Early Church Fathers
(Resp.-Blessed be he who became beyond measure low, that he might make us beyond measure great)
1. Of the Birth of the Firstborn, let us tell on His Feast-day.1 -He gives on His day, secret comforts.-If the unclean King at his feast, in memory of his day,-gave the gift of wrath, the head in a charger,-how much more shall the Blessed, give blessings to him-who sings praise at His Feast!
2. Let us not count our vigil like vigils of every day.-His feast, its reward, exceeds an hundredfold.-For this feast makes war, on sleep by its vigil;-speaking it makes war, on silence by its voice;-clad with all blessings, it is chief of feasts,-and of every joy.
3. To-day the angels, and the archangels,-descended to sing-a new song on earth. -In this mystery they descend, and rejoice with the vigil-keepers.-At the time when they gave praise, blasphemy abounded.-Blessed be the Birth by which, lo! the world resounds-with anthems of praise.
4. For this is the night that joined, the Watchers on high with the vigil-keepers.-The Watcher came to make watchers in the midst of creation.-Lo! the vigil-keepers are made comrades with the Watchers:-the singers of praise are made, companions of the Seraphs.-Blessed be he who becomes, the harp of Thy praise!-and Thy grace becomes his reward.
5. The Birth then of the Firstborn, I will sing and tell how-the Godhead in the womb wove itself a vesture.-He put it on and came forth in birth, in death again put it off;-once he put it off, twice He put it on.-On the left He wore it, then took it off thence,-and laid it at the right.
6. He dwelt in a narrow bosom, the Might that rules all.-While He was dwelling there, He held the reins of the whole:-to His Father He made offering, that He might fulfil His Will:-Heaven was filled by Him, and every creature.-The Sun entered the womb, and in the height and the depth-his splendour abode.
7. He dwelt in the wide bosoms, of all the creatures;-too narrow to hold, the greatness of the Firstborn.-How then sufficed for it, that bosom of Mary?-Marvellous if it sufficed, bewilderment if it sufficed not.-Of all bosoms that held Him, one bosom sufficed for Him,-His, the Supreme Who begat Him.
8. The bosom that held Him, if it held Him Wholly,-equals the wondrous bosom, of the Supreme Who begat Him.-But who dare say the bosom, that is narrow weak and lowly,-is equal to His, Who is the Supreme Being?-He dwelt there of His mercy, though so great is His Nature:-it is without bound.
9. Reconciling Peace, sent to the nations!-gladdening Brightness, that camest to the sad!-Mighty Leaven in silence, overcoming all!-Patient One that hast taken, man after man in Thy net!-Happy he who has welcomed, thy joy in his heart,-and forgot his groans in Thee!
10. They sounded forth peace, the Watchers to the vigil-keepers.-Among the vigil-keepers the good tidings, were announced by the Watchers.-Who would sleep on that night, which has waked all creatures?-For they bear good tidings of peace, where warfare had been.-Blessed is he who has pleased, the Divine Majesty by his silence,-when speaking moved His wrath!
11. Watchers mixed with watchers, they rejoiced that the world came to life.-The Evil One was shamed who was king, and had woven a crown of lies;-and set up his throne, as God in the world.-The Babe laid in the manger, cast him from his dominion. -The Sun rendered worship, doing Him homage by his Magi;-in his worshippers he worshipped Him.
12. God saw that mankind, worship things created:-He put on a created body, that in our custom He might capture us.-Lo! in this our form, He that formed us healed us;-and in this created shape, our Creator gave us life.-He drew us not by force: blessed be He Who came in ours,-and joined us in His!
13. Who would not marvel, at Mary, David's daughter,-bearing an infant, and her virginity kept!-She lays Him on her breast, and lulls Him with song and He rejoices. -The Angels raise hymns, the Seraphs cry "Holy,"-the Magi offer, acceptable gifts,-to the Son Who is born.
14. O great above measure, immeasurably made low,-praised beyond praises, debased to humiliation!-the tender mercies laid on Thee, bowed Thee down to all this;-let Thy grace bow me down, though evil to give praise!-Happy he who becomes, a fountain of voices,-all praising Thee in all!
15. He was servant on earth; He is Lord in Heaven.-Heir of height and depth, He became a stranger:-Whom men judged in guile, He is judge in truth:-He Whose face they spat on, breathes His Spirit on theirs:-He Who held the frail reed, is become the staff of the world,-which grows old and leans on Him.
16. He Who rose to wait on His servants, now sits to be worshipped.-Whom the scribes despised, before Him Seraphs cry "Holy."-This praise Adam desired, to steal privily.-The serpent which made him fall, saw to what height he was raised:-he crushed it because it deceived him; the feet of Eve trod it down,-which had sent venom into her ears.
17. The wife proved barren, and withheld her fruit;-but the bosom of Mary, holily conceived.-To wonder at fields, and to admire plants-she needed not who received, and rendered what she borrowed not.-Nature confessed its defeat; the womb was aware of it,-and restored what Nature gave not.
18. Mary was defeated, in the judgment by Elizabeth.-She that was barren pleaded, that the Will which prevailed-to close the open door, has opened the closed.-He has made childless the married womb; He has made fruitful the virgin womb.-Because the People were accurst faithless, He made her that was married,-held from bearing before the face of the maiden.
19. He Who could give moisture, to breasts barren and dead,-caused them to fail in youth, made them to flow in age;-forced and changed nature, in its season and out of its season.-The Lord of natures changed, the Virgin's nature.-Because the People were barren, He made her that was aged,-a mouth on behalf of the damsel.
20. And as He began at birth, He went on and fulfilled in death.-His Birth received worship; His Death paid the debt.-As He came to His Birth, the Magi worshipped Him;-again He came to His Passion, and the thief sought refuge in Him-Between His Birth and Death, midway He set the world:-in birth and Death he gave it life.
21. Thousand thousands stand, and ten thousand thousands haste.-The thousands and ten thousands, cannot search out the One:-for all of them stand, in silence to serve.-He has no heir of His Throne, save the Son Who is of Him.-In the midst of silence is the enquiry into Him, when the watchers come to search Him out,-they attain to silence and are stayed.
22. The Firstborn entered the womb, and the pure Virgin was not harmed.-He stirred and came forth in her travail, and the fair Mother was troubled by Him.-Glorious and unseen in entering, humble and manifest in issuing;-for He was God in entering, and He was man in issuing.-A marvel and bewilderment to hear: fire entered the womb; put on a body and came forth!
23. Gabriel chief of Angels, called Him "My Lord":-he called Him "My Lord," to teach that He was his Lord, not his fellow.-Gabriel had with him, Michael as fellow: -the Son is Lord of the servants; exalted is His Nature as His Name.-No servant can search Him out; for the greater the servant,-He is great above His servant.
24. When they stand before Thee, the watchers with songs of praise,-they know not in what part, they shall discern Thee.-They have sought Thee above in the height; they have seen Thee below in the depth:-they have searched for Thee in the midst of heaven; they have seen Thee in the midst of the abyss:-they have discerned Thee beside Him that is worshipped; they have found Thee in the midst of the creatures: -they have come down to Thee and sung Glory to Thee.
25. Thou art all wonderful, in all parts where we seek Thee.-Near art Thou,-and far, and who may attain to Thee?-No seeking avails, that its stretch should reach unto Thee.-Whereon it stretches to reach Thee, it is checked and stops,-it falls short of Thy mountain; Faith reaches thither,-and Love with prayer.
26. The Magi also sought Him, and in the manger when they found Him,-instead of scrutiny worship, they offered Him in silence;-for empty strivings, oblations gave they Him.-Seek thou too the Firstborn, and if thou find Him in the height,-instead of troubled questionings, open thy treasures before Him,-and offer Him thy works.XV.
Resp. -Blessed is He above all in His Birth! (bis).
1. Celebrate, O nations, this feast, first fruits of all feasts;-recount the sufferings that were, and the wounds and pains,-that we may know what plagues, He healed,the Son Who was sent.
R., Blessed be He Who sufficed to heal our pains!
2. Celebrate, O saved nations, Him Who saves all in His Birth.-Even my feeble tongue, has become a harp through His mercy.-The excellency of the Firstborn, in His Festival let us sing.
R., Blessed is He Who has made us meet for His Feast!
3. How then can any one, admire a physician,-until he hear and learn, what were the pains he healed?-And when our plagues are proclaimed, then is our Healer magnified.
R., Blessed be He Who is exalted in our pains!
4. Created things were worshipped: because the worshipper was foolish,-he used to worship all things; but One they worshipped not.-He came down therefore in mercy and broke, the yoke that enslaved all.
R., Blessed is He Who loosed our pains!
5. The mercies of the Highest were revealed; He came down and set free His creature.-In this blessed month, wherein are made releases of slaves,-the Lord underwentbondage, to call the bond to freedom.
R., Blessed is He Who brought freedom!6. The Lord of the months chose Him, two months for His doings.-His Conception was in Nisan, and His Birth in Conun.-In Nisan He sanctified them that were conceived; and them that were born He set free in Conun.
R., Blessed be He Who makes glad His months!
7. The Sun revealed in silence, his worshippers to his Lord:-it was grievous to him, a servant, to be worshipped instead of his Lord.-Lo! creation is glad, that the Creator is worshipped.
R., Blessed is the Child that is worshipped.
8. The months wore three crowns, and crowned Him in His triumphs.-Blessed is the Sun for His Birth, and for His Resurrection desired,-and for His Ascension blessed; the months have borne Him crowns.
R., Blessed be He Who has triumphed in His months!
9. Unveil and make glad thy face, O Creature, in our feast.-Let the Church sing with voice; Heaven and earth in silence!-Sing and praise the Child, who has brought release for all!
R., Blessed be He Who has annulled the bonds!
10. When fools did reverence to the Sun, in reverence to him they disgraced him.-But now when all know he is a servant, in his course his Lord is worshipped;-all servants rejoice, that as servants they are reckoned.
R., Blessed be He Who ordered their natures!
11. We have done perverse things, who have become servants of servants.-Lo! our freedom compelled him, a servant, to become lord to us:-the Sun, the servant for all, we have made Lord for all.
R., Blessed is He Who to Himself has turned us!
12. And the Moon too which was worshipped, has been set free by His Birth.-For 'tis strange that by her light, which enlightens the eyes,-by it the eyes were darkened, that they gazed on her as a God.
R., Blessed be the beam that has enlightened us!
13. Fire commended Thy Birth, which drew away worship from it.-The magi used to worship it: they who have worshipped before Thee.-They left it and worshipped its Lord; they exchanged fire for the Fire.
R., Blessed is He Who has bathed us in His light!14. In place of the senseless fire that eats up its own body of itself,-the magi adored the Fire Who gave His Body to be eaten.-The live coal drew near and sanctified, the lips that were unclean.
R., Blessed is He Who has mixed His Fire in us!
15. Delusion blinded men, to worship created things:-fellow servants were worshipped, and the God of all was wronged.-He Who is to be worshipped came down to His birth, and gathered to himself worship.
R., Blessed is He Who by all is worshipped!
16. The All-knowing saw, that men worship things that were made:-He put on a body that was made, that in our custom He might take us captive,-and by a body that was made, drew us to the Creator.
R., Blessed be He Who drew us with guile!17. The Evil One knew how to harm us; and by lights he blinded us,-by possessions he hurt us, through gold he made us poor,-by the graver's graven images, he made us a heart of stone.
R., Blessed is He Who came and softened it!
18. They grayed and set up stones, whereon men should stumble.-They set them not on the highway, for the blind to stumble on:-they called them Gods, that on them with open eyes men might stumble.
R., Blessed is He Who exposed the idols which they feared!
19. Sin had spread its wings, and covered all things,-that none could discern, of himself or from above, the truth.-Truth came down into the womb, came forth and rolled away error.
R., Blessed is He Who dispelled Sin by His Birth!20. For Mercy endured not, to see the way hindered.-When He came down for conception, He opened the way and made it easy:-when He came forth in birth, He trod it and marked its miles.
R., Blessed is the peace of Thy Way!
21. He chose the Prophets; they cleared the way for the people:-He sent the Apostles; they smoothed paths for the nations.-The snares of the Evil One were shamed, when feeble men cleared them away.
R., Blessed is He Who made our paths plain!
22. The graven images blinded, their gravers in secret:-they grayed eyes on stone, and darkened the eyes of the soul.-Praise to Thy Birth that opened, the sight that was blinded.
R., Blessed be He Who has restored sight!
23. Let women praise Her, the pure Mary,-that as in Eve their mother,-great was their reproach,-lo! in Mary their sister,-greatly magnified was their honour.
R., Blessed is He Who sprang from women!
24. Let the nations praise Thy Birth, that they have gained eyes to see,-how their wine has made them reel; and they have seen their own humiliation?-They come to know themselves, and worship Him who has rescued them.
R., Blessed is He Who has taught repentance!
25. Its worship mankind-had spread everywhere:-Him Who is to be worshipped it sought not, that worship should be paid Him.-But He endured not-worshippers that err.
R., Blessed is He Who came down and is worshipped!
26. The gold of the idols worshipped Thee, that Thou didst treat it as alms; which availed not apart, for the uses of life.-It hasted to Thy purse, as it had hasted to the manger.
R., Blessed be He Whom Creation has loved!
27. The frankincense worshipped Thy Birth. which had served demons.-It sorrowed then in its vapour: it exulted when it saw its Lord.-Instead of being the incense of delusion, it was an oblation before God!
R., Blessed is Thy Birth which is worshipped!
28. The myrrh worshipped Thee for itself, and for its kindred ointments.-The hands that bore its ointment, had anointed abominable graven images.-To Thee the perfume was sweet, from the anointing wherewith Mary anointed Thee.
R., Blessed is Thy savour which is sweet to us!
29. The gold that had been worshipped worshipped thee, when the magi offered it.-That which had been worshipped in molten images, gave worship to Thee.-With its worshippers it worshipped Thee, it confessed that Thou art He that is to be worshipped.
R., Blessed is He Who claimed worship for Himself!
30. The Evil One fled and his hosts, he that used to exult in the world.-In the high places they sacrificed heifers to him, in the gardens they slew bulls for him.-He swallowed up all creation, he filled his belly with prey.
R., Blessed be He Who came and made him disgorge!
31. Of him the Lord said, that he had fallen from Heaven.-The Abhorred One had exalted himself; from his uplifting he has fallen. The foot of Mary has trod him down, who bruised Eve with his heel.
R., Blessed be He Who by His Birth laid him low!
32. Chaldeans went about, in all places and led astray:-the preachers of delusion, were shamed through the world,-they were shamed and overcome,-by the preachers of truth.
R., Blessed be the Babe Whom they preached!
33. Sin had spread out, her nets for the draught.-Praise be to Thy Birth that captured, the nets of delusion.-The soul took flight on high, which had been taken in the deep.
R., Blessed is He Who prepared for us wings!
34. His Will was able, even by force to rescue us.-But since it was not force that made us guilty, it was not by force He purged us.-The Evil One by enticement enslaved us: Thy Birth enticed to give us life.
R., Blessed be He Who planned and gave us life!
35. The creatures complained that they were worshipped; in silence they sought release.-The All-Releaser heard, and because He endured it not He came down,-put on the form of a servant in the womb, came forth, set free Creation.
R., Blessed be He Who made his Creation his gain!
36. Mercy was kindled on high, at the voice of Creation that cried out:-Gabriel was sent; he came and gave tidings of Thy Conception.-When Thou camest to the Birth, Watchers gave tidings of thy coming forth.
R., Blessed be by Thy Worship above all!
37. For greater is the joy of the Birth than the Conception.-Yea it was one angel, that brought us tidings of Thy Conception:-but in the joy of Thy Birth, a multitude of Watchers brought tidings.
R., Blessed be Thy tidings in Thy day!
38. Glory to Thee I too in Thy day, will offer, O Thou that art worshipped!-Take of the fruit that is mine; and give me mercy which is Thine!-For if the evil that is in me gives gifts, how much more shalt Thou give Who art good!
R., Blessed is Thy wealth in Thy servant!
39. The two things Thou soughtest, in Thy Birth have been done for us.-Our visible body Thou hast put on; Thy invisible might we have put on:-our body has become Thy clothing; Thy Spirit has become our robe.
R., Blessed be He Who has been adorned and has adorned us!
40. Height and depth were amazed, that Thy Birth subdued the rebels.-For that we gave Thee hostages, Thou gavest us the Paraclete:-when the hostages went up from us, the Captain of the host came down to us.
R., Blessed be He Who look away and sent down!
41. Come ye mouths of all and pour forth, and be in the likeness of waters, and wells of voices! May the Holy Spirit come,-and sing glory through us all, to the Father Who has redeemed us through His Son!
R., Blessed is He above all in His Birth!XVI.(Resp.-Glory to all of Thee from all of us! (bis.)
1. Who then that is mortal man, can declare concerning the All-Life giver,-Who quilted the height of His Majesty, and abased Himself to humility?-Thou Who exaltest all in Thy Birth, exalt my weak mind,-to declare of Thy Birth; not that I should search out Thy Majesty,-but that I should proclaim Thy grace.
R., Blessed be He Who conceals and reveals in His discourses!
2. It is a great marvel that the Son, dwelt wholly in a body;-abode therein wholly and it sufficed for Him; dwelt therein though not bounded thereby.-His Will was wholly therein; His bounds reached wholly to His Father.-Who is sufficient to tell, how though He dwelt wholly in a body.-He likewise dwelt wholly in all?
R., Blessed is He Who though without bounds was bounded!
3. Thy Majesty is concealed from us; Thy Grace is revealed before us.-I will be silent, O Lord of Thy Majesty; and I will tell of Thy grace.-Thy grace clove to Thee, and bowed Thee down to our vileness:-Thy grace made Thee a babe; Thy grace made Thee man:-it straitened, it enlarged, Thy Majesty.
R., Blessed be the might that became little and became great!
4. Glory to Him Who became lowly, though lofty He was by His nature!-He became in His love the firstborn of Mary, Firstborn though He be of Godhead.-He became in name the offspring of Joseph, offspring though He be of the Most High.- He became by His own Will man, God though He be by His Nature.-Glorified be Thy Will and Thy Nature!
R., Blessed be Thy Glory which put on our image!
5. Yea, O Lord, Thy Birth, has become mother of all creatures; for it travailed anew and gave birth, to mankind which gave birth to Thee. Thou wast born of it bodily; it was born of Thee spiritually.-All that Thou camest for to birth, was that man might be born in Thy likeness.-Thy Birth became the author of birth to all.
R., Blessed be He Who became a youth and to all gave youth!
6. When man's hope had broken down, hope was increased by Thy Birth.-Good tidings of hope they bore, the Heavenly Ones to men.-Satan who cut off our hope, his own hope by his own hands had cut off.-when he saw that hope was increased: Thy Birth became to the hopeless,-a fountain teaming with hope.
R., Blessed be He Who bore the tidings of hope!
7. The day of Thy Birth is like Thee, for it is desired and loved as Thou.-We who saw not Thy Birth, and its flame as in its own time,-in this Thy day we see Thee, even as Thou wast a babe;-beloved by all men, lo! in Thee the Churches rejoice;-Thy day adorns and is adorned.
R., Blessed be Thy day which was ordained for us!
8. Thy day has given us a gift, to which the Father has none other like;-It was not Seraphim He sent us, nor yet did Cherubim come down among us;-there came not Watchers or Ministers, but the Firstborn to Whom they minister.-Who can suffice to give thanks, that the Majesty which is beyond measure-is laid in the lowly manger!
R., Blessed be He Who gave us what He had won!
9. That generation Thy Birth made glad, and our generation Thy day makes glad: twofold was the happiness of that generation, for they saw Thy Birth and also Thy day:-less is the happiness of them that come after, for the day of Thy Birth they see only.-Yet because they that then were, doubted, greater is the happiness of them that comeafter,-who though they have not seen Thee have believed in Thee.
R., Blessed be Thy happiness that is added to us!10. The Magi exalted from afar; the Scribes murmured near at hand;-the prophet showed his message, and Herod his wrath;-the scribes showed their doctrine, the Magi showed their offerings. It is a marvel that to Him, the Babe, they of His own house hasted with their swords, and they that were strangers with their offerings.
R., Blessed be Thy Birth which has stirred up all!
11. The bosom of Mary amazes me, that it sufficed for Thee, Lord, and embraced Thee.-All creation were too small, to conceal Thy Majesty;-Heaven and earth too narrow, to be in the likeness of wings,2 to cover Thy Godhead.-Too small for Thee was the bosom of earth; great enough for Thee was the bosom of Mary.-He dwelt in the bosom and healed in her bosom.
12. He was wrapped meanly in swaddling clothes, and offerings were offered Him.-He put on garments in youth, and from them there came forth helps: He put on the waters of baptism, and from them there shone forth beams:-He put on linen cloths in death, and in them were shown forth triumphs; with His humiliations. His exaltations.
R., Blessed be He Who joined His Glory to His Passion!
13. All these are the changes of raiment, which Mercy put off and put on,-when He strove to put on Adam, the glory which he had put off.-He was wrapped in swaddling-clothes as Adam with leaves; and clad in garments instead of skins.-He was baptized for Adam's sin, and buried for Adam's death:-He rose and raised Adam into Glory.
R., Blessed be He Who came down and clothed him and went up!
14. Though Thy Birth had sufficed, for Adam's sons as for Adam;-O Mighty One Who didst become a babe, in Thy Birth anew hast Thou begotten me!-O pure One Who wast baptized, let Thy Washing wash away our filth-O Living One who wastburied, may we gain life in Thy death!-I will praise all of Thee in Him that fills all.
R., Glory to all of Thee from all of us!
XVII.(Resp., Praise to Thee from every mouth on this Day of Thy Birth!)
1. Infants were slain because of Thy Birth, Thou Giver of life to all-But because He Who was slain was a King, our Lord the Lord of Kingdoms,-the tyrant in subtlety, gave for Him slain hostages,-clad in the mysteries of His slaying: the ranks ofheaven received,-the hostages that they of earth offered.
R., Blessed be the Kingwho magnified Him!
2. All the Kings of the house of David, transmitted and hauled on each to each,-the throne and crown of the Son of David, as guardian of a deposit.-In one they reached their bound and limit, when He came, the Lord of all things,-and took awayfrom them all things, and cut off the transmission of all things. ...
R., Blessed be He Who is clad in that which is His!
3. The doves moaned in Bethlehem, that the serpent destroyed their offspring.-The eagle betook himself to Egypt, to go down and receive the promises.-Egypt rejoiced in Him that there came, abundance for payment of debts,-which had failed thesons of Joseph. Among the sons of Joseph He laboured and paid-the debts of thesons of Joseph.
R., Blessed is He Who called Him out or Egypt!
4. The Scribes read daily, that the Star arises out of Jacob.-For the People were the Voice and the reading, for the nations the rising of the Star and the interpretation:-for them were the Books and for us the facts; for them boughs and for us fruits.-The Scribes read in things written; the Magi saw in things done, the outshining of that which was read.
R., Blessed be He Who added to us their books!
5. Who is able to tell, of the withdrawal and the appearings,-of the shining star that went, before the bearers of the offerings?-It appeared and proclaimed the crown; it was hid and concealed His Body.-It was for the Son in twofold wise, herald and guardian;-it guarded His Body, it proclaimed His Crown.
R., Blessed is He Who has given wisdom to them that proclaim Him!
6. The tyrant gazed on the Magi, as they asked "Where is the son of the King?"-While his heart was gloomy, he sought for himself a cheerful countenance.-With the sheep he sent wolves, that should kill the Lamb of God.-The Lamb went down to Egypt, that thence He might judge them,-whence He had saved them.
R., Blessed be He Who yet again subdued them.
7. The Magi declared to the tyrant, "When thy servants joined us,-the bright star withdrew itself, yea the paths hid themselves."-The blessed ones knew not, that the king had sent bitter foes,-murderers as if worshippers, to destroy the sweet fruit,-whereof the bitter eat and are made sweet.
R., To Thee be glory, Medicine of life!8. When there the Magi received, commandment to go and seek Him.-it is written of them that they saw, that bright star and rejoiced.-Thus it is known that it had been withdrawn; therefore rejoiced they at its aspect.-It was hid and hindered the murderers, it arose and called the worshippers;-it overthrew a part and it called a part.
R., Blessed be He Who has triumphed in both parts!9. The abhorred one who slew the children, how did he overlook the Child?-Justice hindered him that he thought, the Magi would return to him.-While he stayed waiting to seize, the Worshipped and His worshippers,-everything escaped his hands, the offerings and the worshippers took flight,-from the tyrant to the Son of the King.
R., Glory to Him who knows all counsels!
10. The blameless Magi as they slept, meditated on their beds:-sleep became a mirror, and a dream rose on it as light.-The murderer they saw and trembled, as his guile and his sword flashed forth.-He taught the men guile, he sharpened the sword to sharpness:-the Watcher taught the sleepers.
R., Blessed is He who gives prudence to the simple!
11. The simple who believe have known, two Comings of Christ:-but the foolish scribes have not even perceived one Coming.-Yet the nations have life in the first, and shall rise again there in the second.-The People whose mind is blinded, the first Coming has dispersed;-the second shall blot out their memory.
R., Blessed be the King Who is come and is to come!
12. When the Saviour arose as the blind, the Sun showed forth his beams,-and they were clothed in darkness: the Brightness sent forth his light,-and He brought the sons of the stars, to make manifest the sons of darkness.-For lo! among you is the star, but on your eyes the veil.
R., To Thee be glory, newborn Sun!
13. Prophets declared concerning His Birth, but they made not plain the time thereof.-He sent the Magi, and they came and showed of its time.-Yet the Magi who made known the time, made not plain who the Child should be.-A star of splendid light, in its course showed who the Child was,-how splendid was His lineage.
R., Blessed be He Who by them all was pointed out!
14. They scorned the trumpet of Isaiah, which sounded forth His pure Conception,-they silenced the lute of the Psalms, which sang of His Priesthood;-the harp of the Spirit they hushed, which sang again of His Kingdom;-under deep silence they closed up, the great Birth that joined the cry-of them above with them below.
R., Blessed be He Who appeared in the midst of silence!
15. His voice was the secret key that opened the mouths of the Magi.-Whereas preachers were silent in Judah, they made their voice sound through creation;-and the Gospel which those had scorned, these who came from far took and departed.-The scorners began to hear their own orders from strangers, who cried out the name of the Son of David.
R., Blessed be He Who by our voice has put them to silence!16. Whereas the People scorned offerings, and brought them not to Him the Son of the King,-He sent His herald to the nations, and caused them to come with theirofferings:-yet not all of them caused He to come, for it could not suffice for them,-the narrow bosom of Bethlehem; but the bosom of Holy Church,-enlarged itself and contained her children.
R., Blessed be He Who has made the barren fruitful!
17. The slayers of Bethlehem mowed down the tender flowers that among them-should perish the tender seedling, wherein was hidden the Bread of life.-But the ear of corn that has life had escaped, that it should come to the sheaves in harvest:-the grape that escaped when young, gave itself to the treading,-that its wine might give life to souls.
R., Glory to Thee, Treasury of life!
18. The murderers went into a paradise, full of tender fruits:-they shook off the flowers from the bough, blossoms and buds they destroyed,-unblemished oblations he offered, the persecutor unwittingly.-To him woe, but to them blessing! Bethlehemwas first to give, virgin fruits to the Holy One.
R., Blessed is He Who receives the first fruits!19. The Scribes were silenced in envy, the Pharisees in jealousy.-Men of stone cried out and gave praise, who had a heart of stone.-They applauded in presence of the Stone, the rejected that has become the Head.-Stones were made flesh by that Stone, and obtained mouths to speak; stones cried out through that Stone.
R.,Blessed be Thy Birth that has caused stones to cry out!
20. The Star that is written in Scripture, the nations beheld from afar,-that the People might be shamed which is near; O People instructed and puffed up! which by the nations hast been in turn instructed, how and where they saw,-that vision whereof Balaam spake; a stranger he who spread abroad concerning it,-strangers they who saw it.
R., Blessed is He Who has provoked to jealousy them of His own house!
21. Let my supplication draw nigh to Thy Door, yea my poverty to Thy Treasury! -Give to me my Lord without measure, as God unto man!-And though Thou increase gifts as Son of the Blessed, and though Thou add to them as Son of the King;-though I be thankless as are all creatures of dust, as Adam so is the son of Adam,-and as the Blessed so too is the Son of the Blessed.
R., Praise be to Thee Who art like unto Thy Father!XVIII.Resp.-Praise be to Him Who sent Him! (bis)
1. Blessed art thou, O Church, for lo! in thee is the sound,-of the great feast the festival of the King!-Sion is deserted, her gates are sore athirst,-and forsaken of festivals.-Blessed thy gates that are open yet not filled,-and thy halls that are enlarged yet suffice not!-In the midst of thee lo! is the sound, of the nations that cry out, and have put to silence the People.
2. Blessed art then, O Church, that in thy festivals,-the Watchers rejoice amid thy festivity!-for one night the Watchers gave praise,-on the earth which withheld and refused praise.-Blessed thy voices that have been sown and reaped,-and in Heaven stored up in garners!-Thy mouth is a censer, and thy voices as perfumes, breathing vapour in thy festivals.
3. Blessed art thou, O Church, that all oblations,-are brought unto thee in this feast.-The Magi once among traitors, offered them to the Truth.-Blessed thy abode that He bowed Himself and dwelt therein, Son of the King Who is worshipped with gifts!-Gold from the West, and spices from the East,-are offered in Thy Festivals.
4. Blessed art thou, O Church, that there is not with thee,-a tyrant King slayer of babes! for he killed in Bethlehem the little ones at random,-that he might put to death the Child that gives life to all.-Blessed thy children that are envied and worshipped,-by Kings, for those are promised for Thy worship,-the crowns of the East:-he who trod down thy dear ones, shall be trodden down by thy beloved.
5. Blessed art thou, O Church, for lo! over thee,-Isaiah too exults in his prophecy,-"Lo a Virgin shall conceive and bear,-a Son" Whose name is great mystery!-O interpretation revealed in the Church!-two names that were joined and became one;-"Emmanuel,"-God be with thee ever, Who joined thee with His members!
6. Blessed art thou, O Church, in Micah who cried out,-" A Shepherd shall come forth from Ephrata":-for He came to Bethlehem to take-from thence the rod of Jesse and to rule the nations.-Blessed thy lambs that are sealed with His seal,-and thy sheep that are kept by His sword!-Thou art, O Church,-the abiding Bethlehem,-for in thee is the Bread of Life!3 7. Blessed art thou, O Church, for lo! in thee rejoices,-Daniel also the man beloved, -who foretold that the glorious Messiah shall be killed,-and the city of holiness be laid desolate at His killing!-Woe to the People that was rejected and is not converted-Blessed the nations that were called and turned not away!-The bidden guests refused,-and others in their stead enjoyed their banquet.
8. Blessed art thou, O Church, for on thy, lute, lo! King David sings psalms in thee! In the Spirit he sings of Him "Thou art My Son and I-this day have begotten Thee" in the glories of holiness.-Blessed thy ears that have been purged to hearHis day watch thou as His Body and call on Him;-be taught by Sion,-which saddened His Feast; make Him glad Who has gladdened thee.
9. Blessed art thou, O Church, that all festivals-have taken flight from Sion and sheltered with thee!-In the midst of thee the wearied Prophets have found rest,-from the labour and the reproach they bore in Judah.-Blessed the books unrolled in thy temples,-and the festivals celebrated in thy shrines!-Sion is forsaken,-and lo! today the nations shout in thy festivals.
10. Blessed art thou, O Church, in ten blessings,-which our Lord has given as a mystery complete:-for on ten all the numbers hang, therefore art thou perfect by ten blessings.-Blessed thy crowns that are twined-with all blessings mixed in every crown!-O blessed one,-with every blessing crowned, on me too send thy blessing!
11. Blessed art thou, Ephrata, mother of Kings, that from thee sprang the Lord of diadems!-Micah gave thee tidings that He is from everlasting, and the span of His times is not comprehended.-Blessed thine eyes which first of all discerned Him!-thee He deemed worthy to see Him when He appeared,-Chief of benediction,-and Beginning of gladness, thou didst receive first of all.
12. Blessed art thou, Bethlehem, that the towns envy thee,-and the fortified cities!-As they envy thee, so the women envy Mary,-and the virgins daughters of princes.-Blessed the maiden in whom He deigned to abide,-and the city wherein He deigned to sojourn;-a poor maiden,-and a small city, He chose Him to humble Himself.
13. Blessed art thou, Bethlehem, that in thee was the beginning,-for Him the Son Who from everlasting is in the Father!-It is hard to comprehend, that before Time He is,-Who in thee made Himself subject to Time.-Blessed thine ears, for in thee first was heard the cry-of the Lamb of God who exulted in thee!-Narrow though thy manger,-He spread Himself on all sides, and was worshipped of every creature.
14. Blessed art thou too, Mary, that thy name-is great and exalted because of thy child!-Thou canst tell then how and how long-and where He dwelt in thee, the great One in small room.-Blessed thy mouth that praised and enquired not,-and thy tongue that glorified and questioned not!-For His Mother was uncertain concerning Him,-even while she carried Him in the womb; who then shall suffice to comprehend Him?
15. O Woman, thou whom no man knew,-how can we behold the Son thou hast borne?-For no eyes suffice to stand-before the transfigurations of the glory, that is on Him.-For tongues of fire abide in Him-Who sent tongues by His Ascension.-Be every tongue warned,-that our questioning is as stubble, and as fire our scrutiny.
16. Blessed is he the priest who in the sanctuary,-offers to the Father the Son of the Father,-the fruit that is plucked from our tree, though it be wholly of the Divine Majesty!-Blessed the hands that are hallowed and offer Him!-and the lips that are spent in kissing Him!-The Spirit in the Temple-longed for His embrace; and at His Crucifixion rent the veil and went forth.
17. The Archangel gave thee greeting,-as the earnest of holiness-Earth became to him new Heavens,-when the Watcher came down and sang glory on it.-The sons of the Highest encompassed thy habitation-because of the Son of the King that dwelt in thee.-Thy abode below,-to the Heaven above was made like by the host of Watchers.XIX.(Resp.-Blessed be thy Birth that gladdens all creatures!)
1. The first year wherein, our Saviour was born,-is source of blessing, and ground of life;-for by it are borne,-manifold triumphs, the sum of all help:-as the first day of "the beginning,"-the great pillar of all creatures,-bears the building of Creation;-so the year of the Firstborn bears help for man.
2. In the second year, of our Saviour's Birth,-the Magi exult, the Pharisees mourn:-treasures are opened,-kings are hastening, and infants are slain.-For in it are offered in Bethlehem,-oblations precious and terrible;-for while love made offering of gold,-hatred offered infants by the sword.
3. The day of the All-Lightening, exults in His birth;-a pillar of radiance, which drives away, by its beams-the works of darkness. After the type of that day, wherein light was created,-and sundered the darkness that spread-over the fair beauty of Creation;-the radiance of our Saviour's birth-came in to sunder the darkness that was on the heart.
4. The first day the source and the beginning,-orders the roots, to make all things grow.-Our Saviour's day-is praised far above it, a tree planted in the world.-For His Death is as the root in the earth; His Resurrection as the head in heaven; on all sides His words reach as boughs; likewise His Body as fruit for the eaters.
5. Let the second day, sing praise to the Birth-of the second Son, and His voice which first-commanded the firmament and it was made,-divided the waters that were above, and gathered the seas that were under.-He Who divided waters from waters, divided Himself from the Watchers and came down to man.-For the waters which at His command were gathered.-He cleft the fountain of life and gave drink.
6. Let the third day weave with divers hymns-the crown of psalms and with one voice present it-for His Birth who gave growth-of buds and flowers, on the third day.-But now He the All-giver of growth,-has come down and become the All-holy Flower; from the thirsting earth has sprang forth and gone up,-that he may decorate and crown the conquerors.
7. Let the fourth day praise, first among the four,-His Birth Who created as the fourth day-the two lightgivers,-which fools worship, and are sightless and blind.-The Lord of Lightgivers has come down,-and from the womb has shone on us as the Sun.-His splendours have opened the eyes of the blind:-His rays have given light to the wandering.
8. Let the fifth day laud Him Who created-on the fifth day creeping things and Dragons-of whose kind is the serpent.-He deceived with guile our mother, a maid void of counsel.-The deceiver who had mocked the maid,-by the Dove was exposed as false,-which from a virgin bosom sprang, and came forth-the Wise that trod down the crafty.
9. Let the sixth day laud Him who created-on Vesper-day Adam, whom Satan envied; as a feigned friend-cheered him in offering poison in his food.-The medicine of life reached them both,-put on a body and came near to both.-The mortal tasted Him and lived through Him;-the devourer who ate Him was left void.
10. Let the seventh day hallow the Holy One,-Who halloweth the Sabbath, and gave rest to all that live.-The Blessed One Who wearied not-has care for mankind, and has care for the beasts.-When Freedom fell under the yoke,-He came to the Birth and became bond to make it free:-He was smitten on the face by servants in the judgment hall;-He broke the yoke that was on the free, as Lord.
11. Let the eighth day, which circumcised the Hebrews,-praise Him Who commanded his namesake Joshua-to circumcise with a flint-the people circumcised in body, while the heart was profane within.-Lo! as the eighth day, as a Babe,-to circumcision He came Who circumcises all.-Though the sign of Abraham is on His Flesh,-the blind daughter of Sion had defiled it.
12. Let the tenth day sing, praises in its turn.-For God the first letter of Jesus (goodly name!), is ten in numbering.-He Who is as a lamb, turns back the numbers.-For when the number goes up to ten, it is turned back to begin again from one. O great mystery of that which is in Jesus, Whose might turns all creation back again!
13. The All-Purifier Firstborn in the day of His purifying,-purified the purification of the firstborn and was offered4 in the Temple:-the Lord of offering needed offerings,-to make offering of birds.-In His Birth were fulfilled the types,-in His purification and circumcision the allegories.-He came and paid over debts in His coming down;-in His Resurrection He went up and sent down treasures.