The Mystery of the Incarnation
The following is an hymn from the Ninth Hour for the Feast of the Nativity:
Σήμερον γεννᾶται ἐκ Παρθένου, ὁ δρακὶ τὴν πᾶσαν ἔχων κτίσιν.It is linked closely to the 15th Antiphon of Holy Friday Matins (sung on Holy Thursday evening) and again during the Ninth Hour of Holy Friday.
Ῥάκει καθάπερ βροτὸς σπαργανοῦται, ὁ τῇ οὐσίᾳ ἀναφής.
Θεὸς ἐν φάτνῃ ἀνακλίνεται, ὁ στερεώσας τοὺς οὐρανούς πάλαι κατ' ἀρχάς.
Ἐκ μαζῶν γάλα τρέφεται, ὁ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ Μάννα ὀμβρίσας τῷ Λαῷ.
Μάγους προσκαλεῖται, ὁ Νυμφίος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας.
Δῶρα τούτων αἴρει, ὁ Υἱὸς τῆς Παρθένου.
Προσκυνοῦμέν σου τὴν Γένναν Χριστέ.
Δεῖξον ἡμῖν καὶ τὰ θεῖά σου Θεοφάνεια.
Σήμερον κρεμᾶται ἐπὶ ξύλου, ὁ ἐν ὕδασι τὴν γῆν κρεμάσας.These similarities are not coincidental. The icon of the Feast of the Nativity is linked to, and combined with the icons of the Passion. Christ is depicted in a cave - just as He was placed in the cave for His burial. (Here one can also add the Virgin womb and birth and the corresponding newly hewn tomb into which no-one was ever buried.) Christ is wrapped in swaddling clothes - as a corpse and His Halo has the sign of the Cross.
Στέφανον ἐξ ἀκανθῶν περιτίθεται, ὁ τῶν Ἀγγέλων Βασιλεύς.
Ψευδῆ πορφύραν περιβάλλεται, ὁ περιβάλλων τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐν νεφέλαις.
Ῥάπισμα κατεδέξατο, ὁ ἐν Ἰορδάνῃ ἐλευθερώσας τὸν Ἀδάμ.
Ἥλοις προσηλώθη, ὁ Νυμφίος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας.
Λόγχῃ ἐκεντήθη, ὁ Υἱὸς τῆς Παρθένου.
Προσκυνοῦμέν σου τὰ Πάθη Χριστέ.
Δεῖξον ἡμῖν, καὶ τὴν ἔνδοξόν σου Ἀνάστασιν.
As He gave His Body as food "for the life of the world" (John 6:51), He is laid in a manger as food. The whole mystery of the Incarnation therefore can only be grasped through the Cross, burial, and resurrection.
We honour your birth O Christ!