Our generation is like a leaf whose time, once it falls, is over,
but though the limit of our life is short, praise can lengthen it,
for, corresponding to the extent of our love,
we shall acquire, through praise, life that has no measure.
For it is in our Lord that the root of our faith is grafted;
though far off, he is still close to us in the fusion of love.
Let the roots of our love be bound up in him,
let the full extent of his compassion be fused in us.
O Lord, may the body be a temple for him who built it,
may the soul be a palace full of praise for its architect!
Let not our body become a hollow cavity,
let our souls not be a harbour of loss.
And when the light of this temporal breath flickers out
do you relight in the morning the lantern that was extinguished in the night.
The sun arrives and with the warmth of its rising
it revives the frozen and relights what has been extinguished.
It is right that we should acknowledge that Light which illumines all,
for in the morning, when the sun has gone up, lanterns are extinguished,
but this new Sun has performed a new deed,
relighting in Sheol the lanterns that had been extinguished.
In place of death who has breathed the smell of mortality over all,
he who gives life to all exhales a life-giving scent in Sheol;
from his life the dead breathe in new life,
and death dies within them.
The scent of the buried Elisha who gave life to a dead man provides a type for this:
a man dead but a day breathed in life from him who was long dead;
the life-giving scent wafted from his bones and entered the dead corpse –
a symbol of him who gives life to all.
Jesus has elucidated for us the symbols that took place at Elisha’s grave,
how from an extinguished lantern a lantern can be relit,
and how, while lying in the grave, he could raise up the fallen,
himself remaining there, but sending forth a witness to Christ’s coming.
Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): The Harp of the Spirit, 77-78, tr. Sebastian Brock; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Saturday in Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year 1.