The heavens He has renewed, for that fools worshipped all the luminaries:
—He has renewed the earth, for that in Adam it was wasted.
—That which He fashioned has become new by His spittle:
—and the All-Sufficing has restored bodies with souls.
Gather yourselves again ye sheep
—and without labour receive cleansing!
—for one needs not as Elisha
—to bathe seven times in the river, nor again to be wearied as the priests are wearied with sprinklings.
Seven times Elisha purified himself in a mystery of the seven spirits;
—and the hyssop and blood are a mighty symbol.
—There is no room for division;
—He is not divided from the Lord of all Who is Son of the Lord of all.
Moses sweetened in Marah the waters that were bitter,
—because the People complained and murmured:
—Thus he gave a sign of baptism,
—wherein the Lord of life makes sweet them that were bitter.
The cloud overshadowed and kept off the burning heat from the camp;
—it showed a symbol of the Holy Spirit, which overshadows you in baptism
—tempering the flaming fire that it harm not your bodies.
Through the sea the People then passed, and showed a symbol
—of the baptism wherein ye were washed.
—The People passed through that and believed not:
—the Gentiles were baptized in this and believed and received the Holy Ghost.
The Word sent the Voice to proclaim before His Coming,
—to prepare for Him the way by which He came,
—and to betroth the Bride till He should come,
—that she might be ready when He should come and take her from the water.
The voice of prophecy stirred the son of the barren woman,
—and he went forth wandering in the desert and crying,
—“Lo! the Son of the Kingdom comes!
—prepare ye the way that He may enter and abide in your dwellings!”
John cried, “Who comes after me, He is before me:
—I am the Voice but not the Word;
—I am the torch but not the Light;
—the Star that rises before the Sun of Righteousness.”
In the wilderness this John had cried and had said,
—“Repent ye sinners of your evils,
—and offer the fruits of repentance;
—for lo! He comes that winnows the wheat from the tares.”
Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Fifteen Hymns on the Feast of the Epiphany, 1, 1-10.