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Synesius of Cyrene


Mosaic depicting an angel. Museum of Ptolemais. Photo Marco Prins.
Mosaic depicting an angel. Museum of Ptolemais
Synesius of Cyrene (c.370-c.413) was a Neo-Platonic philosopher who became bishop of Ptolemais in the Cyrenaica. He left behind a small corpus of texts that offer much information about daily life in Late Antiquity, and about the christianization of the Roman world.

Hymn 5 is offered here in the translation by A. Fitzgerald.

Hymn 5: A Song of Praise

Let us sing to the Son of the Bride,
the Bride not wedded
for destined wedlock with man.
The ineffable designs of the Father
produced the birth of Christ.
The sacred travail of a Bride
revealed the form of Man,
who came bringing a fountain of light to mortals;
and this ineffable Offspring
knows the Root of the ages.

Thou Thyself art the Light
from the Fountain-head,
the ray that has shone
along with the Father,
that, having broken through murky matter,
dost shine in pious souls.

'Tis Thou Who art the Founder of the universe,
the Fashioner of the spheres of famous stars,
the Founder of the centers of the earth,
and Thou art Thyself the Saviour of men.

For Thee the Titan drives his horses,
the unquenchable source of morning,
for Thee the horned moon
dissipates the shades of night.
For Thee also are fruits begotten,
and herds do graze.

Sending out from Thy ineffable source a light-giving splendor,
Thou fillest with nourishment the interlaced roots of the universe.
Out of Thy profundities have blossomed forth light and mind and soul.
Take pity upon Thy daughter imprisoned in mortal limbs
and the material limits of destiny.

Preserve Thou the force of my limbs unscathed from the ravage of disease.
Grant persuasiveness to my word and glory to my deeds,
even such as may become the traditions of Cyrene and Sparta;
and may my soul, untrodden by grief, draw to itself a gentle nourishing light,
straining a pair of eyes upon Thy Light, so that escaping from matter
I may hasten on the unchanging paths, a fugitive from the sufferings of earth,
to mingle with the Fountain-head of the soul.

Mayest Thou achieve such an unstained life to Thy Root,
the greatest glory of the Father, and the Spirit that shareth throne midway
between the Root and the Branch, and in singing the might of the Father,
I lull to rest, with hymns to Thee, the glorious travail of my soul.

Hail, Source of the Son, hail.
Form of the Father, hail.
Throne of the Son, hail.
Seal of the Father, hail.
Strength of the Son, hail.
Beauty of the Father, hail.
Breath undefiled, Center of the Son and of the Father,
mayst Thou send to me with the Father
the mistress of divine gifts, to water the wings of my soul.
Online 2007
Revision: 21 August 2007
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