Monday, April 4, 2022

Syriac Script

Writing Out the Letters

Syriac has twenty-two letters. Esṭrāngellā is the oldest style of writing, although all three scripts belong to all Syriac traditions. Syriac manuscripts demonstrate varied mix of styles that scripts today considered mutually exclusive were originally found across a broad continuum. Western (Sertā) often appear from the pen of a very Madnḥaya writer and visa-versa. Nevertheless, the advent of the printing press has seen the scripts become consistently segregated by church tradition. Sertā style is used by the Syriac Orthodox and Madnḥaya is used by the members of the Church of the East, or ‘Easterners.’ Serṭā itself means to scratch, to draw, or to write, but here it likely refers to a script developed first for the beeswax covered writing tablet, which likely gives the style its pointed and elegant style. Among Easterners, it is also called rhatā, or running script due to its quick form. Under the name of rhatā, it was considered an Eastern Script, although today few know of this tradition. A well-formed Syriac writer will know all three scripts with little difficulty.

The reed dip pen is the traditional writing instrument. Before the advent of paper, parchment was used, which was expensive. Writing of a less permanent nature would be done on a wooden board that had a raised frame with beeswax so that writing could be carved into it with a sharp stylus. Permanent writing, and eventually all writing as paper became an affordable and, later, disposable medium, was achieved with a cut reed and either India Ink or Iron-Gall ink. Eastern Script’s more broad and bold style requires several strokes and consumes more ink per letter than  Western Script, which is written with a more narrow cut to the reed. Western Script more often draws a letter left to right whereas Eastern from right to left, assuming the scribe is writing with the page at a 90-degree counter-clockwise rotation. Given the western habit of writing on a desk, with paper roughly perpendicular to the edge of the desk, this translates to Western more often forming letters from the top down, versus the bottom up tendency of the Eastern scribe. Middle Eastern scribes traditionally sit on a floor mat, using their thigh as a writing surface and thus forming lines of script almost perpendicular to their waist. Small desks or lap boards are also used while seated. 

Paper is often lined, using a board with strings tied to form a stencil. Lines are pressed, with a cloth over the right thumb by orienting the paper over the board, then pressing paper on the strings. TRT World has a beautiful video depicting Syriac calligraphy here. For any beginner interested in trying a broad tipped pen for Syriac writing, there are modified Pilot fountain pens available that permit proper letter formation as if using a reed pen and ink jar, but with much less technical skills required. Traditionally ink must be kept at the appropriate consistency in a jar with silk thread, and then applied with a reed properly cut, with its tip maintained.

Eastern Madnḥāyā Script
Western Serṭā Script

Traditionally, the alphabet is taught using a set of five mnemonics: 

ʾabgad hawaz aṭi kalman saʿpa qarša 

ܐܲܒܓܲܕ ܗܲܘܲܙ ܚܲܛܝܼ ܟܲܠܡܲܢ ܣܲܥܦܲܨ ܩܲܪܫܲܬ.

Consonants āṯwāṯā (ܐܵܬܼ̈ܘܵܬܼܵܐ):

Gutteral/gag̱rāyāṯā: ʾ, h, ḥ, ʿ ܓܲܓܼܪܵܝܵܬܼܵܐ: ܐ، ܗ، ܚ، ܥ       

Lingual/lešānāyātā: d, ṭ, l, n, t, r ܠܸܫܵܢܵܝܵܬܵܐ: ܕ.ܛ.ܠ.ܢܢ. ܬ. ܪ

Palatal/ḥekāyātā: g, y, k, q ܚܸܟܵܝܵܬܵܐ: ܓ. ܝ. ܟܟ. ܩ

Dental/šenāyātā:  z, s, ṣ, š ܫܸܢܵܝܵܬܵܐ: ܙ. ܣ . ܨ . ܫ[1]

Labial/sepwātānāyātā:  b, w, m, p ܣܸܦܘܵܬܵܢܵܝܵܬܵܐ: ܒ. ܘ . ܡ. ܦ

[1] Also called silibants or mašrqānāyātā

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Peshiṭta Old Testament: Part I

The Peshitṭa (Pšiṭtā or ܦܫܝܼܛܬܵܐ) Bible is the received tradition of Sacred Scripture in the Syriac Tradition, both Church of the East and Syriac Orthodox Church. Although Peshiṭta's versions of various biblical books have been well studied and employed in biblical studies, the textual tradition itself, the canon of the Peshitta, has gotten scant if any attention in the academic discourse. The Peshiṭta's Old Testament includes the full contents of the Septuagint but with additional titles making it Christianity's largest Old Testament canon. Before exploring the history that leads to the development of the Peshiṭta, or even explaining whence I derive its canon, let me present its table of contents in comparison to the received Protestant and Byzantine Orthodox traditions. This list follows the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament list in the SBL Handbook of Style, which presents the most common order in English language Bibles. Books not found in the 39 volume protestant canon are in red, and some of these are also found in the Latin or the Greek canon. The books in the Peshiṭta but not in the Protestant canon are placed thematically as they best seemed to fit.
The Books of the Peshiṭta Scriptures
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, 3 Ezra, 4 Ezra, Ester (16 Chapters), Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes (Qohelet), Song of Songs, Ecclesiasticus (Bar Sira), Wisdom of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeramiah, Lamentations, Letter of Jeramiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Prayer of Azariah, Song of Three Holy Children, Bel, Dragon, Judith, Susana, , Young Daniel, 1 Baruch, 2 Baruch (Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch with Letter to 9 1/2 Tribes), Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 1-4 Maccabees, Book 6 of Josephus' Jewish War, Joseph and Aseneth, and Tobit.
This list does not follow any Syriac manuscript, but the order we are used to in English Bibles. Moving from the assumptions of modern Western Christianity, often adopted unawares by Eastern Christians as well, to the assumptions of ancient Christians, several points of disjuncture need to be addressed. In the church fathers, the word scripture chiefly refers to the Old Testament, to which is added the New Testament, which is why the phrase the Scriptures, Gospels, and Epistles is not uncommon. When Paul wrote "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," he could not have meant anything other than Old Testament because the New Testament did not yet exist (2 Tim 3.16). Necessarily, the early Christian mindset conceived of the Old Testament as the Scriptures before adding the New Testament titles and thus expanding Scripture. An understanding of an open canon of the Bible is implied by including New Testament works in the Bible. The New Testament conceives of scripture as the Old Testament, and the project of forming the bible canon is not concluded by any one final act, but as the result of several traditions coming to a lasting and permanent resolution.
Origins of the Peshiṭta
The two greatest examples of an Old Testament or Bible of the Hebrews--the Bible that those Jews we read about in the New Testament considered the Scriptures--are the Septuagint and the Peshiṭta. The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek dates to about the mid-200s BCE, although some books may have been translated as late as 132 BCE. This translation was begun by an imperial request, and so representative scholars of the Alexandrian and Palestinian Jewish religious authorities oversaw and completed the work of compiling the Hebrew and translating it into Koine Greek. The books included are those books that the Second Temple Jewish, likely rabbinical-pharisaical, establishment considered scriptural. Form-wise, the Septuagint is the Hebrew Bible of the Mediterranean Jewish Community a century before Christ's birth.

While the Mediterranean world of Alexandria and Palestine had a growing Jewish community under Hellenistic and then Roman rule, further East, in Mesopotamia, the larger and generally more educated Jews of Babylon also continued to practice the faith, culture, and cultivate intellectual life. Babylonian Jews such as Hillel traveled West to re-introduce Jewish law and learning to Jerusalem as a generation prior two Assyrian royals--Shmaya and Avtlayon--had likewise traveled from Mesopotamia to Palestine to establish the School of the Pharisees. When Hillel was driven out, the head of the Jewish School in Nisibis, Judah ben Bethera, likewise moved to Jerusalem with the same goal of keeping the tradition of Rabbinical Judaism alive. Although not dwelt on in the Talmudic sources, it seems that the Rabbinical tradition was a graft from Babylon brought over to purposefully overtake the wild weeds of Sadducees and Hellenizers overgrowing the temple and its people until they be chocked by Hellenism and infidelity to the law.

Mesopotamian Judaism also translated the Hebrew scriptures, but into the Aramaic of Edessa, Syriac, instead of into Greek. This pre-Christian translation would remain an authority from its origins during the century or so on either side of Jesus of Nazareth's nativity until our current day. While any malpānā of the Church of the East had to know Greek, and the Greek Septuagint was translated into Syriac, it could never replace the Peshiṭta. The Peshiṭta is, like the Septuagint, a self-referential incarnation of God's word, and this is an unwritten doctrine very palpable in the past and present mentality of the Assyrian Christian. Rather than a xenophobic prejudice, this instinct is based on an implied but not always well understood respect for ancient authority: the Peshiṭta was prepared by the very institution that prepared the final edition of the Scriptures itself: the Babylonian rabbinical authority. Assyrians will not articulate it that way, but they articulate a maxim that survives though its supporting premises have faded, but can still be teased out. We know, somehow, that this version does not submit to correction to the Greek or the Masoretic. It came to us in this way, somehow. A product of the Mesopotamian Jewish community before the time of Christ, the Peshiṭta comes from the pre-Messianic period of the faith and continues into the Messianic period as a New Testament is added to it. However, the major event that concludes the scriptures, as viewed through Babylonian lenses, is the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.
Mār ʿAḇdišo dṢuḇā's Bible Contents
Fortunately for the history of the Peshiṭta, we have an excellent list of the books of the Bible from Mār ʿAḇdišo dṢuḇā (d. 1318), who was Metropolitan of Nisibis (Ṣuḇā) and Armenia. As the Metropolitan of Nisibis, he had access and knowledge of the best Church of the East library, which was that of the Academy of Nisibis, and, in addition, he was a prolific philosophical, dogmatic, and canonical author. He is the best resource possible for a Church of the East conception of the Peshitta, and he wrote a list of theological books, beginning with the scriptures. Thus, we have a table of contents for the Bible written by the very best last medieval Church of the East father possible. Here is his list, in a purposefully wooden translation:
Orāytā, the five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; then the Book of Joshua, Son of Nun; after this Judges, and Samuel and the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles and Ruth. The Psalms of David the King and the Proverbs of Solomon and Qohelet and the Song of Songs and Ben Sira and the Great Wisdom of Solomon and Job. And Isaiah, Hosea, and Joel; Amos, Obadiah, and Jonah; and Micah, Nahum, together with Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zachariah. Malachi with Jeramiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, and Judith, and Ester, and Susana, and Ezra, and Lesser Daniel. And the Letter of Baruch and the Book of the Tradition of the Elders, and of Josephus the Historian [maḵtḇānā], and the History of the Sons of Šmoni. And again the Book of Maccabees, and the History of Herod the King, and the Book of the Latter Destruction of Jerusalem at the Hands of Titus. And the Book of Joseph and Aseneth [Book of Asyaṯ the Wife of Joseph the Just Son of Jacob], and the Book of Tobit [Book of Ṭubyā and Ṭobiṭ], righteous Israelites. Now the Old [Testament] is complete and we begin the New that begins with Matthew...
This list is great. It is invaluable, but it leaves us many questions. We need a table of contents for our bible, so it does not help us to simply list Samuel and Kings, much less have Jeramiah without Lamentations or the likely implied Letter of Jeramiah. Careful but creative historical thinking will be required to go from Ma̱r ʿAḇdišo's list to a recovered Old Testament Peshitta canon as preserved in the Assyrian Church of the East. In my next post, I will delve into how I went from Mar ʿAḇdišo's list to the contents described above, and then to arranging the books of the Old Testament as they would appear in a yet unpublished Assyrian Church of the East Old Testament (in my own humble opinion, of course).

ܡܪܝ ܥܒܕܝܫܘܥ ܡܝܛܬܦܘܠܝܛܐ ܕܨܘܒܐ ܘܕܐܪܡܢܝܐ. ܟܬܒܐ ܕܡܬܩܪܐ ܡܪܓܢܝܬܐ ܕܥܠ ܫܪܪܐ ܕܟܪܣܛܝܢܘܬ. ܐܨܚܬܐ ܬܪܝܢܝܬܐ ܕܩܫ܊ ܝܘܣܦ ܕܒܝܬ ܩܠܝܬܐ. ܡܘܨܠ: ܡܛܒܥܬܐ ܐܬܘܪܝܬܐ، ܐ݇ܨܟܕ.

Talmud Bavli: Shimoff Edition: Introduction to the Talmud. Danziger, Yehezkel, and Avrohom Biderman, eds. (Rahway: Mesorah, 2019), 471-473.

Monday, May 31, 2021

What is an Assyrian?


From the Rogation of the Ninevites (Bāʿuṯā dNinwayē):
"[Jonah] saw the old men weeping, While the aged of his people were living in luxury; He saw Nineveh was mourning, While Zion waxed wanton. He looked on Atour* and greatly despised Jerusalem, inflated with arrogance. Behold! The impure women had become chaste*, But the daughters of his people were defiled. He saw the devil possessed in Nineveh were changed, and had learned the truth; He saw the prophets in Zion were deceivers and full of falsehood. He saw the idols in public places were broken, among the heathen; He looked into and saw the secret chambers of his people were full of idolatry. He thus, being a Hebrew, received a proof in respect of the heathen; And laid aside the wonder that had held him. That the priest had entertained Moses, Or the widow woman, Elias, Or that David, when Saul persecuted him, Was honored among the heathen. He feared lest should now be falsified The preaching with which he was commissioned; For he knew that his
proclamation, Might become of no effect by repentance. He saw that the daughters of the heathen, Had renounced* the idols of their fathers; But he mourned that the daughters of his people, Were weeping for Tammuz. He saw that the soothsayers and diviners, Were abolished in Nineveh; But that enchanters and star-gazers, in Judea roamed at large. He saw the priests with their own hands Root up the altars of Ashur; But he saw every man in Zion Build his altar near his door. When Jonah looked on Nineveh, She gathered her sons together as a Church. Nineveh purified her womb and in her was honored the fast, But the Holy Temple of Zion, They had made a den of robbers. He looked on Nineveh, and the King Paid adoration unto God; He Looked on Jeroboam, And he was worshipping the calves. The sins of the Ninevites made them tremble, With loud crying before God; The Hebrews sacrificed their sons, And offered up their daughters to devils. In their fasting, the Ninevites Poured out their tears to God; But the Hebrews to their graven images Poured out their wines. From the Ninevites there was perceived The fair savor of mourning; But in the midst of Zion there breathed The perfume and incense of idols.[1][2]"

            Never has the locus of Assyrian identity been better placed and described than in these words of St Ephrem. Every year, twenty days before Great Lent, Assyrians reenter Nineveh and greet the Hebrew prophet as they put on the fast of Nineveh, Bāʿuṯā. Ephrem wrote these words in the 300s yet the first direct evidence of an annual liturgical commemoration of Bāʿuṯā is from the 500s. The book length poem from which I excerpted the above attests to the personal and powerful hold the Repentance of Nineveh had on Ephrem and, through him as the father of Assyrian prayer, on all Assyrians. Likely, a regular commemoration of the Repentance of Nineveh was popularly observed even in Ephrem's day, and the historical mention of the fast being instituted was not that of a new liturgical commemoration but of a popular devotion being revived or made mandatory on all believers. Aside from the universal Christian days of Wednesday, Friday, and Great Lent as mandatory days of fasting, only Bāʿuṯā is canonically binding. In the Assyrian Church, we have many Christian feasts and yet there is an intimacy, a raw naked reality to the nature of Bāʿuṯā. It is ours, rather, we belong to the sacred space of Bāʿuṯā.

            Bāʿuṯā takes us to the place where we become ourselves. We stop eating and drinking on a Monday morning and prepare for long services. Literally, we empty ourselves so we can be refilled. We do so as we approach lent as if to first be purified as Nineveh before entering the suffering, death, and resurrection of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ. We wash in Bāʿuṯā before entering the sacred space of Lent. Bāʿuṯā is our repentance but it is also our revival of identity, who we are in sacred history, which is the defining essence of who we ever were meant to be or who we may ever become. In Bāʿuṯā, the Assyrian finds himself back at the turning point of history as his eyes behold it.

            Before the Repentance of Nineveh was the story that leads to Nineveh’s Repentance with Jonah, and after it is the story that stems from the Repentance of Nineveh. It is sacred space writ large. We re-enter Nineveh in sackcloth and fasting and from that holy ground we enter the biblical narrative not only as a powerful, dominant, but idolatrous and lascivious people, but as a people of whom it can be said that though the flesh dominated them in their ignorance, in their repentance they vanquished the flesh.

            Bāʿuṯā is three intense days in which our expression of repentance to the God whom the reluctant Hebrew prophet preached reinvigorates our identity. From the locus of Nineveh’s repentance, we look back and see that Abraham is our father, perhaps more than anyone else’s. We call him, in the Lišanā Swadaya of everyday speech, Baban Awraham, ‘Our Father Abraham,’ and we have this connection to his arch-parental role in our family history so ingrained that most of us know his name as simply Babawraham, slurred so that his paternal role and his name become one compound word. To Sinai we go back, through the Repentance of Nineveh, and we stand with Israel receiving the law. In prayer, Assyrians identify with Israel to such an extent that I often get asked by parishioners why we constantly ask God to bless Israel, or we pray to him as the God of Israel. Of course, all who are baptized into Christ are members of Israel through the promised messiah, but for Assyrians it is deeper. We were the first fruits of the Messianic promise, a foretaste of God's blessings poured out upon all nations. Centuries before the incarnation, the birth of the Messiah, we were messianic heralds and this reality bears deep marks upon our Church ritual, interpretive tradition, as well as daily Assyrian life. 

            Assyrians struggle to identify with the modern western concept of church. We are as much members of a people as adherents of a faith in the western sense. It makes no sense to us to think of our faith as separate from our identity as our literature, calendar, law, diet, dress, family life, language, and philosophical outlook are all elements of our Holy Tradition of living out the principles of our faith. The most distinctive aspect of the Assyrian Church and the Assyrian people is that they emerge from an intensive experience with the God who adopted them in Nineveh, with Jonah as reluctant sponsor, and whose Messiah they expected. Generally, Assyrian liturgy does not speak of the nations as including themselves. We address God as Israel for God chose to send us Jonah and our fathers chose to receive his prophet and turn to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.

            This post opens up many issues, and they are all issues that deserve very careful and inquisitive study, and I hope to restart this blog with offering some reflection upon the fullness of our Assyrian heritage. The Assyrian Church that I am exploring is not only the human reality of people today, trying to workout their salvation in a confusing world, during a time in our history when most of our institutions have been ground to a nub, requiring much prayer and effort to reemerge. The Assyrian Church I seek is the one that emerges out of the books left us by our fathers, of commentary, poetry, canon law, liturgy, scripture, icons, architecture, and common life serving the God whom our fathers recognized as their true God. I cannot have pre-Jonah Assyria as an ancestor if I do not have the over two millennia chain of fathers as my more immediate parents.

            Before Jonah was one Assyria, and after Jonah was another. The two are the same people, the same matter, but they became baptized in repentance and, later in Christ. Our purpose was made heavenly rather than earthly. As an Assyrian, whatever my take on the biblical account, I cannot dismiss that it owns me. After two thousand years of knowing my fathers to have accepted the God of Abraham at the Repentance of Nineveh, the story is not longer merely factual but truth in the most enduring sense. From before the Gospel was announced in Mesopotamia, the Assyrians were following the God who called Abraham out of Mesopotamia, and who with us shared his will with our fathers at Sinai. Our lifestyle is replete with hallmarks of that journey. What Assyrian cannot recall how his grandparents kept the Sabbath, on Sunday, but with injunctions not to touch a scissors or needle? Or to mind themselves that they not desecrate their bodies by drinking water or bathing before the eucharist? These aspects of our experience become lost when we try to divorce our identity from our experience. We have two millennia and more of experience as Repentant Nineveh. One cannot find his grandfather without first knowing his father.

[1]Henry Burgess. The Repentance of Nineveh: A Metrical Homily on the Mission of Jonah by Ephraem Syrus. (Berlin: Blackader, 1853), 73-74. [I heavily amended Burgess’ translation according to the Syriac of

Edmund Beck. Des Heiligen Ephraem des Syrers Sermones II, (Louvin: Peeters, 1970), 21-22. [Lines 1101-1141]

[2] This text is chanted in the Assyrian Church of the East on the Tuesday of Bāʿuṯā dNinwāyē as the first Qeryānā of the second Mawtwā. See: Hudra, Vol. 1. (Trichur: Mar Narsai Press, 1962),  ܫܥܙ - ܫܥܚ. [I modified Burgess' translation above according to the critical edition of Beck, which matches that of the Ḥudrā in this section]

Friday, January 8, 2021

Christological Overview I

Christology plays an large role in captivating the interest of those who want to learn more about the Church of the East, and this especially includes our own members. While I can put up a bunch of Mar Baḇay and St Maximus and deal with Chalcedon, and I will, I think we need to take a step back and get a grip with the reality of the belief system at hand, the big picture sense of things. This is a first entry, and I have more planned. I hope to try and stay a bit more informal with this already complicated topic, even as I translate material not yet available in English. Also, I want to keep our perspective on the forest while understanding the various kings of trees therein, so instead of being overly technical, let's look at the theological understanding as a whole.

The Church of the East believes what it prays. The Ḥudrā, as the big book of daily prayers cycling over the year, contains our words of intimacy with Christ God. No saint, bishop, patriarch, or synod can match the authority of liturgy for it is the Holy Spirit speaking through and with the people of God, incarnating His Son in their community, in our community of the Church of the East. His Grace Mar Awa, Bishop of Modesto and California, has an excellent article 'A Survey of the Christology of the Assyrian Church of the East as Expressed in the Khudra.' Typical of His Grace, you will find loads of extra material packed into his article. Also, my liturgical translations of Annunciation texts available on this blog are all Christological, and you get two independent translations of the same texts to reference. So, let's look at the prayers of the Church of the East and see what Christ is worshipped.

The first hymn of the year: "God the Word from the Father did not take the likeness of a servant from angels but from the seed of Abraham, and in our humanity he did come in his grace that he save our race from error." Who is incarnate of the Virgin? God the Word who takes his humanity from her and unities it to his divinity. What is incarnate from the Virgin? The humanity of God the Word. This distinction is solid and unmistakable across Church of the East prayers. Who is born of the Virgin? Christ Jesus=God the Word=Son of God. What is born of the Virgin? The humanity of God the Word. It would be heretical to say that a human being was born of the Virgin Mary. The being is a divine person whose humanity is from His mother and whose divinity is from His Father. The 'His' in that sentence is always the one divine person of God the Word incarnate, Jesus Christ. 

But don't take that from me. Mar Babai the Great, who was the main force behind two qnomā language wrote in the Kṯāḇā dḥdayuṯā

Whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Behold here the exact understanding of the union of God the Word in his incarnation, for already he was considered “Lord”, and that one is the Lordship and worship of God and of his temple, unitedly and for ever. As it is written, “God has made Lord and Christ this Jesus whom you crucified...

I used the late Rev Michael Birnie's translation here, so that I am not influencing the translation to my own reading. Notice that God the Word in his incarnation is one Lord, object of Worship, temple of God, messiah, and Christ Jesus whom was crucified. Who was crucified? God the Word, the object of our Worship, the temple of the Word, the Messiah, Jesus.

Here is another example from the same Sunday: 

What mind can understand the sea of thy mercy, God? Oh depth of riches and understanding of eternal thoughts that were with God before time and so he desired in his love and his Word did he send us from the holy virgin, a garment of flesh to put on and go out into the world. And from the angels she so learned: Peace to thee, Full of Grace for from thee is born man and savior of the Worlds. Beyond comprehension, Lord of All, Glory to Thee! (ʿuniṯā dLelyā) 

Notice that God's Word puts on a garment of flesh and goes out into the world. Who is the agent? God the Word. What is the means of the incarnation? The flesh, carne, taken from the Virgin. Are there two Sons? Clearly no.

Frankly, I've translated enough of the Annunciation, really pre-Nativity, texts that interested readers can simply read them for themselves. Only one hymn I know of might vaguely be picked at, the ʿalām of the mawtḇā of Nativity:

Revealed truth did the Son of God disclose to his betrothed Church for in his love he desired and came to the world and preached and taught his divinity as well as his humanity. + As he was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds, and without beginning, He was truly God. + And he came to us in the end of times and put on our body by which he saved us, He was truly man. + The prophets preached him in their revelation, and the righteous revealed him in their mysteries, He was truly God. + He was conceived in a womb, nine months, and he was born as a man, for he was truly man....

Notice that the who/what distinction is maintained. Who is born? He was is truly God and truly man. The text takes pains to not say that a man was born of the Virgin, but that He was born "as a man." I am providing the most dualistic of texts found in our service books on purpose. It is the one I would use to counter the Church of the East. However, it is hugged by a massive amount of strongly Orthodox (as in the tradition of Chalcedon to Maximus the Confessor) language. There is much of the language of the Schools of Antioch and of Edessa with the incarnation described as indwelling, putting on humanity, or wearing a garment, but that goes back to St Ephrem and is very Antiochian as well.

Notice that I did not mention Christological language yet. That is for the same reason why it is wise not to introduce the liturgical expression Theotókos or 'Mother of God' without first explaining that God the Word is eternally the Divine Second Person of the Trinity who took humanity from the virgin, but Himself is eternal and begotten of the Father. If one does not understand the Christian belief about the incarnation, Theotókos can be mistaken for meaning that the Virgin originates Christ, conceiving him as Hercules or Persus had Zeus as father but a human mother. God forbid and forgive me the example, but I hope it illustrates that it is important to have a sense of the belief system before hyper-focusing on a single word or theological expression. I will go into qnomā and the other Christological terms as well as their use, but this post has its purpose to frame our scope and sense of the Church of the East regarding Christ as fully God and fully man.

A more personal note. 

To speak of the Church of the East, one must know its prayer life and whom it worships. It is an easy target today for ridicule because it is a martyred church whose texts largely remain untranslated and whose children are most often spoken of with derision and contempt by their fellow Eastern Christians. Assyrians have gotten used to that. For the non-Church of the East reader, I will share an insider bit of wisdom, like an inside joke. Assyrians know that most Orthodox Christians consider the Church of the East heretical. We expect to be condemned at first glance without a consideration or curiosity to know this tradition more deeply. At the same time, and this is my experience in 100% of my conversations with fellow Assyrians, we also know that God blesses those hated for his name. Honestly, when a Church that is the smallest, most isolated, and most persecuted in apostolic Christian history cannot be given the basic decency of being understood before being condemned by her fellow Christians of the East, this final blow seems more dull than the sword of the Califs, more empty than the legacy of Tamerlane, and more desolate than the heritage of ISIS. The standard Assyrian response is Alahā paḥel-lun, 'God forgive them.' I suspect that what our fathers said to others before. 

* Note the attached image is of Patriarch Mar Ruḇēyl Šemʾun and Mar Isḥaq Ḥnanišoʾ, Metropolitan inside Mar Šaliṭa̱ in 1886. These two men are the patriarch and the second most senior bishop in the Church. They are not in an Istanbul palace or cathedral but a mud-brick Church. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Annunciation

Bāsāliqē. "Qālā Rabbā"

The radiance of the father that was revealed in our nature was seen of the house of David. It ruled the house of Jacob and there is no end to its dominion. The watcher proclaimed to Mary with Peace full of mercies, He greeted the virgin. And hope filled of blessings he proclaimed to the Holy woman. Peace to thee blessed of women, filled of hope. Peace to thee and blessed art thou, she who gavest birth without union for of thee doth dawn He who is the Lord of the heights and of depths and off all therein. To him be praise from all mouths, blessed is, My Lord, the day in which thou art proclaimed.


We confess this that was in the end of time, that by His Son he hath saved us and did reconcile in us a tranquility of the high and the low. + In His Son did dwell the Word that is from him and the body that is from us: one is spiritual and one bodily, the hidden in the revealed.

Mawṯḇā. "Qālā Rabbā"

The holy prophets who, of old, investigated and revealed thy birth to us, thou Great King of Glory, Jesus our Savior, who wast seen of the House of David, astonishment did fill thy conception and thy birth was in amazement. Hope and joy did creation fill. Blessed is the womb that carried thy glorious brightness and blessed are the paps that didst give thee suck and raised thee up. Blessed be those who believed, were baptized, and confessed thee and did glorify thee, heir and Son, Lord of all creation. Blessed is my Lord on the day of his proclamation.

All prophets and saints foreran and prophesied of the magnificent effulgence from the Father that condescended in his love and put on our humanity for the salvation of all. For the first Moses prophesied and thus did speak: a prophet shall I raise up unto you, the LORD like unto myself. Him will ye hear. Isaiah too preached of his birth as he said: Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son of Wonder and Emmanuel he shall be called. Zachariah raised up his inaugural banner and signed forth his passion and Jonah in the fish represented the mystery of his burial and of his resurrection. Ezekiel saw the chariot as it carried his splendid aura forth and glorified him. Daniel, too, in Babel did preach him who reineth over the pious. And, behold, completed is the deed in his coming to us, to him be the glory!

The ancient righteous, all them that received the guarantees of the promise of the splendid birth of the Christ, this day they do rejoice for behold such are brought to completion. For behold the prophets rejoice that their inquiries are concluded and to the words they preached of His birth is conjoined their deed. The apostles make glad for they saw the lusted hope of the prophets, desired by kings in their days, and the holy church sings praise to the Father who sent him, and the peoples and nations raise up glory and thanksgiving in his nativity. And the Magi in their offerings from Persia carried and brought that they may be set before him. Also the kings of high celebrate and descend whilst with their voice they cry out: Glory be to God in the highest and on earth peace and tranquility, good will toward men.

"E̱yw lāḵ ʿybā"

The path of the Son in all generations was preached, which the righteous prophets did trod and as was seen by them wondrously in the mystery. His type was seen among the Babylonians, two heralds true + on the chariot of the cherubs, Hekekiah saw him seated, the image of the glory of the blessed + the Mystery of renewal was sought and it enlightened the people of the House of Israel, who in hopelessness were moored, that of death and corruption + In the likeness of the Ancient of Days, on the throne of glory seated, said Daniel 'I saw him' and the spirits him doth serve + Thousand thousands and myriad myriads hallow his name and say: holy, holy, holy art thou LORD. As men have dominion upon all, I saw him, the Son, as he weareth our body and his kingdom hath no end unto the ages. Behold all is ended in his coming to our race, to him be Glory.

The milestones of tranquility did the creator fix in the generation of generations that they lead mankind to his love, and he chose of the race of men those who would reveal the mystery of what in him was hidden + Moses and Joshua and Samuel, and David, Nathan and Elijah. Also Elisha and Isaiah + Hosea and Jel and Amos, and Obediah, Jonah, and Micah. Nahum, Habbakuk, and Zephaniah. Haggai and Zachariah and Malakai. Jeramiah and Hezekiah, and Daniel and the righteous Job, who did well forth in prophecy + And proclaimed and preached in Israel, one true God, who is confessed by all man to be the Glorious Trinity + Father hidden and Son eternal and the Spirit of Holiness, worshipped of all, that he in his mysteries did reveal to his servants, to him be praise from all mouths, magnificent is the day of thy annunciation, O my Lord.

Glory Rēš qālā "ṉbiyē dquštā wamsabrānē"

Prophets of truth and heralds of righteousness: Hosea, Joel, Amos, ye just; Also Obediah and Jonah and Micah; and Nahum, Habbakuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah, with them; Also Malakai, all who did proclaim and preach to Israel the new proclamation + that the creator is prepared that he send his Son, the Lord Jesus that he come and dwell amongst us mortals, and he came and fulfilled that which of them was preached, that he reward them with new life in the kingdom of heaven. + Praise be to the father who sendeth them and thanksgiving to his Son who crowneth them, and to the Holy Spirit that maketh them wise be Glory.

Ages. "Zaynā druḥā"

Light, life, and truth, thou art Christ our Savior, thou whom all the prophets in their revelation preached, and by the holy spirit were made as springs gushing: + Moses did pronounce thee, he the great prophet of Israel, and Isaiah called thee wonder, and David marvelous child + Micah named thee the prince who governeth all; Zakariah preached the mystery of thy inauguration, and Malakai named thee the Sun. + Jonah typified the mystery of thy death and of thy resurrection and Daniel prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, which by thy killing was done. + Christ: of whom the prophets in reverence investigate, absolve thy church and keep her children, and have mercy on her.

Qānonā "ḥus uḥasā"

Praised art thou who wast before the prophets yet was drawn up by the prophets, who of afore did depict his image, those prophets in their mysteries. + On the heights above, the spiritual rejoice and on earth below, the earthly exalt, and shout in joy the glory of thy proclamation, Our savior. + To thee be praise, great Sun of righteousness that on thy proclamation are made free all creation. + 

Maḏrāšā. Rēšqālā: "šḇiḥ subārāḵ mapṣaḥ kul"

Refrain: Blessed is thy annunciation, thou who gladdenest all, Christ who cometh for our salvation.

+ Who, indeed, being mortal, can tell of him who giveth life to all? Who left the heights of His glory, and did descend to smallness. He maketh all great in his birth, and so, make my poor consciousness great that I may tell of thy birth. Let it not be that I make small thy magnitude, but that I speak forth thy grace: blessed is he that be hidden and revealed in his deeds.

+ Great is the wonder of the Son who in his all did encamp in a body, dwelling therein entirely and yet it to him sufficeth that he encamp therein yet be not bounded, his will that he did abide--lacking all limit--who of this can speak? As he in his whole did a body encamp, and so all in all did encamp, blessed is he that in no way might be limited.

+ Thy greatness was hid from us and thy grace revealed before us, commit, my Lord of thy greatness, and I shall tell of thy grace, thy grace that was by thee lifted up, and that did make thee bow to our humanity, that grace of thine that of thee a babe did make, thy grace that of thee a man did create. That grace that shrank and stretched: blessed is thy power that diminished and magnified.

Lelyā. "Rāzā rabbā"

Good hope hath filled creation entirely, by thy revelation in the flesh, Only Word who didst take a garment to the existence of his being. The Word did weave the will in the womb of flesh of the daughter of David, as was of old promised that of thy seed will I proclaim reconciliation to the age of ages in heaven.


In the village of David was completed the promise to David. And the race run by the prophets came to rest in Bethlehem. + In the village of David was completed the promise of prophecy that Christ the King hath come and completed all that which they prophesied. + He moored the ship carrying the riches of all and she opened her treasures before the spiritual and the bodily.

Ṣaprā "šlāmā lsāhdē"

A gospel of tranquility did the chief of angels preach and he proclaimed the conception of Christ, the light of the world.


Blessed is the effulgence that dawned from the Father and revealed its rays in our humanity. From the Virgin, daughter of David, he was born unto the salvation of all creation. + Peace, filled of all life, Gabriel announced to Mary, Peace to thee, filled of grace, for from thee doth dawn the Savior. + Clap hands ye peoples and glorify, the magnificent light that hath dawned and in our body His glory doth shine forth, and it doth gladden those on heaven and those on Earth.

Qankē. "byaḏ šlāmā"

At the news from the watcher, Mary was disquieted in that a man having not knowledge of her, she did conceive by the power of the Spirit, He who created Adam of soil, and fashioned of him Eve without seed. He it was that made Sarah the barren bear fruit, and Rebekah after her too. The same doth by Elizabeth confirm the virgin. 


By thy Christ, Our Lord Jesus, our race is renewed, and thy cross doth gain us life and death by it is undone, by it, thy cross, keep those that thee do worship free from all crafts of the evil opponent, and let thy cross be a rampart to our company, well encircled by it, that we confess and worship the power of thy cross.

Rāzē. Rēš qālā: byaḏ šlāmā"

At the Peace that the watcher said to Mary, she was troubled, in that no man had knowledge of her; she did conceive by the power of the Spirit. Peace upon earth and glory in heaven, and good hope to all creation. Blessed is the only-begotten of the Father who dawned in our humanity and gave jubilation to this our race of mortals.


Refrain: Confess ye Him in the assembly of the holy, Him, Christ who gavest us His body. 

+  He slew the nation. He said life and the nations came and made merry, seizing and killing and fixing before us. To them be judgement and to us merry-making.

+Bless ye the LORD in the holy offering, Christ who gave us his body.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Third Sunday of Annunciation

If you like this material, please go to the right column of this page and 'Follow by email.'

Bāsāliqē "ʿadlā taytēyn"

He who is uncircumscribed and unfathomable to the created by our humanity did accomplish his economy/governance [of salvation] for the divine nature did take and unite unto human nature and yet was not changed. The Virgin, in holy fashion, bore him, Christ the power of God and His wisdom, and He it is whom we worship. We all confess one Son who is the savior of the world.


The reed of the Spirit was grasped in the hand of the Prophet David who began and wrote upon paper the mystery that was hidden. + The creator imprinted the image of his revelation upon the human image and men began to draw the images of spirit.

Māwtḇā. "Alāhā Melṯā"

As the rod of Aaron which budded, so the virgin conceived, O ye faithless Jews, for that which is not planted and not watered doth sprout in the virgin that hath no man and no seed did conceive by the command of God. That rod showed wonderous fruit and the power of the most high upon the full of grace did come and overstretch her as she was accounted worthy to bear Jesus Christ, the savior of the world, whom we worship as we say, great, O Lord, be the mystery of the economy/governance of thy grace, O Lord of All, glory to thee!

The entire creation of the angels was enslaved by vanity as creation saw that our race was reduced to the corruption of evil and death, Paul cried out and now the creator hath put us on as apparel and raised us up with him to heaven. Joy hath resounded in the companies of angels and of men who all were freed from that slavery unto death and Satan and they did gain renewal and true hope. Blessed is he that worked for us salvation and hath tended us together with his father and have mercy upon us!

Confess and worship him, the one being, hidden and without beginning who in the end of times did reveal to us the power of his divinity in our own body and in him we confess the comely existences [qnomē] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And of his great love in which he hath loved us, he saved us by his Son and he raised us with him that he rule in his unending kingdom and fulfill his promise which he hath vowed unto us. Blessed is he who hath fashioned our renewal and brought us to peace by his gospel and have mercy upon us!

"Lā bāhtinan"

As Gabriel proclaimed thy birth to Mary, the heavenly hosts celebrated and descended as they were singing praise and they rejoiced for the good hope that had come to mankind and for the peace and tranquility that did reign over both the heavenly and the earthly that were freed from slavery to corruption, which upon us did rule. And so they confessed the one hidden essence that made peace between our two opposed sides.

As Gabriel was sent from the Father to Mary, he took an edict--the mystery hidden from the worlds--and descended, and greeted her, Peace!, and with it the proclamation of he the wonderous conception. Peace to thee, blessed among women, mother of the unending king, the Lord is with thee, thou daughter of mortals, filled of hope and salvation for thou was deemed worthy that thou be mother and maidservant to the Lord of the heights and the depths. 

As Gabriel was sent from the father to Mary, he spoke forth a peace filled with reconciliation, and this he sprinkled into the ears of her as he said, Peace to thee filled of grace, the Lord is with thee daughter of mortals. For behold, the Spirit doth form in thee the fruit that shall set to tranquility the created and in him will be set free all mortal man from slavery unto sin and they shall confess him as they say, Glory to him, to the Father that did send thee.


Today are fulfilled the mysteries, the promises, and the counsel that were made to Abraham for in Nazareth, behold, Emmanuel was proclaimed and the watchers cry out glory in his proclamation to the creator. + Blessed is the day of thy proclamation, Christ our Savior, for tranquility is made, the watchers are gladdened, and mankind rejoiceth and they all together and in equal vigor cry out in joy Glory to him who sendest thee!

Tešboḥtā is as on the First Sunday of Annunciation: "Blessed is the compassionate"


Refrain: Glory to him that did send / the watcher to Mary / and proclaimed the conception / of Christ our Savior.

+ A novelty did men hear / in the conception of the daughter of men / in the daughter of men did sprout the wheat without seed / it was planted in her mortality / the yeast of life: behold thou shalt conceive, he said, and thou shalt bear: whenever was it so? / And whence was it heard? / that virgins bear / babes without seed.

+ The power of the high / rested upon thee. He said / he will draw the image of man / upon the canvas of thy members / and he will sprout of thy womb the offshoot of wonder: for easy it is for his wisdom: like how he fashioned Adam / and of his rib, Eve he made / So of thee he can compose / the babe without seed.

+ The girl saw the man / true in his promise / and she started to uncover to him / the truth of her mind / And if she receive a seed and it fall to her hearing / Behold I am the maidservant of the LORD: let the work be done / the proclamation of thy words / lay upon my members / the image of the house of Adam.


Thou didst make creation, My Lord, by the True Son, thy begotten who was seen, he who on the day of his proclamation unfastened and violated the sentence that meted out justice upon our race: to dirt return, Adam who didst sin. And the company of spirits  did flee from serving us for we had sinned, them didst thou make heralds and to us they did resound renewal as they said the proclamation to you, O mortals who wert bound to decay, for the Savior is come that He set ye free and thus we chant His glory, to Christ the Savior of the world. 


Glad tidings to you, cried those of spirit to those of body, come and take for free the tent of your debts in the birth that has dawned. + The hidden sign gathered the heavenly and they descend and proclaim a good hope to the hope forlorn.

Ṣaprā "Nāwde wensgod̄"

Let us all in reverence sanctify our lips in his praise that shineth forth light. 


Let us confess the King who did bend down to our depth and did put on our humanity and in it saved us from death and Satan. With Him, in Glory, He made us to reign. + Lauded is thy revelation, Lord of All, for the prophets in mystery did preach it, and thou didst dawn of the virgin, daughter of David, in deed thou didst fulfill their words. + On the day of thy proclamation, thou who enlivens us, Christ our hope and our shelter, all joy was made known to us and we received all good things. 

Qankē. "byaḏ šlāmā"

The tidings Mary received fulfilled all salvation for with neither seed nor union did she conceive the Messiah who entered her but by the entrance of the Holy Spirit and in so doing the power of the most high did overshadow her who is the blessed among women, she who is hope fulfilled. Worshipped is the creator who hath compassion upon our nature. Glory. In thy cross, Our Lord Jesus, thy church is guarded and all despoilers and destructive wolves are put to naught, but she, thy church, is filled with all glory and the adoration of thy honor that she be a harbor to those who are afflicted. Protect thou her in thy lasting peace, thou essence of the ages, and under thy wings may her children be sheltered.

Rāzē "Šḇiḥ h́wā wape"

The dread throne of thy glory, O Lord who art mighty, the angels go about and before thy greatness, O Christ, the seraphim in dread stand before thy magnificence. They dare not look upon thee, but their voices unceasingly and in unison do cry out and say: Holy, Holy, Holy art thou, Lover of mankind, glory to thee!


Verse: Prophets and kings did yearn for thy body and thy blood, that doth absolve. 

+ David desired, yearning and did plead but he did not drink those waters for which he pled. Think ye that you are worthy to drink of the cup of the Christ? 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Second Sunday of Annunciation

If you like this material, please go to the top right of this page and 'Follow by email.'

Here are the texts of the Ḥudrā for the Second Sunday of Annunciation (Subarā). An additional feature that I did not include in last week's translations is the first words of the model melody (rēš qālā) to which each hymn is set. This will be included after the title of the kind of hymn it is. Since this refers to a Syriac text and music, I simply transliterate the Syriac. Melodies or tones are called by well-known examples, often being the first instance that melody is used in the liturgical year. For example the first hymn of vespers below. It is a Hymn of Bāsāliqē set to "Rāzā Rabbā," which, as this is the first time this melody appears in the Ḥudrā, is the very hymn below. Some of these hymns are not set to a particular melody and often that is because they are the refrain of a chunk of psalmody that has its own customary tune. Those will lack these model melodies. Model melodies are in double quotes, and if it is the model itself, I'll preface it with rēš qālā, meaning the chief of the tone/melody.

Of Vespers

Bāsāliqē. Rēš qālā "Rāzā Rabbā"

The Great Mystery that was hidden for ages and from generations was revealed to us at the end of the worlds. For the Only-begotten who was in the bosom of his begetter came and put on the likeness of a slave in his grace, speaking to us and revealing the revelation of the full faith of the Trinity.


Peace to thee, Mary, thou of the race of Eve who bore death, for the fruit from thee un-bindeth the shackles of death. + Peace to thee, Mary the flesh-bound bodily palace for the King boundeth up his beauty in thy body. 

Of Midnight Office

Mawṯḇā: "Rāzā Rabbā"

God counseled and promised Abraham of old: By thy Son will all sinful nations be blessed for in their sins they were dead and in error lost forlorn but thy Son did gather them and heal their disease, just as the prophet foresaw before the ages. He took on their disease and bore their wounds. Thus we cry out saying: Glory to thee, the Son of the Lord of All

All creation rejoiceth in the greeting, Peace, that the spirit gaveth thee and it maketh glad in the word of the virgin: a wonderous conception and a birth that rejoiceth all creation, for in it the heavenly and the earthly concord tranquility and all together hope and await that they be heirs of the Kingdom.

In the proclamation of the conception of our Savior, those of spirit and those of body gladden for they behold that salvation and true life is proclaimed and so they thunder praise to the Lord that in his grace so desired to bow down in his compassion and dwell in the virgin. And so of her did he fashion a man and unite him to his hidden will, And so we all cry out with the watchers: Blessed is thy annunciation, Mother, Virgin, and Holy Woman.

"Mān ḥakim"

The good master did counsel and promise Abraham, his righteous slave of old, that in him and in his Son would all nations be blessed, and in fullness he completed the promise in the splendid birth of his beloved. In it were revealed in mercy to our race how we might confess and glorify the good master who in his many mercies shepherded us with his father.

The great mystery that saveth the worlds was hidden of the Father of old and it was reveled, disclosed to the watcher Gabriel who carried the divine will to the Virgin Mary. He came and gave her the spiritual, a peace edict written there upon. Peace to thee, Blessed of Women, Full of Hope, for the Lord of the Watchers and of men of thy womb is born.

The Lord's Gospel was proclaimed and the nations that were dying lived for they heard the voice in Nazareth from Gabriel preaching that the King of Kings cometh and dwelleth in thee, woman, wherefore listen. + And of her, he fashioned man and dwelleth therein and graceth thee as he maketh peace upon creation, quickening the dead and saving them as he maketh them enter into the Holy of Holies for he is God who establisheth his sons. + Angels are glad; men exalt in the the richness of his praise and in true life, and all cry out in one voice, Glory to Thee the Son of the Lord of All.

Rēš Qālā: "Sḇarṯēh dmāran"

A new gospel was proclaimed of the spiritual in Nazareth and all the peoples gained hope, and all the world rejoiced and raiseth up praise and thanksgiving to the good master who of his love compelleth them. + He sent his Son to our salvation and descended and dwelled in a virgin and he proclaimed the saving gospel in the proclamation of his conception in which all wondereth. He undid death and the curse that killed them in Eden, due to us having sinned. He counseled true life and good hope to all creation, settings at peace man and angel, and setting them to rejoice in his birth. + We confess, glorify, worship, and exalt the Father without beginning and the Son, of his bosom, and the eternal Spirit that completed the mysteries of our salvation.

The gospel of tranquility was proclaimed of Gabriel to Mary that the power and wisdom of the highest overshadow thee, listen Oh woman. He drawth upon thee his image, which of old was marred and in thee he doth dwell: exalt and make glad! + And he raiseth up the forefather of our race who heeded the deceitful counselor. He made new all creation and brokered tranquility and salvation for all that he may raise them up to the land upon the heights, where but God only doth create the craftsman's work. + The spiritual maketh glad and the bodily rejoiceth in the heavenly tidings. True life: they sing with their voices to the Son who raiseth up our nature.

To Nazareth a city of Galilee was Gabriel sent as he bore an edict of salvation to the entire race of mortals for the master of the heights and the depths desired to be revealed in the nature of man. + Jesus who was of our race made his proclamation a wonder unto all. He brought to fullness and completion in his existence [qnomā] the economy/dispensation of our salvation for he be the head and master on heights and depths in equal portion. + In him was the boundless creation renewed, and all mouths doth cry out and raise up praise to the Lord who willed to be made low by his grace to our salvation.


To Nazareth City was sent Gabriel the chief angel that he preach to the ears of the virgin a proclamation of tranquility that reneweth all. He, thus, came and gave her a spiritual edit of tranquility and he sealeth her therewith. + Peace to thee, Mary, he said, for of thee dawneth the Lord of all, and wonder and amazement gripped her for she disquieted with alarm at the word, and the watcher responded and told her: the power of the father shall come upon thee. + Thou shalt bear by the power of the Spirit, the Son of the Most High and he shall be the head, lord, and judge and in him all created things shall be new as they sing to him their praise.


When thou wast proclaimed of the watcher Gabriel, O Christ our Savior, the world was made bright, Bethlehem was set rejoicing, and Nazareth lept for joy and with these the church too raiseth up glory to they Lordship. + In the great day of thy annunciation, Christ our Savior, those of heaven and those of earth together rejoiceth and raise up glory in their voices to thy Lordship. + The great mystery that was hidden from ages, worlds, and generations in the last of time was revealed and dawned forth from the house of David and he told and revealed his three natures without beginning.


Refrain: Praise to thee the beautiful son of virginity.

+This is the month in which all joy is filled, the freedom of the slaves, the pride of the free, the crowning of the doors of bodily pleasure [the senses of pleasure are crowned]. Even those who bear purple put off their raiment as before kings. + This is the month in which all triumphs are carried forth as the Spirit freeeth the enslaved body, life is born to the dying mortals, divinity casteth itself down in love upon humanity. + In this month slaves lay themselves down in luxury upon beds while the free bedeth upon rough rugs. And kings upon carpets lieth as the Lord of all lieth upon a manger for the sake of all.

Lelyā. Rēš qālā: "Alāhā braḥmē"

By the mercies given to me by thee, thou, God, didst descend to us, who but soil are, as a lover of man. Thou knowest the plea before the pleading, and the deed before the doing. Moments and seasons dost thou change, yet thou dost not deprive us who are but of earth of the good things of thine gift. For thou lookest and thou seest, Lord, the sinners, yet thou art indeed neglectful in thy goodness of our faults, for thou art God and in thy mercies thou didst descent to us who are but of soil, as thou art a Lover of man, Glory to Thee!


One of the watchers did carry the sign given by the hidden one, and he was dazzled thereby before the spiritual and the bodily.+ One of spirit was the envoy of the proclaimed conception, and of the day in which he was born, did descend the many and sing his glory. 

Of Mattins

Ṣaprā. "Nāwde wensgoḏ"

Our soul with our body's members doth receive in mercy the light that is from the light.


Blessed is the king who in his love willed, and so he dwelled in the body of our humanity and in it brought the high and the low to peace. Praise be to him who sendeth him, cry ye out. + The chief of the angels descended and to the virgin Mary did proclaim the birth of Christ who was coming to dawn salvation unto creation. + The chief angel Gabriel revealed the conception of Emmanuel who doth crown our nature in glory as he doth speak Peace to Mary.

Of the Divine Liturgy

Qanke̱. "Byaḏ šlāmā"

In the month of December when the Earth doth not fruit, in that month the LORD desired to present the fruit of the virgin, who is the cause of all blessings and the good hope of all creation. For He is the true light, Christ, the Lord of All, worshiped with his Father and Holy Spirit. 

O wakeful one, who came forth for our salvation and keepeth vigil for our sake, make thou our prayer and our pleading an satisfaction of thy will and as thou wast well pleased with the odor of Aaron's censer, that noble priest in the tabernacle, let, O my Lord, our prayer so be pleasing to thee, at all times and let peace and mercies reign upon creation.

Rāzē. Rēš qālā: "Netṭayaḇ bdeḥəlṯā"

Come, let us in pious reverence and in love draw nigh to the wonderous gift of the mysteries of Christ and let us ready ourselves by such works that in them we be herded to the judge of all and that he pardon us when he cometh to judge the tribes of the world. 


Refrain: Exalt ye nations before our Savior for in his bread ye did make merry before him

Confess ye nations the grace that cometh and did pardon your debts and ye becamest partakers of his mysteries, which of the spirit were made holy.