The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Behold the Bridegroom! Hark The Cry

For Christmas

Author: St. Methodius, 3rd Century Greek Bishop, Poet & Martyr
Discourse 11, Chapter 2.
"The Banquet of the Ten Virgins"
"ἄνωθεν, παρθένοι, βοῆς ἐγερσίνεκρος ἦχος"

Compare: The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Translation by Rev. William Clark.
The Virgins' Song (The Bridegroom Cometh), Translation by Allen W. Chatfield

Source: John Brownlie, trans., Hymns of the Greek Church (Edinburgh and London: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1900)
Christmas Hymns from John Brownlie


Behold the Bridegroom! Hark the cry,
The dead, awaking, rends the sky!
Go, virgins, He is near,
Your lamps all burning clear;
He enters where the rising light
Asunder bursts the gates of night.
     In holy garb, with lamp aglow,
     To meet the Bridegroom forth I go.


The smiles of earth that turn to tears,
Its empty joys and foolish fears
I leave, for Thou dost call--
Thou art my Life, my All;
I would Thy beauty ever see,
Then let me, Blessed, cling to Thee.
     In holy garb, with lamp aglow,
     To meet the Bridegroom forth I go.


For Thee I leave the world behind--
Thou art my Bliss, O Bridegroom kind;
My beauty's not mine own--
'Tis Thine, O Christ, alone;
Thy bridal-chamber I would see,
In perfect happiness to be.
     In holy garb, with lamp aglow,
     To meet the Bridegroom forth I go.


O God, exalted on Thy throne,
Who dwell'st in purity unknown,
Lo, now we humbly wait,
Throw wide the Heavenly gate,
And with the Bridegroom, of Thy grace,
Give us at Thy right hand a place.
     In holy garb, with lamp aglow,
     To meet the Bridegroom forth I go.

Editor's Note:

Rev. Brownlie provided the following note concerning St. Methodius and this hymn:

Methodius, a prominent name in Ecclesiastical history, and a Father of the Church, was born about the middle of the third century. He was first of all Bishop of Olympus in Lycia, and, according to Jerome, became ultimately Bishop of Tyre. He combated certain views of Origen, but would seem to have been influenced not a little by the teaching of that great theologian.

In his principal work, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, the hymn is found from which the following is a cento. It contains twenty-four strophes, each beginning with a letter of the Greek alphabet in alphabetical order, and ending with the same refrain.

Methodius is said to have suffered martyrdom under Diocletian about 311 A.D.

Additional comments about St. Methodius were made by John Julian in his Dictionary of Hymnology (1892, 1907), p. 71:

ἄνωθεν, παρθένοι, βοῆς ἐγερσίνεκρος ἦχος. St. Methodius. This hymn is found in The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, and is reprinted in the Anthologia Graeca Carminum Christianorum, pp. 33-37 (Leipsic, 1871). From the latter work it was translated by A. W. Chatfield, for his Songs and Hymns, &c, 1876, pp. 141-153, where it is given as "The Virgins' Song". No portion of this fine rendering has come into common use. A cento or two might be compiled therefrom with ease. Its structure, character, &c, are fully described in Greek Hymnody, § x. 2, q.v. The opening line of Mr. Chatfield's translation is, "The Bridegroom Cometh, Overhead."

Another full translation of Methodius, The Banquet of the Ten Virgins, Discourse 11, Chapter 2, translated by William R. Clark, is found in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Christian Library, Vol. 14, Writings of St. Methodius (T & T Clark: Edinburgh, 1869), pp. 111-114. It was reprinted in the “American Edition” in Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6, The Writings of, inter alia, Methodius. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.), pp. 351-353, 355.

Dr. Julian had some additional comments in the section on Greek Hymnology, § x. “Primitive Greek Hymn,” ¶ 2, Methodius (died circa 311), pp. 458-459:

A hymn found in "The Banquet of the Ten Virgins," beginning "ἄνωθεν, παρθένοι, βοῆς ἐγερσίνεκρος ἦχος"  ("Up, maidens, the sound of the cry that raiseth the dead "), by this early writer, though not found in the Greek Service Books, may be most fitly mentioned here on account of certain rhythmical features. Unlike all other extant early hymns, it is of great length—twenty-four strophes—and thus suggests the possibility that some of the longer anonymous Idiomela of the Greek Service Books may be of early date (see § x.). The initial letters of the strophes are, as in the Anacreontic hymn of Sophronius (see § vi.) on "The Holy Places," the letters of the alphabet in their order, thus supplying a link between the Hebrew Alphabetical Psalms and the acrostichs of Romanus and the canons (see §§ xii., xvi). Each strophe is followed by the same refrain (ύϖακοή) sung in chorus by The Ten Virgins, the strophes themselves being sung by Thekla alone. The rhythm is plainly Iambic, though loose and irregular. The piece is full of sustained spirit and elation, and Mr. Chatfield's translation of it, "The Bridegroom Cometh," is the best in his volume (p. 141).

One of the Hebrew Alphabetical Psalms mentioned above is Psalm 145; another is Psalm 119.

Mr. Chatfield had this note concerning St. Methodius:

Methodius, a father of the Church, and a martyr, was Bishop of Olympas or Patara, in Lycia, and afterwards of Tyre in Palestine He lived during the last half of the third century, and died a martyr at Chalcis in Greece, probably A. D. 311, during the Diocletian persecution. Jerome29 ranks him among the popular writers, and commends him especially for the neatness of his style30.

This Virgins Song of his composing is in twenty-four parts, or strophics, each beginning with a letter of the alphabet in order from A to Omega.31. Ten virgins are supposed to be present. Thecla32 leads, giving the strophy in each case, the rest join in chorus, singing the burden or refrain (εφυμνιον). The learned editors refer to the Συμποσιον of Plato, also the Παρθενια of Alcman and Pindar, which Methodius may in part have imitated.

Footnotes by Chatfield:

29. Jerome, De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), Chapter 83 [below]. Return

30. Johann Lorenz Mosheim, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern: A New and Literal Translation from the Original Latin, with Copious Additional Notes, Original and Selected. Vol. 1. (W. Tegg and Company, 1878), pp. 236-7. Copies of multiple editions are available at both the Internet Archive and Google BooksReturn

31. Cf. Psalm 145, with the letters in order of the Hebrew alphabet. In Greek poetry many instances of the same thing occur. It was useful as an aid to the memory. Return

32. See in Gregory's Admonitory Address To A Virgin, Bride of Christ on High: also in the Anacreontic Ode of Sophronius, in which the praises and exploits of this first female martyr are set forth, pp. 32, 44-5, of the Greek Anthology [Anthologia Graeca Carminum Christianorum (Leipsic, 1871); the text is Greek with notes, preface, etc., in Latin. This link is to the Internet Archive, ]. Return 

Finally, St. Methodius is mentioned by Jerome in his De Viris Illustribus (On Illustrious Men), Chapter 83, where he writes:

Methodius,* bishop of Olympus in Lycia and afterwards of Tyre, composed books Against Porphyry written in polished and logical style also a Banquet of the ten virgins, an excellent work On the resurrection, against Origen and On the Pythonissa and On free will, also against Origen. He also wrote commentaries On Genesis and On the Song of Songs and many others which are widely read. At the end of the recent persecution or, as others affirm, in the reign of Decius and Valerianus, he was crowned with martyrdom at Chalcis in Greece.


* Died 311 or 312. Return

Source:  Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, Chapter 83, Methodius the Bishop, translated by Ernest Cushing Richardson, from Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., Select Library of The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of The Christian Church, Second Series, Volume 3, Historical Writings (Oxford: James Parker and Company, New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892), pp. 378-379.

This is one of many hymns inspired by the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Matthew 25:1-13. Others include:

See: Christmas-tide Hymns from the Eastern Churches.

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