The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Office of Christmas Day

άχολονθια τής Χρίστον γεννήσεως

St. Cosmos
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 (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.(3g) Hymn of Germanus.(1")

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
174 CHRISTMAS DAY.
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.(1l) 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.
CHRISTMAS DAY. ' 175
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
I 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. (11) The same Tone.

Hymn of Casia.(13)

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
176 CHRISTMAS DAY.
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, I
Thine to be, Incarnate GOD!
Great is Thy mercy. Glory be to Thee!

Then follows the Entrance, with the Gospel.
“Hail, gladdening Light", (11) and the Lections in
their order, with the Troparia and their stichoi.

Lection I. Genesis I. 1—14.

Lection II. Numbers XXIV. 2, 5, 6, part of 7,
- 8, 9, part of 17, 18.

Lection III. Micah IV. 6, 7. V. 2, 3, 4.

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 proclamed
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 &c.

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 &c.

CHRISTMAS DAY. 177

Stichos c: Behold ye the Philistines also: and
they of Tyre, with the Morians.
And to Thee it brought &c.

Stichos d: The LORD shall rehearse it when
He writeth up the people.
And to Thee it brought &c.

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

Lection IV. Isaiah XI. 1—11.

Lection V. Jeremiah (Baruch) III. 35—IV. 5.

Lection VI. Daniel II. 31-37, 44, 45.

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
magnify Thee, Giver of Life. Glory be to Thee!

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 &c.

178 CHRISTMAS DAY.

Stichos c: Holiness becometh Thine house for ever.
As it led the Magi to adore Thee &c.

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

Lection VI. Isaiah IX. 6—8.

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

Then the Collect, and after the Exclamation,
we sing the Troparion. Then, the Prokeimenon
of the Apostle. (15)

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.

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.

Then, The Divine Liturgy of Basil the Great.
Koinonikon : (16) 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 Naithex making the Procession, and chanting there Idiomelic stichera to the first tone.

CHRISTMAS DAY. 179

First Tone. Hymn of John the Monk. (11)

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 goneup.
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,
180 CHRISTMAS DAY.
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
CHRISTMAS DAY. - 181
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. (18)

Second Tone. Hymn of Germanus.

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.

182 , CHRISTMAS DAY.

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.

CHRISTMAS DAY. 183

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.
0 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 CHRIQI‘ 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,
184 - CHRISTMAS DAY.
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 sanctifi
cation of soul and body.(1g) Then there is alection
from S. Matthew, fourth paragraph. After the
lection, the Hexapsalmos (Pss. III, XXXVIII,
LXIII, LXXXVIII, CIII, CXLIII).
Then: The LORD is GOD, and the Dismissory.

W0 CHRIST our GOD, upon the world,‘ (Thrice)

Then we recite the stichoi.
After the first Stichologia, the Cathisma.(5°)
Fourth Tone “Joseph was astonished”. (5‘)

O come, ye faithful, let us see
Where CHRIST is born.
CHRISTMAS DAY. 185
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 ama1ed
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.

v

Incomprehensible by all,
How in the womb
Was He .contained? Inhabiting


186 CHRISTMAS DAY.
The FATHER’S Breast,
Can His Mother's arms hold Him?
All has beenas 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 I. IB—end.
After Psalm. LI. Miserere mei. 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.
CHRISTMAS DAY. 187
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. (51)

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.(51)

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!
188 _ CHRISTMAS DAY.
Wisdom, W'ord, 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. 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.
CHRISTMAS DAY. 189
Thee, WORD of GOD, Who wert before the sun,
Who hither camest sin to do away,
The Star shewed to' the Magi, very poor,
Sufl'ering like us, and swaddled in a cave.
Gladly they saw Thee, Man, and yet the LORD.
crnus'r is born.

The Wonder-working.

Third Ode. 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! ’

Catabasia. %

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,
190 CHRISTMAS DAY.
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,
'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.

CHRISTMAS DAY. 191

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, 0 Heaven, exult, 0 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. The Hirmos.

Rod of the Root of Jesse,
And flower from it too,
192 CHRISTMAS DAY.
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
()f 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-ga1ers, 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,
CHRISTMAS DAY. 193
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 song
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.
0 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.
0 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.

194 CHRISTMAS DAY.

Fifth Ode. 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 C1esar’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.
CHRISTMAS DAY. 195
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. 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.
196 CHRISTMAS DAY.
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,
CHRISTMAS DAY. 197
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 Stan1a. (59)

Bethlehem hath opened Eden,
O come, let us behold.
Hidden sweetness we have found,
0 come and let us take
The gifts of Paradise within the cave.
There the unwatered Root appeared
Blossoming in pardon.(6°)
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 Cnmsr.

198 CHRISTMAS DAY.

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.

i H‘ * 3: _3 * * * * * *
'On the same day. The Adoration of the Magi.

Stichoi.

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

* * 3% 31 * >1: * * * * *
To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Seventh Ode. 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,
CHRISTMAS DAY. 199
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,
0 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,
200 CHRISTMAS DAY.
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. 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,
CHRISTMAS DAY. 201
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 CHRIs'r in Sion, with a-guiding star,
Draws to Him Babel’s treasures and her kings
Who ga1ed 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.
202 CHRISTMAS DAY.
O rouser of the Gentiles, Thou hast come
From desert heights, unto Thy pasturagek
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 at Man, and in Thy wisdom GOD.
The furnace.

Catabasla. {The youths

Ninth Ode.

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.

CHRISTMAS DAY. 203

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,
204 . CHRISTMAS DAY.
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.
CHRISTMAS DAY. 205
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.
A mystery strange.

Catabasla' lEasy 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. (61)

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,
206 ' CHRISTMAS DAY.
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.
CHRISTMAS DAY. 201
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 C1esar 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
208 CHRISTMAS DAY.
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.

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