A Christmastide Hymn

24 12 2011

Adoration of the Shepherds (Gerard van Honthorst)

It is Christmas Eve.  We’ve all our gifts.  We’re preparing food. There is music ahead, laughter and good cheer.  And this hymn by St. Ephrem the Syrian (306-373) the reminds us of the wonder of God becoming a baby, to become a man. The Lamb of God.

Come, Jesus, rest and keep quiet in your mother’s


What sort of baby are you, so merry and bright?

Beautiful child! Your mother is chaste and your Father

the Hidden One whom not even angels can see.

What sort of being are you?

Tell us, O son of the merciful.

Feuding enemies who came to look at you became

merry and bright; they laughed together and were

at one with each other.

Angry men became sweetened through you and your


Who are you, child, that even what is sour becomes

sweet through you?

Whoever saw a baby so eager to meet all who are near


Tucked up in his mother’s lap

He reached out even to those that are far off.

What a beautiful sight, this child whose whole concern

is with everyman, that they all should see him.

Some came and saw you, bowed down with their cares,

and their cares fled away.

And the brooder who came forgot all his brooding.

And the hungry forgot, because of you, even his food.

And men at the errands, seduced by you, forgot where

they were going.

Quiet yourself down, child, and leave us men

To get on with our business.




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