Poetry Monday – Ephrem the Syrian on Christ’s Nativity

December 4, 2012 — Leave a comment

EphremEphrem the Syrian, known as the ‘Harp of the Holy Spirit’ is described as ‘the greatest poet of the patristic age and perhaps the only theologian-poet to rank beside Dante.’ Ephrem was not only a well-known figure in the Syriac-speaking world but also was well known in the Greek East and the Latin West.

I recently picked up a used volume containing Ephrem’s Hymns on the Nativity. It is a gem of beautiful and unending word pictures on the wonder of the incarnation – God taking on human flesh. Filled with quotes and illusions to Scripture, it fills the heart and mind with joy and praise!  Here is a taste from two of the hymns:


Blessed be the Child, Who today delights Bethlehem.
Blessed be the Newborn Who today made humanity young again!
Blessed be the Fruit, Who bowed Himself down to our hunger!
Blessed be the Gracious One, Who suddenly enriched
all of our poverty and filled our need.
Blessed is He Whose mercy
inclined Him to heal our sickness.

Today the Deity imprinted itself on humanity.
so that humanity might also be cut into the seal of Deity.

(from Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns – Classics of Western Spirituality, 1989)

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