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An Early Christian Hymn

February 10, 2009

I’m ashamed at my long absence from posting anything on this blog, but I trust that the beauty of the following early Christian hymn will adequately make up for time lost. It is the eleventh of the Odes of Solomon. Little is known about the author or setting of these hymns, but it seems that they were intended for the worshipping community of the saints. Notice the emphasis throughout upon the divine activity in salvation and the declaration at the end that true delight is only to be found in God. I hope you enjoy it.

My heart was pruned and its flower appeared, then grace sprang up in it, and my heart produced fruits for the Lord.
For the Most High circumcised me by His Holy Spirit, then He uncovered my inward being towards Him, and filled me with His love.
And His circumcising became my salvation, and I ran in the Way, in His peace, in the way of truth.
From the beginning until the end I received His knowledge.
And I was established upon the rock of truth, where He had set me.
And speaking waters touched my lips from the fountain of the Lord generously.
And so I drank and became intoxicated, from the living water that does not die.
And my intoxication did not cause ignorance, but I abandoned vanity,
And turned toward the Most High, my God, and was enriched by His favors.
And I rejected the folly cast upon the earth, and stripped it off and cast it from me.
And the Lord renewed me with His garment, and possessed me by His light.
And from above He gave me immortal rest, and I became like the land that blossoms and rejoices in its fruits.
And the Lord is like the sun upon the face of the land.
My eyes were enlightened, and my face received the dew;
And my breath was refreshed by the pleasant fragrance of the Lord.
And He took me to His Paradise, wherein is the wealth of the Lord’s pleasure.
I beheld blooming and fruit-bearing trees,
And self-grown was their crown.
Their branches were sprouting and their fruits were shining.
From an immortal land were their roots.
And a river of gladness was irrigating them,
And round about them in the land of eternal life.
Then I worshipped the Lord because of His magnificence.
And I said, Blessed, O Lord, are they who are planted in Your land, and who have a place in Your Paradise;
And who grow in the growth of Your trees, and have passed from darkness into light.
Behold, all Your laborers are fair, they who work good works, and turn from wickedness to your pleasantness.
For the pungent odor of the trees is changed in Your land,
And everything becomes a remnant of Yourself. Blessed are the workers of Your waters, and eternal memorials of Your faithful servants.
Indeed, there is much room in Your Paradise. And there is nothing in it which is barren, but everything is filled with fruit.
Glory be to You, O God, the delight of Paradise for ever.
Hallelujah.

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