A Hymn for Christmas written by today’s Saint John Damascene

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Glory to God in the Highest
(Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ)

Bethlehem rejoices!
Hark the voices clear,
Singing in the starlight
Nearer and more near.
Unto God be glory,
Peace to men be given;
This His will who dwelleth
In the heights of heaven.

Heaven cannot contain Him,
Nor the bounds of earth,
Yet, oh glorious mystery!
Virgin gives Him birth.
Unto God be glory,
Peace to men be given;
This His will who dwelleth
In the heights of heaven.

Now the light ariseth
In the darkened skies,
Now the proud are humbled
And the lowly rise.
Unto God be glory,
Peace to men be given;
This His will who dwelleth
In the heights of heaven.

Hymns of the Greek Church, 1900 (Source: Hymnary.org)

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5 Responses to A Hymn for Christmas written by today’s Saint John Damascene

  1. kathleen says:

    Heaven cannot contain Him….”

    I’ve often pondered on those amazing words when hearing them. If I’m understanding them right, I believe they mean that God’s love for His fallen children on Earth is so great, He could not leave them to their deserved fate, but burst forth from Heaven to take on the nature of Man in order to redeem us. Love cannot be contained, it just goes on expanding and growing, knowing no bounds.
    There are some lovely words from St. Jerome (I think) saying something like: “What would I not do for the Lord, seeing as how He left the perfect bliss of Heaven for my sake”.

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  2. toad says:

    .

    What I take you to be stating, Kathleen, is that God, as atemporal – knew from eternity that man was inevitably doomed to fall and that Jesus would then inevitably come and save us all.

    So, no surprises there for Him. And nothing left to hope for.
    So, no hope, no need for love. When you love, you hope – you desire.

    What’s the point of God’s plan, if He already knows the outcome?
    And, if He doesn’t know the outcome, why not?

    Unamuno seems to echo the words you quote from St. Jerome, (I too paraphrase) “If there is no immortality, then wherefore God?”.

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  3. kathleen says:

    Yes Toad; obviously God knew from all Eternity that fragile Man would fail the Test and would be in need of Salvation. This came at the cost of the most agonising suffering for Our Lord Jesus Christ, and yet He still created us and gave us this incomparable gift of Heaven and Life Everlasting. No words, hymns of praise, nor anything we could ever do to show our gratitude, can ever be truly fitting for so great a gift. Yet all He asks of us is to take up our Cross and follow Him in faithfulness to His Holy Word.

    No surprise?? No hope?? Your second paragraphs I totally disagree with. Sounds like Toad is trying to bring God down to his own perculiar way of thinking!

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  4. toad says:

    .
    “No surprise?? No hope?? Your second paragraphs I totally disagree with. Sounds like Toad is trying to bring God down to his own peculiar way of thinking!”

    Well, no “surprise,” at least, Kathleen.
    Nothing we do can possibly surprise God. Surely we both agree on that?
    I’ll let you away with “hope” though.
    And, yes, I absolutely agree that I’m trying to imagine how a God’s mind might work, to try to bring Him “down” (or maybe “up”?) to a level that is coherent to me as a human being.
    Not all that peculiar a way of thinking, though, I’d suggest. It’s what some people do. Probably only philosophers and idiots, as Burron says. (Well, this eejit, at least. That’s something else we can agree on.)
    Because what a lot of Catholics, think, and do – strike a lot of other people as very peculiar indeed. (Not Toad, of course, who’s used to them. And their hornpipes.)

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  5. kathleen says:

    Toad,
    Hmmm, depends what we mean by ‘surprise’ I suppose.
    As man is not predestined for either Heaven or Hell, his life – how he/she chooses to live it – could be seen as a ‘surprise’ of sorts.
    We are told there is more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents, than for all the 99 faithful ones. Makes one think this would be a ‘surprise’, doesn’t it?

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