Hymns on the Nativity of Christ: Hymn 11
St. Ephraim the Syrian
(The Virgin Mother to Her Child.)
When You dwelled in me, You also dwelled out of me, and when I brought You forth openly, Your hidden might was not removed from me. You are within me, and You are without me, O You that makes Your Mother amazed.
For [when] I see that outward form of Yours before my eyes, the hidden Form is shadowed forth "in my mind," O holy One. In Your visible form I see Adam, and in Your hidden form I see Your Father, who is joined with You.
Have You then shown me alone Your Beauty in two Forms? Let Bread shadow forth You, and also the mind; dwell also in Bread and in the eaters thereof. In secret, and openly too, may Your Church see You, as well as Your Mother.
He that hates Your Bread is like him that hates Your Body. He that is far off that desires Your Bread, and he that is near that loves Your Image, are alike. In the Bread and in the Body, the first and also the last have seen You.
Yet Your visible Bread is far more precious than Your Body; for Your Body even unbelievers have seen, but they have not seen Your living Bread. They that were far off rejoiced! Their portion utterly scorns that of those that are near.
Lo! Your Image is shadowed forth in the blood of the grapes on the Bread; and it is shadowed forth on the heart with the finger of love, with the colors of faith. Blessed be He that by the Image of His Truth caused the graven images to pass away.
You are not [so] the Son of Man that I should sing unto You a common lullaby; for Your Conception is new, and Your Birth marvellous. Without the Spirit who shall sing to You? A new muttering of prophecy is hot within me.
How shall I call You a stranger to us, Who is from us? Should I call You Son? Should I call You Brother? (Matthew 12:50) Husband should I call You? Lord should I call You, O Child that gave Your Mother a second birth from the waters?
For I am Your sister, of the house of David the father of us Both. Again, I am Your Mother because of Your Conception, and Your Bride am I because of Your sanctification, Your handmaid and Your daughter, from the Blood and Water wherewith You have purchased me and baptised me.
The Son of the Most High came and dwelt in me, and I became His Mother; and as by a second birth I brought Him forth so did He bring me forth by the second birth, because He put His Mother's garments on, she clothed her body with His glory.
Tamar, who was of the house of David, Amnon put to shame; and virginity fell and perished from them both. My pearl is not lost: in Your treasury it is stored, because You have put it on.
The scent of her brother-in-law slunk from Tamar, whose perfume she had stolen. As for Joseph's Bride, not even his breath exhaled from her garments, since she conceived Cinnamon. (Song of Songs 4:14) A wall of fire was Your Conception unto me, O holy Son.
The little flower was faint, because the smell of the Lily (Song of Songs 2:1) of Glory was great. The Treasure-house of spices stood in no need of flower or its smells! Flesh stood aloof because it perceived in the womb a Conception from the Spirit.
The woman ministers before the man, because he is her head. Joseph rose to minister before his Lord, Who was in Mary. The priest ministered before Your ark by reason of Your holiness.
Moses carried the tables of stone which the Lord wrote, and Joseph bare about the pure Tablet in whom the Son of the Creator was dwelling. The tables had ceased, because the world was filled with Your doctrine.
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
ht: Holy Cross OCA