The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Habakkuk In Ancient Song

For Christmas

Words: Γενους Βροτέιου τήν άνάπλασιν πάλαι, from the Canon of Christmas Day by John of Damascus.
Translation by W. C. Dix

Music: Not Stated

Source: Rev. Orby Shipley, ed., Lyra Messianica: Hymns and Verses on the Life of Christ (London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1864), pp. 93-94.
Also found in
Bernhard Pick, ed., Hymns and Poetry of the Eastern Church (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1908), pp. 114-115; Pick omits the last verse.

1. Habakkuk in ancient song
     Foretells the new Creation;
Fellow of the Prophet-throng
     And Herald of Salvation.
Unto him was given to see
Types of wondrous Mystery.

2. Now the Word to mortals' aid
     From Virgin-Mount hath hasted.
To frame anew the worlds He made.
     To heal what sin has wasted,
Coming from the sunless Gates.
Leading all where Light awaits.

3. Highest, Thou our Flesh didst take.
     Wast born an Infant Lowly,
Didst Thyself man's equal make ─
     The Uncreate ─  the Holy,
Thus to purge the venom dread,
Flowing from the Serpent's head.

4. Gentiles, once corrupt, rejoice.
     Now saved from condemnation;
Lift your hands with joyful voice
     And tuneful exultation;
Christ adoring, Whom alone
Benefactor now ye own.

5. From the Root of Jesse sprung,
     O Virgin, born of mortal;
Christ, ere worlds with Godhead One,
     Hath passed thy sealed Portal;
When it pleased Him, coming thus,
Meekly to abide with us.

Editor's Note:

Mr. Pick had this biographical note concerning John of Damascas (Died about A. D. 780):

John of Damascus stands in the first rank of Greek hymnists. He was the last but one of the fathers of the Greek Church, and the greatest of her poets. As a poet he had a principal share in the "Octoechus," which contains the Sunday services of the Eastern Church. He is the author of a canon for Christmas Day, beginning, Εσωσε λαόν, δαυματουργων Δεσπότης, and the odes are sung in service alternately with those of Cosmas's Χριστός γενναται δοξασατε (Christ Is Born! Tell Forth His Fame!).

Other translations by Dix of John of Damascus include:

In the Song of Habakkuk, the LXX. give—"God shall come from Teman, and The Holy from the thick and shady mountain of Paran."

In the Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 10, the Prophet Habakkuk is twice quoted in verses 37 & 38:

For,

“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”[1]

And,

“But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”[2]

1. Isaiah 26.20, Hab. 2:3 ("For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.")

2. Hab. 2:4 ("See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright -- but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness ... ")

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