The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Wonder-Working Master

For Christmas

Words: Εσωσε λαόν, δαυματουργών, 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. 57-58.
Also found in
Bernhard Pick, ed., Hymns and Poetry of the Eastern Church (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1908), pp. 112-113. Note that the version given by Pick differs slightly from that given in Lyra Messianica.

1. The Wonder-working master
     Once deigned the tribes to save.
When dry land for His People
     He made the Red Sea wave:
Now born for us, all willing,
     Of Maiden pure and sweet,
The path to Heavenly Mansions
     He opens to our feet.

2. The Bush unburned most truly
     Portrays the holy Womb,
Whence sprung the Word Incarnate
     To loose the ancient doom.
And all the bitter sorrows
     Of Eva's curse to stay.
The Word, Who hither wended
     Our sin to do away.

3. To Him, with God the Father
     In Substance truly One,
One with mankind, from all men
     Be laud forever done:
God to our human nature,
     To our mortality,
In form conjoined, we worship,
     And Him we glorify.

4. Thee, Word of God Eternal,
     Who wert before the sun.
The Star showed to the Magi,
     A poor and suffering One:
Thee, swaddled in a Manger,
     They saw with glad accord.
And hailed Thee with rejoicing.
     True Man, and yet the Lord.

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:

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