To see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square.
1. A POETIC PARAPHRASE OF MOSES’ DESCRIPTION OF THE CREATION IN THE THE FIRST AND SECOND CHAPTERS OF GENESIS
In the beginning the everlasting Father of this immense world, planning a wonderful work, the Son of the great Father, Whom from all eternity He had begotten as His own equal in the splendor and character of His brilliance and in the honor of majesty, nature and divinity, and the Spirit which derives from the Son and the Father, one God in Three and Three in One, first created the fiery heaven, the stars that are far above everything else, above the bright globes of the sun and moon, far removed from mortal sight and understanding. And there he placed the angelic hosts and knowledgable spirits, some of whom, possessing their homes and sacred duties, stand forever before the throne of the great Father, girded to receive his divine commands and assiduously pronouncing praises and hymns to the Father. Others in their pride dared raise themselves up against their King and earned a deserved punishment, being cast from their heavenly home down to deepest Tartarus. Likewise, by the virtue of His Word He created out of nothing the starry sky and the high orbs of the aether, in which the lights of the stars were later set, and and the earth, and the first of the things which the earth embraces in its capacious reach. Earth, water, and air, and all the bodies that existed in them beneath heaven lay in a single confused chaos, a great, dark, horrible vacuum, still deprived of their fair beauty, the vault that was owed them. For all the earth lay sunk in the depths of the waters: disorganized and without form; inert, it swam in the abyss, and the darkness of the great abyss hid its face.
And on dark wings the air, a work of divine art, hovered over this, being borne above the deep waters, wandering hither and thither without any certainty of place. Then, the darkness banished, God commanded the light to shine: the everlasting light of the universe, the source of all illumination. So light shone forth constantly, illuminating the face of the dark abyss, at a time when the the Titan did not yet give the world his light, nor had the moon been created to cast its varying nocturnal beams, nor did the bright stars shine with their twinkling. And the best Author of nature praised His work of light, and ordained that light be kept separate from darkness forever, calling the darkness by the name of night, and the light by that of day. And He ordained that, in accordance with His perpetual rule, the nights and the days should succeed each other by turns, so that night might temper the heat of the summertime day with its damp breezes and cool dew and, pouring forth its dark silences over the darth, with its periods of rest might ease the cares of vexed mortals, making their hearts forgetful of their toils, suffusing peaceful sleep throughout their weakened bones. And likewise He enjoined that the golden day, bathing all things with its returning light, might refresh and renew everything with its vital warmth, and, bringing back harsh labors both of men and of cattle, might arouse them for their efforts and their arts, until purple evening might at long last bring its lights. And, from the beginning of time, night and daytime passed their first day, each for its appointed twelve hours.
Next God commanded the air to stretch itself out in the midst of the waters, separating the rains, hanging from the clouds aloft, from the waters beneath it. Without delay, pavilions of shining air were spread out, and its expanse appeared amid the waters, moveable, clear, subtle, capable of being acted upon, and thin, so that streams of water borne up on high might be stored in the hollow bags of clouds, and be kept apart from the lower pools. The Almighty Father designated this by the name of the lofty sky, distinct in its parts from the earth, and its higher portion burns with constant heat, since it is warmed by the furnace of the celestial fire as it passes from the eastern marge to its western boundary, and then, swiftly returning to its morning rising, it moves that which is nearby and sets the air afire by its motion, which is why glittering stars twinkle through broken clouds and the dire comet is borne through the void. But the mid-air is cold, being buffeted by wind and rain and constantly surrounded by chilly black clouds, and this is where all rains and the damp wool of hoary snow, as well as the rain-bringing south winds are bred, and likewise the shaggy hail. But the region closest to the earth, where the generations of living things exist and breathe the sweet air into their lungs, is now more warm thanks to the heats of the south wind in the summertime, and now more chilled by the winter blasts of the north one, depending on whether the earth is turned more upright or tilted as it receives the fiery darts of heaven’s rays: thus is the clear air established amidst the waters.
Then the night-time and daytime of the second day were consumed. Next God gave instructions that the water spread over the land should retreat and always remain in its appointed basins, that the earth should dry out, being retrieved from the floods that had covered it, and that solid masses should stand on an immovable foundation, nor again stagnate under the floods. So the rivers, subjected to His divine voice, immediately subsided beneath the air and flowed together into a single body of water, and, gathered from all quarters, the water assembled and poured itself into the capacious bosom of the ocean, which God commanded never to dare overflow its appointed boundaries and flood the land once more. He surrounded it on all sides with strong barriers, imposing strong restraints against the monstrous furies of its rushing waves and its heaving surges, a-boil because of the rapid blast of the winds and striking the shores that stand in its way with horrifying storms. Yet, in supplying all the things the prudent Creator has confronted it with great masses of rocks and bristling reefs which beat back all its might, its threats, floods, and surgings. Then the earth that was originally covered over by the waters emerged from the vast waves and was made dry, and, come forth from the waters, damp fields became visible. Here these were raised up into lofty mountains, there they were lowered into pleasant valleys, destined to be fit dwelling-places for mortals and pastures for cattle. The Almighty Father commanded that this forever be called the land, and the collection of waters to be called the sea. Then the Great Creator surveyed His noble work of heaven, air, land, and sea, approved it as being good in its utility, and fair in its comeliness.
Next the great Creator immediately commanded the land to produce in all its fields grasses, fruits, green herbs, the produce of trees, and all origins of plants, varied in their seeds and distinct in their kinds: thus, throughout the world, future cattle might graze their fodder and fruit might ripen for Man’s uses, and each species be maintained for every age of the world. Without delay, of its own volition and by virtue of God’s mighty mandate the earth issued forth every kind of herb, grove of trees, and the seeds of all plants, albeit it was not yet watered by heaven’s rain or dew, nor warmed by the heat of Phoebus’ fire, or the cultivation of Man’s hoe. All manner of thriving plants sprung up in the empty fields and along the curving rivers, distinct in their various kinds, each one now crowned by its own flower, heavy with fruit and teeming with seed. Now, seeing the fields to be ruddy with flowers far and wide, Jehovah Himself rejoiced in the goodness of His work, and the third dawn and evening thus passed by.
And then on the fourth day the voice of the great Father sounded forth, saying, “Let the sky be embellished with bright lights, which might receive and carry the nourishing light through the aether in its particular orbs, brightening everything on earth and nourishing its works with their flames, and making the turns of the day and night to alternate forever, now that this distinction has been made. Let them to be signs to the world, heralding future heat, cold, winds, rains, and storms. Let them mark the seasons of the turning year, through its cold winters, fruitful autumns, through hot season and peaceful springtime, and let them mark out the months and the days with the distinct spaces of their equal hours.” He spoke, and what followed conformed to His pronouncement. For out of that primeval light spread throughout the sky the Almighty created two bright beacons, the sun to bright the day with its larger circle, and the moon, which repairs its horns by waxing, to govern the night and darkness with its smaller one, together with the stars shining throughout the sky, which he affixed in the heaven, each with its own sphere, so as to bathe the earth with their beams and nourish them with their vital fire, dividing the alternations of days and dark nights, providing the difference between winter and summer, springtime and autumn, and the circling year. This work too seemed praiseworthy to the Creator, when the morning and evening of the fourth day had been completed.
Then, after the Father had decorated the celestial sphere with glowing stars, the fields with golden grain, the ridges with trees, and the greeny banks with grass, He then decided to fill the empty air, waters, and land, and all the world with a variety of living things. First He commanded the waters, those contained by the sea, by limpid lakes, and the beds of deep rivers which wend their way through fields and valleys to produce a scaly race in their vast bosoms, and to produce countless varies of creeping things. He also bade birds to fly through the great void of the sky, borne over the earth on swift wings. Then the great whales were first created and the many monsters which the blue sea produces, all the things that flit through the deep thanks to the swift operation of their fins, living creatures wonderful to behold, because of which the great sea is famed for its fish. Likewise every kind of bird which flies thanks to its light feathers roamed through the expanses of the air. Seeing all of this to be good, and advantageous for many a purpose, the Almighty Father blessed them with the virtue of fruitfulness, budding the fish to grow in the sinuous bosom of the waters and to fill the depths of the sea, the rivers that flow everywhere, and all lakes and ponds with their teeming offspring, and for the birds to hatch many chicks on the land. And so the noble work of the fifth day was completed.
And now the sixth day was at hand, on which the fostering Creator began to give form to the kinds of creature that dwelt on the land. He commanded the earth to produce animals in their distinct forms, every kind of four-footed creature, cattle, sheep, and wild beasts, those things which creep on the ground without feet, and those which rejoice to walk with their legs. He spoke, and, quicker than the telling, every kind of living thing shone forth on the land, those which graze the grass of the fertile field, schooled to be tame by human art, those which occupy the wild mountains and those of the forests, and those which in their manifold species crawl on their bellies in the dust of the land, all distinct in their various forms. Then the excellent Author of nature gave His approval to the goodness of this creation, and put it to excellent uses.
ON THE CREATION OF MAN
Thus, when this wonderful work of the world was completed, when the palaces were hung in heaven’s sturdy arch and decorated with the glittering lights of the stars, when the air resounded with the happy songs of birds, when the earth shone forth, clad with herds of cattle, bands of wild beasts, and green plants and fruits, and when the water was filled with countless fish, then the Father the sole, eternal Son of the Father, and the Holy Spirit, Which in love born of shared parentage proceeded from the Father and the Son, God thanks to them both and likewise God, with a single mind and single agreement, prepared to create Man. “Thus far,” they said, “We have created the heavenly spheres, the earth, and living things distinct in their various kinds. Now it remains for us to create after Our own image Man, for whose use all else has been created, a living being more divine than all the rest by dint of his keen wit and more capacious in the depth of his mind, as We have already decided with the excellent votes of Our mind. Let us create him imbued with the right and the holy, and set him in this empty world, able to cultivate the earth and be master over the other things, whatever cleaves the waters with its fins, the air with its feathers, and whatever grazes the grass of the sunny field.”
Then in truth the eternal Scion of the eternal Father temporarily assumed abd appearance of human face and form (in which He was once seen to be present by our original forefathers, when He was God surveying the world in mortal form, clasping their hands and addressing them in a human voice, as a prelude to the later time when He would assume a genuine mortal body, being born of a pure virgin, so that by His death He might wash away the sins of His chosen people, making an offering on the altar of the Cross). He took mud from the newly-created earth and formed a man’s body, manufacturing all its parts after the image that He himself was assuming, as a potter makes earthenware vessels from clay. Mindful of his fragility and his humbler origin, he ought to be lowly of spirit, nor pride himself on his strength, the beauty of his form, or any endowment of his body, and chase after empty honors. When nature’s Creator had modeled his body out of earthly dust, and it lay on the ground, lifeless and without intelligence, God blew into its nostrils, created soul, and infused it (being of better origin) into body. It was a single thing, yet does triple duty, by providing humor for the generative juice, supplying the abilities of sensation and motion, and because, thanks to it, Man thrives in the acumen and usage of his reason, far surpassing all else which breathes beneath heaven in his intellect. This soul, being above everything earthly and mortal, mounts up to the citadels above, and does not fail from disease or perish by black death. Freed from the chains of the body, it flies above the celestial spheres and rises to high Olympus, albeit not created of God’s nature or His seed. It is indivisible, and cannot be changed in any part, although not created from the celestial bodies or elements, nor having been previously stored up in heaven’s treasure-house, since it was manufactured out of nothing, infused in the body, and created. When this vital spirit of air had been breathed into the body’s nostrils, behold, suddenly new warmth entered its marrow and, being rarified, spread through its bones, and Man was made a living being, began to move himself, rose up from the ground and started to walk upright, and to use his eyes and his mind to behold the Creator of heaven, lifting up his face to the stars, showing the signs of being a perfected man, and of life.
Then the excellent Creator took Man, brilliant for the excellent endowments of his beauty and his mind, and led him to the delightful garden of Eden, which He had previously planted in eastern climes,. Here He had made a home for Man, the fairest place in all the world, where there was perpetual springtime, and peaceful zephyrs caressed flowers, born without seeds, with their warm breezes. All its ground flourished with colorful trees, everywhere ruddy with noble fruits which could either delight the vision with their golden color or satisfy the sense of taste with their honeyed sweetness. And the middle of the garden contained two particularly notable ones, their branches always green, of which the one was the tree of life, a symbol of life and eternal salvation, as long as Man observed the precepts of his great Father and did not hesitate to reject those things to which He was averse, so that he would not grow pale with disease, nor feel the feebleness of old age, nor perish by dark death, but rather would lead a happy life, his strength always robust and his youth flourishing, immune from painful cares, until he would pass on to a home in celestial Olympus. The other tree was named that of good and evil, a tree prophetic of coming fate. If Adam were to scorn God’s commandments and laws out of an ungrateful mind, and provoke the injured deity’s wrath by plucking the forbidden fruit of that tree, because of this humanity would suffer every kind of coming evil, and would be destined to experience the loss of goodness. Furthermore, a stream flowed over the pleasant meadows of Eden with its silvery stream, watering the entire garden, and its waters separated into four river beds. The first was the one which the ancients called Pison, and it flowed around all the land of Havilah, a land excellent for its gold, rich in gems and much spice. The second was Gihon, which with its easy waters the region of the Ethiopian Arabs. The third was the swift Tigris of Assyria, which in its long courses watered the city of Ninus. The fourth was the Euphrates, deriving its name from its origin, which fertilized the fields of Babylon with its rich silt. Here Adam settled amidst delights and every kind of opulence, to guard and cultivate Paradise, This would suffice him for his work, his home, his pleasure, and his toil (but toil that would not trouble him with sweat and exhaustion), both the subject of his handiwork and the object of his senses, nor could any delights or wealth be failing for this happy man, as he passed his life in idleness.
When Man had been placed in the fair garden of Eden, the Almighty Father spoke, issuing these mandates: “Behold, you are permitted to eat from every tree of Eden, save for the one they call the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which shows its golden branches in the middle of the garden. You must not touch its fruit, greedily plucking it. For if you eat the apple taken from this tree, you will pay the penalty of death, you and all your descendants, your sons, your sons’ sons, and those borne from them, until the ending of the world puts an end to mankind.” Furthermore, lest he lack no feature of a perfect lot, the prudent Creator made up His mind to add for Adam a consolation for his life and a helper for its preservation, since it is not good for a man thus to live alone without a consort. He said, “I shall make him a helper, like to himself, a partner of his life and his bed, in whose sweet company he may pass all his years.” At the behest of the Almighty Father, every kind of living thing came, those which wander the leafy forests, and swim in the waters of the sea, and flit about in the air on their swift wings, and stood before Man to accept him as their lord, who would dictate laws governed by equity, and would appoint each kind its own particular name which, after its first bestowal, it would keep for the coming centuries. But out of all those thousands of forms in the world, into which the Almighty had breathed the breath of life, Adam could not find a helpmeet like himself, but kept searching for a companion born of another stock to ease the discomforts of his solitary life.
And so the Lord cast a deep sleep over his limbs, and when his senses were taken away by this profound slumber the wonderful Creator immediately removed a rib from his side, closed the opening created in the prison of his flesh, and made that rib into a female body, wholly beautiful for her eyes, her serene countenance, and the arrangement of her parts. As soon as He had breathed into her the breath of life, she was made a living virgin, most fair in her beauty, already ripe for a husband and of fully marriageable years. Waking from his deep sleep, Adam beheld her, and his heart was suddenly smitten with love. He admired the excellent honors of her handsome body, her flashing eyes, and the beautiful features of her youth. Recognizing that she was made out of part of his body, he exclaimed, “This is flesh of my flesh, and bones of my bones.” Then the eternal Father played the part of a groomsman, and joined her to Adam in a lasting marriage, appointing her as his own, so that she might be the companion and helpmeet of her husband, giving him sweet consolations in his life, cherish him in an unbroken bond of love, and make him the father of handsome offspring. From this time was appointed the eternal bonds of the marriage-bed,. from this time God commanded the bridegroom the forget his father, mother, and dear friends, in order to pass his years with his beloved bride, so that he might singlemindedly keep her in his heart in an embrace of mutual love, and that they might be joined as one flesh, living as two made up of one, and one composed of two.
It was in this way that the Almighty Father created Man, noble in his upright countenance and in all his form, looking upwards at the heaven, distinct from woman and possessed of a proper manly sex, although they both were of the divine image in the splendor of their minds and candor of their upright hearts, since both went about entirely naked, since it seemed them to be no disgraceful wrong to be seen unclothed. For they were clad by the integrity of their minds, their earnest enthusiasm for true justice, and the virtue with which their fair bodies were suffused, so that they were immune from sin and shameful blemishes, the fires of Venus, and every frenzy of lust. Nor did they fear the horrible chills of icy winter, nor were they exposed to the summer heats of the hot south wind. Next, so that their marriage might remain clean and honorable for the ages, and so that He might bless it with much offspring, God bade them both indulge in pious embraces, from which might arise a new, noble progeny which might cultivate the desolate lands far and wide and subject it to themselves, placing the entire world under their rule, and enjoy dominion over every living thing, wild beasts, the watery tribe, cattle, and colorful birds. And He granted him everything that grows upon this earth for their nourishment, everything that produces plants by seeds and every manner of grain, and the fruit that hangs on trees, golden and brilliant in color, with their various sweet flavors. Furthermore, He granted the thriving dewy grass of the field as food for brute beats, and the plants which all-mother Earth produces from her bosom.
Then the Almighty Father surveyed all His handiwork, scanning all His creations with peaceful eyes, and rejoiced at the sweetness of the happy sight, perceiving that everything was fair, useful, and admirable, thanks to which the great prudence of the excellent Artificer shone forth, as did His goodness and power: everything resounded with the praises of its great Creator, for the works of fine honor which He had bestowed on the boundless spaces of the sky, the earth, and the waters. Thus the great Creator had made the fabric of heaven, earth, and deep sea, and filled whatever the world contains in its vast bosom within six days, without effort, by the immense virtue of His Word.
Now the seventh day was at hand, on which the great Creator rested from all work of creation, but He did not cease in His care for the World and the things of His manufacture, but rather continued upholding all creations with His powerful hand, animating all the mass of heaven, earth, and water, moving it all, governing it all. And as the seventh day put an end to this divine work, so the Creator of nature enjoined a a law, perpetual through the coming ages, that this seventh day should be a holiday for the first man and his future progeny, and that as often as this Sabbath brought its happy light to the world, he should rest from all labor, his body interrupting the adventures of its constant effort. In his mind he should ponder upon divine honors and, setting aside other cares, on the noble deeds of the supreme Father, shining forth in the starry sky, the breezes of the air, the blue waters of the ocean, and the tapestries of the earth, so as to learn then extent of the skilled Craftsman’s goodness and prudence, He Who hung temples in the vault of the heaven with the bright brilliance of so many fires, formed a globe capable of containing water and earth, and made so many creatures scattered everywhere on the land, in the air, and in the waters, for human uses, and offer up eternal praises to their great Author, Furthermore, so that the holiday of the seventh day should turn Man’s thoughts to the restful felicities of the life to come, when the mind will be free of all cares, and the body gain its wish for perpetual rest, they will celebrate perpetual Sabbaths in the churches of heaven.
Grant me, fostering Father of nature, Father and Creator, to meditate upon Your achievements, and now to observe Your thrice-holy Sabbath as long as my spirit rules these limbs on earth; that I might worship You in my mind, and illustrate Your Name with worthy honor; and that, washed in the pure blood of Christ and entering into the eternal joys of quiet, I might celebrate an uninterrupted Sabbath in heaven’s court, together with the companies of the Saints, and the angelic choirs.
2. THE SONG OF ZACHARIAH, FATHER OF JOHN THE BAPTIST, WHICH HE SANG TO GOD AT THE BIRTH OF HIS SON
Praise, honor, and virtue to the Lord, God of the race of Isaac, Who has redeemed His people, looking on them with the peaceful eye of His kindly face,
And, after the royal stock of Jesse was all but collapsed, raised up for Himself a horn of salvation, because He protects all men sacred to Himself,
As formerly He has said through the mouths of the prophets of old to whom, from the earliest ages of the world, His spirit has granted to foresee the future,
Saying there would come a time when He would bring safety to His afflicted people, safety from hostile fury and the hands of all who oppressed them with savage hatreds,
To show that He was mindful of His covenant of goodness, made with Abraham, and mindful of His sworn oath.
By this oath He gave his pledged He would grant His people, snatched from the ravening hands of their wild enemies, that we, far removed from fearful anxiety, free from all dread,
Might with upright hearts and holy minds, walking in the sight of the Lord, adore Him,as long as the breath in our bodies governs our limbs.
And you, child born of my wife, in your feeble old age you will have the name of a prophet of God, dwelling in high heaven,
So you might render men ready to receive the Lord with grateful minds, going as a messenger before His sacred face.;
So that by your means the people might come to know His salvation, and receive pardon, and repent their former lapses, those who regret having lived their youth amidst vices,
Out of the inexhaustible goodness of their best Father, with which He now shines upon the wretched, He who comes forth from His lofty throne in highest heaven.
By the beams of His light he illuminates those lying in darkness and the shadow of death, and guides their steps along the path that brings everlasting peace.
3. THE CANTICLE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
My mind rejoices in God, and from my teeming heart it pours forth a new Muse, wherewith I may celebrate the Lord, the author of my salvation, with praise.
Not disdaining the humble lot of His servant, with lofty honor He has raised me, poor and abject, above all virgins.
He has chosen me to be the mother of a child without a father, a mother of the great Father. Therefore all ages will henceforth proclaim me as being blessed,
Being the mother of the blessed Seed. He will be the origin and source of all blessedness, who will bring His blessing to all the world’s nations.
For in me the almighty Creator has displayed the power of His mighty hand, Whose name is holy and is to be celebrated with every honor.
His goodness is generously distributed through all those who worship His name with true piety, endlessly and for all time.
He has raised up the power of His powerful hand, putting down the proud of heart in their vainglory, as He cast down the powerful from their lofty thrones.
But He has placed on a royal chair those raised up from a humble lot, He has filled the innocent and those oppressed by hunger from the bounty of His good things,
And gathered those who rely on His help. With His help he has lifted up His chosen race of Isaac, mindful of the kindly security
Which He pledged to Father Abraham and, by His firm covenant, to the descendants of Abraham, which no passage of time may ever erase.
4. THE CANTICLE OF SIMEON, RENDERED PERIPHRASTICALLY IN A LATIN POEM
Oh mighty Father and preserver of all things, without Whom no day enters into the sky, nor passes out of the realms of light,
Now dismiss Your servant, enjoying calm peace, and allow him, freed from the wretched bonds of the body, to enjoy brighter light.
While I hold the Lord, the Author of peace, in my arms, the sure source of hope for a better life, allow me to bring this frail existence to a close,
As has been promised me by the oracle of Your word, saying that my soul was destined to depart this world after it was granted me to behold with these eyes God’s Christ on earth.
For now the salvation pledged our forefathers, which they boded forth in the sacrifice of the Law, and which the songs of ancient bards sang of as destined to come,
For the beholding of which noble kings were affected with zeal, and likewise the prophets, a zeal for the beholding of which possessed me from my earliest years,
This is granted me to behold with my eyes, Him whom You gave to this earth enclosed in frail flesh, a mighty master wrapped in the guise of a base slave,
So that He might stretch forth a saving hand to the people who come to Himself, a hand healing them from the fear of death, chill oblivion, and horrible Hell,
So that He might be an adornment to Your Israel, and raise up the nations lying in the shadows of dark night, illuminating them with the brightness of His shining light.
And so you, blessed mother, and the ever-blessed fruit of your womb, I say this to you, and store my words in your memory:
This child, born of you without a father, he will grant that in Israel many men, returned to God from their foul vices, will arise from death.
He will be made a stumbling-block for many men who are obstinate in their sin, as a target against which they all will direct their darts, seated on His high throne,
But in resisting Him these wretched unbelievers will bring down eternal punishments on themselves, and, losing their lives, will be carried down to the deepest pit of death.
Therefore you should not expect He will be powerful in his wealth and glory, or famous in the world, because the world will possess Him as a despised, poor, care-worn man,
(For which reason your soul will be pierced with great pangs, like sharp sword-thrusts), so that the hidden recesses of the heart might be brought to the open daylight,
I mean so that the poison of a false heart, enclosed in the lurking places of evil men, might be revealed, and that constant faith and piety be tried like gold in the fire.
5. A PARAPHRASE OF THE CANTICLE OF SOLOMON WHICH IS CALLED THE SONG OF SONGS
CHAP. 1, ODE 1
Where the Kirk, the bride, addresses Christ, its bridegroom
Oh if my bridegroom, He who sits on the right hand of our great Father on His throne in high heaven, and has joined me to Himself in His holy bedchamber,
Oh if He would kiss me with the kisses of His dainty mouth, and give His manifest pledges of His love, which might refresh my sick heart,
And at the same time take me in his close embrace, surpassing the sunlight in its glory, and claim me for Himself for all time, by an unbroken bond!
For the nectar of Your love, oh noble spouse, surpasses in its sweetness all the flavors pleasing to the mortal palate.
The grace pouring forth from Your rosy lips has given relief to my fellow virgins, a grace which the supreme Creator has shed on all men for this purpose,
That You will be king, prophet and priest of the holy assembly and the chosen people. It flows like ointment, sweet-smelling in every respect.
Its fragrant odor, spread abroad, seizes the holy virgins with its heat, and immediately makes them fall in love with You deep within their beings.
And so Your virtue, by the efficacious action of the Holy Spirit, attracts me to You, after I have been freed from the deceitful snares of shameful sin and the world.
Then I, and the sons You have given me, raised in my bosom, shall follow You as a guide and father along the path of Your laws.
By Your glory You will lead us into golden halls, gleaming with God’s treasuries, making us genuinely blessed there with genuine joys.
Then You will satisfy us with every joy of the pleasures, with all the clouds of our minds removed, when You grant us to see with pure eyesight.
Then Your love will become known to our hearts, sweeter than sweet, strong wine, or whatever is held to be yet more valuable.
For the choir of the saints, both militant against the world and Satan on earth, and triumphant in heaven, will burn with the love of You.
Though I am dark of color among the daughters of Jerusalem, made squalid by the shadows of evils which oppress me within and without,
Just as the Arabian shepherds, who dwell in the deserts parched by the sun, drawing too near, acquire from this a swarthy color,
I am nevertheless lovely and decent thanks to the beams of my bridegroom as He beholds me with his calm countenance, I am noble like curtains embroidered with gold.
So do not reproach me for being dark, scorched by the hot sun’s brilliance while my bridegroom seeks after me with the fire of His wild love.
For my treacherous brothers, the bastard sons of my mother, inflamed with hatred and anger, dealt me to be the keeper of a vineyard different
From the one which my bridegroom’s hand had appointed for me, and His kindly wisdom and art had established. This one was filled with tares, wild vines and bushes,
So that I completely neglected the one entrusted to me by my dear bridegroom. That one was not cultivated by me with the care and labor it deserved.
Therefore, lest I follow those companies who have abandoned God’s truth and made themselves false gods, worshiping the vain dreams of the human brain,
Show me the pastures and pleasant hills in which grazes the flock consecrated to Yourself, where they lie down, shaded, in the heat of the sun.
Where Christ replies to his bride.
Oh dear bride who, nurtured by the splendor of My grace, surpasses all others women born beneath the sun in beauty, if your heart is set on learning in what pastures My flock is grazed, or under what protection they lie when the Dogstar’s heat is raging, draw near to the faithful shepherds’ holy tents, where they carefully hear and obey My voice alone and imbibe My pure instructions regarding the holy, which which impart knowledge from the fountains of salvation. These will nourish you on wholesome fodder. which grows on the hills of Israel in the pleasantness of the tender springtime, heated by the warmth of the noontime sun, which the water of God’s sanctuary will cool with its gelid streams. Although you are squalid to the sight, abject with filth, and black, I believe you are so splendid in your beauty and so surpass the others that I might compare you to the royal horses which pull the chariots of Memphis, horses such as scarcely any other nation produces when it comes to speed and the noble proportion of their bodies. For, by the the grace of the sanctity flowing from Me: your face, cheeks, neck and ears are aglow, like all your parts, with your necklace and gems. Indeed, I shall make you yet fairer with new gifts, as I shall shower you with heaps of gold studded with silver.
Where the Kirk, the bride, addresses Christ, its bridegroom
Behold my king and master. Until he takes His seat on His lofty throne in high heaven, surrounded on all sides by the company of the saints,
The sweet suffusion of the Graces, which He pours forth to me, flows like rich nard, giving off a welcome scent,
And, as it wafts to my nostrils like a bundle of myrrh or cassia, or a cluster of Cypriote grapes, the garden of bountiful Palestine smells delightfully in its fertility.
Let love fill my bridegroom’s heart, let Him revive my ailing mind with His onbreathing, let Him burn with mutual love.
How great is Your splendor, oh my bridegroom! With Your eyes as pure as those of a snow-white dove, You are wholly beautiful, Your shining loveliness is complete, my bridegroom.
Our bedchamber is green with perennial flowers, and there, enjoying a celestial embrace, we issue forth our progeny into all world’s regions.
Silver fir supplies the strong pillars which hold up the august palace, in which the holy chorus worships You, and cedar supplies its beams, solid for all time.
CHAP. 2, ODE 4
On the grace descending from Christ onto the Kirk.
Just as a rose, thriving in the flowery countryside with its golden ruddiness, like a lily, growing in hollowed-out dales, fair in its color and scent, stand out among the rough thistles and vile weeds the earth produces, so the delight of the nectar flowing from Me, which waters the hearts of the faithful with its sacred dew, surpasses all earthly things in the delights of its sweetness.
Where the Kirk, the bride, prases Christ, its bridegroom.
My bridegroom shines forth among all the young men of his age, like an apple belonging to a thriving orchard shines among the barren trees with its golden fruit.
Reclining in His welcome shade, I am refreshed by His cooling breeze, safe from the penalty of violating the Law, owed to the wicked, from an irate God’s wrath
Against the guilty, from the raging and threats of a savage enemy, from the fear of death, and from the fires of the Styx.
I eat of His fruit and am satisfied. With its sweet savor it surpasses honey and refreshes my mind with the food of life eternal.
He leads me into His sacred inner chamber, and to a store of fragrant wine, from which my heart’s joy returns, and new strength for my limbs.
As soldiers follow their captain’s standard, wherever he moves his camp, thus my constant love draws and attracts me to my bridegroom alone.
When I am failing out of anxious longing, and sick with love, He comforts me with sweet apples and flagons of the grape.
With His left hand He lifts up my nodding head, covering me with His right and on one side and on the other, and, with my head propped in His lap, washed it clean of all disturbance.
And He advised all the daughters of Zion not to interrupt my sleep, calling all the roes and goats on the high mountains to bear witness.
His sweet voice, as he hastens to me, making his way through all delays, trough goats and roes, capering over the mountain tops at a fast clip,
Tickles my ears, this voice which, in a voice familiar to His flock, summons the convocation of His holy congregation.
Standing at the doorway of a loving heart, and showing Himself by the mirror of the Word and His sacred rites, He reveals himself to be seen by the eyes of faith.
And thus He summons her, addressing her with His calm voice: “Arise, oh sweet friend, oh come to your longed-for lover, oh beautiful bride.
“Do not allow your mind to be idle any more, nor continue to hide your lovely face, fearing the mad fury of your enemies.
“Behold, its gales abandoned, the bitter winter is thawed by the welcome change of springtime and the west wind, and the dark clouds are fleeing all the sky.
“Now the fig and the olive abound with new fruit, the vines bear clusters bursting with wine, everywhere issuing a peaceful fragrance.
“So set your squalid emaciation aside and rise up, oh my chosen one, oh my beautiful friend. Arise, and show your gleaming face in broad daylight,
“You who, dreading the impious assemblies of the malign throng, have hidden in the remote caves of forests and cliffs, like a timid dove,
“Come now, come out of your places of hiding, and let Me behold your face which, although stained by many tears, is wholly beautiful and lovely in My eyes.
“Allow Me to hear the sound of your voice. Although many sad complaints are intermingled with it, it nevertheless provides My ears with a sweet intonation.
“For now I command the death of those who have been arrested, those who, like foxes, have employed treacherous arts to beset those weak in their faith, as if they were tender young vines.”
With such utterances he refreshes my mind, He who is wholly mine and possesses all my heart, having joined me to Himself in everlasting love.
He has led me from the rough heaths to pleasant pastures on the lawns of an open field, and fed me as I walked in peace among fragrant lilies.
Therefore I humbly beg you, and beseech you over and over, my bridegroom, that, now that all darkness has been banished, since this daylight shines bright in a cloudless sky,
That light enriched by the wealth of all the pleasures which Your majesty will grant me to behold with my pure eye,
That You abandon all delays and return to Your bride, like a goat or a swift roe, running over the steep ridges of the mountain of Bether.
CHAP. 3, ODE 6
Where the Kirk expresses its great zeal for possessing and obtaining its bridegroom Christ.
Behold how I, silently lying in bad, sought my desired bridegroom in the night, but I perceived that He was far away.
Thus, moved by greater zeal, I immediately arose, leaving my bedchamber, and anxiously ran through all the precincts and streets of the city,
Amidst all the doctors of human wisdom and among those who have sharp wits and are famed for the reputation of their wisdom,
My heart a-boil with the ardent zeal of finding my bridegroom. But among them nothing was said which satisfied my troubled mind.
Next I met the good watchman who kept guard over the walls of holy Jerusalem. I asked them if they could tell where my bridegroom was.
When I continued, my face shone because of the passion of Him Whom my soul was seeking, like the fires of Phoebus among the lesser lights.
As soon as I could, with a peaceful embrace, I hastily led Him, destined to procreate thanks to our heavenly Father, into the house of my mother, who had raised me in her lap
Where Christ admonishes all who profess His name not to disrupt the peace and quiet of the Kirk, until it is transported to Himself in heaven.
Now, you daughters of Zion, and all of you who acknowledge the reverent worship of My name, in the name of the goats and roes roaming the wild mountains, in the name of whatever is sweet to you and whatever is lovable, I adjure you not to arouse my bride, already shattered by hard labor and anxious weariness, from her seats of soft repose, by the admission of novel teachings, the storms of contention, or vain nigglings, things which are the causes of schisms. Rather, you must allow her, given you by heaven, sweetly to rest in truth and in the bosom of her bridegroom. Who is this virgin, so decent, so fair, so beautiful? How does she rise up to heaven, like a column of smoke rising from fragrant myrrh and incense? This is because she is completely suffused with the grace of sanctity, she is the unique bride of Christ.
Where the Kirk praises the glory of her bridegroom Christ and his heavenly bedchamber, where the Maiden will enjoy the sight and embrace of her Christ forever, under the type and image of King Solomon’s bedchamber.
Oh the glory with which this pleasant place shines! Here where my sweet husband will grant Himself to be seen in the clear light for an eternity of years,
Far exceeding all of Solomon’s famous glory. The sturdiest of soldiers stand in a circle around Solomon’s golden chamber.
Sixty soldiers chosen out of the entire army of Israel, girded with swords at their sides, ready to confront any disturbances that arise in the night.
But my bridegroom’s chamber, stretched above the high peaks of Olympus, is surrounded by heaven’s soldiers and many thousands of angels.
King Solomon built his bedchamber out of cedars hewn down on Mt. Lebanon, supported on all sides by columns of bright silver,
Hung with tapestries of bright Tyrian scarlet, embroidered with Phrygian art by the girls of Jerusalem with shining gold.
But my bridegroom’s royal chamber, fixed above the stars, surpass all monuments of human construction and whatever their mortal hands manufacture,
Shining in the beams of eternal light, which neither the human eye is capable of beholding, nor the ear, nor the fibers deep within the recesses of the heart.
So come forth, oh you famous virgins of Jerusalem, setting aside the cloud of gross flesh, and turn your faces to Solomon your king,
Celebrating triumphal honors while wearing the gem-encrusted crown with which his mother encircled his head, sitting aloft on his golden throne.
This is only the shadow and image of the glory wherewith my bridegroom is crowned. He will shine in nuptial brilliance in the high theater of the saints,
Since he granted that the marriage which was begun here will be consummated in heaven with a noble triumph, and his bride will enjoy the sight of her bridegroom without end.
CHAP. 4, ODE 9
Where Christ praises the perfection of His Kirk, and celebrates the sweetness of its sermons, faith, acts of duty, and its fruits.
Oh how lovely, how decent, how fair you are, my friend, cleansed of all stains and sanctified by the grace of My renewing spirit! Hence your eyes are filled with purity and chastity, like those of a white dove: these eyes do not belong to someone haughty, gazing at every vain thing they encounter, but rather are meek beneath your hanging locks of hair, as befits a chaste virgin. Your head is like those of the goats who graze on the hills of Gilead, and it is adorned by seemly, well-kempt hair. As the flocks of sheep, clad in their white wool and a-gleam, come forth from their bath of crystal water, each one leading its pair of young offspring, so that no ewe is without her lambs, so your ivory teeth are in their whiteness, and gleam in their rows. Milky discourse flows from your honeyed lips like a scarlet thread, filled with prudence and grace, and purveying sweet grace to those who hear it. Peeping out from behind your locks, your brow is suffused with a blush, having the color of a pomegranate. Like the high tower of David, armed with a thousand brazen shields of brave men hanging inside its doors, so the glory and strength of your neck stands out, hung with a thousand necklaces. And your two breasts, by which your sweet children are nursed, children born of holy seed, are to be compared to those of a goat which feeds her kidlings amidst the pleasant lilies. Now I shall betake myself to the lofty peaks of Olympus, among the scents of incense and fragrant myrrh, until all the dark clouds of night depart and the bright light of My noble coming shines forth. Then you, my friend, you too, My sweet friend, whom I took to Myself for all time in truth, in grace, washed clean of all stains and without blemish, you who shine, brighter than gold smelted in fire, from the steep ridges of Ama’na, from the peaks of Shenir and Lebanon’s Hermon, and from all the quarters of the world which the sun looks down upon, traveling from the eastern marge to its final goal in the west, rescued from the savage assemblies of unbelievers and the impious who, devoted to bloodshed and murder like lions and fierce leopards, and who devour with their merciless teeth, and saved from all troubles, will happily enjoy My countenance for all time. With what love for you, My sweet bride and beloved sister, do you seize My wounded heart! Hence, when you glance at Me with one of your flashing eyes, when you display the necklace of grace hanging from your neck, then, oh My bride, how welcome is your love, how lovely, sweeter than the sweetest unadulterated wine, and more savory in its fragrance than the most pleasant of scents! Your lips are like honeycombs, your mouth flows with milky streams. Wherever you direct your steps, your going and your return, and all your bearing are more welcome than the fragrances of Lebanon wafting from the boughs of green trees and new sweet-smelling flowers. You, my bride, are a little garden, filled with celestial trees, and the grace of flowers, surrounded by the wall of My protection. You are a fountain of silvery waters, always welling up with living streams, fenced in on every side, lest you be contaminated by earthly matter or profane feet with their mud. Fair are the plants of your orchard, which you nurse in your bosom, replete with pomegranates, the golden fruit of the blood-orange, nard, clusters of Cypriot grapes, myrrh, saffron, and dates, sweet with the exhalation of frankincense and every spice, because its sweet exhalation wafts welcome scents to the nostrils.
Where the Kirk, acknowledging that whatever good it possesses is derived from Christ, celebrates Him at greater length and requests His presence.
So You, who are a fountain of everlasting water, water which men drink without suffering any further thirst, a fountain of water welling up for a life lacking all death,
Which, like the streams flowing from Lebanon, cheer Israel with cool liquor, bring it about that your Your is watered by Your bright streams,
And that the breeze coming from the chill north and the breeze coming from the hot south blow with well-tempered gusts on her garden,
So that the fruit of the trees planted there might grow and issue forth sweet scents, and that her bridegroom might come and enjoy the fruits of her garden.
CHAP. 5, ODE 12
Where the Kirk, imputing Christ’s abandoning it to its own indifference and negligence, speaks of its resulting sorrow and its zeal for regaining Him, imploring the aid of the pious in expressing its good disposition towards Him, where it describes its bridegroom in terms of His dignity and excellence, which surpasses all others.
In the night, when heavy sleep overcame my carefree body but my mind remained wakeful, then my bridegroom, assaulting my doors with His Word and His staff,
And seemed to address me with His placid mouth: “Oh my sweet sister, oh you shining dove, unlock the gates of your earthly matter and your unyielding flesh,
And open the doorway of your heart so that I might enter, and set up My home there. For my hair and all my head are damp with the night-time dew.”
But I made delay and resisted. “I have put off my garment,” I said, “should I put it on again? I have washed my feet, can I dirty them again?”
As I delayed, making vain excuses, I meanwhile saw my bridegroom withdraw His hand from the bolt and break off his repeated words.
Hence, quaking and palpitating in my heart, immediately I cast off my sleep in my haste, and arose from my bed to open the door for my beloved bridegroom alone.
When I touched the lock with my hand, suddenly my fingers were wet with drops of myrrh, which my bridegroom had left as tokens of His friendly grace.
Next I quickly threw open the doors to admit my uniquely beloved, but He, retreating, averted the eyes of His calm countenance from me in my hesitation.
My heart grew faint and failed me, and I rushed everywhere, seeking Him and shouting. But He did not appear for me, nor gave ear as I called him.
The watchmen charged with the care for managing blessed Jerusalem met me. They should have taught me the right path to find my bridegroom,
And refreshed my anxious mind with their soothing words and friendly advice. But these men wounded my mind with the poisoned arrows
Of black heresy and perverse teaching, and snatched away the garment of true piety in which I had formerly been clad.
I turn to you, you true daughters of Zion, and ask you to second my wishes, that, if my bridegroom should return,
If you chance to meet Him, you inform Him of my love and of how my mind burns with helpless longing for Him.
Should you ask me who He is, He is my only beloved, Who in my prayers takes precedence over all all other men spung of human seed.
For, retaining the love my heart, He surpasses all men of mortal stock in the splendid brilliance of His beauty.
As if holding aloft a standard, He is preeminent among ten thousand, shining like pure gold. Thus He holds aloft his head,
Which, assuming a mortal guise, he covers with curling black hair. His eyes are full of kindly grace and chaste love.
Milk-white doves in their nests along pleasant streams plant their eyes in his countenance, like gems set in the sockets of rings.
His cheeks are like spices growing in flat beds, and like flowers, His lips like fair lilies which drip liquid myrrh.
His hand gleams of gold, like an alloy of gold and silver set in the circle of a ring. The splendor of ivory shining with an inset sapphire adorns his breast.
His legs stand like columns set on golden bases, firmly planted to resist the peril of doubtful error and lapse.
The carriage of His body and his stance seem fair, as fair as the cedars of Lebanon. A stream of honey flows from His mouth,
Soothing the hearts of the faithful congregation with joy. Such is my beloved, such is the nature and the carriage of the One Who possesses my heart’s love, and always will.
CHAP. 6, ODE 13
Where the virgins of Jerusalem offer their help to the Kirk in searching for its bridegroom.
Come tell us, o virgin, lovely above all others, come tell us if you know where this bridegroom, Whose excellent beauty and comeliness you praise,
This One who is uniquely beloved to you, has departed, or in what regions He might be found. You shall have us all as partners in your search for Him.
Where Christ’s bride replies to the virgins of Jerusalem.
You ask where my uniquely beloved has retired, oh you girls of Jerusalem? Lo, His has retired to His paradise,
Where there is sweet-smelling spice and the little flowers waft a welcome odor. Here He strolls about and refreshes himself with the blooms of the garden.
Where Christ once more celebrates the praises of His Kirk.
You are wholly fair, you are wholly splendid, oh my friend. Like the noble city of Tirzah, like that delight of nations, the city of Zion. Your majesty shines, conjoined with your splendid comeliness: thanks to it, you seem as formidable as soldiers in their ranks, who gleam because of their outspread banners. From your flaming eyes such an ardent fervor shines forth that I can scarcely withstand the dazzle of the sight of you, unless you avert your glance a little. Your head is as handsome as that of the goats which graze in the hills of Gilead: such is the handsomeness of your head and the neatly-combed hair that adorns it. As the white wool with which flocks are clad gleams as they come forth from a bath of clear water, at the time when each ewe produces her twin lambs, so that none is without her offspring, so your teeth shine with ivory whiteness. The brow that peeps out from behind your locks is suffused with the ruddy color of the pomegranate. There are numerous foreign peoples who claim My darling as their own, but she is My sole true bride, beloved to Me above all others, defiled by no rites of profane worship. She is divine, and her mother Zion acknowledges her as her only child, being reared in her own bosom. Wives, royal concubines and little girls all proclaim that she is blessed and, beholding her, are amazed in their awe-stricken minds, as she shines and spreads new light on the lands, Aurora-like, as the full moon outshines the lesser stars in a serene sky, or as when the sun, raising its face from the eastern waters, brings back the daylight, as formidable with her grave face as an army of soldiers in battle array. Now, when the new springtime was revealing itself in its gem-like colors, as I went to a garden, pruned by the hand of a careful farmer, to see the grapevines flowering with their swollen clusters, and the pomegranates with their red little buds, how suddenly the image of My sweet bride appeared to Me, so anxiously eager to gaze upon My face. I came to revisit her with My old consolations, escorted by a bevy of princes and borne on the swift chariot of the celestials. So come back, come back, you perfect virgin, and possess the embraces of your long-desired bridegroom, by the gift of God. Behold, you heavenly choirs, behold how perfect is this virgin, how much majesty shines in her face, like a strong force of soldiers duly drawn up for battle.
CHAP. 7, ODE 16
Where Christ again celebrates His bride (namely the Kirk) with praises, and enumerates its privileges and prerogatives.
Oh how lovely are your feet, you daughter of a high king, with their white heels, the equipment of a happy messenger. And your loins are girdled with the bejewelled belt of truth, fashioned by our heavenly Craftsman with wonderful skill. As is a pleasant well-rounded cup serving the needs of those fainting from thirst, such is your navel, providing matter for holy meditations. It is like a rich threshing-floor filled with heaps of wheat, surrounded all around by fragrant lilies. Such is your belly, with its blessed fruits. Your white breasts are to be compared to a pair of kidlings, whereby your sweet sons, born of sacred seed, are nourished on wholesome nectar. Your sons govern you as presidents ,like an ivory tower, like the strong neck that upholds your head. One may compare your eyes, which guide you on the path of righteousness, to fish-ponds, made with the greatest skill, seen from that gate through which passes the greatest number of the people. Your nose, whereby you perceive the grace of sweet scents, is handsome and rises up straight like the famous tower of Lebanon, the one which faces Damascus. The beauty of holy rites, the dignity of priests, and good order in holy assemblies are like a crown of bright scarlet adorning your head, shining like a gleaming fillet and making your hair ruddy. These arrest the King’s eyes, fixed on you, so that He binds himself to your company with his constant presence. Oh how much beauty in all your parts, and with what comeliness your grace does shine! As a vine rises yet higher after its top has been polled, and stretches out wider the more it is restrained, so, my bride, you grow the more under the weight of your misfortunes, raising your head the higher, and stretching out your arms the farther, arms like vine-branches laden with sweet juice, offering up your breast. I am determined to climb this vine and embrace its tendrils, so as to harvest its fruit. And I shall fill it with a store of more generous grace, so that hearts may overflow, as it were, with the sweet liquor of the vine, by which failing hearts, now wavering between hope and fear, may be refreshed by joy, and so that the breath of your nostrils may be like the most fragrant of apples, spreading the scents of sanctity everywhere. Let welcome discourse pour forth from the roof of your mouth, refreshing your hearers and arousing the sleepers, so that they might speak forth very sweet words of praise and grace.
Where the Kirk, having heard of its bridegroom’s zeal for it, commits itself and looks for signs of His coming and of their coming marriage, and describes its very ardent and loving desire, and warns its friends of their duty towards its bridegroom.
Lo, I see that I wholly belong to my bridegroom, unworthy though I am and whatever I might be, and that His affection remains fixed on myself.
He has joined me to Himself, belonging to a ruined race but redeemed and rescued from its wretched downfall, binding me to Himself with an unbreakable, eternal bond.
So come hither, oh love and delight of my heart, choose me as a welcome companion in your mansions and in the sunny countryside of your estates.
Let me linger here with You in these fields. As a farmer who awaits the springtime, then industriously comes forth at sunrise
To see whether the springtime is bringing back the fair blossoms of the trees, whether it has begun to give the vines the glory of their first clusters, and whether the pomegranate has begun to bud,
So in my mind I must carefully look for signs of Your arrival, when the daylight sends forth its bright rays,and when the night spreads its dark shadows,
And for that happy day when our marriage will be celebrated, when I shall bestow my love on You, always joined to You in a perfect union.
See how flowers of fragrance, love, and sweet fruit of various flavors are readied along the roads in all places.
Oh if it were granted me to behold You, having abandoned your Father’s eternal throne and encased in flesh of human guise, made my brother,
So that I might happily spend my time on earth with You, gain the kisses of Your nearby mouth, and lift up my face, when You have been accused of a twofold sin, and have been acquitted.
Then I shall bring You into the house of my mother, and into the temple, rich with its gifts. Here You will teach the precepts of Your religion and of the true faith.
Here, worshiping You with our praise and chaste prayers, we shall give offerings more pleasing to You than fragrant wine and what flows from the branches of the pomegranate.
Then, joined to me in a closer bound, with Your left hand you will raise up my weary head, and, embracing me with Your right, you will refresh my sick heart and head.
Therefore I advise you, you daughters of holy Zion, do not rashly offend my bridegroom’s spirit with your bitter offences and vices.
Rather, allow Him to enjoy welcome peace in His home, until His happy predestined hour has arrived.
<CHAP. 8,> ODE 18
Where Christ acknowledges the love of His bride the Kirk, responds in turn, and lists His benefits to the Kirk.
What manner of virgin is this, so decent, who comes up from the arid wilderness, relying on her bridegroom alone, and refreshing herself with His love? Are you my dearest friend, who has been beloved and chosen by Me before the beginning of all time? You assuredly are that very one, who in the time of that woman who was the first cause of all evil, lay prostrate because of that apple, eating on forbidden fruits, I raised up from dark death. Here was your first nativity. Here your first mother conceived you, by faith embracing the promises given forth concerning Me, which contain no falsehood, and by which salvation is bestowed on her and her faithful seed. through all the ages.
Where the Kirk expresses its ancient, very ardent love for its bridegroom, and asks for His forever. Likewise it ponders appealing to the nations and indicates its happiness over their future conversion.
So always keep me in Your remembering mind and refresh me, my sweet bridegroom. Keep me stamped within Your heart, like a seal.
Keep me affixed to Your arm like a seal. Let your countenance, always fixed on me, be present as a sign of Your unchangeable love.
For I would be unable to bear any sign of its diminishing, not the least failure. For scarce any power is less strong than that of a lover’s love.
It consumes ones limbs like the all-devouring tomb, it consumes one’s marrow with its heavy cares. The heat of love burns like the coals of a violent fire.
Water quenches the fury of raging fire, but this love cannot be overwhelmed by any floods, nor by any amount of water.
He who has been stung by this gadfly scorns all goods of this world and all the seductions of honors, pleasures, and wealth, in comparison with it.
I have a sister, obscure and small, living among foreign races lacking the light. She is still without milk, with which she might beget and nourish children for You.
What will become of this little sister? And when will the time come, my bridegroom, when she will ask to live together with me?
By Your suasion You will persuade her to enter within the same walls with me. Then we must design the form of a new city,
And we must build a larger house, whose walls will be decorated by shining silver, and its doors adorned by posts of cedar, like the house- of a high prince.
Then, when she is defended, as is a city is well protected by bronze, walls, and strong gates, how her breasts will swell, filled with milk!
Thanks to these, numerous offspring will grow for You, and it will be granted You (no small part of my prayers) long to enjoy hoped-for peace.
Where Christ tells of his zeal for His bride, and asks to be preached by her.
There is a vineyard belonging to King Solomon, who wields the scepter of mighty Judah, located in fertile soil, which he rents out to husbandmen for an annual fee of a thousand silver shekels, and, besides the thousand owed to the king, the farmer earns himself two hundred shekels. But I reserve My own vineyard (which is the sacrosanct Kirk) for myself, it remains Mine forever, I protect and cultivate it, and all its revenue returns to Me. You are my fair vineyard, oh my bride, dwelling in pleasant gardens, My one pleasure in the world, and always My single concern. Let your companions and your brothers hear your voice in the assemblies of the pious, teaching them all My laws and My injunctions. Let Me hear your voice Myself, sounding My name with due praises through all men’s mouths everywhere.
Where the Kirk, accepting its bridegroom Christ’s mandate to preach in His name, begs for His presence and aid to guide and encourage it, and hopes that He will hasten His coming.
I shall undertake what You command with all my zeal, my bridegroom. But You must agree to be present, and supply me with the strength to perform Your commands with readiness.
Hasten to come, oh sweet Jesus, like horses or swift goats running over mountains of spice, that You might free me from all evils.