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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ephrem the Syrian - The Pearl


Over the next several Sundays I will be posting St. Ephrem the Syrian's The Pearl.  

Here's a brief bio on Ephrem:


Ephrem (or Ephren or Ephraim or Ephrain) of Edessa was a teacher, poet, orator, and defender of the Faith. (To English-speakers, the most familiar form of his name will be "Ephraim." It is the name of the younger son of Joseph, son of Jacob (see Genesis 41:52), and is thus the name of one of the largest of the twelve tribes of Israel.) Edessa (now Urfa), a city in modern Turkey about 100 kilometers from Antioch (now Antakya), was a an early center for the spread of Christian teaching in the East. It is said that in 325 he accompanied his bishop, James of Nisibis, to the Council of Nicea. Certainly his writings are an eloquent defense of the Nicene faith in the Deity of Jesus Christ. He countered the Gnostics' practice of spreading their message through popular songs by composing Christian songs and hymns of his own, with great effect. He is known to the Syrian church as "the harp of the Holy Spirit."

Ephrem retired to a cave outside Edessa, where he lived in great simplicity and devoted himself to writing. He frequently went into the city to preach. During a famine in 372-3 he worked distributing food to the hungry, and organizing a sort of ambulance service for the sick. He worked long hours at this, and became exhausted and sick, and so died. (from here)

For other info regarding his life please click here:  St. Ephrem (from the OCA website) or Logismoi - St. Ephrem or Mystagogy - St. Ephrem

St. Ephrem wrote poetry and hymns, using the the beauty and rhythm of language to embed the faith into the ears of our hearts, like a song that will not leave you alone, bringing grace to your heart rather than the distraction of the world.  

The Pearl takes it names from Jesus' parable of the pearl of great price, which becomes a image for the gospel and the faith that will save mankind.  

St. Ephrem the Syrian - The Pearl

HYMN I.

** 1. **

On a certain day a pearl did I take up, my brethren;
I saw in it mysteries pertaining to the Kingdom;
Semblances and types of the Majesty;It became a fountain, and I drank out of it mysteries of the Son.
I put it, my brethren, upon the palm of my hand,That I might examine it:I went to look at it on one side,And it proved faces on all sides.
I found out that the Son was incomprehensible,Since He is wholly Light.
In its brightness I beheld the Bright One Who cannot be clouded,And in its pureness a great mystery,Even the Body of Our Lord which is well-refined:
In its undivideness I saw the TruthWhich is undivided.It was so that I saw there its pure conception,The Church, and the Son within her.
The cloud was the likeness of her that bare Him,And her type the heaven,Since there shone forth from her His gracious Shining.
I saw therein his Trophies, and His victories, and His crowns.I saw His helpful and overflowing graces,And His hidden things with His revealed things.

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