Most of us are familiar with Christmas carols like “Silent Night,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” and “Once in Royal David’s City.” Though these hymns are old and venerable, they are rather new compared to others. The church has been writing hymns since its inception, and that includes hymns to commemorate the Lord’s Nativity.
Here is an example, chanted in Arabic by Nader Hajjar. I don’t know exactly how old it is, but there’s a reference at the end linking Christmas to Theophany (same as Epiphany), which in the East marks Christ’s baptism. Fifteen hundred years ago (or so) these two events, Christmas and Theophany, were celebrated on the same festal day. To see them linked in song likely means this number is quite ancient.
Many thanks to Metropolitan Savas Zembillas of Pittsburgh for sharing this. I’ve included the lyrics below.
Today is born of a virgin
He who holds the whole creation in His hand (3x)
He whose essence none can touch
is bound own swaddling clothes as a Child
God who in the beginning established the heavens
lies in the a manger
He who rained manna on His people in the wilderness
is fed on milk from His mother’s breasts
The Bridegroom of the Church summons the wise men
The Son of the Virgin accepts their gifts
We worship Thy birth, O Christ (3x)
Show us also Thy Divine Theophany