A Great And Mighty Wonder

Here’s a great, but less commonly known hymn for Christmas. The original Greek hymn comes from the stichera at Vespers for Christmas Day in the Menaion in the Horologion (the Office book for the Eastern Church):

This is the text of the hymn as it appears in The English Hymnal (1906). It is noted in that hymnal that this hymn is suitable til Candlemas:

A great and mighty wonder,
A full and holy cure!
The Virgin bears the Infant
With virgin honour pure.
Refrain:
Repeat the hymn again! 
‘To God on high be glory,
And peace on earth to men!’

The Word becomes incarnate
And yet remains on high!
And Cherubim sing anthems
To shepherds from the sky.
Refrain.

While thus they sing your Monarch,
Those bright angelic bands,
Rejoice, ye vales and mountains,
Ye oceans, clap your hands.
Refrain.

Since all he comes to ransom,
By all be he adored,
The Infant born in Bethl’em,
The Saviour and the Lord.
Refrain.

And idol forms shall perish,
And error shall decay,
And Christ shall wield his sceptre,
Our Lord and God for ay.
Refrain.

Words: St. Germanus, 634-734; tr. John Mason Neale, 1862.
Tune:Es Ist Ein Ros’” German carol, 1599.
Meter: 7.6.7.6.6.7.6

This is the original text as it appears in Hymns of The Eastern Church (5th ed.):

A great and mighty wonder,
The festal makes secure:
The Virgin bears the Infant
With Virgin-honour pure.

The Word is made Incarnate,
And yet remains on high:
And Cherubim sing anthems
To shepherds from the sky.

And we with them triumphant
Repeat the hymn again:
“To God on high be glory,
And peace on earth to men!”

While thus they sing your Monarch,
Those bright angelic bands,
Rejoice, ye vales and mountains!
Ye oceans, clap your hands!

Since all He comes to ransom,
By all be He adored,
The Infant born in Bethlehem,
The Saviour and the Lord!

And idol forms shall perish,
And error shall decay,
And Christ shall wield His sceptre,
Our Lord and God for aye.

Here is the original Greek text of the hymn by St. Germanus (in an earlier edition of Hymns of the Eastern Church, this hymn was falsely attributed to St. Anatolius of Constantinople). The text appears in larger block in the Menaion that does not appear in the translation. Additionally, the section that is translated as the second portion of the hymn appears immediately before the text that is translated as the first part of the hymn.

Here is the portion of the text that was translated into the English hymn above in the order in which it was translated:

Μέγα καὶ παράδοξον θαῦμα, τετέλεσται σὴμερον! Παρθένος τίκτει καὶ μήτρα οὐ φθείρεται, ὁ Λόγος σαρκοῦται, καὶ τοῦ Πατρὸς οὐ κεχώρισται, Ἄγγελοι μετὰ Ποιμένων δοξάζουσι, καὶ ἡμεῖς σὺν αὐτοῖς ἐκβοῶμεν· Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ, καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη

Χορεύουσιν Ἄγγελοι πάντες ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἀγάλλονται σήμερον· σκιρτᾷ δὲ πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις, διὰ τὸν γεννηθέντα ἐν Βηθλεέμ, Σωτῆρα Κύριον, ὅτι πᾶσα πλάνη τῶν εἰδώλων πέπαυται, καὶ βασιλεύει Χριστὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας.

Here is the text as it appears in it’s liturgical context:


Γερμανοῦ

Χορεύουσιν Ἄγγελοι πάντες ἐν οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἀγάλλονται σήμερον· σκιρτᾷ δὲ πᾶσα ἡ κτίσις, διὰ τὸν γεννηθέντα ἐν Βηθλεέμ, Σωτῆρα Κύριον, ὅτι πᾶσα πλάνη τῶν εἰδώλων πέπαυται, καὶ βασιλεύει Χριστὸς εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας.

Εἰς τὸν Στίχον, Στιχηρὰ Ἰδιόμελα
Ἦχος β’ Γερμανοῦ
Μέγα καὶ παράδοξον θαῦμα, τετέλεσται σὴμερον! Παρθένος τίκτει καὶ μήτρα οὐ φθείρεται, ὁ Λόγος σαρκοῦται, καὶ τοῦ Πατρὸς οὐ κεχώρισται, Ἄγγελοι μετὰ Ποιμένων δοξάζουσι, καὶ ἡμεῖς σὺν αὐτοῖς ἐκβοῶμεν· Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ, καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη.
Στίχ. Εἶπεν ὁ Κύριος τῷ Κυρίῳ μου, κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου, ἕως ἂν θῶ τοὺς ἐχθρούς σου ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου.
Ἦχος γ’ τοῦ αὐτοῦ
Σήμερον τίκτει ἡ Παρθένος, τὸν Ποιητὴν τοῦ παντός, Ἐδὲμ προσφέρει σπήλαιον, καὶ ἀστὴρ μηνύει Χριστόν, τὸν Ἥλιον τοῖς ἐν σκότει. Μετὰ δώρων Μάγοι προσεκύνησαν, πίστει φωτιζόμενοι, καὶ Ποιμένες εἶδον τὸ θαῦμα, Ἀγγέλων ἀνυμνούντων, καὶ λεγόντων· Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ.
Στίχ. Ἐκ γαστρὸς πρὸ Ἑωσφόρου ἐγέννησά σε, ὤμοσε Κύριος, καὶ οὐ μεταμεληθήσεται. Σὺ Ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, κατὰ τὴν τάξιν Μελχισεδέκ.
Ὁ αὐτός, Ἀνατολίου
Τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ γεννηθέντος, ἐν Βηθλεὲμ τῆς Ἰουδαίας, ἐξ Ἀνατολῶν ἐλθόντες Μάγοι, προσεκύνησαν Θεὸν ἐνανθρωπήσαντα, καὶ τοὺς θησαυροὺς αὐτῶν προθύμως ἀνοίξαντες, δῶρα τίμια προσέφερον, δόκιμον χρυσόν, ὡς Βασιλεῖ τῶν αἰώνων, καὶ λίβανον, ὡς Θεῷ τῶν ὅλων, ὡς τριημέρῳ δὲ νεκρῷ, σμύρναν τῷ Ἀθανάτῳ. Πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, δεῦτε προσκυνήσωμεν, τῷ τεχθέντι σῶσαι τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.

About Noah

musings of a young Catholic aspiring to be faithful to his Lord and God Jesus Christ through His Holy Catholic Church
This entry was posted in 3. The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Ancient & Mediaeval Hymns, Christmas, English Translation of Non-English Hymn, Greek Hymns, Horologion, Hymns By The Greats, John Mason Neale, Menaion, Non-English Hymns, Saints of the Church (Canonized or Beatified), St. Germanus, The Church Year, The Holy Rosary, The Joyful Mysteries, The Liturgy of Hours/Breviary, The Liturgy of the Church and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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