THE CHRISTIAN FEAST
Christ's Baptism ; the Christmas offices are, however, full of fine poetry. There is far less restraint, far less adherence to the words of Scripture, far greater richness of original composition, in the Greek than in the Roman service-books, and while there is less poignancy there is more amplitude and splendour. Christmas Day, with the Greeks, is a commemoration of the coming of the Magi as well as of the Nativity and the adoration of the shepherds, and the Wise Men are very prominent in the services. The following hymn of St. Anatolius (fifth century), from the First Vespers of the feast, is fairly typical of the character of the Christmas offices :—
" When Jesus our Lord was born of Her, The Holy Virgin, all the universe Became enlightened.
For as the shepherds watched their flocks, And as the Magi came to pray, And as the Angels sang their hymn Herod was troubled ; for God in flesh appeared, The Saviour of our souls.
Thy kingdom, Christ our God, the kingdom is
Of all the worlds, and Thy dominion
O'er every generation bears the sway,
Incarnate of the Holy Ghost,
Man of the Ever-Virgin Mary,
By Thy presence, Christ our God,
Thou hast shined a Light on us.
Light of Light, the Brightness of the Father,
Thou hast beamed on every creature.
All that hath breath doth praise Thee,
Image of the Father's glory.
Thou who art, and wast before,
God who shinedst from the Maid,
Have mercy upon us.
What gift shall we bring to Thee, O Christ, since Thou as Man on earth For us hast shewn Thyself ?