Blessed be He who was Baptized that He Might Baptize You, that Ye Should be Absolved from Your Offences – Ephraim the Syrian


St. Ephraim the Syrian

(Resp. — Blessed be He Who was baptized that He might baptize you, that ye should be absolved from your offences.)

1. The Spirit came down from on high, — and hallowed the waters by His brooding. — In the baptism of John, — He passed by the rest and abode on One: — but now He has descended and abode, — on all that are born of the water.

2. Out of all that John baptized, — on One it was that the Spirit dwelt: — but now He has flown and come down, — that He may dwell on the many; — and as each after each comes up, — He loves him and abides on him.

3. A marvel it is that surpasses all! — To the water He went down and was baptized. — The seas declared it blessed, — that river wherein Thou wast baptized: — even the waters that were in heaven envied, — because they were not worthy to be Thy bath.

4. A marvel it is, O my Lord, now also, — that while the fountains are full of water, — it is the water of baptism, — that alone is able to atone. — Mighty is the water in the seas, — yet is it too weak for atonement.

5. Thy might, O my Lord, if it abides, — within the humble it exalts him; — like as royalty if it abide — within the desert gives it peace. — Water by Thy might has triumphed — over sin, for Life has encompassed it.

6. The sheep exulted when they saw — the hand draw nigh to baptize them. — Receive, O ye sheep, your sealing; enter and be mingled in the flock! — for more than over all the flock, — over you rejoice the Watchers to-day.

7. The Angels and the Watchers rejoice — over that which is born of the Spirit and of water: — they rejoice that by fire and by the Spirit, — the corporeal have become spiritual. — The Seraphins who sing “Holy” rejoice, — that they who are made holy have been increased.

8. For lo! the Angels rejoice — over one sinner if he repent: — how much more do they now rejoice — that in all churches and congregations, — lo! Baptism is bringing forth — the heavenly from the earthly!

9. The baptized when they come up are sanctified; — the sealed when they go down are pardoned. — They who come up have put on glory; — they who go down have cast off sin. — Adam put off his glory in a moment; — ye have been clothed with glory in a moment.

10. A house that is of dust when it has fallen, — by means of water can be renewed: — the body of Adam that was of dust, — which had fallen by water has been renewed. — Lo! the priests as builders — afresh renew your bodies.

11. A great marvel is this of the wool, — that it can take every dye, — as the mind takes every discourse. — By the name of its dye it is called; — as ye who were — baptized when “Hearers,” — have gained the name of “Recipients.”

12. The common waters he sanctified — even Elisha through the Name that is secret. — In them washed the leper openly, — and was cleansed by the Power that is secret: — the leprosy was done away in the water, as transgressions in Baptism.

13. To-day, lo! your offences are blotted out, — and your names are written down. — The priest blots out in the water; — and Christ writes down in Heaven. — By the blotting out and the writing down — lo! doubled is your rejoicing.

14. Lo! mercy has dawned to-day; — and from bound to bound it stretches: — the sun has sunk and mercy has dawned. — Justice has drawn in her wrath; Grace has spread forth her love, — lo! she pardons and quickens freely.

15. The sheep that beforetime were in the fold — lo! they hasten forth to greet — the new lambs that have been added to it. — They are white and are clad in white; — within and without white are your bodies as your vestments.

16. From every mouth “Blessed are ye,” — on every side “Blessed are ye.” — Sin from you is driven out, — and the Holy Spirit on you is dwelling. — The Evil One is become sad of countenance; — the Good God makes glad your countenance.

17. The gift that ye have received freely, — cease not from watching over it: — this pearl if it shall be lost — cannot again be sought out, — for it is like to virginity — which if it be lost is not to be found.

18. May ye from all defilement — be kept by the power of your white robes! — and he whose freedom has defiled itself — may it be able to wash itself clean by his weeping! — For me who am servant of the community — may the supplication of the community win pardon!

19. To the author who has toiled in words, — be reconciliation in rest! — to the teacher who has toiled with voice, — be forgiveness through grace! — to the priest who has toiled in baptizing, — let there come the crown of righteousness!

20. From every mouth with one consent, — of those beneath and those above, — Watchers, Cherubin, and Seraphin, — the baptized, the sealed, and the hearers, — let each of us cry aloud and say, — “Glory to the Lord of our feasts!”

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