Feast of the Birth of Our Lord

The Most Important Things

The reflections found in the Basilica Hymns, and in all the spiritual heritage of the Church of the East, profound as they are, are deeply humble in their self-understanding. Though they are about the loftiest Divine things, the authors are human, and their reflections and writings are those of human beings.

One so self-conscious of his humanity will therefore take a step back when it comes to the deepest things, and realize his limitation in explaining them. The Basilica Hymns of the Feast of the Birth of Our Lord are not theological reflections but simply poetical discourses on the reality they are celebrating. This is one of the cases when it is somehow too much to say anything more than what has been said.

The Holy Feast of the Birth of Our Lord

Basilica Hymn
Its foundations are on the holy mountain (Ps 87:1)
In the city of the Lord, the Almighty (Ps 48:8)
I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Lk 2:10-11)
The Messiah was born in Bethlehem, and from the East, Magi came to honor him. They asked, and said: “Where was the king born? For we have come to bless and adore him.”

[The great man was born there, and he has established it (Ps 87:6)
For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him(Mt 2:2)
The Messiah was born in the land of Judah, and roused the Magi to come to honor him. They brought offerings: gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and offered them before the child Jesus, the son of David.]

There I will make a horn to sprout for David (Ps 132:17)
About his Son, who was born in the flesh from the seed of the house of David (Rom 1:3)
In the flesh was born, from the house of David, Christ our life-giver, whose birth has delighted all. The Lord of glory is from the Father and in the flesh of our humanity: Christ, the seed of Abraham.

[I will praise the word of God (?)
And we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (Jn 1:14)
The Word who is from the Father dwelt in our humanity, and saved our race in the birth from Mary. The angels rejoiced, and the seraphim hallowed: the star showed the cave of Jesus to the Magi.]

[Fools, how long will you not understand? (Ps 94:11)
You are wrong, for you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God (Mt 22:29)
It was not that the Existent One became flesh in the womb, as you suppose, who are deaf to reasoning. It was a dwelling which he chose for himself to hide his radiance, that the mortal race might not perish in seeing him.]

He humbles the spirit of the powerful (Ps 76:12)
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him (Mt 2:3)
The Child who was from Mary troubled Herod, and the cry of Rachel received its fulfillment: upon the hill was murder and the spilling of infant blood; and in our day for our sakes, the salvation of all creatures.

He has chosen David, his servant (Ps 18:50)
Which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures (Romans 1:2)
From the house of David, the just king, Mary has given birth, for us, the Child of Wonder. By his birth, he troubled the foreign king, and delighted the Magi, and made them rejoice.

The great King over all the gods (Ps 95:3)
And there will be no end to his kingdom (Lk 1:33)
The King who will not pass away, and whose royalty will never end, Jesus, the Son of David, is extolled in a manger: the Magi from Persia came to honor him. Blessed is he who exalted our race in our Head.

From those who walk in innocence (Ps 84:12)
For a sign and a wonder in Israel (Lk 2:34?)
Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, and is of the seed of David and Abraham. His Majesty’s power is placed on his shoulder and his authority rules over heaven and earth.

Praise him and sing to him (?)
And the angels were ministering to him (Mt 4:11)
The angels glorified, and their ranks shouted: “Glory in heaven, and peace on earth!” The mortal race rejoiced and glorified, In the birth of Christ, who saved our nature.

From then the nations will praise with him (Ps 86:9)
I will thank you among the nations,
and I will sing to your name before the gentiles (Ps 108:3)
Nations and gentiles, come and sing praise to Christ Jesus who saved our nature and turned our ignorance to the light of his knowledge, and gave us, in his grace, eternal life.

Let the heavens rejoice, and the earth be glad (Ps 96:11)
The angels rejoiced at your birth, our Savior, and people on earth sang praise. Magi carried gold, frankincense and myrrh, and entered the cave, offered [them] and adored you.

He will be like a tree planted near a stream of water (Ps 1:3)
The Fruit of Gladness dawned upon us from Mary, and he forgave our sins and erased our debts. He came searching for us, and raised our mortality, and renewed our nature that had been swallowed in sin.

Gladness over all the earth (Ps 48:2)
At the birth of Christ, the angels proclaimed “Praise in heaven and peace on earth.” O mortals, come and take the bond of your sins, for the Fruit who is from Mary has justified sinners.

Rejoice, sing and praise (?)
Exult, O nations, and rejoice in the birth of Christ, who made us worthy, in his grace, for the glory of his kingdom. Let us all together lift up praise, as we say: “Blessed is the day of your birth!”