A Great And Mighty Wonder
Stichera for Christmas-tide
μεγα και παραδοξον Θαυμα
Words: St. Germanus (A.D. 634--A.D. 734)1
Meter: 76 76
A great and mighty wonder!
The festal makes secure2
The Virgin bears the Infant,
With Virgin-honour pure!
The Word is made Incarnate,
And yet remains on high:3
And Cherubim sing anthems
To shepherds from the sky.
And we with them triumphant
Repeat the hymn again:
“To GOD on high be glory,
And peace on earth to men!”
While thus they sing your Monarch,
Those bright angelic bands,
Rejoice, ye vales and mountains!
Ye oceans, clap your hands!
Since all He comes to ransom,
By all be He adored,
The Infant born in Bethlehem,
The Saviour and the LORD!
And idol forms shall perish,
And error shall decay,
And CHRIST shall wield His sceptre,
Our LORD and GOD for aye.
Sheet Music from Rev. John Mason Neale, D.D., Hymns of the Eastern Church. Fourth Edition. (London: J. T. Hayes, 1882), edited by Very Rev. Stephen Georgeson Hatherly, Mus. B., Archpriest of the Patriarchal Æcumenical Throne.
1. In his first edition, Rev. Neale gives attribution to St. Anatolius (d. 458) as noted above. However, in the Fourth Edition of 1882, edited by Very Rev. Stephen Georgeson Hatherly, Mus. B., Archpriest of the Patriarchal Æcumenical Throne, attribution is changed to St. Germanus, with the following note (p. 26):
The original Greek of this Hymn is in two stanzas, both of which in the Menaon, are ascribed to St. Germanus. Adjoining stanzas in the same series of Aposticha from which the first is taken are ascribed to S. Anatolius, hence, probably, the mistake of Dr. Neale in the previous edition, where this hymn occurs as the word of that saint.” Rev. Neale then gives a literal translation of the two verses.
2. In the Fourth Edition, this line is changed to "A full and holy cure." Return
Also in the Third Edition, Rev. Neale notes "Mr. Young’s book. Melody of Christus der ist mein Leben. Harmony by M. Vulpius, 1609."
Sheet Music from J. H. Hopkins, ed., Great Hymns of the Church Compiled by the Late Right Reverend John Freeman Young (New York: James Pott & Company, 1887), #59, p. 92.
Dr. Neale's Biographical Note concerning the author:
S. Germanus of Constantinople was born in that city about 634.* His father, Justinian, a patrician, had the ill-fortune to excite the jealousy of the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus, who put him to death, and obliged Germanus to enroll himself among the Clergy of the Great Church. Here he became distinguished for piety and learning, and in process of time was made Bishop of Cyzicus. In this capacity he assisted, with S. Andrew of Crete, in the Synod of Constantinople...: and no doubt, he might be the more favourably disposed to Monothelitism because he had been so deeply injured by its great opponent, Pogonatus. However, he also, at a late period, expressly condemned that heresy. Translated to the throne of Constantinople in 715, he governed his Patriarchate for some time in tranquility. At the beginning of the attack of Leo the Isaurian on Icons, his letters, in opposition to the Imperial mandate, were the first warnings which the Church received of the impending storm. Refusing to sign the decrees of the Synod which was convoked by that Emperor in A.D. 730, and stripping off his Patriarchal robes, with the words—“It is impossible for me, Sire, to innovate, without the sanction of the Oecumenical Council,” he was driven from his See, not, it is said, without blows, and returned to his own house at Platanias, where he thenceforth led a quiet and private life. He died shortly afterwards, aged about one hundred years, and is regarded by the Greeks as one of their most glorious Confessors.
The poetical compositions of S. Germanus are few. He has stanzas on S. Simeon Stylites, on the Prophet Elias, and on the Decollation of S. John Baptist. His most poetical work is perhaps his Canon on the Wonder-working Image in Edessa.
Footnote added in the 4th Edition:
* Note: The Horologion states that S. Germanus died in 740, aged 95, consequently he must have been born eleven years later than Dr. Neal's conjectural date. He is commemorated on May 12th, in company with S. Epiphanius, arch-bishop of Cyprus. To whom the Russian Maisyatsosloff adds -- the holy Sabinus, archbishop, successor of S. Epiphanius; and the holy Polybius, bishop of Rhinocorura in Egypt, on the border of Palestine, disciple of S. Epiphanius.
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