January 9, 2017

Saint Ephrem on Christ's Incarnation and Kingship

St. Ephrem

Saint Ephrem the Syrian, called "the Harp of the Holy Spirit," was a prolific hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century. He was born into a Christian family about 306 AD in Nusaybin, Turkey. As deacon at Edessa, he opposed the heresies of his day. Ephrem composed hundreds of hymns and poems on the mysteries of God, the Blessed Virgin and the saints. Below is a hymn and a prayer by blessed St. Ephrem on our Lord's glorious Incarnation and Kingship.

Hymn to Christ Our King

From God Christ's deity came forth,
   His manhood from humanity;
his priesthood from Melchizedek,
   his royalty from David's tree:
praised be his Oneness.

He joined with guests at wedding feast,
   Yet in the wilderness did fast;
he taught within the temple's gates;
   his people saw him die at last:
praised be his teaching.

The dissolute he did not scorn,
   Nor turn from those who were in sin;
he for the righteous did rejoice
   but bade the fallen to come in:
praised be his mercy.

He did not disregard the sick;
   To simple ones his word was given;
and he descended to the earth
   and, his work done, went up to heaven:
praised be his coming.

Who then, my Lord, compares to you?
   The Watcher slept, the Great was small,
the Pure baptized, the Life who died,
   the King abased to honor all:
praised be your glory.

Prayer of St. Ephrem

O LORD, Master of my life, grant that I may not be infected with the spirit of slothfulness and inquisitiveness, with the spirit of ambition and vain talking.

Grant instead to me, your servant, the spirit of purity and of humility, the spirit of patience and neighborly love.

O Lord and King, grant me the grace of being aware of my sins and of not thinking evil of those of my brethren.

For you are blessed, now and ever, and forever. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings, You have power over life and death. You know what is secret and hidden, and neither our thoughts nor our feelings are concealed from You. Cure me of duplicity; I have done evil before You. Now my life declines from day to day and my sins increase. O Lord, God of souls and bodies, You know the extreme frailty of my soul and my flesh. Grant me strength in my weakness, O Lord, and sustain me in my misery. Give me a grateful soul that I may never cease to recall Your benefits, O Lord most bountiful. Be not mindful of my many sins, but forgive me all my misdeeds. O Lord, disdain not my prayer — the prayer of a wretched sinner; sustain me with Your grace until the end, that it may protect me as in the past. It is Your grace which has taught me wisdom; blessed are they who follow her ways, for they shall receive the crown of glory. In spite of my unworthiness, I praise You and I glorify You, O Lord, for Your mercy to me is without limit. You have been my help and my protection. May the name of Your majesty be praised forever. To you, our God, be glory. Amen.

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