Transfiguration canon

August 6, 2009

The following verses are translated from the fifth canon for the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ. The Greek text is taken from Joseph Schirò, ed., Analecta Hymnica Graeca e codicibus eruta Italiae inferioris, vol. xii, Canones Augusti (ed. Alcestis Proiou) (Rome 1980), pp. 60-62, 68-69. In one of the manuscripts, the poem is ascribed to one “Andrew”; perhaps this is St. Andrew of Crete, the hymnographer.


Ode 1
Δεῦτε συνανέλθωμεν τῷ σωτῆρι
ἐπὶ τὸ ὄρος τὸ Θαβὼρ
κἀκεῖ θεασώμεθα
τὸ κάλλος τὸ ἄφραστον
ἐκλάμπον τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ.
Come let us go up with the Savior
upon the Mount of Tabor
and there let us behold
the inexpressible beauty
that shines forth from his face.
Φυρμὸν ἢ ἀνάχυσιν οὐχ ὑπέστης
τῇ ἐξ ἡμῶν οὐσιωθεὶς
μορφῇ, ἀναλλοίωτε,
ἐν ᾗ μεταμορφούμενος
παρέδειξας τὴν δόξαν σου.
Neither blending nor mixture did you suffer
when you took on our reality, assuming the form
that is ours, O changeless one,
in which, being transfigured,
you exhibited your glory.
Τὴν δόξαν μὴ φέροντες τοῦ προσώπου
τοῦ ἀναλάμψαντος ὡς φῶς
πρηνεῖς κατεφέροντο
τῆς πίστεως οἱ πρόβολοι·
Θεὸν γὰρ εἶδεν ὅλως οὐδείς.
When they could not bear the glory of your face
shining like a light, the ones who stood
foremost in faith were brought
to the ground and lay prone:
for no one at all has seen God.*
Τῷ πόθῳ ἑλκόμενος τῆς ἐν ὄρει
θεοφανείας, Ἰησοῦ,
ὁ Πέτρος ἐβόα σοι·
«ποιήσωμεν τρεῖς σκηνάς·
καλὸν γὰρ ᾧδε εἶναι ἡμᾶς.»
Drawn by desire for your
theophany on the mountain, O Christ,
Peter cried to you:
“Let us make three tents;
for it is good for us to be here.”
Ἕνα σε δοξάζομεν τῆς τριάδος,
μονογενῆ υἱὲ Θεοῦ,
κἂν σάρκα προσέλαβες,
καὶ μάρτυς ὁ καλέσας σε
υἱὸν ἀγαπητὸν ἐν Θαβώρ.
We worship you, one of the Trinity,
God’s only-begotten Son,
even if you did take on flesh;
and a witness is he who called you
on Tabor his beloved Son.
Ὡς μέθην τὴν ἔκστασιν ὑποστάντες
οἱ μαθηταὶ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ
ἐπὶ τὸ Θαβώριον,
πρηνεῖς κατεφέροντο·
Θεὸν γὰρ εἶδεν ὅλως οὐδείς.
Experiencing ecstasy like drunkenness,
Jesus’ disciples
upon Tabor’s height
were brought to the ground and
lay prone:
for no one at all has seen God.*
Ode 3
Καταλείψαντες τὸν χοῦν,
συνεπαρθῶμεν τοῖς Χριστοῦ μαθηταῖς
καὶ ἴδωμεν τὴν δόξαν
τῆν θεαθεῖσαν ἐν τῷ ὄρει Θαβώρ.
Leaving the dust behind us
let us go up with Christ’s disciples
and let us see upon Mount Tabor
the glory that deifies.
Τῷ Χριστῷ συγκαλοῦντι
ἐπὶ τὸ ὄρος τὸ Θαβώριον,
πιστοί, συναναβάντες,
έκεῖ ὀψόμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ.
Ascending, O faithful, together
with Christ who summons us
to Tabor mountain,
there we shall see his glory.
Οἱ τοῦ ὄντως ἐραστοῦ
ἐπιθυμοῦντες τῆς λαμπρότητος
δεῦτε προσκολληθῶμεν
τοῖς περὶ Πέτρον καὶ Ἰάκωβον.
Those of us who desire
the brilliancy of the truly beloved,
come, let us be joined
with those who are about Peter and James.
Οἱ τὸ κάλλος ἐκεῖνο
ἰδεῖν ποθοῦντες τὸ ἀμήχανον
κτησώμεθα καρδίας,
ἐν αἷς δεξόμεθα τὴν τούτου αὐγήν.
Those of us who long to see
that inexplicable beauty,
let us acquire hearts
in which we shall receive its shining.
Τὸ μὲν ὄρος τὸ Σινᾶ
καπνῷ καὶ γνόφῳ καὶ θυέλλῃ ποτέ,
τὸ ὄρος τὸ Θαβὼρ δὲ
μαρμαρυγὰς ἡμῖν ἀστράπτει φωτός.
Once it was, Mount Sinai was hidden
with smoke and darkness and storm,
but Mount Tabor illuminates us
with bright flashings of light.
Ἐν τῷ ὄρει τῷ Θαβὼρ
μεταμορφούμενος, Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός,
παρέδειξας τὴν δόξαν
τοῖς μαθηταῖς τῆς σῆς θεότητος.
When you were transfigured
on Mount Tabor, O Christ God,
you showed to your disciples
the glory of your divinity.
Προσκυνοῦμέν σε, Χριστέ,
σὺν τῷ πατρί σου καὶ τῷ πνεύματι,
τριάδα ἐν μονάδι
καὶ ἐν τριάδι μονάδα, Θεόν.
We worship you, O Christ,
with your Father and the Spirit,
the Trinity in Unity,
and Unity in Trinity, God.
Χαῖρε, νέα κιβωτὲ
τῆς διαθήκης, ἧς διέθετο
Θεὸς μετὰ ἀνθρώπων
τῇ μεσιτείᾳ σου, παρθένε ἁγνή.
Hail, new ark of
the covenant, that covenant
which God made with mankind
by your mediation, O pure Virgin.
Ode 8
Τῆς θεϊκῆς σου μορφῆς
αὔραν ἐξέλαμψας
Πέτρῳ καὶ Ἰακώβῳ
καὶ Ἰωάννῃ, κύριε, ἐν ὄρει τῷ Θαβώρ,
ἧς τὴν ἀκτῖνα μηδόλως
ἐνεγκεῖν ἰσχύσαντες, εἰς γῆν κατεβαροῦντο.
When you had radiated
the aura of your divine form
on Peter, James, and John,
O Lord, upon Mount Tabor,
then, being utterly unable to bear
its ray, they were weighed down to the earth.
Τὸν Μωυσῆν ἐν Θαβὼρ
νόμου τὸν πρόμαχον
συνεκάλεσας, Λόγε,
καὶ προφητῶν τὸ ἄνθος, τὸν Θεσβίτην Ἠλιού,
ὃν πυρὸς ἁρματηλάτην
ὡς εἰς οὐρανοὺς ἀναγαγὼν ἐξῆρας πάλαι.
You called to Tabor Moses,
the champion of the Law, O Word,
and the flower of the prophets,
Elijah the Tishbite,
whom once you took away, leading him
heavenwards, borne in a chariot of fire.
Τὸ ὑπερούσιον φῶς
δεῦτε ὀψόμεθα
καθαρᾷ τῇ καρδίᾳ
μαρμαρυγὰς ἀστράπτον τοῖς θεόπταις μαθηταῖς,
ὅπως καὶ τῆς οὐρανόθεν
πατρικῆς ἀκούσωμεν φωνῆς προσμαρτυρούσης.
O come let us behold
with a pure heart
the supersubstantial light
flashing its shimmerings upon the disciples, who behold God,
so that we too may hear
the fatherly voice from heaven bearing witness.
Ὦ φωτοφόρου αὐγλῆς,
ὦ θείας χάριτος,
ὦ ἀκτῖνος ἡλίου,
ἢν οἱ πηλώδεις εἶδον ἐξαστράπτουσαν αὐτοῖς!
τίς ἂν τὴν δόξαν ἐκείνην
ἐξειπεῖν δυνήσεται βροτῶν ἢ ἑρμηνεῦσαι;
O the lightbearing brilliance!
O the divine grace!
O the beam of the sun
which men of clay beheld flashing out upon them!
Who among mortals shall be able
to describe that glory fully, or interpret it?
Ὦ παναγία τριάς,
ἡ ὁμοούσιος
καὶ ὁμότιμος δόξα,
πάτερ, υἱὲ καὶ πνεῦμα, σὲ δοξάζω καὶ ὑμνῶ
ἕνα Θεὸν ἀσυγχύτως
ἐν τρισὶν ὑμνούμενον προσώποις ἀμερίστως.
O Most Holy Trinity,
glory consubstantial, and
co-honored,
Father, Son, and Spirit, I glorify and hymn you,
one God hymned indivisibly
in three persons.
Ὥσπερ ἐν τόμῳ καινῷ,
ἐν τῇ νηδύι σου
ἐγγραφείς, θεοτόκε,
ὁ σὺν πατρὶ καὶ πνεύματι ὑμνούμενος υἱὸς
ἔδειξεν ἀπαραλλάκτως
καὶ μετὰ τὴν σάρκωσιν τοῦ πατρὸς τὸν χαρακτῆρα.
Inscribed in your womb
as on a new stone tablet,
O Mother of God,
the Son, who is hymned with the Father and the Spirit,
exhibited unchangingly,
even after being made flesh, the character of the Father.

* Or: for no one has seen God entirely.

6 Responses to “Transfiguration canon”

  1. Franklin Tait Says:

    Thank you so much! Beautiful.

  2. ochlophobist Says:

    Thank you for this. Beautiful.

  3. Fr. Maximus Says:

    A gem. Where are the other odes?

  4. Stanford Espedal Says:

    This is a beautiful canon for the Feast, but obviously not set forth in its “as celebrated” form.

  5. bedwere Says:

    I’m studying ancient Greek by myself and I could be wrong but why did you translate ὀψόμεθα as “let us behold”?
    Isn’t ὀψόμεθα a future and not a subjunctive?
    I like your blog!

  6. bekkos Says:

    Bedwere,

    I am away from home today, and do not have a copy of the book from which I transcribed the Greek of this, but my immediate guess is that, when transcribing the Greek text around midnight on August 5th, while drifting in and out of consciousness I may have mistakenly written ὀψόμεθα instead of ὀψώμεθα. This seems to me the likeliest explanation, especially since the word is preceded by δεῦτε (“O come…”), which normally introduces an exhortation rather than a statement of fact. When I get home tomorrow or Wednesday, I will check this, and get back to you about it.

    Stanford,

    Whether this canon has an “as celebrated” form differing substantially from that given above, I do not know; in truth, I do not recall ever hearing the canon sung at a church service. Perhaps it is sung only in monasteries; perhaps, like some of the long liturgical poetry of St. Romanos the Melodist, it is no longer used liturgically.

    Fr. Maximus,

    The other odes of the canon, I’m fairly sure, are in the same anthology. As mentioned above, I translated most of this late in the evening last Wednesday, and, although the Greek is not especially difficult (compared, for instance, to St. Maximus the Confessor or the excruciating George Metochites), it was enough I could do to get a few verses of it into English before succumbing to the need for sleep. I made a haphazard selection of three odes, and left it at that.

    Thanks to all for your kind comments.

    Peter


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