Treasures of the East One


Treasures of the East

One of the great early hymnodists and poets of the Church was St. Ephraim of Syria. One source reports that Ephraim wrote up to 3,000,000 verses. This seems unlikely, but there is no question that he was a prodigious writer. Below is a fragment from the first of seven hymns that makes up a cycle called "The Pearl."

from The Pearl
St. Ephraim of Syria

On a certain day a pearl did I take up, my brethren;
I saw in it mysteries pertaining to the Kingdom;
Semblances and types of the Majesty;
It became a fountain, and I drank out of it mysteries of the Son.

I put it, my brethren, upon the palm of my hand,
That I might examine it:
I went to look at it on one side,
And it proved faces on all sides.
I found out that the Son was incomprehensible,
Since He is wholly Light.

In its brightness I beheld the Bright One Who cannot be clouded,
And in its pureness a great mystery,
Even the Body of Our Lord which is well-refined:
In its undivideness I saw the Truth
Which is undivided.

It was so that I saw there its pure conception,
The Church, and the Son within her.
The cloud was the likeness of her that bare Him,
And her type the heaven,
Since there shone forth from her His gracious Shining.

I saw therein his Trophies, and His victories, and His crowns.
I saw His helpful and overflowing graces,
And His hidden things with His revealed things.

What I love about this sequence is both its rich imagery and its intense association with "The Pearl of Great Price" mentioned by Jesus in the gospels. So, had we been the wise merchant, this is the pearl we would have sold everything for and purchased.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 19, 2002 6:30 PM.

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