Mor_Ephrem_iconWhen man’s hope had broken down, hope was increased by Thy Birth.
—Good tidings of hope they bore, the Heavenly Ones to men.
—Satan who cut off our hope, his own hope by his own hands had cut off.
—when he saw that hope was increased:  Thy Birth became to the hopeless,
—a fountain teaming with hope.

Blessed be He Who bore the tidings of hope!

[…] Thy day has given us a gift, to which the Father has none other like;
—It was not Seraphim He sent us, nor yet did Cherubim come down among us;
—there came not Watchers or Ministers, but the Firstborn to Whom they minister.
—Who can suffice to give thanks, that the Majesty which is beyond measure
—is laid in the lowly manger!

Blessed be He Who gave us what He had won!

[…] The bosom of Mary amazes me, that it sufficed for Thee, Lord, and embraced Thee.
—All creation were too small, to conceal Thy Majesty;
—Heaven and earth too narrow, to be in the likeness of wings, to cover Thy Godhead.
—Too small for Thee was the bosom of earth; great enough for Thee was the bosom of Mary.
—He dwelt in the bosom and healed in her bosom.

Glory to all of Thee from all of us!

He was wrapped meanly in swaddling clothes, and offerings were offered Him.

—He put on garments in youth, and from them there came forth helps:
—He put on the waters of baptism, and from them there shone forth beams:
—He put on linen cloths in death, and in them were shown forth triumphs; with His humiliations, His exaltations.

Blessed be He Who joined His Glory to His Passion!

All these are the changes of raiment, which Mercy put off and put on,
—when He strove to put on Adam, the glory which he had put off.
—He was wrapped in swaddling-clothes as Adam with leaves; and clad in garments instead of skins.
—He was baptized for Adam’s sin, and buried for Adam’s death:
—He rose and raised Adam into Glory.

Blessed be He Who came down and clothed him and went up!

Though Thy Birth had sufficed, for Adam’s sons as for Adam;
—O Mighty One Who didst become a babe, in Thy Birth anew hast Thou begotten me!
—O pure One Who wast baptized, let Thy Washing wash away our filth
—O Living One who wast buried, may we gain life in Thy death!
—I will praise all of Thee in Him that fills all.

Glory to all of Thee from all of us!

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Nineteen Hymns on the Nativity of Christ in the Flesh, 16, 6; 8; 10-14.

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