Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Selections from the Hymns and Homilies of Ephraim the Syrian and from the Demonstrations of Aphrahat the Persian Sage.: Hymn XVIII.
1. O thou who art made priest after thy master, the illustrious after the excellent, the chaste after the grave, the watchful after the abstinent, thy master from thee has not departed; in the living we see the deceased: for lo! in thee is his likeness painted; and impressed upon thee are his footprints, and all of him shines from all of thee. R., Blessed be He Who in His stead has given us thee!
2. The fruit wherein its tree is painted, bears witness concerning the root. Hitherto there has not failed us, the savour of his sweetness. His words thou showest forth in bodily act, for thou hast fulfilled them in deed. In thy conversation is painted his doctrine, in thy conduct his exposition, in thy fulfilment his interpretation. R., Blessed be He Who has made thy lustre to excel!
3. The last pastor who was exalted, and became head unto the members, the younger who obtained the birthright, not for price like Jacob, not in jealousy like Aaron, whose brethren the Levites envied him, but by love obtained he it like Moses, though he was older than Aaron. In thee thy brethren rejoiced as in him. R., Blessed be He Who chose thee in unanimity!
4. There is no envy or jealousy, among the members of the body; for in love they p. 188 give ear unto him, with tenderness they are visited by him. A watch tower is the head unto the members, for on every side he looks forth. Exalted is he yet meek in his graciousness, even to the feet he humbleth himself, that he may turn away harm from them. R., Blessed be He Who instilled thy love into us!
5. A small thing verily had this been, if by an old man apostasy were overcome. Old age in its prudence submitted; youth in its season conquered; for a youthful combatant endured, the hateful conflict waged, by force that was full of apostacy, which like smoke waxed and passed: with its beginning was its end. R., Blessed be He Who blew upon it that it vanished!
6. The voice of the cornet on a sudden amazed and called Thee to battle. Thou wentest up like a new David, by Thee was subdued a second Goliath. Thou wast not untried in combat, for a secret warfare day by day, Thou art waging against the Evil One. Exercise in secret is wont to attain the crown openly. R., Blessed be He Who chose Thee for our glory!
7. In face of trial Job trained his body and his mind, and in temptation he was victorious. And Joseph conquered in the chamber; Ananias and his company in the furnace, and in the midst of the den Daniel. Satan did foolishly, when in tempting, he confirmed their victory openly. R., Blessed be He Who has multiplied shame on him!
8. And the husbandman who apostatized and was urgent, to sow thorns with his left hand; zealous against him was the righteous husbandman, stopped and cut off his left hand. He filled His own right hand and sowed in the heart the words of life; and lo! our understanding is tilled, by His prophets and His apostles. By Thee may our souls be tilled! R., Blessed be He Who chose Thee for our husbandman!
9. And if so be Thy words are too little, till Thou our land with deeds, that amid much tillage, stock and root may be strengthened. Better is a goodly deed, than the hearing of ten thousand words. Thy seed shall yield an hundredfold, and the after crop sixtyfold, yea that which grows of itself thirtyfold. R., Blessed be He Who multiplied Thy increase!
10. That light should be darkened it is not meet, that salt should lose its savour it is not right; defilement for the head is not seemly, nor yet foulness for the mirror. Nor if medicines have lost their savour sicknesses also are not cured; and if so be the torch is quenched, the stumbling also are many. Thy light shall chase away our darkness. R., Blessed be He Who hath made Thee our lamp!
11. Appoint for thee scribes and judges, exactors also and dispensers, overseers also and officers: to each assign his work, lest haply by care should be rusted, or by anxiety should be distracted, the mind and the tongue, wherewith thou offerest supplication, for the expiation of all the people. R., Blessed be He Who makes illustrious Thy ministry!
12. That he should purge his mind, and cleanse also his tongue; that he should purify his hands, and make his whole body to shine; this is too little for the priest and his title, who offers the Living Body. Let him cleanse all himself at all hours; for he stands as mediator, between God and mankind. R., Blessed be He Who has cleansed His ministers!
Next: Hymn XIX.
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