Stranger from on high

Thou dost bear the form of Adam, yet Thou art all-perfect, being in the form of God. Of Thine own will Thou art held in human hands, who in Thy might upholdest all things with Thine hand. To Thee the pure and undefiled Virgin spake aloud: ‘How shall I wrap Thee in swaddling clothes like a child, how shall I give Thee suck who givest nourishment to all the world? How shall I not wonder in amazement at Thy poverty beyond understanding! How shall I, who am Thy handmaiden, call Thee my Son? I sing Thy praises and I bless Thee, who dost grant the world great mercy.’

The undefiled Virgin, beholding the pre-eternal God as a child that had taken flesh from her, held Him in her arms and without ceasing she kissed Him. Filled with joy, she said aloud to Him: ‘O Most High God, O King unseen, how is it that I look upon Thee? I cannot understand the mystery of Thy poverty without measure. For the smallest of caves, a strange dwelling for Thee, finds room for Thee within itself. Thou hast been born without destroying my virginity, but Thou hast kept my womb as it was before childbirth; and Thou dost grant the world great mercy.’

The pure Virgin spoke in wonder, as she heard the Magi standing together before the cave, and she said to them: ‘Whom do you seek? For I see that you have come from a far country. Ye have the appearance, but not the thoughts, of Persians; strange has your journey been, and strange your arrival. Ye have come with zeal to worship Him who, journeying as a stranger from on high, has strangely, in ways known to Himself, come to dwell in me, granting the world great mercy.’

Tone Five, Stichera of Vespers for the Forefeast of the Nativity, Slavonic use.

2 Replies to “Stranger from on high”

  1. It’s even lovelier with the typos fixed….

    I’m in a Greek parish, under Constantinople, so we’re on the New Calendar. I’m thinking of dropping in on one of the Russian Christmas services this year, though. San Francisco has a beautiful Russian community. I’m going to try to meet up with some Russian friends for that. Standing for four hours in the cold won’t be so bad at all, even if it were only for the purpose of listening to the Russians sing. I think they’re born singing polyphonic harmony….

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