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 XIX.
1. Thou who answerest to the name of Abraham, in that Thou art made father of many; but because to Thee none is spouse, as Sarah was to Abraham,—lo! Thy flock is Thy spouse; bring up her sons in Thy truth; spiritual children may they be to Thee, and the sons be sons of promise, that they may become heirs in Eden. R., Blessed be He Who foreshowed Thee in Abraham!
2. Fair fruit of chastity, in whom the priesthood was well pleased, youngest among Thy brethren as was the son of Jesse; the horn overflowed and anointed Thee, the hand alighted and chose Thee, the Church p. 189 desired and loved Thee; the pure altar is for Thy ministry, the great throne for Thy honour, and all as one for Thy crown. R., Blessed be He Who multiplied Thy crowning!
3. Lo! thy flock, O blessed one, arise and visit it, O diligent one! Jacob ranged the flocks in order; range Thou the sheep that have speech, and enlighten the virgin-youths in purity, and the virgin-maids in chastity; raise up priests in honour, rulers in meekness, and a people in righteousness. R. Blessed be He Who filled Thee with understanding!
4. Guard thou the sheep that are whole, and visit them that are sick, and bind up them that are broken, and seek out them that are lost; feed them in the pastures of the Scriptures, and give them drink or the spring of doctrine: let the truth be a wall unto thee, let the cross be a staff unto thee, and truthfulness be peace unto thee. R., Blessed be He Who multiplied Thy virtues!
5. Let there be with Thee in Thy flock, the power that was with David; for if he plucked a straying lamb, from the mouth of the lion, how meet is it for Thee, O exalted one, to be zealous to snatch from the Evil One the souls that are precious above all, for by nothing can they be bought, save by the blood of Christ! R., Blessed be He Who was sold and bought all!
6. Unto Moses Joshua ministered, and for the reward of his ministry, from him received the right hand. Because to an illustrious old man thou hast ministered, he too gave thee the right hand. Moses committed unto Joshua, a flock of which half were wolves; but to thee is delivered a flock, whereof a fourth yea a third is sanctified. R., Blessed be He who adorned thy flock!
7. Let the love of Moses abide in thee, for his love was a discerning love, his zeal a discreet zeal. When Korah and Dathan sundered themselves, he sundered the earth from beneath them; by sundering he made the sundering to cease. In Eldad and Medad he made known, that his good will was altogether this that all the people should prophesy. R., Blessed be He who in His good will was reconciled!
8. The poor estate of Elijah, Elisha loved above wealth; a poor man gave to a poor man, a gift that was great above all. Because thou hast loved the poverty, of thy master who in secret was rich, the fountain of his words shall flow from thee, that thou mayst become a harp for the Spirit, and mayst sing to thyself inwardly His good will. R., Blessed be He who made thee His treasure!
9. There is none that envies thy election, for meek is thy headship; there is none angered by the rebuke, for thy word sows peace; there is none terrified by thy voice, for pleasant in thy visitation; there is none that groans against thy yoke, for it labors instead of our neck, and lightens the burden of our souls. R., Blessed be He who chose thee for our rest
10. Contend not with the mighty, despair not of the outcast; soften and teach the rich, exhort and win the poor; with the harsh join the forbearing, and the long suffering with the wrathful; catch them that are evil by them that are good, and them that spoil by them that give, and the defiled by means of the sanctified. R., Blessed be He who made thee our hunter!
11. Take to thee ten thousand medicaments, and arise and go forth among the sick; to the diseased offer medicine, and to him that is sound a preservative; not one medicine only shalt thou offer, for the sickness lest haply it be not meet: offer many remedies, that the sickness may find healing; likewise thou shalt learn experience. R., Blessed be He who laboured to heal our wounds!
12. May the land be according to thy desire; may the vineyard be according to thy husbandry; may the flock be in the midst of thy dwelling, and the sheep sound under thy staff! Mayest thou be a great Head, and we the jewels of thy crown! May we be beautiful in thee and thou be beautiful in us! for they are goodly each in the other, people and priest when they are p. 190 at one. R., Blessed be He who has sowed among us unity!
13. Hearken to the Apostle when he saith, to that virgin whom he had espoused; I am jealous over you with jealousy, with a jealousy verily of God, not of the flesh but of the spirit. Be jealous therewith thou also in pureness, that He may know what she is and whose she is. In thee may she cherish, and in thee may she love, Jesus the Bridegroom in truth. R., Blessed is he whose zeal is holy!
14. As are her masters, so are her manners: for with the teacher that lags a laggard is she, and with him that is noble, excellent is she. The Church is like unto a mirror, for according to the face that gazes into it, thus does it put on the likeness thereof. For as is the king so also his host, and as is the priest so also his flock; according as these are it is stamped on them. R., Blessed be He Who stamped her in His likeness!
15. Without a testament they departed, those three illustrious priests; who in Testaments used to meditate, those two Testaments of God. Great gain have they bequeathed to us, even this example of poverty. They who possessed nothing the blessed ones, made us their possessions; the Church was their treasure. R., Blessed is he who possessed in them his possessions!
16. The priest Jacob the noble, with him she was ennobled as he was: because he joined his love to his jealousy, with fear and love he was clothed. With Babes a lover of bounty, for money she redeemed the captives. With Valgesh a scribe of the law, her heart she opened to the Scriptures. With thee then may her profit be manifold! R., Blessed be He Who has magnified her merchantmen!
Next: Hymn XX.
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