POETRY: Hymn On Faith—The Wedding Feast by Ephrem

Hymn On Faith—The Wedding Feast by Ephrem

This poem is translated from the Syriac by Sebastian Brock.

I have invited you, Lord, to a wedding-feast of song,
but the wine—the utterance of praise—at our feast has failed.
You are the guest who filled the jars with good wine,
fill my mouth with Your praise.

The wine that was in the jars was akin and related to
this eloquent wine that gives birth to praise,
seeing that that wine too gave birth to praise
from those who drank it and beheld the wonder.

You who are so just, if at a wedding-feast not your own
You filled six jars with good wine,
do you, at this wedding-feast, fill, not the jars,
but the ten thousand ears with its sweetness.

Jesus, you were invited to the wedding-feast of others,
here is your own pure and fair wedding-feast: gladden your rejuvenated people,
for your guests too, O Lord, need
Your songs; let your harp utter!

The soul is your bride, the body your bridal chamber,
Your guests are the senses and the thoughts.
And if a single body is a wedding-feast for you,
how great is your banquet for the whole church!

The holy Moses took the synagogue up on Sinai:
he made her body shine with garments of white, but her heart was dark;
she played the harlot with the calf, she despised the Exalted one,
and so he broke the tablets, the book of her covenant.

Who has ever seen the turmoil and insult
of a bride who played false in her own bridal chamber, raising her voice?
When she dwelt in Egypt she learnt it from
the mistress of Joseph, who cried out and played false.

The light of the pillar of fire and of the cloud
drew into itself its rays
like the sun that was eclipsed
on the day that she cried out, demanding the King, a further crime.

How can my harp, O Lord, ever rest from your praise?
How could I ever teach my tongue infidelity?
Your love has given confidence to my shamefacedness,
—yet my will is ungrateful.

It is right that man should acknowledge your divinity,
it is right for Heavenly beings to worship your humanity;
the Heavenly beings were amazed to see how small you became,
and Earthly ones to see how exalted!

Refrain: Praise to you from all who perceive your truth.

 

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