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Home > Fathers of the Church > A Canticle of Mar Jacob

A Canticle of Mar Jacob

A Canticle of Mar Jacob the Teacher on Edessa.

Edessa sent to Christ by an epistle to come to her and enlighten her. On behalf of all the peoples did she make intercession to Him that He would leave Zion, which hated Him, and come to the peoples, who loved Him.

She dispatched a messenger to Him, and begged of Him to enter into friendship with her. By the righteous king she made intercession to Him, that He would depart from the Jewish people, and towards the other peoples direct His burden.

From among all kings one wise king did the daughter of the peoples find. Ambassador she made him. To her Lord she sent by him: Come unto me; I will forget in You all idols and carved images.

The harlot heard the report of Him from afar, as she was standing in the street, going astray with idols, playing the wench with carved images. She loved, she much desired Him, when He was far away, and begged Him to admit her into His chamber.

Let the much-desired Bridegroom kiss me: with the kisses of His mouth let me be blessed. I have heard of Him from afar: may I see Him near; and may I place my lips upon His, and be delighted by seeing Him with my eyes.

Your breasts are better to me than wine: for the fragrance of Your sweetness is life for evermore. With Your milk shall I be nourished; with Your fragrance shall I grow sweet from the smoke of idols, which with its rank odour did make me fetid.

Draw me after You into Your fold: for I am a sheep gone astray in the world. After You do I run, and Your converse do I seek: that in me may be completed that number of a hundred, by means of a lost one which is found.

Let Gabriel rejoice and be exceeding glad, with the company of all the angels, in You, the Good Shepherd, who on Your shoulders carried the maimed sheep, that that number of a hundred might be preserved.

Your love is better than wine; than the face of the upright Your affection. By wine let us be reminded of You, how by the cup of Your blood You granted us to obtain new life, and the upright did celebrate Your love.

A church am I from among the peoples, and I have loved the Only-begotten who was sent by God: whereas His betrothed hated Him, I have loved Him; and by the hands of Abgar the Black do I beseech Him to come to me and visit me.

Black am I, yet comely. You daughters of Zion, blameless is your envy, seeing that the Son of the Glorious One has espoused me, to bring me into His chamber. Even when I was hateful, He loved me, for He is able to make me fairer than water.

Black was I in sins, but I am comely: for I have repented and turned me. I have put away in baptism that hateful hue, for He has washed me in His innocent blood who is the Saviour of all creatures.

Here end the Extracts from the Canticle on Edessa.

About this page

Source. Translated by B.P. Pratten. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0851.htm>.

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