A Hymn on the Nativity – Saint Ephrem

Merry Christmas!

Here is a nativity hymn by Saint Ephrem the Syrian, it’s a relatively long read but it’s totally worth it! You can find English and Arabic text after the illustration. On a related note, this book (that includes this hymn) has a ton of wonderful hymns by St. Ephrem the Syrian.

Ephrem-The-Syrian-Nativity

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يا ابن الواحد… إن فمي لا يعرف كيف يدعوك؟
فغنني أرتعب عندما أتجاسر فأدعوك ابنًا ليوسف،
لأنك لست من زرعه، أخاف أن أنكر اسم ذاك الذي خطبت له.
أأدعوك إذًا ابنًا لكثيرين، وأنت ابن الله الواحد؟!
إن عشرة الآف اسم لا تكفيك، فأنت ابن الله وابن الإنسان أيضًا.
نعم، أنت ابن داود ورب مريم!
من الذي جعل إله كل فم يصمت؟!
فقد قام الناس عليّ بسبب حملي الطاهر بك…
من أجلك يا محب الكل صرت أنا مطّوبة!
هوذا أنا الذي حملت وولدت حصنًا للناس، صرت مضطهدة!
لقد هاج البحر على أمك، كما سبق وهاج على يونان!
هوذا هيرودس -الموجة الغاضبة- سعت لكي تغرق رب البحار!
أأهرب أم لا؟ فأنت هو مرشدي يا إله أمك؟!
سأهرب بك لكي أقتني لي فيك الحياة في كل مكان،
فالسجن معك ليس هو بسجنٍ، إذ بك ينطلق الإنسان إلى السماء.
والقبر معك ليس بقبرٍ، لأنك أنت هو القيامة )!
نجم غير طبيعي أشرق فجأة، أقل من الشمس وأعظم منها؛
أقل منها في نوره الظاهري، وأعظم منها في قوته الخفية بسبب السرّ الذي فيه!
كوكب الصبح ألقى أشعته الناصعة على الظلام،
وقاد المجوس كالعميان، فجاءوا وتقبلوا نورًا؛
قدموا تقديمات وأخذوا حياة؛ وسجدوا ورجعوا.
في العلو وعلى الأرض كان هناك مبشران بالابن:
النجم المشرق صاح من أعلى، ويوحنا بشر من أسفل؛
كارزان أحدهما أرضي، والآخر سماوي.
كما ذكرنا أيضًا هنا في موقع الأنبا تكلا هيمانوت في أقسام أخرى.
السماوي يعلن لاهوته، والأرضي يكشف عن نسبته إلى الناس.
يا لعظم الأعجوبة! إن لاهوته وناسوته بشر بهما كارزان،
فمن يظن أنه أرضي فقط يقنعه النجم المشرق أنه سماوي. و
من يظن أنه روحي فقط (أي لم يتجسد) يقنعه يوحنا (نسيبه) إنه كان متجسدًا أيضًا!
سمعان حمله في الهيكل المقدس وكأنه يداعبه قائلًا:
“لقد أظهرت أيها الرحوم رحمة بشيخوختي،
فتهللت عظامي المنحدرة إلى القبر،
ففيك أرتفع من القبر إلى الفردوس!”
عانقته حنة وقبٌلت شفتيه، فسكن الروح القدس في شفتيها.
وكما كان إشعياء صامتًا، ففتح فاه عندما لمست قطعة الجمر شفتيه (إش 6)،
هكذا التهبت حنة بروح من فيه.
نعم داعبته وكأنها تقول:
“يا ابن الملك، يا ابن التواضع…
يا من تسمع وأنت صامت؛
تنظر وأنت مخفي؛
تعرف ولا يعرفك أحد؛
يا الله؛ يا ابن الإنسان، المجد لاسمك”…
العاقر (أليصابات) صرخت، وكأنها تقول:
أيها الغير منظور، وهبتني أن أرى ابنك!
أيها الواحد المبارك يا من السماوات والأرض مملوءتان بك؛
مبارك هو ثمرك الذي جعل الكرمة المجدبة تحمل عنقودًا (يوحنا)!
جاء زكريا وفتح فاه المكرم، وكأنه يقول:
أين الملك الذي من أجله ولدت الصوت (يوحنا) الذي يكرز أمامه.
السلام لابن الملك الذي يستلم كهنوتنا أيضًا!
هيرودس أيضًا، الثعلب الحقير، تسلل كالأسد وربض،
كالثعلب عوى عندما سمع زئير “الأسد” (السيّد المسيح) الذي جاء ليملك حسب الإنجيل!
سمع الثعلب أن الأسد كان شبلًا رضيعًا،
فسّن أسنانه لينقضْ على الطفل، ويبتلع الأسد قبلما يكبر ويهلكه بنفخة منه.
هوذا كل الخليقة صار أفواهًا تنطق عنه:
المجوس بتقدماتهم، والعاقر بطفلها، والنجم المنير في الهواء.
هوذا ابن الملك، السماوات له انفتحت، والمياه هدأت، والحمامة مجدٌته،
وصوت الآب نادى كالرعد عاليًا: “هذا هو ابني الحبيب”.
الملائكة أعلنت عنه، والأطفال صرخوا إليه: “أوصنا”.
هذه الأصوات جميعها من الأعالي ومن أسفل،
الكل يصرخ شاهدًا له،
أما صهيون النائمة فلم يتبدد نعاسها بصوت الرعود،
لكن إذ قاومها قامت وذبحته (على الصليب) لأنه أيقظها!

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My mouth knows not how I shall call You, O You Child of the Living One: for to venture to call You as the Child of Joseph, I tremble, since You are not his seed: and I am fearful of denying the name of him to whom they have betrothed me.

While You are the Son of One, then should I be calling You the Son of many. For ten thousand names would not suffice You, since You are the Son of God and also the Son of man, yea, David’s Son and Mary’s Lord.

Who has made the Lord of mouths to be without a mouth? For my pure conception of You wicked men have slandered me. Be, O You Holy One, a Speaker for Your Mother. Show a miracle that they may be persuaded, from Whom it is that I conceived You!

For Your sake too I am hated, You Lover of all. Lo! I am persecuted who have conceived and brought forth One House of refuge for men. Adam will rejoice, for You are the Key of Paradise.

Lo, the sea raged against Your mother as against Jonah. Lo, Herod, that raging wave, sought to drown the Lord of the seas. Whither I shall flee You shall teach me, O Lord of Your Mother.

With You I will flee, that I may gain in You Life in every place. The prison with You is no prison, for in You man goes up unto Heaven: the grave with You is no grave, for You are the Resurrection! John 11:25

A star of light which was not nature, shone forth suddenly; less than the sun and greater than the sun, less than it in its visible light, but greater than it in its hidden might, by reason of its mystery.

The Morning Star cast its bright beams among the darknesses, and led them as blind men, and they came and received a great light: they gave offerings and received life, and they worshipped and returned.

In the height and the depth two preachers were there to the Son: the bright star shouted above; John also preached below, two preachers, an earthly and a heavenly.

That above showed His Nature to be from the Majesty, and that below too showed his Nature to be from mankind. O great marvel, that His Godhead and His Manhood each was preached by them.

Whoso thought Him earthly, the bright star convinced him that He was heavenly; and whoso thought Him spiritual, John convinced him that He was also corporeal.

In the Holy temple Simeon carried Him, and lulled Him, [saying,] You have come, O Merciful One, showing mercy on my old age, making my bones to go into the grave in peace. In You shall I be raised from the grave into Paradise!

Anna embraced Him, and put her mouth to His lips, and the Spirit dwelt upon her own lips. As when Isaiah’s mouth was silent, the coal which approached his lips opened his mouth; so Anna burned with the Spirit of His mouth, yea, she lulled Him, [saying,] Son of the Kingdom, Son of the lowliness, that hear and are still, that see and are hidden, that know and are unknown, God, Son of Man, glory be unto Your Name.

The barren also heard, ran, and came with their provisions: the Magi came with their treasures, the barren came with their provisions. Provisions and riches were suddenly heaped up in the house of the poor.

The barren woman cried out, as at that which she looked not for, Who has granted me this sight of your Babe, O Blessed One, by whom the heaven and earth are filled! Blessed be your Fruit, which made the barren vine to bear a cluster.

Zacharias came and opened his venerable mouth and cried, Where is the King, for whose sake I have begotten the Voice that is to preach before His face? Hail, Son of the King, to whom also our Priesthood shall be given up!

John approached with his parents and worshipped the Son, and He shed glory upon his countenance; and he was not moved as when in the womb! Mighty miracle, that here he was worshipping, there he leaped.

Herod also, that base fox, that stalked about like a lion, as a fox crouched down, and howled, when he heard the roaring of the Lion, who came to sit in the kingdom according to the Scriptures. The fox heard that the lion was a cub, and as a suckling; and he sharpened His teeth, that while He was yet a child the fox might lie in wait and devour the Lion before He had grown up, and the breath of His mouth should destroy him.

The whole creation became mouths to Him, and cried concerning Him. The Magi cried by their offerings! The barren cried with their children, the star of light cried in that air, lo! The Son of the King!

The Heavens were opened, the waters were calmed, the Dove glorified Him, the voice of the Father, louder than thunder, was instant and said, This is my beloved Son. The Angels proclaim Him, the children shout to Him with their Hosannas.

These voices above and below proclaim Him and cry aloud. The slumber of Sion was not dispersed by the voice of the thunders, but she was offended, stood up, and slew Him because He aroused her.

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