The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Office of Christmas Day

άχολονθια τής Χρίστον γεννήσεως

St. Cosmas
Translated by Richard Frederick Littledale

Source: Richard Frederick Littledale, ed., Offices From The Service Books of the Holy Eastern Church (London: Williams and Norgate, 1863), pp. 173-208. [188-223]

CHRISTMAS DAY.

THE NATIVITY IN THE FLESH OF
OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOUR
JESUS CHRIST.

AT THE TENTH HOUR OF THE DAY. (38)

The following definitions were provided by Rev. John Brownlie. Hopefully, they will help the understanding of those who are not familiar with some of the Eastern practices. Rev. Brownlie wrote that his collections contains specimens of some of the following types of musical forms:—

The Canon (κανών). This is the most elaborate form into which the praise of the Greek Church is cast. A canon consists, nominally, of nine odes or hymns, but the second ode is always omitted on account of the denunciations of God against Israel which it contains. The canons of the Great Fast are made up of those rejected odes.

Hirmos (εἱρμός) is the first stanza of each ode. It may or may not have a connection with the stanzas following, but its function is to give them their rhythmical model.

Troparion (τροπάριον). The Troparia are the stanzas which follow the Hirmos, and the term is doubtless derived from the verb τρέπω, to turn. The Troparia turn to the strophes of the Hirmos, as to a model.

Contakion (κοντάκιον) is a term of uncertain origin. Contakia occur after the sixth ode of a canon. They are short hymns, and the term may be derived from the Latin Canticum.

Stichera (στιχηρά) designates a series of verses which are often taken from the Psalter.

Idiomelon (ἰδιόμελον). Unlike Troparia, which follow the model set by the Hirmos, Idiomela follow no model.

Stichera Idiomela are a collection of irregular verses.

Antiphon (ἀντίφωνον) is, as is well known, a hymn sung alternately by the choir, which is divided for that purpose into two parts.

The great bell sounds, and assembling, we begin the office of the Lights, the Priest being ready, and giving the benediction “Blessed be the kingdom of the FATHER". * * * After the Prefatory Psalm (Psalm CIV) the Great Collect is said by the Deacon or the Priest. Then, in order, the “LORD, I call upon Thee” (Pss. CXLI, CXLII), and we recite eight stichoi, and sing the following idiomelic stichera, doubling them.

Second Tone.(39) Hymn of Germanus.(40)

O come, let us sing unto the LORD, recounting the present mystery.
The mid-wall of partition is destroyed, the sword of flame
Hath turned away, and from the Tree of Life
The Cherubim retreat; and I enjoy
The gladness of the Paradise from which I fell
Through disobedience.
For He, the changeless Image of the FATHER,
The impress of His Eternity, hath taken
The likeness of a servant, coming forth
From His unwedded Mother, but unchanged.
For what He was, that still He did abide,
True GOD; and what He was not He assumed,
Thorough His loving-kindness being Man.
To Him then let us cry: “O Virgin-Born,
O GOD, have mercy upon us.”                    Twice.

Hymn of Anatolius.(41) Same Tone.

When JESUS our LORD was born of Her,
The Holy Virgin, all the universe
Became enlightened. -
For as the shepherds watched their flocks,
And as the Magi came to pray,
And as the Angels sang their hymn,
Herod was troubled; for GOD in flesh appeared,
The Saviour of our souls.                    Twice.

The same Tone.

Thy kingdom, CHRIST our GOD, the kingdom is
Of all the worlds, and Thy dominion
O’er every generation bears the sway,
Incarnate of the HOLY GHOST,
Man of the Ever-Virgin Mary,
By Thy presence, CHRIST our GOD,
Thou hast shined a Light on us.
Light of Light, the Brightness of- the FATHER,
Thou hast beamed on every creature.
All that hath breath doth praise Thee,
Image of the FATHER’S glory.
Thou who art, and wast before,
GOD who shinedst from the Maid,
Have mercy upon us.

The same Tone.

What gift shall we bring to Thee,
O CHRIST, since Thou as Man on earth
For us hast shewn Thyself?
Since every creature made by Thee
Brings to Thee its thanksgiving.
     The Angels bring their song,
     The Heavens bring their star,
     The Magi bring their gifts,
     The Shepherds bring their awe,
Earth gives a cave, the wilderness a manger,
And we the Virgin-Mother bring.
GOD before all worlds, have mercy upon us!

Glory. Both now. (42) The same Tone.

Hymn of Casia1 (43)

When o’er the Earth Augustus reigned alone
The sway of many rulers closed;
When Thou wast made Man of the Maid,
The varied godheads of the idols fell.
Under one world-embracing rule
The cities came; and unto the dominion
Of Deity the Gentiles turned in faith.
At Caesar’s will the nations were enrolled,
We the Faithful, were enrolled
In the name of Deity,
Thine to be, Incarnate GOD!
Great is Thy mercy. Glory be to Thee!

Then follows the Entrance, with the Gospel.
Hail, Gladdening Light", (44) and the Lections in
their order, with the Troparia and their stichoi.

Lection I. Genesis I. 1—14.1

Lection II. Numbers XXIV. 2, 5, 6, part of 7, 8, 9, part of 17, 18.2

Lection III. Micah IV. 6, 7. V. 2, 3, 4.3

Then standing up we say the Troparion.
Second plagal Tone.

In secret Thou wast born beneath the cave,
But as a voice the Heaven Thee proclaimed
To all, O Saviour, Who didst send the Star;
               And to Thee it brought the Magi
               In their faith adoring Thee,
               With whom have mercy upon us!

     Stichos a: Her foundations are upon the holy
hills, the LORD loveth the gates of Sion more
than all the dwellings of Jacob.
               And to Thee it brought the Magi
               In their faith adoring Thee,
               With whom have mercy upon us!

     Stichos b: Very excellent things are spoken
of thee: thou city of GOD. I will think upon
Rahab and Babylon: with them that know me.
               And to Thee it brought the Magi
               In their faith adoring Thee,
               With whom have mercy upon us!

     Stichos c: Behold ye the Philistines also: and
they of Tyre, with the Morians.
               And to Thee it brought the Magi
               In their faith adoring Thee,
               With whom have mercy upon us!

     Stichos d: The LORD shall rehearse it when
He writeth up the people.
               And to Thee it brought the Magi
               In their faith adoring Thee,
               With whom have mercy upon us!

Glory. And to Thee. Both now. In secret &c. (the
whole troparion). Then, the following Lections.

Lection IV. Isaiah XI. 1—11.4

Lection V. Jeremiah (Baruch) III. 35—IV. 5.5

Lection VI. Daniel II. 31-37, 44, 45.6

Standing up again we sing the Troparion.
Second plagal Tone.

CHRIST, Thou hast risen from the Virgin,
Spiritual sun of Righteousness,
And the star hath shewn us Thee
The Uncontained, whom yet a cave contains,
               As it led the Magi to adore Thee
               With whom we too laud Thy Name,
               Giver of Life, to Thee be praise.

     Stichos a: The LORD is king, and bath put
on glorious apparel; the LORD hath put on His
apparel and girded Himself with strength.
               As it led the Magi to adore Thee
               With whom we too laud Thy Name,
               Giver of Life, to Thee be praise.

     Stichos b: He hath made the round world so
sure: that it cannot be moved. Ever since the
world began hath Thy seat been prepared.
               As it led the Magi to adore Thee
               With whom we too laud Thy Name,
               Giver of Life, to Thee be praise.

     Stichos c: Holiness becometh Thine house for ever.
               As it led the Magi to adore Thee
               With whom we too laud Thy Name,
               Giver of Life, to Thee be praise.

Glory. As it led &c. Both now.
CHRIST, Thou hast risen. (The whole.)
Then, the two following Lections.

Lection VI. Isaiah IX. 6—8.6a

Lection VII. Isaiah VI. 10—I7. VII. 1—4, 9, 10.7

Then the Collect, and after the Exclamation,
we sing the Troparion. Then, the Prokeimenon
of the Apostle. (45)

First Tone:

The LORD said unto Me. Thou art My Son,
this day have I begotten Thee.
Stichos: Desire of Me, and I shall give Thee
the heathen for Thine inheritance.

Lection VIII. Hebrews I. l—II. 4.8

Alleluia. Fourth plagal Tone:

The LORD said unto my Lord.

Stichos: The dew of Thy birth is of the womb
of the morning.

Lection IX. Gospel according to S. Luke II. 1—21.9

Then, The Divine Liturgy of Basil the Great.
Koinonikon : (46) O praise the LORD of heaven.

AT THE FIRST HOUR OF THE NIGHT.

Collected again in the Church, we begin Compline according to custom, and after the Glory be to GOD on high, we go out into the Narthex making the Procession, and chanting there Idiomelic stichera to the first tone.

First Tone. Hymn of John the Monk.2 (47)

Let heaven and earth today
Rejoice in prophecy.
Angels and men, in spirit we exult,
For GOD hath in the flesh appeared
To those who sat in darkness and in shadow,
Born of a Maiden.
The cave and manger shewed us Him.
The Shepherds tell the wondrous tale,
From the East the Magi bring
Offerings to Bethlehem;
We too, with unworthy lips,
Bring Him praise in angel words,
Glory be to GOD on high,
And on earth be peace,
For the Desire of the nations now hath come,
He hath come, and He hath saved us
From the bondage of the foe.

Same Tone. Same Author.

Heaven and earth to-day are one,
Since CHRIST is born.
GOD hath come on earth to-day,
Man to heaven hath gone up.
He, Whose essence is unseen,
Is seen to-day in mortal flesh.
Wherefore we in songs of praise
Will send forth our cry to Him.
Glory be to GOD on high,
And on earth be peace,
Which Thy presence gave to us,
Saviour, glory be to Thee!

Same Tone. Same Author.

To-day in Bethlehem I hear
Angel voices singing,
Glory to GOD on high, Whose will it is
That peace in earth should be.
Now the Virgin holdeth more
Than the Heavens can contain,
For Light hath risen on the dark,
And the lowly hath exalted,
Who sweetly sing in angel words,
Glory be to GOD on high.

Same Tone.

JESUS, seeing man, once made
In His image and His likeness,
By transgression falling,
Bowed the heavens and came down,
And unchanged dwelt within the Virgin’s womb,
That corrupted Adam there
He might frame anew, to cry
“Glory to Thine Epiphany,
My Redeemer and my GOD”.

Glory. First plagal Tone. Hymn of John the Monk.

The Magi, Persian kings,
Knowing of a truth
That Heaven’s king on earth was born,.
Led on by a shining star,
Hastened to Bethlehem;
Bearing with them costly gifts,
Gold, and frankincense, and myrrh;
Falling down they worshipped Him,
For in the cave they saw Him lie,
The Babe Who is before all time.

Both now. Second plagal Tone. Hymn of Germanus.

In Heaven all the Angels sing,
And rejoice upon this day,
And all creation bounds with joy
Because of Him in Bethlehem
Born our SAVIOUR and our LORD.
For all the sin of idols now hath closed,
And CHRIST to all eternity is King.

After repeating the customary prayers,
we go into the Nave,
singing the following Idiomelic Aposticha. (48)

Second Tone. Hymn of Germanus.3

A great and passing wonder
Hath been wrought to-day!
A Virgin bears, with unpolluted womb.
The WORD Incarnate is, and yet
Not parted from the FATHER.
Angels and Shepherds praise His Name
With whom we together cry,
Glory be to GOD on high,
And on earth be peace.

Stichos: The LORD said unto my Lord,
Sit Thou on my right hand.

Third Tone. Same Author.

To-day the Virgin bears
The Maker of the world,
Eden gives a cave,
And the Star shews CHRIST the Sun
To those who are in darkness.
With gifts the Magi worshipped,
Illuminate by faith.
The Shepherds saw the marvel,
When Angels sang and said,
Glory be to GOD on high.

Stichos: The dew of Thy birth
is of the womb of the morning.

Same Tone. Hymn of Anatolius.

When JESUS our LORD was born
In Bethlehem of Jewry,
From the East the Magi coming
Worshipped the Incarnate GOD.
Opening their treasures eagerly
They offered precious gifts.
Pure gold to the King of all the worlds,
Incense to Creation’s GOD,
And to Him for three days dead,
The Immortal, bring they myrrh.
O all ye nations, come and let us worship
Him Who is born to save our souls.

Glory. Fourth Tone. Hymn of John the Monk.

Exult, Jerusalem, and rejoice
All ye who Sion love.
To-day is loosed the weary chain
Of Adam’s condemnation.
And Paradise is open to us,
The serpent hath been banished;
For her whom he deceived before
He hath seen now become
Mother of Him who framed the worlds.
O depth of the riches, and wisdom, and knowledge of Goo!
She, who brought death upon all flesh,
She, the instrument of sin,
Now, through GOD’S Mother, to the world
Is the first fruits of salvation.
For a Babe is born of her,
GOD All-Holy.
By His birth He seals Virginity,
By His swathes loosing the chains of sin.
And by His Infancy
He heals the labour-pangs of Eve.
So let Creation sing and leap,
For CHRIST hath come to call it back
And to save our souls.

Both now. The same Tone. Hymn of Anatolius.

In a cavern Thou didst dwell,
CHRIST our GOD; a manger held Thee,
Shepherds and Magi worshipped Thee.
Then was fulfilled what Seers proclaimed,
And the Angelic Powers marvelled,
Crying loud and saying,
Glory to Thy condescension,
Who alone hast loved mankind.

“Nunc Dimittis”. The Trisagion, and the Dismissory.

Fourth Tone.

O CHRIST our GOD, upon the world
Thy Nativity hath shined,
The light of knowledge, for at it
They who served the stars were taught
By a Star to worship Thee,
Sun of Justice, and to know Thee
As the Dayspring from on high.
Glory be to Thee, O LORD.                     (Thrice)

The customary benediction of the loaves,
and all the brethren partake of them,
for the sanctification  of soul and body.(49)
Then there is a lection from S. Matthew, fourth paragraph.10
After the lection, The Hexapsalmos
(Pss. III, XXXVIII, LXIII, LXXXVIII, CIII, CXLIII).
Then: The LORD is GOD, and the Dismissory.

O CHRIST our GOD, upon the world, (Thrice)

Then we recite the stichoi.

After the first Stichologia, the Cathisma.(50)
Fourth Tone “Joseph was astonished”. (51)

O come, ye faithful, let us see
Where CHRIST is born.
Let us follow further on
Where the star leads,
With the Magi, Eastern kings.
There the Angels ceaseless hymn,
The Shepherds watch their flocks, chanting the fitting song,
Glory in the highest to Him Who is born to-day
In the cavern, of a Maiden
Mother of GOD, in Bethlehem of Jewry.

After the second Stichologia, a Cathisma of the same rhythm.

“Why wonderest thou, O Mary, why
Art thou amazed
At that within Thee?” She replies:
“Because in time
I have borne an ageless Son,
Whose conception weet I not,
I have no spouse, how shall I bear a son?
Who hath beheld a birth without a sire?
But it is written, where GOD wills,
Nature’s law is overcome.”
CHRIST of the Maid is born in Bethlehem of Jewry.

                                        Twice.

After The Polyeleos (Pss. CXXXV, CXXXVI), a Cathisma. Same rhythm.

Incomprehensible by all,
How in the womb
Was He contained? Inhabiting
The FATHER’S Breast,
Can His Mother's arms hold Him?
All has been as He foreknew,
As He chose and as He willed, for bodiless
He willingly took flesh, and He Who is,
Became, through us, what He was not,
And, not parting from His nature,
He hath shared in our substance,
Twofold was CHRIST born, to fill the world above.

Twice.

Then the first Antiphon of the Gradual Psalms
of the fourth Tone. Prokeimenon. Fourth Tone.

The dew of Thy birth is of the womb of the morning.
The LORD sware and will not repent.

Stichos: Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Gospel according to S Matthew 1.18—end.
After Psalm LI. Miserere mei.4 Glory.

Second Tone.

All to-day are filled with joy,
Of the Virgin CHRIST is born.

Both now. The same troparion. Then a Stichos:
Have mercy upon me, O GOD,
and the following Idiomelon.

Second plagal Tone.

Glory be to GOD on high,
And on earth be peace.
Bethlehem to-day receives
Him who sits for ever by the FATHER.
The Infant Who is born to-day
The angels praise as fits a GOD.
Glory be to GOD on high,
And on earth be peace, good will towards men.

The Canons. (52)

We sing the Hirmoi and Troparia together to the number of twelve, and afterwards the Hirmoi singly.
The Canon, whose acrostich is “CHRIST incarnate abides still G0D”. (53)

Poem of S. Cosmas.5 (54)

First Ode. First Tone. The Hirmos.

CHRIST is born, Him glorify.
CHRIST from heaven, go to greet Him.
CHRIST on earth, be lifted up.
Sing to the LORD all the whole earth,
And in gladness praise Him, O ye nations,
For He hath been glorified!

Troparia.

Man, fallen through transgression,
Once in GOD’S image made,
Now all corruption’s own,
Fallen from the better, sacred life,
The wise Creator frames anew,
For He hath been glorified!
The Creator, seeing man,
Whom He made, now perishing,
Bowed the heaven and came down,
And his mortal substance took,
Truly Incarnate of the Holy Maid.
For He hath been glorified!
Wisdom, Word, and Might,
Son and Glory of the FATHER,
CHRIST our GOD, concealed from all
Powers supernal or on earth,
Man became and ransomed us.
For He hath been glorified!

Another (Iambic) Canon of John the Monk,
having the following acrostich in Elegiac verses:

These our hymns in strains of eloquent melody praise Him,
GOD’S own Son, upon earth born for the sake of mankind,
Him Who hath freed the world from all its sorrowful dolours.
Thou, O King, Thine own suitors from misery save.

First Ode.6 Same Tone. The Hirmos.

The Wonder-working Master saved His race,
When He made dry land of the Red-Sea wave;
Now willing born from a pure Maiden’s womb,
He opes the path of Heaven to our feet,
Whom now, in substance with the Father one,
One with mankind, we magnify and laud.

Most truly pictured by the bush unburned,
The pure and holy womb hath borne the WORD,
GOD to mortality conjoined in form,
Loosing the bitter sorrow of Eve’s curse
Of olden time. Him we men glorify.

Thee, WORD of GOD, Who wert before the sun,
Who hither camest sin to do away,
The Star shewed to the Magi, very poor,
Suffering like us, and swaddled in a cave.
Gladly they saw Thee, Man, and yet the LORD.

Catabasia.{ Christ is born.
The Wonder-working.

Third Ode.7 The Hirmos.(56)

To the SON, before the worlds
Of the FATHER Sole-Begotten,
And of the Virgin, late in time,
Without seed Incarnate,
To CHRIST our GOD, let us cry aloud,
Thou who hast lifted up our horn,
Holy art Thou, LORD!

Troparia.

The earthly Adam, sharing once
In the Breath Divine,
Fallen to corruption now,
Through a woman’s guile,
Seeing CHRIST of woman born, exclaims,
Thou of me and for me born,
Holy art Thou, LORD!

CHRIST, Who art now like to us
In our poor and earthly frame,
Who, by sharing mortal flesh,
Givest us of Deity,
Abiding GOD, yet mortal born,
Who hast lifted up our horn,
Holy art Thou, LORD!

Rejoice, O Bethlehem,
Realm of Judah’s princes,
For the Shepherd of Israel,
Who rides upon the Cherubim,
CHRIST, now manifest from thee,
Who hath lifted up our horn,
Overall hath ruled!

Change.

Bend to our hymns, Redeemer of Thine own, 8
Humbling the proud brow of our enemy;
Who from on high beholdest every. sin,
Holiest, Thy minstrels take Thou unto Thee,
Firmly established on the ground of faith.

The band of herdsmen, chosen to behold
The sight that passeth human intellect,
The holy offspring of the stainless Maid,
Their Monarch CHRIST, Incarnate without seed,
Was troubled at the unaccustomed sight,
And at the tuneful ranks of Seraphim.

Through loving-kindness, He who rules the skies,
Born amongst us of an unwedded Maid,
Fulfils His promise. Bodiless erewhile,
The WORD took matter to Him late in time,
That to Himself He might draw back again
The fallen chief of His creation.

The Hypacoe. (57) Fourth plagal Tone.

O Babe in manger lying,
The Heavens brought to Thee
The first-fruits of the Gentiles,
Calling the Magi by a Star.
Not a sceptre, nor a throne
Struck them with astonishment,
But Thine utter poverty.
For what is humbler than a cave?
What is meaner than a swathe?
And yet in these
The riches of Thy Godhead clearly shone.
Glory be to Thee, O LORD!

Note, that when we say the Hypacoe, we do
not say the Cathisma, as we find in the Typica.

Cathisma. Fourth plagal Tone.

“That which is brought mystically.”

Rejoice, O Heaven, exult, O Earth,
For on earth the LAMB of GOD is born,
Bringing redemption to the world.
The WORD, Who in the FATHER'S Bosom is,
Proceeded from a Virgin without seed.
Him the Magi knew,
Beholding Him a Babe in Bethlehem, Whom now
The universe doth magnify. '

Glory. Both now. The same Tone.

Fourth Ode.9 The Hirmos.

Rod of the Root of Jesse,
And flower from it too,
CHRIST, Thou hast budded from the Maid,
Thou Who art praised hast come
From the thick shady mount,
Incarnate of the Virgin,
O immaterial GOD!
To Thy might be glory, LORD!

Troparia.

Whom Jacob long ago foretold,
CHRIST, the Gentiles’ expectation,
Thou hast risen on Judah’s tribe,
And hast come to quell the might
Of Damascus, and to win
The spoils of Samaria,
Turning our wandering to faith which pleaseth GOD.
To Thy might be glory, LORD!
Star, arisen out of Jacob,
Master, Thou hast filled with joy
The wise star-gazers, who had learnt the words
Of Balaam, ancient seer, and brought to Thee
The first-fruits of the Gentiles,
Manifest to whom
Thou didst receive them, bringing welcome gifts.

As the rain upon the fleece,
O CHRIST, Thou camest to the Virgin’s womb,
And as the dews drop down upon the Earth.
Tarshish and the Ethiopians,
And the isles of Araby,
Sheba of the Medians too,
All the rulers of the Earth,
Saviour, down before Thee fell.
To Thy might be glory, LORD!

Change.

The Prophet Habakkuk in ancient song10
Foretells the new creation of our race,
Permitted as he was to look upon
The incommunicable type. For now the WORD
Hath come, an infant, from the Virgin mount
To frame anew the nations which He made.

O Highest, taking on Thee our flesh
From a pure Virgin, Thou hast hither come,
The equal of mankind, to purge away
The venom flowing from the serpent’s head,
Leading us all to light that giveth life.
Coming, O GOD, from gates where no sun shines.

O Gentiles, erewhile with corruption filled,
Now clean escaped the ruin of the foe,
Lift up your hands, with tuneful noise of hymns,
Adoring CHRIST alone, Who hither comes
Our Benefactor, suffering with us.

O Virgin, from the Root of Jesse sprung,
Thou from the mount hast come of mortal race,
Bearing the WORD, Who of the FATHER was
Before all worlds, whenas it pleased Him
To pass thy sealed womb in meekness strange.

Fifth Ode.11 Hirmos.

GOD of peace, FATHER of Compassion,
The Angel of Thy great counsel Thou hast sent
Bringing us peace,
And so we, led into the light
Of holy wisdom, after night
Rising betimes do magnify Thy Name,
O Lover of mankind!

Troparia.

Thou, O CHRIST, in Thine obedience
At Cæsar’s will hast been enrolled
Amidst the slaves, and Thou hast freed
Us the slaves of sin and Satan,
Our poverty hast shared,
And with that oneness and communion
Our clay hast made Divine.
Behold, the Virgin, as was said of old,
Conceiving in the womb
Hath borne the GOD becoming Man,
And yet a Virgin still remains,
Through whom we sinners are reconciled to GOD,
And so will praise
In faith her who is GOD’s own true Mother.

Change.

From the night toils of darkened wandering,
O CHRIST, bring Thou Thy solace unto us,
Who wakefully pour forth our hymn to Thee,
Our Benefactor, and make Thou the road
Easy for us, who glory seek, to tread.
The Master, by His presence here in flesh,
Severing the bitter hate against Him felt,
Ruined the might of our souls’ enemy,
Joining the world to essence bodiless,
He made His sire through creation meek.
The people, once in darkness, now hath seen
Light after day from beacon-flame on high;
And the SON brings the Gentiles unto GOD,
His chosen lot, from which all sin hath fled,
Where He His grace unspeakable bestows.

Sixth Ode.12 The Hirmos.

As the sea-monster vomited
From its entrails their contents,
Jonah, as it took him in;
So the WORD, in Maiden dwelling,
Taking flesh of her,
Guarded her pure as He passed through,
For from that sin which could not touch Himself,
He kept His Virgin Mother undefiled.

Troparion.

CHRIST our GOD in flesh hath come,
Whom the FATHER did beget
Before the dawn;
And He who holds the reins which rule
The stainless Powers,
In the beasts’ manger lies, in rags is swathed,
And looses the entwined chains of sin.
A SON is born
And given to the faithful, the new Child
Of Adam's race, and this is He
Father and Ruler of the world to come,
And He is called
Angel of the great Counsel, Mighty GOD,
Ruler of His creation through His might.

Change.

Jonah, abiding in the ocean depths,
Longed to come forth and to escape the wave.
And I, now wounded by the tyrant’s dart,
Implore Thee, CHRIST, Who takest away sin,
To come more swiftly than my sloth deserves.
He Who with GOD in the beginning was,
The WORD, True GOD, appearing once again,
Seeking to guard our nature, weak of old,
Now strengthens it, to keep it free from woes,
A second time descending us among.
The Light which in a manger strangely dwells
Now, willing the salvation of mankind,
Hath come for us from loins of Abraham
To raise His children, miserably fallen
And downwards bowed in darkness of their sins.

Contakion. Third Tone. Automelon.

Poem of Romanus the Melodist.(58)

The Virgin bears to-day
Him Who is above all essence,
And the Earth
Gives to the Inaccessible the cave.
Angels and Shepherds chant His praise,
The Magi journey with the Star,
For our sake He hath been born,
A little Child, yet GOD before the worlds. -

The Stanza.13 (59)

Bethlehem hath opened Eden,
O come, let us behold.
Hidden sweetness we have found,
O come and let us take
The gifts of Paradise within the cave.
There the unwatered Root appeared
Blossoming in pardon.(60)
There was found the undug well,
Which David longed to drink of old,
And there the Maid,
Bearing her Infant, quenched at once the thirst
Of Adam and of David.
Wherefore let us hasten on
Where He was born
A little Child, yet GOD before the worlds.

Synaxarion. (61)

On the twenty-fifth of the same month,
the Nativity in the flesh of our LORD, and GOD,
and SAVIOUR Jesus Christ.

Stichoi.

GOD that which is born, the bringer forth a Maid,
What stranger thing than this hath nature seen?
The Virgin Mary bore her GOD upon the five and
twentieth day.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On the same day. The Adoration of the Magi.

Stichoi.

The Gentile band adoring Thee, O WORD,
Forebode the worship' of the Gentile world.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Seventh Ode.14 The Hirmos.

The Children, reared in piety,
The impious command despising,
Dreaded not the fire’s threatening.
But standing in the midst of flame, they sang:
Blessed art Thou, O GOD of our sires.

Troparia.

The shepherds watching saw a wondrous light,
For the glory of the LORD
Around them shone together with the Angel,
Crying: “Sing, for CHRIST is born.”
Blessed art Thou, O GOD of our sires!

Suddenly at the Angel’s word
The hosts of Heaven cried aloud:
Glory be to GOD on high,
On earth peace, good will to men,
CHRIST hath shined forth.
Blessed art Thou, O GOD of our sires!

“What is this saying?” spake the Shepherds,
“Let us go and see what has come to pass,
CHRIST the Divine.”
Hastening to Bethlehem, they bowed before
Him and His mother, singing:
Blessed art Thou, O GOD of our sires!

Change.

The Children, fascinated with the love
Of the Almighty King, made small account
Of the fierce tyrant's impious harangue;
To them the fire yielded as they sang
“Blessed art Thou for aye” unto their LORD.

Built up on high with sevenfold burning heat,
The flame consumes the soldiers terribly,
Yet saves alive the youths, o’er whom a crown
With rushing sound it forms as it roars,
For upon them the LORD abundantly,
In guerdon of their faith, poured down His dew.

Now changed in form, marring the happiness
Of Thy Divinity, Thou hast brought it down,
O CHRIST impregnable, a bulwark for us men,
Being ineffably incarnate, whence in hope
We pass into the dark abode‘s from day.

With might invincible Thou hast destroyed
Sin, fierce of look and haughty without bound,
Which wildly raved across a maddened world,
And Thou, our Benefactor, on this day
Freely incarnate, hast delivered them
Whom in her nets she drew along before.

Eighth Ode.15 The Hirmos.

The furnace, shedding dew, portrayed
A type of wondrous portent,
For it does not burn
The youths whom it received, so too the fire
Of Godhead doth not burn
That Virgin womb which it hath entered.
Wherefore let us chant in song:
“Let all creation bless the LORD,
And Him for ever magnify!”

Troparia.

The daughter of Babylon draws away
From Sion to herself
The captive sons of David, but she sends
Her sons, the Magi, bearing gifts,
To entreat her, daughter of David, who
Hath borne her GOD.
Wherefore let us chant in song:
“Let all creation bless the LORD,
And Him for ever magnify!”

Grief turned away the instruments of song,
For Sion’s children could not sing
Amidst the bastards, but their exile long
Of Babylon CHRIST looses as He shines,
And also frees
The musical concent of Bethlehem,
Wherefore let us chant in song:
“Let all creation bless the LORD,
And him for ever magnify!”

Babylon received
The spoils of royal Sion, and her wealth
Into captivity,
But Christ in Sion, with a guiding star,
Draws to Him Babel’s treasures and her kings
Who gazed on stars,
Wherefore let us chant in song:
“Let all creation bless the LORD,
And Him for ever magnify!"

Change.

The youths with fire circled, unconsumed,
Are types of her womb, Maid of olden time,
Which wondrously conceived and hath been sealed.
And grace, the only wonderworker, which
Wrought both, now rouses nations unto song.

The whole creation, fleeing from despair,
Hymns ceaselessly in awe the Infant WORD,
Humbled, that by His wandering it may be
Divine, and, fallen as it is, it fears
To bring its prayer unworthy, which would be
Unworthy still, had it in wisdom stood.

O rouser of the Gentiles, Thou hast come
From desert heights, unto Thy pasturage,
The nature of mankind, once rich in flowers,
But ruined now; and Thou hast come to quench
The forceful might of man’s great enemy,
Thou Who art Man, and in Thy wisdom GOD.

Catabasia.{ The furnace.
The youths

Ninth Ode.16

The Magnifyings sung in this Ode.
First Tone.

                         Magnify, my soul,
Her who is more honoured and more glorious
Than heavenly hosts.                          Twice.
                         Magnify, my soul,
The GOD in flesh of Virgin born.
                         Magnify, my soul,
The King born in the cave.
                         Magnify, my soul,
The GOD by Magi worshipped.
                         Magnify, my soul,
Him shewn unto the Magi by a Star.
                         Magnify, my soul,
The Maiden pure, who hath borne CHRIST the King.
Magi and Shepherds came to worship Him,
CHRIST, Who was born in the town Bethlehem.

Others for the Iambic Canon.

To-day the Virgin came to worship CHRIST within the cave.
To-day the LORD is born a babe of a Virgin Mother.
To-day the Shepherds see the Saviour
Wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and lying in a manger.

To-day the LORD is swaddled in a rag,
He, the Impalpable, like a little child.

To-day the whole creation is glad and joys,
Because CHRIST of the Virgin Maid is born.

The Heavenly Powers tell unto the world,
That CHRIST, their Master and their LORD, is born.

Glory.

                         Magnify, my soul,
The GODhead’s might, Trine, and yet undivided.

Both now.

                         Magnify, my soul,
Her who hath ransomed us from the curse.

The Hirmos.

A mystery strange and wondrous I behold!
The Cave is Heaven,
The Virgin is the throne of Cherubim,
The manger is the place,
Where the Incomprehensible is laid,
CHRIST our GOD, Whose Name we magnify.

Troparia.

The Magi, seeing the propitious course
Of the new star, unknown before,
Which late had brightly shined on high,
Followed the track to CHRIST the King,
On earth in Bethlehem born for our salvation.

As the Magi spake:
“Where is He, the Infant King,
Whose Star hath shone?
For we have come to worship Him,”
The angry Herod was disturbed,
Warring with GOD he raged to slay the CHRIST.

Herod marked the time
Of the Star by whose guidance led
The Magi worshipped CHRIST with gifts in Bethlehem,

And led by it
Back to their home, they left behind
The baffled tyrant who the children slew.

Change.

Easy it is for us, as free from risk,
Silence to choose through awe, but urged by love
To weave harmonious songs, our task is hard,
O Virgin, wherefore, Mother, grant to us
Might equal to the longing of our souls.

O Holy Mother, as we gaze upon
The faint types and past shadows of the WORD,
Who late hath shined from out the closed gate,
Glorifying Him, the Splendour of the Truth,
We bless, as it is meet we should, thy womb.

The CHRIST-rejoicing people having won,
Its longing and with GOD’S own presence blessed,
Intreateth now regeneration
Which giveth life, wherefore, spotless Maid,
Give us the grace His glory to adore.

Catabasia.{ A mystery strange.
Easy it is for us.

Exaposteilarion. Idiomelic.

Our Saviour from on high
The rising Dawn, hath come to visit us,
And we who sat in darkness and in shadow
Have found the Truth,
For of the Virgin hath the LORD been born.

Thrice.

At the Praises, we recite four Stichoi and sing
Idiomelic Stichera.

Fourth Tone. Hymn of Andrew of Jerusalem. (62)

Exult, ye Just, ye Heavens, rejoice,
Ye mountains, bound, for CHRIST is born.
The Virgin sits, and like the Cherubim
She beareth in her bosom GOD,
The WORD Incarnate.
The Shepherds glorify the Child,
The Magi bring gifts to their LORD,
The Angels chant in song:
“Glory to Thee, O uncontained GOD!” 

The same.

The FATHER willed it, and the WORD
Did flesh become,
The Virgin bore the GOD Who put on Man.
The Star reveals, the Magi worship Him,
The Shepherds wonder, and Creation joys.

The same.

O Maiden, GOD’S own Mother,
Who hast the Saviour borne,
Thou hast reversed the ancient curse of Eve.
For thou hast been a Mother,
As was the FATHERS‘ will,
Bearing in thy bosom
GOD, the Incarnate WORD.
The mystery is past searching out,
We glorify it all by faith alone,
Crying with thee and saying:
“Glory to Thee, Inexplicable LORD!”

The same.

O come and let us sing
The Mother of the Saviour, who is still
After His birth a Maid;
Rejoice, o living City of our King
And GOD, where CHRIST was laid,
And wrought salvation for us from all ill.
With Gabriel in hymns we greet thee,
And with the Shepherds magnify,
Crying: “GOD’S Mother, we intreat thee,
Intercede with Him on high,
Who took Thy flesh, that our souls may be saved.”

Glory. Second plagal Tone. Hymn of Germanus.

When came the time of Thine appearing
Here on earth, and first was made
The enrolment of the world:
Then Thou too wast about to make
Enrolment of the names of men,
Who in Thy Birth should afterward believe.
Wherefore that decree
By Cæsar was proclaimed,
For that which had no origin, Thy rule
Eternal, was inaugurate anew.
So we bring to Thee,
That which is better than the tax of coin,
The riches of a sound theology,
O GOD and Saviour of our souls!

Both now. Second Tone. Hymn of John the Monk.

Of the Maid in Bethlehem
Born to-day is CHRIST the LORD,
To-day begins the Unbeginning,
To-day incarnate is the WORD.
The Heavenly Powers rejoice
And earth with men as well,
The Magi bring their gifts,
The wonder Shepherds tell,
And we with voice unceasing cry:
“Glory be to GOD on high,
On earth be peace, among men be goodwill.”

The Great Doxology, and Dismissal.

      

Notes from Rev. Littledale:

Note 38.
It is necessary to say a few words about the Canonical Hours of the Eastern Church before proceeding to deal with the festal offices printed here.

They are nearly the same in order, though not in construction, as those of the West.

They are as follows.

1. Έσπερινόν, Vespers.
2. Άπόδειπνον, Compline.
3. Μεσονυκτικόν, Matins.
4. Ὃρϑρὀν, Lauds.
5. Prime.
6. Terce.
7. Sext.
8. None.

After each of these four last there is a μεσώριον  or intermediate office.

Those who are conversant with the structure of the Breviary are aware that the frame-work of all the offices is comparatively unchanged under all circumstances, and that the Hours which are most affected by the occurrence of a festival are Vespers, Matins, and Lauds. The same is, in the main, true of the Eastern Offices, and accordingly the Hours here given are the Vespers and Lauds of the three greatest festivals of the year. A detailed account of all the Hours will be found in Neale's Introduction to the History of the Holy Eastern Church. II. 893—942. I shall content myself with a few notes on the chief difficulties which present themselves in the course of the specimens I have given. The office here given is what in the West would be called the First Vespers of the Feast. The office of Lights (λυζνιχόν, λυζνάψια) is the name given to the opening part of Vespers, which, as being fixed and invariable, is here omitted. It consists of a benediction, a prayer for the gifts of the Spirit, one for pardon of sin, the Kyrie Eleison, the Our Father with its doxology, and a triple invocation to worship, all broken up by responses from the choir. Then comes the Proœmiac or Prefatory Psalm (Psalm CIV). Next the Great Collect, after which there is usually a Cathisma (or hymn sung while the congregation sits) and then the stichoi or versicles from the Psalms, which serve as key-notes to the hymns which they accompany. To avoid unnecessary repetition, the reader is referred to the glossary [Littledale, pp. 287ff] for the meaning of the several ritual terms as they occur, save where some special explanation is necessary. Return

Note 39.
The tones of the Eastern Church are the same as those eight which we call Gregorian, both in number and order. They are somewhat differently named, as below

Latin Greek
First Gregorian Tone ἧΧος αʹ
Second Gregorian Tone ἧΧος πλάγιον αʹ
Third Gregorian Tone ἧΧος βʹ
Fourth Gregorian Tone ἧΧος πλάγιον βʹ
Fifth Gregorian Tone ἧΧος γʹ
Sixth Gregorian Tone ἧΧος βαρύς
Seventh Gregorian Tone ἧΧος δʹ
Eighth Gregorian Tone ἧΧος πλάγιον δʹ

 Return

Note 40.
This is most probably S. Germanus of Constantinople, who became Patriarch in A. D. 715, and was deprived by the Iconoclast Leo the Isaurian in 730. Return

Note 41.
S. Anatolius was Patriarch, of CP. from A. D. 449 to 458. Return

Note 42.
This rubric "Glory. Both now" implies that the Doxology is said to the end, without a break, such as will be noted somewhat later. The students of the Breviary are aware how often the paragraph "As it was &c." has dropped out after the Gloria, so that in fact it scarcely ever appears in the responses to the Chapters. Return

Note 43.
The rarity of a woman's compositions being embodied in the office of the Church would make us expect a detailed account of Casia. But I can learn nothing of her save that one or two other short hymns in the Menæa are attributed to her pen. Return

Note 44.
This is the very ancient Vesper Hymn of the Eastern Church which many will recognize  from the version in the Lyra Apostolica ["Hail, Gladdening Light"]. The original is as follows:

Φῶς ἱλαρὸυ ἁγίας δόξης ἀθανάτου Πατρὸσ

     οὐρανίου, ἁγίου, μάκαρος,

          Ἰησοῦ Χοιστέ,

     ἐλθόντες ἐπὶ τοῦ ἡλίου δύσιν,

          ἰδόντες φῶς ἑσπερινόν,

ὑμνοῦμεν Πατέρα, καὶ Υἱὸν, καὶ Ὰγιον Πνεῦμα Θεοῦ

ἄξιος εἱ ἐν πᾶσι καιροῖς ὑμνεῖσθαι φωναἱς ὁσίαις,

          Υἱὲ Θεοῦ, ζωὴν ὁ διδούς

     διὸ ὁ κόσμος σε δοξάζει.

It is, as Dr. Neale observes, the Magnificat of the Eastern Vespers. It is attributed to S. Athenogenes, who was martyred about A. D. 175.

Ed. In Lyra Apostolica, it is noted to be a "Hymn of the 1st or 2nd century: preserved by St. Basil. Vid. Routh. Relliqu. Sacr. iii. p. 299." Source: H. C. Beeching, ed., Lyra Apostolica (London: Methuen & Co., 1836, 1879), p. 64. Translator was Rev. John Keble. Return

Note 45.
The Prokeimenon, except in its position, exactly answers to the Latin Gradual, and is, as appears here, a short anthem recited before the Epistle, and consisting of a verse and response, generally taken from the Psalms, but, unlike the Gradual, rarely consisting of consecutive phrases.  Return

Note 46.
The Koinonikon is a stichos sung in the Liturgy a little before the Communion. Return

Note 47.
It is somewhat uncertain who this John the Monk may be. The most probable conjecture is that which identifies him, as well as the writer called S. John Arclas, with the great S. John Damascene, the Doctor of Christian Art, and chief of Greek hymnodists, who died in the last quarter of the eighth century. Return

Note 48.
The customary prayers referred to here consist of a long form of the Ectene, broken up into paragraphs by the recital of the Kyrie by the Choir, after which comes a collect called the "Prayer of inclination of the head" (τῆς κεφαλοκλεσίασ) and next a system of stichoi or versicles from the Psalms. The hymns which follow these versicles are technically called στιχηρὰ ἀπὸ στίχου, or, as here, Ἀπόστιχα, ἀποστιχίδεσReturn

Note 49.
This ceremony closes the Vespers of the highest class of festivals. Five loaves and a cup of wine are placed on the analogion, and the Priest, taking one, signs it, and recites a prayer, followed by a Psalm, and a benediction. Return

Note 50.
At this point Lauds begin. On a great Vigil like that of Christmas Day, they are said immediately at the close of the Great Vespers, which on such occasions, follow Compline, instead of preceding it. The Little Vespers (an abbreviated form of the Great) are said before Compline. Return

Note 51.
This heading is merely a rhythmical guide, and may in some degree be compared with the manner in which we place the name of some well-known melody at the head of a song meant to be sung to it. Return

Note 52.
A Canon is the fullest exemplification of the system employed by Greek hymnodists. With the occasional exception of Trimeter Iambics, there is no trace of the observance of the laws of metre or quantity in their compositions, which are in rhythmical prose, and regulated by accent alone. The amount of uniformity necessary to satisfy the ear is obtained by selecting one strophe as the syllabic and accentual model of succeeding ones, which answer to it in some degree as antistrophes. This strophe is called the Hirmos (εἱρμός), because it joins together and draws after it the succeeding strophes, which are called troparia, from turning (τρέπω) to their model. Any number of these troparia with their hirmos constitutes an Ode, and nine such Odes form a perfect Canon.

A certain confusion exists, however, in the use of the word hirmos. Sometimes it means a strophe quite unconnected with the hymn which is being sung, and in that case is merely quoted by its initial line as a guide to the choir. At other times if is used to denote the first troparion of an ode, and in that case is printed at length. Under all circumstances it is marked in the office-books by inverted commas. The accentuation of the troparia and hirmos is not absolutely identical, for the circumflex is never counted, and there are other minor deviations. The musical notation is further marked by the commas, which have no connection with the grammatical sense, but note the bars and mediations, much as the colon which divides the verses in the Psalter of the Book of Common Prayer. Every Ode ends with a Theotokion, or hymn in honour of the Blessed Virgin, and occasionally we find intercalated other hymns called severally Cathismata, Catabasiai, or Oicoi.

A short hymn which is its own model, and not based on any other Hirmos, is called Automelon or Idiomelon, and if (as frequently happens) others resembling it succeed it, they are called Homœa (ὅμοια). Sometimes a system of such hymns is found grouped together, in which case they are collectively called Prosomœa. Return

Note 53.
This peculiarity of acrostichal arrangement is found in the great majority of Canons, and is designed to assist the memory. The idea was, no doubt, derived from the alphabetical Psalms, for a few Canons are actually alphabetical. The earliest example which I remember in what may be called Greek sacred poetry is the famous one in the Sibylline Oracles, Lib. VIII. 217—250. Ι Η Σ Ο Υ Σ   Χ Π Ε Ι Σ Τ Ο Σ   Θ Ε Ο Υ   Υ Ι Ο Σ   Σ Ω Τ Η Π   Σ Τ Α Υ Π Ο Σ. It is accurately observed, whereas those in the Canons are usually more or less imperfect. The English reader will find a Greek acrostichal hymn reproduced in Dr. Neale's Introduction to History of Eastern Church, pp. 833. sqq. The use of the acrostich in Latin ecclesiastical poetry is very rare, and designed merely as a piece of ingenuity, without the practical object aimed at by the Greeks. The most curious instance which I recollect is the preface of S. Aldhelm, Bishop of Sherburne (f A. D. 709.) to his poem De Laude Virginian. The initial line of this preface runs as follows:

Melrica tirones nunc promant carmina castos.

Down to the last line the hexameters proceed in the usual fashion, but that line itself is only the initial one spelt backwards, by which tour de force the good Bishop, who makes the final letters of each line acrostich as well as the first, contrives to give us in this wise the words Melrica &c. over again on each side of a square. See Canisii Thesaurus Monumentorum, ed. Basnage. Vol. I. p. 713. Return

Note 54.
S. Cosmas the Melodist, Bishop of Maiuma, and second in rank of the Greek Church poets, was foster brother of S. John Damascene, and died about A. D. 760. Return

Note 55.
These opening phrases would seem not to be from the pen of S. Cosmas, but to have merely given him the key-note for this Canon. They are part of the exordium of the Sermon on the Nativity by S. Gregory Nazianzen (A.. D. 389) [See: St. Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 38, "On The Theophany, or Birthday of Christ," Trans. Charles Gordon Brown and James Edward Swallow, from S. Cyril of Jerusalem, S. Gregory of Nanzianzen, Volume 7, Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series. (New York: The Christian Literature Company, 1894), pp. 345-351.]. Return

Note 56.
It will be observed that the second ode does not appear in its place, but that the third follows immediately after the first. The reason is as follows. The nine Odes are theologically based on the nine Canticles of Lauds.

I. The Song of Moses. Exodus XV.

2. The Song of Moses. Deut. XXXIII.

3. The Song of Hannah. 1. Sam. II.

4. The Song of Habakkuk. Hab. III.

5. The Song of Isaiah. XXVI. 9—20.

6. The Song of Jonah. II.

7. The Song of the Three Children. Part I. 3—34.

8. The Song of the Three Children. Part II. Benedicite

9. Magnificat and Benedicius said together.

The second song of Moses, which is said by the Western Church at the Saturday Lauds, is used only in Lent by the Eastern, and consequently a Canon for a festival season has no second ode at all. It is easy to trace the idea of each Canticle running through its corresponding ode, especially in 1, 6, and 7. Return

Note 57.
No adequate explanation can be given of this term. The hymn to which it is applied for the most part occurs after the recitation of Ps. CXIX. Return

Note 58.
S. Romanus, the inventor of Contakia, was a Deacon of the Church of Emesa about A. D. 500. His legend narrates that the Blessed Virgin appeared to him in the Church of Blachernæ and gave him a roll of writing (κοντάκιον) to eat, after which he was endowed with the power of writing these short hymns, still named from the roll. The Contakion usually, as here, precedes the Oicos or Stanza. Return

Note 59.
The Oicos, or Stanza, is a longer Contakion usually in honour of God or of a Saint, and regarded as a house or shrine built for its subject. Return

Note 60.
The allusion is to Isaiah 53. 2. ῥίζα ἐν γ διψώῃἀReturn

Note 61.
The Synaxarion is an abridged form of the Menology, and contains an account of the festival which is being celebrated. It is usually preceded, as here, by a stichos, consisting of two iambic trimeters followed by a hexameter, and it is invariably followed by the Seventh Ode of the Canon. Return

Note 62.
This is the writer better known as S. Andrew of Crete. He was born in Damascus circ. A. D. 660, became a monk at Jerusalem, whence he went to Constantinople, and was made a Deacon of the Great Church, and appointed Archbishop of Crete A. D. 711, at which time he was a Monothelite, a heresy which he afterwards abandoned. He died circ. A. D. 732. His chief work is the Great Lenten Canon.
 Return

      

Editor's Notes:

1. When O’er the World Augustus Reigned, St. Cassia the Recluse.  Return

2. Let Heaven Rejoice, And Earth Be Glad, John the Monk.  Return

3. A Great And Mighty Wonder. St. Germanus. Return

4. "Miserere mei, Deus: secundum magnam misericordiam tuam," an English translation of which is "Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness." This is a musical setting of Psalm 51, one of the 7 penitential Psalms, and set by numerous composers over the centuries. See Choral Public Domain Library (CPDL), "Psalm 51," http://www3.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Psalm_51 .

Among the most famous (so the story goes) is the one originally performed in the Sistene Chapel, set by Gregorio Allegri around 1638, the score of which was secretly copied, from memory, by a 14-year-old Mozart, given by him to British historian Dr. Charles Burney, who published it in 1771, but without ornamentation, "La musica che si canta annualmente nelle Funzioni della Settimana Santa nella Cappella Pontificale." In 1840, Father Pietro Alfieri published an edition that contained the ornamentation, "Il Salmo Miserere posto in musica da Gregorio Allegri e da Tommaso Bai, Publicato cogli Abbellimenti per la prima volta."

Links to a number of settings, including both Burney and Alfiere, are at the "Miserere (Gregorio Allegri)" page at IMSLP, http://imslp.org/index.php?title=Miserere_(Allegri,_Gregorio)&oldid=1758570. . Also see scores at the Choral Public Domain Library, "Miserere mei (Gregorio Allegri)," http://www3.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php?title=Miserere_mei_(Gregorio_Allegri)&oldid=559041

See generally the Wikipedia article, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Miserere_(Allegri)&oldid=686398439

I was unable to locate a link to a Greek Orthodox setting. Return

5. Three translations of Ode 1, put to music:

6. The Wonder-Working Master - John of Damascus, Εσωσε λαόν, δαυματουργών, from the Canon of Christmas Day. Return

7. Ode 3 - Him, Of The Father's Very Essence - St. Cosmas, τω προ των αιωνων (J. M. Neale). Return

8. Bend To Our Hymns, Redeemer - John of Damascus, Νευσον πρός ύμνους, οίχετων εύεξγέτα, from the Canon of Christmas Day. Return

9. Ode 4 - Rod Of The Root Of Jesse - St. Cosmas, Ραβδος εκ της ριζης. (J. M. Neale). Return

10. Habakkuk In Ancient Song - John of Damascus, Γενους Βροτέιου τήν άνάπλασιν πάλαι, from the Canon of Christmas Day. Return

11. Ode 5 - Father of Peace, and God of Consolation - St. Cosmas, Θεος ων ειρηνης. (J. M. Neale). Return

12. Ode 6 - As Jonah, Issuing From His Three Days' Tomb - St. Cosmas, σπλαγχνων Ιωναν. (J. M. Neale). Return

13. Bethlehem Hath Opened Eden - St. Romanus the Melodist, Τήν Έδέμ Βηδλεέμ ήνοιξε, δεύτε ίδωμεν (Dix). Return

14. Ode 7 - The Holy Children Boldly Stand - St. Cosmas, οι παιδες ευσεβεια. (J. M. Neale). Return

15. Ode 8 - The Dewy Freshness That The Furnace Flings - St. Cosmas, θαυματος υπερϕυους η δροσοβολος. (J. M. Neale). Return

16. Ode 9 - O Wondrous Mystery, Full of Passing Grace - μυστηριον ζενον (J. M. Neale). Return

      

Lections

Editor's Note: Some Lections contain partial verses. Because I do not know what parts, I have included the whole verse.

Lection 1.

Genesis 1:1-14
American Standard Version (ASV)

 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit-trees bearing fruit after their kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after their kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: Return

Lection 2:

Numbers XXIV. 2, 5, 6, [part of] 7, 8, 9, [part of] 17, 18
American Standard Version (ASV)

And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel dwelling according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him.

How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, Thy tabernacles, O Israel!

As valleys are they spread forth, As gardens by the river-side, As lign-aloes which Jehovah hath planted, As cedar-trees beside the waters.

Water shall flow from his buckets, And his seed shall be in many waters, And his king shall be higher than Agag, And his kingdom shall be exalted.

God bringeth him forth out of Egypt; He hath as it were the strength of the wild-ox: He shall eat up the nations his adversaries, And shall break their bones in pieces, And smite them through with his arrows.

He couched, he lay down as a lion, And as a lioness; who shall rouse him up? Blessed be every one that blesseth thee, And cursed be every one that curseth thee.

17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: There shall come forth a star out of Jacob, And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel, And shall smite through the corners of Moab, And break down all the sons of tumult.

18 And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession, who were his enemies; While Israel doeth valiantly. Return

Lection 3:

Micah IV. 6, 7. V. 2, 3, 4.
American Standard Version (ASV)

In that day, saith Jehovah, will I assemble that which is lame, and I will gather that which is driven away, and that which I have afflicted;

and I will make that which was lame a remnant, and that which was cast far off a strong nation: and Jehovah will reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth even for ever.

But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.

Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she who travaileth hath brought forth: then the residue of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.

And he shall stand, and shall feed his flock in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah his God: and they shall abide; for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. Return

Lection 4.

Isaiah XI. 1—11.
American Standard Version (ASV)

11  And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit.

And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah.

And his delight shall be in the fear of Jehovah; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears;

but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

And righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.

And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.

10 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the root of Jesse, that standeth for an ensign of the peoples, unto him shall the nations seek; and his resting-place shall be glorious.

11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, that shall remain, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. Return

Lection 5.

Jeremiah (Baruch) III. 25—IV. 5.
American Standard Version (ASV)

25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our confusion cover us; for we have sinned against Jehovah our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of Jehovah our God.

Declare ye in Judah, and publish in Jerusalem; and say, Blow ye the trumpet in the land: cry aloud and say, Assemble yourselves, and let us go into the fortified cities. Return

Lection 6.

Daniel II. 31-37, 44, 45.
American Standard Version (ASV)

31 Thou, O king, sawest, and, behold, a great image. This image, which was mighty, and whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the aspect thereof was terrible.

32 As for this image, its head was of fine gold, its breast and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of brass,

33 its legs of iron, its feet part of iron, and part of clay.

34 Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces.

35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, so that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

36 This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.

37 Thou, O king, art king of kings, unto whom the God of heaven hath given the kingdom, the power, and the strength, and the glory;

44 And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure. Return

 

 Lection 6 a

Isaiah 9:6-8
American Standard Version (ASV)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.

The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel. Return

Note: There is a misnumbering in the text, with two "Lection VI" entries. This one is VI "a."

 

Lection 7.

Isaiah VI. 10-17. VII. 1—4, 9, 10.
American Standard Version (ASV)

10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they sea with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed.

11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste,

12 and Jehovah have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land.

13 And if there be yet a tenth in it, it also shall in turn be eaten up: as a terebinth, and as an oak, whose stock remaineth, when they are felled; so the holy seed is the stock thereof.
     Note: There are no verses 14-17 in Isaiah 6.

 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.

And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart trembled, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the forest tremble with the wind.

Then said Jehovah unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, in the highway of the fuller's field;

and say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither let thy heart be faint, because of these two tails of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and of the son of Remaliah.

and the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.

10 And Jehovah spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Return

 

Lection 8.

Hebrews 1, 2:1-4
American Standard Version (ASV)

 God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners,

hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds;

who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

having become by so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they.

For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, This day have I begotten thee? and again, I will be to him a Father, And he shall be to me a Son?

And when he again bringeth in the firstborn into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels winds, And his ministers a flame a fire:

but of the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; And the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee With the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

10 And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of thy hands:

11 They shall perish; but thou continuest: And they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

12 And as a mantle shalt thou roll them up, As a garment, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, And thy years shall not fail.

13 But of which of the angels hath he said at any time, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet?

14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation?

 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them.

For if the word spoken through angels proved stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;

how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation? which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard;

God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will. Return

 

Lection 9.

Gospel according to S. Luke 2:1-21.
American Standard Version (ASV)

 Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled.

This was the first enrolment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And all went to enrol themselves, every one to his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David;

to enrol himself with Mary, who was betrothed to him, being great with child.

And it came to pass, while they were there, the days were fulfilled that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son; and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock.

And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people:

11 for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.

12 And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.

15 And it came to pass, when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger.

17 And when they saw it, they made known concerning the saying which was spoken to them about this child.

18 And all that heard it wondered at the things which were spoken unto them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, even as it was spoken unto them.

21 And when eight days were fulfilled for circumcising him, his name was called JESUS, which was so called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Return

 

Lection 10.

A lection from S. Matthew, Fourth Paragraph
(which I interpret to be the Fourth Chapter)
American Standard Version (ASV)

 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he afterward hungered.

And the tempter came and said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Then the devil taketh him into the holy city; and he set him on the pinnacle of the temple,

and saith unto him, If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and, On their hands they shall bear thee up, Lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Jesus said unto him, Again it is written, Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God.

Again, the devil taketh him unto an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

and he said unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

11 Then the devil leaveth him; and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

12 Now when he heard that John was delivered up, he withdrew into Galilee;

13 and leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali:

14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying,

15 The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, Toward the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles,

16 The people that sat in darkness Saw a great light, And to them that sat in the region and shadow of death, To them did light spring up.

17 From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

18 And walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers.

19 And he saith unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men.

20 And they straightway left the nets, and followed him.

21 And going on from thence he saw two other brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

22 And they straightway left the boat and their father, and followed him.

23 And Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness among the people.

24 And the report of him went forth into all Syria: and they brought unto him all that were sick, holden with divers diseases and torments, possessed with demons, and epileptic, and palsied; and he healed them.

25 And there followed him great multitudes from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judaea and from beyond the Jordan.  Return

      

See also:

Translations of Individual Odes:

See Generally: Christmas-tide Hymns from the Eastern Churches.

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.


Related Hymns and Carols