My beloved spiritual children in Our Incarnate Lord, the Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS BORN! TRULY HE IS BORN! CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!
Glory to Thee, Who hast shown forth the Light.
Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.
We praise Thee, we bless thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy Great Glory.
O Lord and King, Heavenly God, Father Almighty; O Lord, the Only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world; have mercy upon us, Thou that takest away the sins of the world.
Accept our prayer, Thou that sittest on the right-hand of the Father, and have mercy upon us.
For Thou only art Holy, Thou only art Lord, Jesus Christ, in the Glory of God the Father. Amen.
Extend Thy mercy unto them that know Thee.
Holy God, Holy Might, Holy Immortal, have mercy upon us. (Thrice)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Both now and forever, and from all
Holy Immortal, have mercy upon us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy upon us.
Christmas Hymns in the Orthodox Church
Christ is born! Glorify Him! Christ descends from the heavens, welcome Him! Christ is now on earth, O be jubilant! Sing to the Lord, the whole earth. And sing praises to Him with joy, O ye people, For He has been exalted!
Today doth Bethlehem receive Him Who sitteth with the Father forever.
...the Son Who was born of the Father Before all ages, and in this latter day Was made incarnate of the Virgin Without seed; Christ our God.
I behold a strange but very glorious mystery: Heaven--the cave, the throne of the Cherubim--the Virgin. The manger--the receptacle in which Christ our God, Whom nothing can contain, is lying.
Today the Virgin brings forth the Supersubstantial One And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One.
Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, Has illumined the world like the Light of Wisdom.
...They who worshipped the stars were through a star, taught to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Day-Spring from on high.
Our Savior hath visited us from on high...and we who were plunged in darkness and shadows have found the Truth, For the Lord hath been born of the Virgin.
The Church addresses this prayer of praise and thanksgiving to the Infant born in Bethlehem:
"Glory and praise to the One born on earth Who hath divinized earthly human nature."
The gifts of grace in the Holy Mysteries which strengthen enfeebled humanity, cure men, and regenerate them to a Godlike life, were imparted by Christ, culminating days of His earthly mission and are linked to His death on the Cross and Resurrection. But these last things were prepared for by Christ's entire earthly life from Bethlehem to Golgotha. The Coming of Christ was the beginning of the salvation of mankind. And the Orthodox Church sings of Christ's Nativity as the morning of men's salvation, as the dawn after a long and anxious night--the dawn with which the new, shining day in the life of the human race has already started.
The Triumphal Hymn of the Feast of Christmas is the "Gloria" sung by the Angels to the Shepherds, to herald the Coming of the Messiah.
"Glory in the Highest to God, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men" (St. Luke 2:14).
It is just as characteristic of Christmas as the hymn "Christ is Risen from the dead" is of Pascha (Easter).
According to the text of the second chapter of Saint Luke's Gospel the "good tidings" proclaimed by the Angels was not a repetition from the heavens of things that were well known before. The innumerable heavenly host which appeared suddenly in the wake of the Angel who has stood before the shepherds confirmed his "tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" (St. Luke 2:10). They also sang of the new, marvelous act of God's goodwill. His sending the Savior to this earth. This was the meaning of their good news: "Glory to God in the Highest; salvation had come to a sinful earth with the Birth of the Christ Child, the Loving-kindness of God had descended upon men."
The extraordinary and Wondrous Birth from a Pure Virgin is one of the fundamental themes of Christmas hymnody; at the same time the Mother of God (Theotokos), Whom the Orthodox Church venerates with such pious devotion, is given in this hymnody a special place and honor. A number of examples from Sacred History are used in these hymns in order to glorify Her perpetual virginity, Her conception by the Holy Spirit and Her "supermundane act of giving birth to God." The most important of these are the Prophet Jonah's sojourn in the belly of the sea-monster and the Babylonian fiery furnace." The fiery furnace of Babylon did not burn the young men, who were covered with its flames, likewise.
"The fire of the Godhead scorched not the Virgin, When He entered into Her womb".
Despite the birth Mary was preserved a virgin like the burning bush on Mt. Sinai which could not be consumed but remained green in the flames. The Church sings praises to Mary alike for Her virginity and Her touching maternal love. Her tenderness as a mother toward Her wondrous Infant Child, Whom as Her son She held in Her arms at Her breast, but before Whom She bowed in worship as before "the Son of the Highest," is expressed in the following lullaby which Church hymnody assigns to the lips of the Lady Most Pure, calling upon us men "to magnify Her without ceasing":
"O my child, Child of sweetness, How is it that I hold Tee, Almighty? And how that I feed Thee, Who givest bread to all men? How is it that I swaddle Thee, Who with the clouds encompasseth the whole earth."
She who "knew not a man" and yet gave birth to the Incorporeal God is for the Orthodox Church at once mother and virgin.
"Magnify, O my soul, the Virgin Most Pure, The God Bearer, who is more honorable And more glorious than the heavenly hosts".
The best and holiest of earthly creatures, exalted above the Angels, the God-Bearer is the pride of this earth, a fitting gift from mankind to the Creator and Savior:
"What shall we present unto Thee, O Christ, For Thy coming to earth for us men? Each of Thy creatures brings Thee a thank-offering: The Angels--singing; the heavens--a star; The Wise Men--treasures; the shepherds devotion; The earth--a cave; the desert--a manger; But we offer Thee the Virgin-Mother. O Eternal God, have mercy upon us."
The Mother of God (Theotokos) represents the point at which the Godhead came into direct contact with Old Testament. She is in this respect the living symbol of all the triumphant joy of Christmas, which is the celebration of God's reestablished union with God, who had driven our Forefathers out of paradise, had set them far apart from Himself. Now, with the birth of Chris, He has again come to men, just as He once came to them in paradise. It has become possible again for men to be in communion with God. The barrier between Heaven and earth has fallen and so we sing along with Adam and Eve:
"The wall of partition is destroyed, The flaming sword is dropped, The Cherubim withdraw from the Tree of Life, And I partake of the fruits of Paradise, Whence, for my disobedience, I was driven forth".
The underlying feeling of the Christmas Feast is one of peace. This is a result of the reconciliation and new unity between Heaven and earth:
"Heaven and earth now are united through Christ's Birth! Now is God come down to earth and man arisen to the Heaven."
This unity is the source of general exultation--a note which resounds vigorously in the Christmas hymnody:
"Today Christ is born in Bethlehem of the Virgin. Today He Who is without beginning begins, and the Logos (Word) is made flesh. The powers of Heaven rejoice, The earth and her people are jubilant; The Wise Men bring gifts to the Lord, The shepherds marvel at the One Who is born, And we sing without ceasing: "Glory to God in the Highest, And on earth peace, (God's) good will toward men".
There is one solitary note, however, which breaks into these hymns of general rejoicing like a forewarning of future lamentations. The Wise Men--according to the Christmas Eve stichera--came to worship the Incarnate God and devotedly offered Him their gifts--gold because He is the King of ages, frankincense, because He is the God of all men, but then they also brought Him myrrh, with which the Jews were accustomed to anoint the dead, because He was to "lie three days in death."
The heart of the Theotokos must have been seized by premonition of that which awaited the innocent Child Who was sleeping peacefully in the manger. This minor note of sadness is drowned, however, in the general chorus of exultation. Heaven and earth rejoice together and this does not mean simply that the Angel's singing harmonizes with that of the shepherds. The Church does not even view so-called "inanimate nature" as indifferent to the higher world. The Creator has willed the existence of a special link between them. At an earlier time man's sinfulness had brought general disorder into nature, but now all nature leaps for joy, rejoicing at the overcoming of this sin:
"Today the whole creation rejoices and is jubilant, For Christ is born of the Virgin."
In the Christmas hymnody the Star is not merely the voice which made known to the world the Savior's appearance. It is also a sign, a symbol of this appearance, just as the Cross is the symbol of victory over the forces of darkness. Then, too, the Star of Christ Himself, "the Star which rose from Jacob."
[Source: from Orthodox Hymns of Christmas, Holy Week and Easter, by Alexander A. Bogolepov]
MAY THE WHOLE EARTH FROM ONE END TO THE OTHER REJOICE AT THE BIRTH OF THE SAVIOR AND REDEEMER OF ALL OF MANKIND! THE PRINCE OF PEACE.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in the Incarnate Word of God
The sinner and unworthy servant of God