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Faith

Tenth Hymn on Faith, by St. Ephraim the Syrian


Lord, Thou hast had it written: ‘Open thy mouth and I will fill it.’ See, Lord, Thy servant’s mouth and his mind are open to Thee! Fill it, O Lord, with Thy Gift, that I may sing Thy praise according to Thy will. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


For speaking of Thee there are different levels; in my boldness I approach the lowest step. Deep in silence Thy Birth is sealed; what mouth dare venture to deal with it? Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


Though Thy nature is one, its expressions are many; they find three levels, high middle and lowly. Make me worthy of the lowly part, of picking up crumbs from the table of Thy wisdom. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


Thy highest expression is hidden with Thy Father, Thy middle riches are the wonder of the Watchers. A tiny stream from Thy teaching, Lord, for us below makes a flood of interpretations. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


For if even the great John cried out, ‘I am not worthy, Lord, of the strap of Thy sandals’, then I like the sinner-woman must flee to the shade of Thy garments, to start from there. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


And like her who feared, yet took heart when she was healed, heal my fear of terror, let me take heart in Thee; let me pass from Thy garment to Thy body, that to the best of my power I may speak of it. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


Thy garment, Lord is a fountain of healing. In Thy visible raiment dwells Thy hidden power. A little spittle from Thy mouth was a mighty wonder, for light [was] in the clay it made. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


In Thy Bread is hidden a Spirit not to be eaten, in Thy Wine dwells a Fire not to be drunk. Spirit in Thy Bread, Fire in Thy Wine, a wonder set apart, [yet] received by our lips! Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


When the Lord came down to earth, to mortals, a new creation He created them, like to the Watchers. He mingled fire and spirit in them, to make them fire and spirit within. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


The Seraph touched not the coal with his fingers; only Esaias’ lips did it touch. He neither held it nor ate it; but to us, see! our Lord has granted both. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


Bodily food for angels of spirit did Abraham bring, and they did eat; New wonder! Our mighty Lord gives to bodily creatures Fire and Spirit as food and drink. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


Fire came down in anger on sinners and ate them up; the Fire of Mercy has come down on bread, to stay. Instead of that fire eating men up, you have eaten Fire in the Bread and found Life. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


Fire came down on Elias’ sacrifice and ate it up; the Fire of Love has become our living sacrifice. Fire ate up the offering; in Thine Offering, Lord we have eaten Fire. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


‘Who has ever grasped the wind in his hands? ’Come and see, O Solomon, what Thy father’s Lord has done! Fire and spirit, against their nature, He has mingled and poured into His disciples’ hands Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


‘Who has ever’, he asked, ‘gathered the waters in a cloth? ’See, a cloth, in the lap of Mary, the Fountain! Enclosed in a cloth, Thy handmaids take from the Cup of Life, a drop of Life! Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


See, Power concealed in the cloth of the sanctuary, a power which no mind has ever conceived. His love bent down, descended, and hovered over the cloth on the altar of reconciliation. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


See, Fire and Spirit in the womb that bore Thee! See, Fire and Spirit in the river where Thou wast baptized! Fire and Spirit in our Baptism; in the Bread and the Cup, Fire and Holy Spirit! Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


Thy Bread kills the Devourer who had made us his bread, Thy Cup destroys death which was swallowing us up. We have eaten Thee, Lord we have drunk Thee, not to exhaust Thee, but to live by Thee. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


The strap of Thy sandal was dread to the discerning; the hem of Thy cloak was fearsome to the understanding. By prying into Thee, our foolish generation has lost its reason, drunk with new wine. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


How wonderful Thy footsteps, walking on the waters! Thou didst subdue the great sea beneath Thy feet.[Yet] to a little stream Thou hast subjected Thy head, bending down to be baptized in it. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


The stream was like John who baptized in it, in their smallness each an image of the other. To the stream so little, the servant so weak, the Lord of them both subjected Himself. Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!


See, Lord my arms are filled with the crumbs from Thy table; there is no room left in my lap; As I kneel before Thee, hold back Thy Gift; Keep it in Thy storehouse to give us again! Make me worthy to approach Thy Gift with awe!

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