In nativitatem Mariae

September 8, 2009

Today is celebrated the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. The following hymn is the eighth ode from a canon for the feast; the Greek text, given below, is found in Joseph Schirò, ed., Analecta Hymnica Graeca e codicibus eruta Italiae inferioris, vol. i, Canones Septembris (ed. Ada Debiasi Gonzato) (Rome 1966), pp. 154-156.

[Note: Is it not somewhat bizarre that there are two separate Wikipedia articles on this feast, one titled Nativity of Mary and the other Nativity of the Theotokos?]


Πῶς ἐβλάστησας, εἰπέ,
ἐν τῇ γαστρί σου, Ἄννα,
τὴν οὐράνιον
σκηνήν, ἐν ᾗ ὁ Λόγος
κατεσκήνωσεν;
«Στεῖρα οὖσα ηὐξάμην
δι’ ἐπαγγελίας
Θεοῦ τεκεῖν μητέρα.»
Say, O Anna, how it was
that in your womb you caused to sprout
the tent celestial,
that tent wherein
the Word encamped.
“Being barren, I made prayer
that, by promise, I might bear
the Mother of God.”
Ὄντως θαῦμα φρικτόν,
τὴν ἐν γαστρὶ ἀφράστως
συλλαβοῦσάν σε
τὸν ποιητὴν τῶν ὅλων,
Ἄννα, τίκτουσαν
ἐξ ἀκάρπων λαγόνων
δι’ ἐπαγγελίας·
«Οὐκ ἔτι μένει στεῖρα.»
Verily a wonder strange:
that she who in her womb conceived
thee unspeakably,
the universe’s Maker,
should now be brought into the world
from the fruitless recesses
of Anna, through the promise that
she should no more be barren.
Ἀνοιγέσθω ὁ ναός,
τὸ ἱερὸν δονείσθω·
τὰ γὰρ ἅγια
τὰ τῶν ἁγίων νῶτα
ὑφαπλοῦντά σοι
Θεοτόκε, ἐν δόξῃ
ὑποδέχονταί σε
ἐν τῷ ἱλαστηρίῳ.
Let the temple open up;
let the sanctuary be shaken.
For the holy things
(the back-parts of the holy),
having spread a way for you,
now receive you, Theotokos,
in glory,
into the mercy seat.
Νῦν ἡ ἄμωμος ἀμνὰς
ἐκ σοῦ γεννᾶται, Ἄννα,
ἡ ἀμίαντος
περιστερὰ καὶ νύμφη
τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡμῶν,
παρθένος καὶ μήτηρ
καὶ παστὰς καὶ δούλη
καὶ θρόνος καὶ νεφέλη.
Now the ewe-lamb without spot
is, O Anna, born from you,
the unpolluted
dove and bride
of our God,
at once virgin and a mother,
portico and handmaiden
and throne and cloud.
Ἐμεγάλυνας, Σωτήρ,
Ἰωακεὶμ καὶ Ἄνναν
τοὺς θεόφρονας,
τῆς ἀπαιδίας λύσας
τὴν ἀσθένειαν
καὶ ἐξάρας ἐκ γένους
καὶ ἐξ οἴκου Δαβὶδ
ὄνειδος εἰς αἰῶνας.
Thou hast magnified, O Savior,
Joachim along with Anna,
the godly-minded pair,
having freed them from
infirmity of childlessness,
and having from the race
and house of David
removed reproach forever.
Νῦν εὐφράνθητι Δαβίδ,
ὅτι ἠγέρθη κέρας
σωτηρίας σοι,
ἡ ἐκ φυλῆς καὶ ῥάβδος
ἡ βλαστήσασα
ἐκ κοιλίας τὸ ἄνθος,
Ἰησοῦν τὸν Χριστόν,
τὸν ζῶντα εἰς αἰῶνας.
Now let David’s heart rejoice,
for in you there has been raised
the horn of our salvation,
the horn from his own tribe, the rod
that budded forth
from her own womb the flower,
Jesus Christ,
the one who lives forever.
Οὐκ ἐκλείψει προειπὼν
ἐκ τοῦ Ἰούδα ἄρχων,
οὐχ ἡγούμενος
ἕως ἂν ἔλθῃ τοῦτο
ὃ ἀπόκειται,
τὸν ἐκ γένους Δαβίδ σε
προδηλῶν Ἰακώβ,
ἐθνῶν τὴν προσδοκίαν.
Jacob showed this long ago
and foretold that there should not
fail a ruler out of Judah
nor someone to lead the way
until that which is set in store
should finally come:
thou, of David’s family,
the Gentiles’ expectation.
Χαῖρε, ὄρος τοῦ Θεοῦ,
χαῖρε, παστὰς ἁγία,
χαῖρε, τράπεζα,
χαῖρε, χρυσῆ λυχνία,
χαῖρε, ἄνανδρε
παιδοτόκε Μαρία,
σέ, ἁγνή, ὑμνοῦμεν
εἰς πάντας τοὺς αἰῶνας.
Hail, O mountain-peak of God!
Hail, O holy portico!
Hail, O altar!
Hail, O lampstand made of gold!
Hail, Mary, who without a man
did bear a child!
O holy maid, we sing your praise
unto unending ages.

One Response to “In nativitatem Mariae”

  1. Nathan Hollenbeck Says:

    Thank you, Dr. Peter.

    I love contemplating your liturgical translations. They have a delightful poetic sense.


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