Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIII:
Early Church Fathers
Selections from the Hymns and Homilies of Ephraim the Syrian and from the Demonstrations of Aphrahat the Persian Sage.: Hymn XIV.
p. 284 Hymn XIV.
Hymn concerning our Lord and John.
(Resp.—Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Thee—with joy Heaven and earth worship!)
1. My thought bore me to Jordan,—and I saw a marvel when there was revealed—the glorious Bridegroom who to the Bride—shall bring freedom and holiness.
2. I saw John filled with wonder,—and the multitudes standing about him,—and the glorious Bridegroom bowed down—to the Son of the barren that he might baptize Him.
3. At the Word and the Voice my thought marvelled:—for lo! John was the Voice;—our Lord was manifested as the Word, that what was hidden should become revealed.
4. The Bride was espoused but knew not—who was the Bridegroom on whom she gazed:—the guests were assembled, the desert was filled,—and our Lord was hidden among them.
5. Then the Bridegroom revealed Himself;—and to John at the voice He drew near:—and the Forerunner was moved and said of Him—“This is the Bridegroom Whom I proclaimed.”
6. He came to baptism Who baptizes all,—and He showed Himself at Jordan.—John saw Him and drew back,—deprecating, and thus he spake:—
7. “How, my Lord, willest Thou to be baptized,—Thou Who in Thy baptism atonest all?—Baptism looks unto Thee;—shed Thou on it holiness and perfection?”
8. Our Lord said “I will it so;—draw near, baptize Me that My Will may be done.—Resist My Will thou canst not:—I shall be baptized of thee, for thus I will it.”
9. “I entreat, my Lord, that I be not compelled,—for this is hard that Thou hast said to me,—I have need that thou shouldst baptize Me;—for it is Thou that with Thy hyssop purifiest all.”
10. “I have asked it, and it pleases Me that thus it should be;—and thou, John, why gainsayest thou?—Suffer righteousness to be fulfilled,—and come, baptize Me; why standest Thou?”
11. “How can one openly grasp—in his hands the fire that burns?—O Thou that art fire have mercy on me,—and bid me not come near Thee, for it is hard for me!”
12. “I have revealed to Thee My Will; what questionest thou?—Draw near, baptize Me, and thou shalt not be burned.—The bridechamber is ready; keep Me not back—from the wedding-feast that has been made ready.”
13. “The Watchers fear and dare not—gaze on Thee lest they be blinded;—and I, how, O my Lord, shall I baptize Thee?—I am too weak to draw near; blame me not!”
14. “Thou fearest; therefore gainsay not—against My Will in what I desire:—and Baptism has respect unto Me.—Accomplish the work to which thou hast been called!”
15. “Lo! I proclaimed Thee at Jordan—in the ears of the people that believed not and if they shall see Thee baptized of me,—they will doubt that Thou art the Lord.”
16. “Lo! I am to be baptized in their sight,—and the Father Who sent Me bears witness of Me—that I am His Son and in Me He is well pleased,—to reconcile Adam who was under His wrath.”
17. “It becomes, me, O my Lord, to know my nature—that I am moulded out of the ground,—and Thou the moulder Who formest all things:—I, then, why should I baptize Thee in water?”
p. 285 18. “It becomes thee to know wherefore I am come,—and for what cause I have desired that thou shouldst baptize Me.—It is the middle of the way wherein I have walked;—withhold thou not Baptism.”
19. “Small is the river whereto Thou art come,—that Thou shouldst lodge therein and it should cleanse Thee.—The heavens suffice not for Thy mightiness;—how much less shall Baptism contain Thee!”
20. “The womb is smaller than Jordan;—yet was I willing to lodge in the Virgin:—and as I was born from woman,—so too am I to be baptized in Jordan.”
21. “Lo! the hosts are standing!—the ranks of Watchers, lo! they worship!—And if I draw near, my Lord, to baptize Thee,—I tremble for myself with quaking.”
22. “The hosts and multitudes call thee happy,—all of them, for that thou baptizest Me.—For this I have chosen thee from the womb:—fear thou not, for I have willed it.
23. “I have prepared the way as I was sent:—I have betrothed the Bride as I was commanded.—May Thy Epiphany be spread over the world—now that Thou art come, and let me not baptize Thee!”
24. “This is My preparation, for so have I willed;—I will go down and be baptized in Jordan,—and make bright the armour for them that are baptized,—that they may be white in Me and I not be conquered.”
25. “Son of the Father, why should I baptize Thee?—for lo! Thou art in Thy Father and Thy Father in Thee.—Holiness unto the priests Thou givest;—water that is common wherefore askest Thou?”
26. “The children of Adam look unto Me,—that I should work for them the new birth.—A way in the waters I will search out for them,—and if I be not baptized this cannot be.”
27. “Pontiffs of Thee are consecrated,—priests by Thy hyssop are purified;—the anointed and the kings Thou makest.—Baptism, how shall it profit Thee?”
28. “The Bride thou betrothedst to Me awaits Me,—that I should go down, be baptized, and sanctify her.—Friend of the Bridegroom withhold Me not—from the washing that awaits Me.”
29. “I am not able, for I am weak,—Thy blaze in my hands to grasp.—Lo! Thy legions are as flame;—bid one of the Watchers baptize Thee!”
30. “Not from the Watchers was My Body assumed,—that I should summon a Watcher to baptize Me.—The body of Adam, lo! I have put on,—and thou, son of Adam, art to baptize Me.”
31. “The waters saw Thee, and greatly feared;—the waters saw Thee, and lo! they tremble!—The river foams in its terror;—and I that am weak, how shall I baptize Thee?”
32. “The waters in My Baptism are sanctified,—and fire and the Spirit from Me shall they receive;—and if I be not baptized they are not made perfect—to be fruitful of children that shall not die.”
33. “Fire, if to Thy fire it draw near,—shall be burnt up of it as stubble.—The mountains of Sinai endured Thee not,—and I that am weak, wherein shall I baptize Thee?”
34. “I am the flaming fire;—yet for mans sake I became a babe—in the virgin womb of the maiden.—And now I am to be baptized in Jordan.”
35. “It is very meet that Thou shouldst baptize me,—for Thou hast holiness to purify all.—In Thee it is that the defiled are made holy; but Thou that art holy, why art Thou to be baptized?”
p. 286 36. “It is very right that thou shouldst baptize Me,—as I bid, and shouldst not gainsay.—Lo! I baptized thee within the womb;—baptize thou me in Jordan!”
37. “I am a bondman and I am weak.—Thou that freest all have mercy on me! Thy latchets to unloose I am not able;—Thy exalted head who will make me worthy to touch?”
38. “Bondmen in My Baptism are set free;—handwritings in My washing are blotted out;—manumissions in the water are sealed ;—and if I be not baptized all these come to nought.”
39. “A mantle of fire the air wears,—and waits for Thee, above Jordan;—and if Thou consentest to it and willest to be baptized,—Thou shalt baptize Thyself and fulfil all.”
40. “This is meet, that thou shouldst baptize Me,—that none may err and say concerning Me,—Had He not been alien from the Fathers house,—why feared the Levite to baptize Him?”
41. “The prayer, then, when Thou art baptized,—how shall I complete over Jordan?—When the Father and the Spirit are seen over Thee,—Whom shall I call on, as priest?”
42. “The prayer in silence is to be completed:—come, thy hand alone lay thou on Me.—and the Father shall utter in the priests stead—that which is meet concerning His Son.”
43. “They that are bidden, lo! all of them stand;—the Bridegrooms guests, lo! they bear witness—that day by day I said among them,—I am the Voice and not the Word.”
44. “Voice of him that cries in the wilderness,—fulfil thou the work for which thou camest,—that the desert whereunto thou wentest out may resound—with the mighty peace thou preachedst therein.”
45. “The shout of the Watchers has come to my ears;—lo! I hear from the Fathers house—the hosts that sound forth the cry,—In Thy Epiphany, O Bridegroom, the worlds have life.”
46. “The time hastes on, and the marriage guests—look to Me to see what is doing.—Come, baptize Me, that they may give praise—to the Voice of the Father when it is heard!”
47. “I hearken, my Lord, according to Thy Word:—come to Baptism as Thy love constrains Thee!—The dust worships that whereunto he has attained,—that on Him Who fashioned him he should lay his hand.”
48. The heavenly ranks were silent as they stood,—and the Bridegroom went down into Jordan;—the Holy One was baptized and straightway went up,—and His Light shone forth on the world.
49. The doors of the highest were opened above,—and the voice of the Father was heard,—“This is my Beloved in Whom I am well pleased.”—All ye peoples, come and worship Him.
50. They that saw were amazed as they stood, at the Spirit Who came down and bare witness to Him.—Praise to Thy Epiphany that gladdens all,—Thou in Whose revelation the worlds are lightened!
Next: Hymn XV.