Ancient Christmas Hymn

To you glory, radiant Son of virginity. 1. This, the month that is forever filled with blessings:slaves have freedom, free men glory,doors have crownings, bodies feastings,violet garments thrown with love as unto princes. 2. This, the month that will forever carry vict’ry:freed is spirit, flesh is tempered,mortal woman bears the Living:Godhead now is reconciled with […]

Passion Friday Meditations

The three Madrashe for Passion Friday are independent pieces of hymnody, but follow a general thread. The first picks up on Christ’s command to Peter, James, and John to stay awake with him in the garden. Recounting the dramatic events of Christ’s passion, each verse ends with the question, “who can go to sleep?” The […]

Passover Thursday Meditation

The aspect of the Passover Lamb image discussed in this Madrasha is the contrast between rational and irrational. The sacrifice of animals was irrational in two ways: the animal itself was unable to speak, but the sacrifice was irrational in that it could not accomplish the forgiveness or salvation it attempted. This failure of the […]

Wednesday of Holy Week Meditation

The sequence of Madrashe during Holy Week is reasonable: Monday establishes Christ as the fulfillment of all symbols in the Old Testament beginning from Eden. Tuesday introduces the Passover Lamb as a theme, as well as the notion of Old Testament symbols being shadows of realities fulfilled by Christ. Wednesday presents the Passover Lamb theme […]

Tuesday of Holy Week Meditation

Tuesday’s Madrasha focuses on the Passover lamb of Exodus and Christ as the new Lamb of God. This is a common theme in Christian literature, but this early piece (again, these hymns are attributed to Ephrem) takes a unique approach. Rather than comparison, we have contrast. Verse 1 ends with a proposed question, whether the […]

Monday of Holy Week Meditation (a Masterpiece)

This is one of the great masterpieces of the Hudhra, exemplifying the best aspects of Aramaic as a language, combining Scripture and theology, salvation history, symbolism and poetry. As such, it’s one of the most difficult and frustrating things I’ve ever translated. It’s so compact that, on average, I need 3 English words to translate […]

Lent Meditation 5

(Refrain – Let us love holy fasting, in which the victorious were crowned; let us participate in their contest and be joined to their crowns.) 1 – Daniel longed after fasting as one would thirst for wine; he loved temperance as the greedy love gain. He turned to fasting and grew young: he fasted for […]

Lent Meditation 3

(Refrain – Blessed is he who prepared the diligent through vigil, fasting, and prayer, and made them a vision for those who see in truth.) 1 – Moses, great among those who fast, was armed by means of fasting. He took off the customs of the Egyptians and loved fear of God. He hated and […]