown of righteousness!
20. From every mouth with one consent, of those beneath and those above, Watchers, Cherubin, and Seraphin, the baptized, the sealed, and the hearers, let each of us cry aloud and say, “Glory to the Lord of our feasts!”
Response: Blessed is He Who atoned your sins, that ye might receive His Body worthily!
1. The flock of Jacob came down and stood round the well of water. In the water they put on the similitude of the wood that was covered by it. Mysteries these and types of the Cross, wherein the parables are interpreted.
2. There are shown in these rods similitudes, and in the sheep, parables. The Cross in the rods is figured, and in the sheep the souls of men. His wood was a mystery of our Wood; likewise his sheep a mystery of our flock.
3. The sheep of Christ rejoice, and stand round the laver of baptism; in the water they put on the likeness of the living and goodly Cross whereon gaze all things created, and all of it is stamped on them all.
4. At the well Rebecca received in her ears and hands the jewels. The Spouse of Christ has put on precious things that are from the water: on her hand the living Body, and in her ears the promises.
5. Moses drew water and watered the sheep of Jethro the priest of sin. But our Shepherd has baptized His sheep Who is the high priest of truth. At the well the flocks were dumb, but here the sheep have speech.
6. The People passed through the water and were baptized: the People came up on dry land and became as heathen. The Commandment was savourless in their ears; the manna corrupted in their vessels. Eat ye the living Body, the medicine of life that gives life to all!
7. To the sons of Lot Moses said, “Give us water for money, let us only pass by through your border.” They refused the way, and the temporal water. Lo! the living water freely given, and the path that leads to Eden!
8. From the water Gideon chose for himself the men who were victorious in the battle. Ye have gone down to the victorious waters: come ye up and triumph in the fight! receive from the water atonement, and from the fight the crowning!
9. Ye baptized, receive your lamps, like the lamps of the house of Gideon; conquer the darkness by your lamps, and the silence by your hosannas! Gideon likewise in the battle triumphed by the shout and the flame.
10. David the King longed after the water of the well, and they brought it him; but he drank it not, for he saw that with blood of men it was bought. In the midst of the water ye have revelled that was bought with the blood of God.
11. Out of Edom the prophet saw God coming as one that presses the grapes. He made ready the winepress of wrath, He trod down the peoples and delivered the People. He has turned and ordained Baptism; the peoples live, the People is come to nought.
12. In the river Jeremiah buried the linen girdle that was marred; and [the People] waxed old and decayed. … The peoples that were decayed and marred, by the waters have been clad in newness.
13. In Siloam, the blessed stream the priests anointed Solomon. His youth was had in honour; his old age was despised. Through the pure waters ye have been clad in the purity of Heaven.
14. The fleece that was dry from the dew, Jerusalem was figured in it: the bason that was filled with water, Baptism was figured in it. That was dry after the manner of its type; this was full after the manner of its symbol.
15. The wearied body in water washes and is refreshed from its toil. Lo! the laver in which are hidden refreshing and life and delights. In it wearied Adam had rest who brought labour into the creation.
16. The fountain of sweat in the body is set to protect against fever: the fountain of Baptism is set to protect against the Flame. This is the water that avails for the quenching of Gehenna.
17. He who journeys through the desert, as armour takes to himself water against all-conquering thirst. Go ye down to the fountain of Christ, receive life in your members, as armour against death.
18. Again, the diver brings up out of the sea the pearl. Be baptized and bring up from the water purity that therein is hidden, the pearl that is set as a jewel in the crown of the Godhead.
19. Sweet water in his vessel the seaman lays up as a store; in the midst of the sea he lays up and keeps it, the sweet in the midst of the bitter. So amidst the floods of sin, keep ye the water of Baptism.
20. The woman of Samaria said to our Lord, “Lo! verily the well is deep.” Baptism though it be high, in its mercy has stooped down with us: for the atonement is from above that has come down unto sinners.
21. “He that drinks the water that I shall give him, verily never again shall he thirst.” For this holy Baptism, for it be ye athirst, my beloved; never again shall ye be athirst, so that ye should come to another baptism.
22. In the baptism of Siloam the blind man washed, and his eyeballs were opened and enlightened by the water; he cast off the darkness that was on them. The hidden darkness ye have cast off; from the water ye have been clad in light.
23. His hands Pilate washed that he might not be of them that slew. Ye have bathed your bodies, your hands together with your mouths. Go in and be of them that eat, for this medicine of life gives life to all.
24. “Come after Me and verily I will make you fishers of men.” For instead of a draught of that which perishes, they fished for the draught that is forever. They who had taken fishes for death, baptized and gave life to them that were to die.
25. An hundred and fifty fishes were taken by Simon’s net from the water; but there were taken by his preaching, out of the bosom of Baptism, ten thousands and thousands of men, a draught of the sons of the Kingdom.
26. Lo! our priest as a fisher over the scanty water is standing; he has taken thence a great draught of every shape and of every kind; he has drawn up the draught to bring it near to the King of kings, most high.
27. Simon took the fishes and drew them up, and they were brought near before our Lord: Our priest has taken from out of the water, by the Hand which he received from Simon, virgins and chaste men who are brought near in the festival of the Lord of feasts.
28. In Thy mercy I adjure Thee pardon me, for in mercy Thou too hast sworn, Rabboni, “In the death of him that dieth, I have no pleasure, but in his life.” Thou hast sworn and I have adjured: O Thou Who hast sworn, pardon him who has adjured!
Response: Happy are ye whose bodies have been made to shine!
1. God in His mercy stooped and came down, to mingle His compassion with the water, and to blend the nature of His majesty with the wretched bodies of men. He made occasion by the water to come down and to dwell in us: like to the occasion of mercy when He came down and dwelt in the womb: O the mercies of God Who seeks for Himself all occasions to dwell in us!
2. To the cave in Horeb He stooped and came down, and on Moses He caused His majesty to dwell; He imparted His glorious splendour to mortals. There was therein a figure of Baptism: He Who came down and dwelt in it, tempers within the water the might of His majesty, that He may dwell in the feeble. On Moses dwelt the Breath, and on you the Perfecting of Christ.
3. That might then none could endure; not Moses chief of deliverers, nor Elijah chief of zealots; and the Seraphin too vail their faces, for it is the might that subdues all. His mercy mingled gentleness in the water and by the oil; that mankind in its weakness might be able to stand before Him when covered by the water and the oil.
4. The captive priests again in the well hid and concealed the fire of the sanctuary, a mystery of that glorified fire which the Highpriest mingles in Baptism. The priests took up of the mire, and on the altar they sprinkled it; for its fire, the fire of that well, with the mire had been mingled; a mystery of our bodies which in the water with the fire of the Holy Spirit have been mingled.
5. The famous Three in Babylon in the furnace of fire were baptized, and came forth; they went in and bathed in the flood of flame, they were buffeted by the blazing billows. There was sprinkled on them there the dew that fell from heaven; it loosed from off them there the bonds of the earthly king. Lo! the famous Three went in and found a fourth in the furnace.
6. That visible fire that triumphed outwardly, pointed to the fire of the Holy Ghost, which is mingled, lo! and hidden in the water. In the flame Baptism is figured, in that blaze of the furnace. Come, enter, be baptized, my brethren, for lo! it looses the bonds; for in it there dwells and is hidden the Daysman of God, Who in the furnace was the fourth.
7. Two words again our Lord spake which in one voice agree in unison: He said, “I am come to send fire,” and again, “I have a baptism to be baptized with.” By the fire of Baptism is quenched the fire, that which the Evil One had kindled: and the water of Baptism has overcome those waters of contention by which he had made trial of Joseph who conquered and was crowned.
8. Lo! the pure fire of our Redeemer which he kindled in mankind of His mercy! Through His fire He quenched that fire which had been kindled in the defiled and sinful. This is the fire wherein the thorns are burnt up and the tares. But happy are your bodies that have been baptized in the fire which has consumed your thickets, and by it your seeds have sprung up to heaven!
9. Jeremiah in the womb He sanctified and taught. But if the lowly bosom of wedlock was sanctified in conceiving and bringing him forth, how much more shall Baptism sanctify its conception and its bringing forth of them that are pure and spiritual! For there, within the womb is the conception of all men; but here, out of the water, is the birth whereof the spiritual are worthy.
10. For Jeremiah though sanctified in the womb, they took up nails and cast him into the pit. Holy was the prophet in his befoulment, for clean was his heart though he was in the mire. Be ye afraid, my brethren for lo! to-day is washed away your secret befoulment, and the abomination of your sins. Turn not again to uncleanness, for there is but one cleansing of your bodies!
11. The presumptuous who is baptized and again sins, is as the serpent that casts its slough and again puts it on, that is renewed and made young, and turns again putting on anew its skin of old; for the serpent does not cast off its nature. Cast ye off the tempter the corrupter of souls, even the old man; let it not make old the newness ye have put on!
12. Elisha cast the wood into the water, and made the heavy float and the light sink: their natures were exchanged in the water. There a new thing came to pass not according to nature. How much easier then, O Lord, is this for Thy grace; that in the water should sink transgression which is heavy, but that the soul which is light should be drawn forth and raised up on high!
13. Joshua, son of Nun, on Jericho laid a curse on its walls and a doom on its fountains. They whom Joshua cursed to their destruction, again in the mystery of Jesus have been blessed. There was cast into them salt, and they were healed and sweetened: a mystery of this salt, the sweet salt that came from Mary, that was mingled in the water, whereby was healed the noisomeness of our plagues.
14. Lo! quiet waters are before you, holy and tranquil and pleasant; for they are not the waters of contention that cast Joseph into the dungeon; nor yet are they the waters, those waters of strife, beside which the people strove, and gainsaid in the wilderness. There are waters whereby there is reconciliation made with Heaven.
15. Hagar saw the spring of water, and from it she gave drink to her forward son, him who became as a wild ass in the wilderness. Instead of that fountain of water is Baptism. In it are baptized the sons of Hagar, and are become gentle and peaceful. Who has seen rams like these, that are yoked, lo! and labour along with tame bullocks, and the seed of their tillage is reaped an hundredfold!
16. In the beginning the Spirit that brooded moved on the waters; they conceived and gave birth to serpents and fishes and birds. The Holy Spirit has brooded in Baptism, and in mystery has given birth to eagles, Virgins and Prelates; and in mystery has given birth to fishes, celibates and intercessors; and in mystery of serpents, lo! the subtle have become simple as doves!
17. Lo! the sword of our Lord in the waters! that which divides sons and fathers: for it is the living sword that makes division, lo! of the living from the dying. Lo! they are baptized and they become Virgins and saints, who have gone down, been baptized, and put on the One Only begotten. Lo! many have come boldly to Him!
18. For whoso have been baptized and put on Him the Only begotten the Lord of the many, has filled thereby the place of many, for to him Christ has become a great treasure: for He became in the wilderness a table of good meats, and He became at the marriage feast a fountain of choice wines. He has become such to all in all things, by helps and healings and promises.
19. Elisha was the equal of the Watchers in his doings, glorious and holy. The camp of the Watchers was round about him; thus let Baptism be unto you, a camp of guardians, for by means of it there dwells in the heart the hope of them that are below and the Lord of them that are above. Sanctify for Him your bodies, for where He abides, corruption comes not near.
20. They are no more, the waters of that sea which by its billows preserved the People, and by its billows laid low the peoples. Of contrary effect are the waters in Baptism. In them, lo! the people have life; in them, lo! the People perishes: for all that are not baptized, in the waters that give life to all, they are dead invisibly.
21. They are no more, the waters of that sea which were tempestuous, and boiled against Jonah, and plunged into the depths the Son of Amittai. Though he fled he was bound in the prison-house; God cast him in and bound him in dungeon within dungeon; for he bound him in the sea. and He bound him in the fish. For him Grace stood surety, and she opened the prison and brought forth the preacher.
22. The Prophets have called the Most High a fire, “a devouring fire,” and “who can dwell with it?” The People were not able to dwell in it; its might crushed the peoples and they were confounded. In it, with the unction ye have been anointed; ye have put Him on in the water; in the bread ye have eaten Him; in the wine ye have drunk Him; in the voice ye have heard Him; and in the eye of the mind ye have seen Him!
Response: Blessed is He Who came down, and sanctified water for the remission of the sins of the children of Adam!
1. O John, who sawest the Spirit, that abode on the head of the Son, to show how the Head of the Highest went down and was baptized and came up to be Head on earth! Children of the Spirit ye have thus become, and Christ has become for you the Head: ye also have become His members.
2. Consider and see how exalted ye are; how instead of the river Jordan ye have glorious Baptism, wherein is peace; spreading her wings to shade your bodies. In the wilderness John baptized: in Her pure flood of Baptism, purely are ye baptized therein.
3. Infants think when they see its glory, that by its pomp its might is enhanced. But it is the same, and within itself is not divided. But the might which never waxes less or greater in us is little or again great; and he in whom is great understanding, great in him is Baptism.
4. A man’s knowledge, if it be exalted, exalted also is his degree above his brethren; and he whose faith is great, so also is his promise; and as is his wisdom, so also his crowning. As is the light, which though it be all goodly and equal all of it with itself, yet goodlier is one eye than another.
5. Jesus mingled His might in the water: put ye Him on my brethren as discerning men! For there are that in the water merely perceive that they are washed. With our body be our soul washed! The manifest water let the body perceive, and the soul the secret might; that both to the manifest and to the secret ye may be made like!
6. How beautiful is Baptism in the eye of the heart; come, let us gaze on it! Like as by a seal ye have been moulded; receive ye its image, that nought may be lacking to us of our image! For the sheep that are white of heart gaze on the glory that is in the water: in your souls reflect ye it!
7. Water is by nature as a mirror, for one who in it examines himself. Stir up thy soul, thou that discernest, and be like unto it! For it in its midst reflects thy image; from it, on it, find an example; gaze in it on Baptism, and put on the beauty that is hidden therein!
8. What profits it him that hears a voice and knows not its significance? Whoso hears a voice and is devoid of the understanding thereof, his ear is filled but his soul is empty. Lo! since the gift is abundant, with discernment receive ye it.
9. Baptism that is with understanding is the conjunction of two lights, and rich are the fountains of its rays. And the darkness that is on the mind departs, and the soul beholds Him in beauty, the hidden Christ of glory, and grieves when the glory fails.
10. Baptism without understanding is a treasure full yet empty; since he that receives it is poor in it, for he understands not how great are its riches into which he enters and dwells. For great is the gift within it, though the mean man perceives not that he is exalted even as it.
11. Open wide your minds and see, my brethren, the secret column in the air, whose base is fixed from the midst of the water unto the door of the Highest Place, like the ladder that Jacob saw. Lo! by it came down the light unto Baptism, and by it the soul goes up to Heaven, that in one love we may be mingled.
12. Our Lord when he was baptized by John sent forth twelve fountains; and they issued forth and cleansed by their streams the defilement of the peoples. His worshippers are made white like His garments, the garments in Tabor and the body in the water. Instead of the garments the peoples are made white, and have become for Him a clothing of glory.
13. From your garments learn, my brethren, how your members should be kept. For if the garment, which ever so many times may be made clean, is duly kept for the sake of its comeliness, the body which has but one baptism manifold more exceeding is the care of its keeping, for manifold are its dangers.
14. Again the sun in a house that is strait, is straitened therein though he be great: but in a house that is goodly and large, when he rises thereon far and wide in it he spreads his rays; and though the sun is one and the same in his nature, in divers houses he undergoes changes: Even so our Lord in divers men.
Response: Glory to Him Who came and restored it!
1. Adam sinned and earned all sorrows; likewise the world after His example, all guilt. And instead of considering how it should be restored, considered how its fall should be pleasant for it. Glory to Him Who came and restored it!
2. This cause summoned Him that is pure, that He should come and be baptized, even He with the defiled, Heaven for His glory was rent asunder. That the purifier of all might be baptized with all, He came down and sanctified the water for our baptism.
3. For that cause for which He entered into the womb, for the same cause He went down into the river. For that cause for which He entered into the grave, for the same cause He makes us enter into His chamber. He perfected mankind for every cause.
4. His Conception is the store of our blessings; His Birth is the treasury of our joys; His Baptism is the cause of our pardon; His Death is the cause of our life. Death He alone has overcome in His Resurrection.
5. At His Birth a star of light shone in the air; when He was baptized light flashed from the water; at His Death the sun was darkened in the firmament; at His Passion the luminaries set along with Him; at His Epiphany the luminaries arose with Him.
6. Revealed was His Glory because of His Majesty; revealed was His Passion because of His Manhood; revealed was His Love because of His Graciousness; revealed was His Judgment because of His Justice. He has poured forth His attributes, on them that were His.
7. That whoso has looked on His Glory and despised Him, may look again on His Glory and worship Him; and whoso has scorned to taste of His Graciousness, may fear lest he be made to feel His justice; He has poured forth His helps on His worshippers.
8. Lo! the East in the morning was made light! lo! the South at noonday was made dark! The West again in turn at eventide was made light. The three quarters represent the one Birth; His Death and His Life they declare.
9. His Birth flowed on and was joined to His Baptism; and His Baptism again flowed on even to His Death; His Death led and reached to His Resurrection, a fourfold bridge unto His Kingdom; and lo! His sheep pass over in His footsteps.
10. And like as, save by the door of birth, none can enter into creation; so, save by the door of resurrection, none can enter into the Kingdom, and whoso has cut off his bridge, has brought to nought his hope.
11. He put on His armour and conquered and was crowned; He left His armour on earth and ascended, that if any man desires the crown, he may resort to the armour and win by it the crown of victory which he yearns after.
12. He fulfilled righteousness on earth, and ascended. But if He, the All-cleanser, was baptized, What man is there that shall not be baptized? for grace has come to baptism to wash away the foulness of our wound.
13. The compulsion of God is an all-prevailing force; but that is not pleasing to Him which is of compulsion, as that which is of discerning will. Therefore in our fruits He calls us who live not as under compulsion, by persuasion.
14. Good is He, for lo! He labours in these two things; He wills not to constrain our freedom nor again does He suffer us to abuse it. For had he constrained it, He had taken away its power; and had He let it go, He had deprived it of help.
15. He knows that if He constrains He deprives us; He knows that if He casts off He destroys us; He knows that if He teaches He wins us. He has not constrained and He has not cast off, as the Evil One does: He has taught, chastened, and won us, as being the good God.
16. He knows that His treasuries abound: the keys of His treasuries He has put into our hands. He has made the Cross our treasurer to open for us the gates of Paradise, as Adam opened the gate of Gehenna.
Response: Let the bodies rejoice which the Evil One had made naked, that in the water they have put on their glory!
1. Give thanks, O daughter, that thy crownings have been doubled; for lo! thy temples and thy sons rejoice. The dedication of thy temples is in the ministration; The dedication of thy sons is in the anointing. Blessed art thou that at once [gap in translator’s text] the tabernacle for them that dwell in thee, and the Spirit has abode upon thy sons!
2. Our Lord opened up Baptism in the midst of Jordan the blessed river. The height and the depth rejoiced in Him; He brings forth the first fruits of His peace from the water, for they are first fruits, the fruits of Baptism. The good God in His compassion will bring to pass that His peace shall be first fruits on earth.
3. Moses stretched out the temporal Tabernacle; the priests bathed themselves in water, and went in and ministered; and were stricken and punished, because their heart within was not cleansed. Blessed art thou that in the Passover of the great Passion, the priests by the savour of their oblations, lo! are cleansing souls in thee!
4. Great was the mystery that the Prophet saw, the torrent that was mighty. Into its depths he gazed and beheld thy beauty instead of himself; thee it was he saw, for thy faith passes not away, thou whose flood unseen shall overwhelm the subtleties of idolatry.
5. Though John was great among them that are born of women, yet he that is little is greater than he, in this that his baptized were again baptized, in the baptism that was of the Apostles. Blessed art thou that thy priest is greater than he in this alone that forever abides his baptism.
6. The baptism that was of Siloam did not bring mercy to the man that was laid there who for thirty and eight years awaited it, for he was a respecter of the persons of the Levites. Blessed art thou that thy healing is in thee for all men, and thy priests are devoted and ready for all that are in need of thy help.
7. The Prophet healed the waters that were unwholesome, and cured the disease of the land that was barren, so that its death was done away and its region resounded, for its offspring increased and its bosom was filled. Greater is Thy grace, Lord, than Elisha’s! Multiply my lambs and my flocks at the great stream of my fountain!
8. Great is the marvel that is within thy abode; the flocks together with the Shepherds, those at the stream of the waters, two unseen with one manifest who baptizes. Blessed is he who is baptized in their fountains! for three arms have upheld him, and three Names have preserved him!
Response: Blessed is He Who went down and was baptized in Jordan, and turned back the People from error!
1. In Baptism Adam found again that glory that was among the trees of Eden. He went down, and received it out of the water; he put it on, and went up and was adorned therein. Blessed be He that has mercy on all!
2. Man fell in the midst of Paradise, and in baptism compassion restored him: he lost his comeliness through Satan’s envy, and found it again by God’s grace. Blessed be He that has mercy on all!
3. The wedded pair were adorned in Eden; but the serpent stole their crowns: yet mercy crushed down the accursed one, and made the wedded pair goodly in their raiment. Blessed be He that has mercy on all!
4. They clothed themselves with leaves of necessity; but the Merciful had pity on their beauty, and instead of leaves of trees, He clothed them with glory in the water. Blessed be He that has mercy on all!
5. Baptism is the well-spring of life, which the Son of God opened by His Life; and from His Side it has brought forth streams. Come, all that thirst, come, rejoice! Blessed be He that has mercy on all!
6. The Father has sealed Baptism, to exalt it; and the Son has espoused it to glorify it; and the Spirit with threefold seal has stamped it, and it has shone in holiness. Blessed be He that has mercy on all!
7. The Trinity that is unsearchable has laid up treasures in baptism. Descend, ye poor, to its fountain! and be enriched from it, ye needy! Blessed be He that has mercy on all!
Hymn of the Baptized
Response: Brethren, sing praises, to the Son of the Lord of all; Who has bound for you crowns, such as kings long for!
1. Your garments glisten, my brethren, as snow; and fair is your shining in the likeness of Angels!
2. In the likeness of Angels, ye have come up, beloved, from Jordan’s river, in the armour of the Holy Ghost.
3. The bridal chamber that fails not, my brethren, ye have received: and the glory of Adam’s house to-day ye have put on.
4. The judgment that came of the fruit, was Adam’s condemnation: but for you victory, has arisen this day.
5. Your vesture is shining, and goodly your crowns: which the Firstborn has bound for you, by the priest’s hand this day.
6. Woe in Paradise, did Adam receive: but you have received, glory this day.
7. The armour of victory, ye put on, my beloved: in the hour when the priest, invoked the Holy Ghost.
8. The Angels rejoice, men here below exult: in your feast, my brethren, wherein is no foulness.
9. The good things of Heaven, my brethren, ye have received: beware of the Evil One, lest he despoil you.
10. The day when He dawned, the Heavenly King: opens for you His door, and bids you enter Eden.
11. Crowns that fade not away, are set on your heads: hymns of praise hourly, let your mouths sing.
12. Adam by means of the fruit, God cast forth in sorrow: but you He makes glad, in the bride-chamber of joy.
13. Who would not rejoice, in your bridechamber, my brethren? for the Father with His Son, and the Spirit rejoice in you.
14. Unto you shall the Father, be a wall of strength: and the Son a Redeemer, and the Spirit a guard.
15. Martyrs by their blood, glorify their crowns: but you our Redeemer, by His Blood glorifies.
16. Watchers and Angels, joy over the repentant: they shall joy over you my brethren, that unto them ye are made like.
17. The fruit which Adam, tasted not in Paradise: this day in your mouths, has been placed with joy.
18. Our Redeemer figured, His Body by the tree: whereof Adam tasted not, because he had sinned.
19. The Evil One made war, and subdued Adam’s house: through your baptism, my brethren, lo! he is subdued this day.
20. Great is the victory, but to-day you have won: if so be ye neglect not, you shall not perish, my brethren.
21. Glory to them that are robed, glory to Adam’s house! in the birth that is from the water, let them rejoice and be blessed!
22. Praise to Him Who has robed, His Churches in glory! glory to Him Who has magnified, the race of Adam’s house.
Hymn concerning our Lord and John
Response: Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Thee with joy Heaven and earth worship!
1. My thought bore me to Jordan, and I saw a marvel when there was revealed the glorious Bridegroom who to the Bride shall bring freedom and holiness.
2. I saw John filled with wonder, and the multitudes standing about him, and the glorious Bridegroom bowed down to the Son of the barren that he might baptize Him.
3. At the Word and the Voice my thought marvelled: for lo! John was the Voice; our Lord was manifested as the Word, that what was hidden should become revealed.
4. The Bride was espoused but knew not who was the Bridegroom on whom she gazed: the guests were assembled, the desert was filled, and our Lord was hidden among them.
5. Then the Bridegroom revealed Himself; and to John at the voice He drew near: and the Forerunner was moved and said of Him “This is the Bridegroom Whom I proclaimed.”
6. He came to baptism Who baptizes all, and He showed Himself at Jordan. John saw Him and drew back, deprecating, and thus he spake:
7. “How, my Lord, willest Thou to be baptized, Thou Who in Thy baptism atonest all? Baptism looks unto Thee; shed Thou on it holiness and perfection?”
8. Our Lord said “I will it so; draw near, baptize Me that My Will may be done. Resist My Will thou canst not: I shall be baptized of thee, for thus I will it.”
9. “I entreat, my Lord, that I be not compelled, for this is hard that Thou hast said to me, I have need that thou shouldst baptize Me;’ for it is Thou that with Thy hyssop purifiest all.”
10. “I have asked it, and it pleases Me that thus it should be; and thou, John, why gainsayest thou? Suffer righteousness to be fulfilled, and come, baptize Me; why standest Thou?”
11. “How can one openly grasp in his hands the fire that burns? O Thou that art fire have mercy on me, and bid me not come near Thee, for it is hard for me!”
12. “I have revealed to Thee My Will; what questionest thou? Draw near, baptize Me, and thou shalt not be burned. The bridechamber is ready; keep Me not back from the wedding-feast that has been made ready.”
13. “The Watchers fear and dare not gaze on Thee lest they be blinded; and I, how, O my Lord, shall I baptize Thee? I am too weak to draw near; blame me not!”
14. “Thou fearest; therefore gainsay not against My Will in what I desire: and Baptism has respect unto Me. Accomplish the work to which thou hast been called!”
15. “Lo! I proclaimed Thee at Jordan in the ears of the people that believed not and if they shall see Thee baptized of me, they will doubt that Thou art the Lord.”
16. “Lo! I am to be baptized in their sight, and the Father Who sent Me bears witness of Me that I am His Son and in Me He is well pleased, to reconcile Adam who was under His wrath.”
17. “It becomes, me, O my Lord, to know my nature that I am moulded out of the ground, and Thou the moulder Who formest all things: I, then, why should I baptize Thee in water?”
18. “It becomes thee to know wherefore I am come, and for what cause I have desired that thou shouldst baptize Me. It is the middle of the way wherein I have walked; withhold thou not Baptism.”
19. “Small is the river whereto Thou art come, that Thou shouldst lodge therein and it should cleanse Thee. The heavens suffice not for Thy mightiness; how much less shall Baptism contain Thee!”
20. “The womb is smaller than Jordan; yet was I willing to lodge in the Virgin: and as I was born from woman, so too am I to be baptized in Jordan.”
21. “Lo! the hosts are standing! the ranks of Watchers, lo! they worship! And if I draw near, my Lord, to baptize Thee, I tremble for myself with quaking.”
22. “The hosts and multitudes call thee happy, all of them, for that thou baptizest Me. For this I have chosen thee from the womb: fear thou not, for I have willed it.
23. “I have prepared the way as I was sent: I have betrothed the Bride as I was commanded. May Thy Epiphany be spread over the world now that Thou art come, and let me not baptize Thee!”
24. “This is My preparation, for so have I willed; I will go down and be baptized in Jordan, and make bright the armour for them that are baptized, that they may be white in Me and I not be conquered.”
25. “Son of the Father, why should I baptize Thee? for lo! Thou art in Thy Father and Thy Father in Thee. Holiness unto the priests Thou givest; water that is common wherefore askest Thou?”
26. “The children of Adam look unto Me, that I should work for them the new birth. A way in the waters I will search out for them, and if I be not baptized this cannot be.”
27. “Pontiffs of Thee are consecrated, priests by Thy hyssop are purified; the anointed and the kings Thou makest. Baptism, how shall it profit Thee?”
28. “The Bride thou betrothedst to Me awaits Me, that I should go down, be baptized, and sanctify her. Friend of the Bridegroom withhold Me not from the washing that awaits Me.”
29. “I am not able, for I am weak, Thy blaze in my hands to grasp. Lo! Thy legions are as flame; bid one of the Watchers baptize Thee!”
30. “Not from the Watchers was My Body assumed, that I should summon a Watcher to baptize Me. The body of Adam, lo! I have put on, and thou, son of Adam, art to baptize Me.”
31. “The waters saw Thee, and greatly feared; the waters saw Thee, and lo! they tremble! The river foams in its terror; and I that am weak, how shall I baptize Thee?”
32. “The waters in My Baptism are sanctified, and fire and the Spirit from Me shall they receive; and if I be not baptized they are not made perfect to be fruitful of children that shall not die.”
33. “Fire, if to Thy fire it draw near, shall be burnt up of it as stubble. The mountains of Sinai endured Thee not, and I that am weak, wherein shall I baptize Thee?”
34. “I am the flaming fire; yet for man’s sake I became a babe in the virgin womb of the maiden. And now I am to be baptized in Jordan.”
35. “It is very meet that Thou shouldst baptize me, for Thou hast holiness to purify all. In Thee it is that the defiled are made holy; but Thou that art holy, why art Thou to be baptized?”
36. “It is very right that thou shouldst baptize Me, as I bid, and shouldst not gainsay. Lo! I baptized thee within the womb; baptize thou me in Jordan!”
37. “I am a bondman and I am weak. Thou that freest all have mercy on me! Thy latchets to unloose I am not able; Thy exalted head who will make me worthy to touch?”
38. “Bondmen in My Baptism are set free; handwritings in My washing are blotted out; manumissions in the water are sealed ; and if I be not baptized all these come to nought.”
39. “A mantle of fire the air wears, and waits for Thee, above Jordan; and if Thou consentest to it and willest to be baptized, Thou shalt baptize Thyself and fulfil all.”
40. “This is meet, that thou shouldst baptize Me, that none may err and say concerning Me, Had He not been alien from the Father’s house, why feared the Levite to baptize Him?'”
41. “The prayer, then, when Thou art baptized, how shall I complete over Jordan? When the Father and the Spirit are seen over Thee, Whom shall I call on, as priest?”
42. “The prayer in silence is to be completed: come, thy hand alone lay thou on Me. and the Father shall utter in the priest’s stead that which is meet concerning His Son.”
43. “They that are bidden, lo! all of them stand; the Bridegroom’s guests, lo! they bear witness that day by day I said among them, I am the Voice and not the Word.'”
44. “Voice of him that cries in the wilderness, fulfil thou the work for which thou camest, that the desert whereunto thou wentest out may resound with the mighty peace thou preachedst therein.”
45. “The shout of the Watchers has come to my ears; lo! I hear from the Father’s house the hosts that sound forth the cry, In Thy Epiphany, O Bridegroom, the worlds have life.'”
46. “The time hastes on, and the marriage guests look to Me to see what is doing. Come, baptize Me, that they may give praise to the Voice of the Father when it is heard!”
47. “I hearken, my Lord, according to Thy Word: come to Baptism as Thy love constrains Thee! The dust worships that whereunto he has attained, that on Him Who fashioned him he should lay his hand.”
48. The heavenly ranks were silent as they stood, and the Bridegroom went down into Jordan; the Holy One was baptized and straightway went up, and His Light shone forth on the world.
49. The doors of the highest were opened above, and the voice of the Father was heard, “This is my Beloved in Whom I am well pleased.” All ye peoples, come and worship Him.
50. They that saw were amazed as they stood, at the Spirit Who came down and bare witness to Him. Praise to Thy Epiphany that gladdens all, Thou in Whose revelation the worlds are lightened!
1. In the Birth of the Son light dawned, and darkness fled from the world, and the earth was enlightened; then let it give glory to the brightness of the Father Who has enlightened it!
2. He dawned from the womb of the Virgin, and the shadows passed away when He was seen, and the darkness of error was strangled by Him, and the ends of the earth were enlightened that they should give glory.
3. Among the peoples there was great tumult, and in the darkness the light dawned, and the nations rejoiced to give glory to Him in Whose Birth they all were enlightened.
4. His light shone out over the east; Persia was enlightened by the star: His Epiphany gave good tidings to her and invited her, “He is come for the sacrifice that brings joy to all.”
5. The star of light hasted and came and dawned through the darkness, and summoned them that the peoples should come and exult in the great Light that has come down to earth.
6. One envoy from among the stars the firmament sent to proclaim to them, to the sons of Persia, that they might make ready to meet the King and to worship Him.
7. Great Assyria when she perceived it called to the Magi and said to them, “Take gifts and go, honour Him the great King Who in Judea has dawned.”
8. The princes of Persia, exulting, carried gifts from their region; and they brought to the Son of the Virgin gold and myrrh and frankincense.
9. They entered and found Him as a child as He dwelt in the house of the lowly woman; and they drew near and worshipped with gladness, and brought near before Him their treasures.
10. Mary said, “For whom are these? and for what purpose? and what is the cause that has called you to come from your country to the Child with your treasures?”
11. They said, “Thy Son is a King, and He binds crowns and is King of all; and great is His power over the world, and to His Kingdom shall all be obedient.”
12. “At what time did this come to pass, that a lowly woman should bring forth a King? I who am in need and in want, how then could a king come forth from me?”
13. “In thee alone has this come to pass that a mighty King from thee should appear; thee in whom poverty shall be magnified, and to thy Son shall crowns be made subject.”
14. “Treasures of Kings I have not; riches have never fallen to my lot. My house is lowly and my dwelling needy; why then proclaim ye that my Son is King?”
15. “Great treasure is in thy Son, and wealth that suffices to make all rich; for the treasures of kings are impoverished, but He fails not nor can be measured.”
16. “Whether haply some other be for you the King that is born, enquire ye concerning Him. This is the son of a lowly woman, of one who is not meet to look on a King.”
17. “Can it be that light should ever miss the way whereon it has been sent? It was not darkness that summoned and led us; in light we walked, and thy Son is King.”
18. “Lo! ye see a babe without speech, and the house of His mother empty and needy, and of that which pertains to a king nought is in it: how then in it is a king to be seen?”
19. “Lo! we see that without speech and at rest is the King, and lowly as thou hast said: but again we see that the stars in the highest He bids haste to proclaim Him.”
20. “It were meet, O men, that ye should enquire who is the King, and then adore him; lest haply your way has been mistaken, and another is the King that is born.”
21. “It were meet, O maiden, that thou shouldst receive it, that we have learned that thy Son is King, from the star of light that errs not, and plain is the way, and he has led us.”
22. “The Child is a little one, and lo! he has not the diadem of a king and of a throne; and what have ye seen that ye should pay honour to Him, as to a king, with your treasures?”
23. “A little one, because He willed it for quietness’ sake, and meek now until He be revealed. A time shall be for Him when all diadems shall bow down and worship Him.”
24. “Armies he has none; nor has my Son legions and troops: in the poverty of His mother He dwells; why then King is He called by you?”
25. “The armies of thy Son are above; they ride on high, and they flame, and one of them it was that came and summoned us, and all our country was dismayed.”
26. “The Child is a babe, and how is it possible He should be King, unknown to the world? And they that are mighty and of renown, how can a babe be their ruler?”
27. “Thy babe is aged, O Virgin, and Ancient of Days and exalted above all and Adam beside Him is very babe, and in Him all created things are made new.”
28. “It is very seemly that ye should expound all the mystery and explain it; who it is that reveals to you the mystery of my Son, that He is a King in your region.”
29. “It is likewise seemly for thee to accept this, that unless the truth had led us we had not wandered hither from the ends of the earth, nor come for the sake of thy Son.”
30. “All the mystery as it was wrought among you there in your country, reveal ye to me now as friends. Who was He that called you to come to me?”
31. “A mighty Star appeared to us that was glorious exceedingly above the stars, and our land by its fire was kindled; that this King had appeared it bore tidings to us.”
32. “Do not, I beseech you, speak of these things in our land lest they rage, and the kings of the earth join together against the Child in their envy.”
33. “Be not thou dismayed, O Virgin! Thy Son shall bring to nought all diadems, and set them underneath his heel; and they shall not subdue Him Whom they envy.”
34. “Because of Herod I am afraid, that unclean wolf, lest he assail me, and draw his sword and with it cut off the sweet cluster before it be ripe.”
35. “Because of Herod fear thou not; for in the hands of thy Son is his throne placed: and as soon as He shall reign it shall be laid low, and his diadem shall fall on the earth beneath.”
36. “A torrent of blood is Jerusalem, wherein the excellent ones are slain; and if she perceives Him she will assail Him. In mystery speak ye, and noise it not abroad.”
37. “All torrents, and likewise swords, by the hands of thy Son shall be appeased; and the sword of Jerusalem shall be blunted, and shall not desire at all to kill.”
38. “The scribes of the priests of Jerusalem pour forth blood and heed not. They will arouse murderous strife against me and against the Child; O Magi, be silent!”
39. “The scribes and the priests will be unable to hurt thy son in their envy; for by Him their priesthood shall be dissolved, and their festivals brought to nought.”
40. “A Watcher revealed to me, when I received conception of the Babe, that my Son is a King; that His diadem is from on high and is not dissolved, he declared to me even as ye do.”
41. “The Watcher, therefore, of whom thou hast spoken is he who came as a star, and was shown to us and brought us good tidings that He is great and glorious above the stars.”
42. “That Angel declared to me in his good tidings, when he appeared to me, that to His Kingdom no end shall be and the mystery is kept and shall not be revealed.”
43. “The Star also declared again to us that thy Son is He that shall keep the diadem. His aspect was something changed, and he was the Angel and made it not known to us.”
44. “Before me when the Watcher showed himself, he called Him his Lord before He was conceived; and as the Son of the Highest announced Him to me: but where His Father is he made not known to me.”
45. “Before us he proclaimed in the form of a star that the Lord of the Highest is He Who is born; and over the stars of light thy Son is ruler, and unless He commands they rise not.”
46. “In your presence, lo! there are revealed other mysteries, that ye may learn the truth; how in virginity I bare my Son, and He is Son of God; go ye, proclaim Him!”
47. “In our presence the Star taught us that His Birth is exalted above the world and above all beings is thy Son, and is Son of God according to thy saying.”
48. “The world on high and the world below bear witness to Him, all the Watchers and the stars, that He is Son of God and Lord. Bear ye His fame to your lands!”
49. “All the world on high, in one star, has stirred up Persia and she has learnt the truth, that thy Son is Son of God, and to Him shall all peoples be subject.”
50. “Peace bear ye to your lands: peace be multiplied in your borders! As apostles of truth may ye be believed in all the way that ye shall pass through.”
51. “The peace of thy Son, it shall bear us in tranquillity to our land, as it has led us hither; and when His power shall have grasped the worlds, may He visit our land and bless it!
52. “May Persia rejoice in your glad tidings! may Assyria exult in your coming And when my Son’s Kingdom shall arise, may He plant His standard in your country!”
53. Let the Church sing with rejoicing, “Glory in the Birth of the Highest, by Whom the world above and the world below are illumined!” Blessed be He in Whose Birth all are made glad!
These hymns were translated by A. Edward Johnston. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 13. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1898.) The text here has been reformatted, and some footnotes have been placed inline. All volumes in the Early Church Fathers series are in the public domain and are available online at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for browsing or download (see also their Table of Contents).