The Synaxis of St. John the Forerunner the Baptist. This is his main feast day, immediately after Theophany on January 6 (January 7 also commemorates the transfer of the relic of the right hand of John the Baptist from Antioch to Constantinople in 956)
Commemorated on January 7
Hymn XIV on Theophany
by St. Ephraim the Syrian.
Hymn concerning our Lord and John.
[i.e. Hymn written as a conversation between Christ and the Forerunner]
(Resp.-Glory to Thee, my Lord, for Thee-with joy Heaven and earth worship!)
2. I saw John filled with wonder,-and the multitudes standing about him,-and the glorious Bridegroom bowed down-to the Son of the barren that he might baptize Him.
3. At the Word and the Voice my thought marvelled:-for lo! John was the Voice; -our Lord was manifested as the Word, that what was hidden should become revealed.
4. The Bride was espoused but knew not-who was the Bridegroom on whom she gazed:-the guests were assembled, the desert was filled,-and our Lord was hidden among them.
5. Then the Bridegroom revealed Himself;-and to John at the voice He drew near:-and the Forerunner was moved and said of Him-“This is the Bridegroom Whom I proclaimed.”
6. He came to baptism Who baptizes all,-and He showed Himself at Jordan.-John saw Him and drew back,-deprecating, and thus he spake:-
7. “How, my Lord, willest Thou to be baptized,-Thou Who in Thy baptism atonest all?-Baptism looks unto Thee;-shed Thou on it holiness and perfection?”
8. Our Lord said “I will it so;-draw near, baptize Me that My Will may be done.-Resist My Will thou canst not:-I shall be baptized of thee, for thus I will it.”
9. “I entreat, my Lord, that I be not compelled,-for this is hard that Thou hast said to me,-‘I have need that thou shouldst baptize Me;’-for it is Thou that with Thy hyssop purifiest all.”
10. “I have asked it, and it pleases Me that thus it should be;-and thou, John, why gainsayest thou?-Suffer righteousness to be fulfilled,-and come, baptize Me; why standest Thou?”
11. “How can one openly grasp-in his hands the fire that burns?-O Thou that art fire have mercy on me,-and bid me not come near Thee, for it is hard for me!”
12. “I have revealed to Thee My Will; what questionest thou?-Draw near, baptize Me, and thou shalt not be burned.-The bridechamber is ready; keep Me not back-from the wedding-feast that has been made ready.”
13. “The Watchers fear and dare not-gaze on Thee lest they be blinded;-and I, how, O my Lord, shall I baptize Thee?-I am too weak to draw near; blame me not!”
14. “Thou fearest; therefore gainsay not-against My Will in what I desire:-and Baptism has respect unto Me.-Accomplish the work to which thou hast been called!”
15. “Lo! I proclaimed Thee at Jordan-in the ears of the people that believed not and if they shall see Thee baptized of me,-they will doubt that Thou art the Lord.”
16. “Lo! I am to be baptized in their sight,-and the Father Who sent Me bears witness of Me-that I am His Son and in Me He is well pleased,-to reconcile Adam who was under His wrath.”
17. “It becomes, me. O my Lord, to know my nature-that I am moulded out of the ground,-and Thou the moulder Who formest all things:-I, then, why should I baptize Thee in water?”
18. “It becomes thee to know wherefore I am come,-and for what cause I have desired that thou shouldst baptize Me.-It is the middle of the way wherein I have walked;-withhold thou not Baptism.”
19. “Small is the river whereto Thou art come,-that Thou shouldst lodge therein and it should cleanse Thee.-The heavens suffice not for Thy mightiness;-how much less shall Baptism contain Thee!”
20. “The womb is smaller than Jordan;-yet was I willing to lodge in the Virgin:-and as I was born from woman,-so too am I to be baptized in Jordan.”
21. “Lo! the hosts are standing!-the ranks of Watchers, lo! they worship And if I draw near, my Lord, to baptize Thee,-I tremble for myself with quaking.”
22. “The hosts and multitudes call thee happy,-all of them, for that thou baptizest Me.-For this I have chosen thee from the womb:-fear thou not, for I have willed it
23. “I have prepared the way as I was sent:-I have betrothed the Bride as I was commanded.-May Thy Epiphany be spread over the world-now that Thou art come, and let me not baptize Thee!”
24. “This is My preparation, for so have I willed;-I will go down and be baptized in Jordan,-and make bright the armour for them that are baptized,-that they may be white in Me and I not be conquered.”
25. “Son of the Father, why should I baptize Thee?-for lo! Thou art in Thy Father and Thy Father in Thee.-Holiness unto the priests Thou givest;-water that is common wherefore askest Thou?”
26. “The children of Adam look unto Me,-that I should work for them the new birth.-A way in the waters I will search out for them,-and if I be not baptized this cannot be.”
27. “Pontiffs of Thee are consecrated,-priests by Thy hyssop are purified;-the anointed and the kings Thou makest.-Baptism, how shall it profitThee?”
28. “The Bride thou betrothedst to Me awaits Me,-that I should go down, be baptized, and sanctify her.-Friend of the Bridegroom withhold Me not-from the washing that awaits Me.”
29. “I am not able, for I am weak,-Thy blaze in my hands to grasp.-Lo! Thy legions are as flame;-bid one of the Watchers baptize Thee!”
30. “Not from the Watchers was My Body assumed,-that I should summon a Watcher to baptize Me.-The body of Adam, lo! I have put on,-and thou, son of Adam, art to baptize Me.”
31. “The waters saw Thee, and greatly feared ;-the waters saw Thee, and lo! they tremble!-The river foams in its terror;-and I that am weak, how shall I baptize Thee?”
32. “The waters in My Baptism are sanctified,-and fire and the Spirit from Me shall they receive;-and if I be not baptized they are not made perfect-to be fruitful of children that shall not die.”
33. “Fire, if to Thy fire it draw near,-shall be burnt up of it as stubble.-The mountains of Sinai endured Thee not,-and I that am weak, wherein shall I baptize Thee?”
34. “I am the flaming fire;-yet for man’s sake I became a babe-in the virgin womb of the maiden.-And now I am to be baptized in Jordan.”
35. “It is very meet that Thou shouldst baptize me,-for Thou hast holiness to purify all.-In Thee it is that the defiled are made holy; but Thouthat art holy, why art Thou to be baptized?”
37. “I am a bondman and I am weak.-Thou that freest all have mercy on me! Thy latchets to unloose I am not able;-Thy exalted head who will make me worthy to touch?”
38. “Bondmen in My Baptism are set free;-handwritings in My washing are blotted out ;-manumissions in the water are sealed ;-and if I be not baptized all these come to nought.”
39. “A mantle of fire the air wears,-and waits for Thee, above Jordan;-and if Thou consentest to it and willest to be baptized,-Thou shall baptize Thyself and fulfil all.”
40. “This is meet, that thou shouldst baptize Me,-that none may err and say concerning Me,-‘Had He not been alien from the Father’s house,-why feared the Levite to baptize Him?’ “
41. “The prayer, then, when Thou art baptized,-how shall I complete over Jordan?-When the Father and the Spirit are seen over Thee,-Whom shall I call on, as priest?”
42. “The prayer in silence is to be completed:-come, thy hand alone lay thou on Me.-and the Father shall utter in the priest’s stead-that which is meet concerning His Son.”
43. “They that are bidden, lo! all of them stand;-the Bridegroom’s guests, lo! they bear witness-that day by day I said among them,-‘I am the Voice and not the Word.’ “
44. “Voice of him that cries in the wilderness,-fulfil thou the work for which thou camest,-that the desert whereunto thou wentest out may resound-with the mighty peace thou preachedst therein.”
45. “The shout of the Watchers has come to my ears;-lo! I hear from the Father’s house-the hosts that sound forth the cry,-‘In Thy Epiphany, O Bridegroom, the worlds have life.’ “
46. “The time hastes on, and the marriage guests-look to Me to see what is doing.-Come, baptize Me, that they may give praise-to the Voice of the Father when it is heard!”
47. “I hearken, my Lord, according to Thy Word:-come to Baptism as Thy love constrains Thee!-The dust worships that whereunto he has attained,-that on Him Who fashioned him he should lay his hand.”
48. The heavenly ranks were silent as they stood,-and the Bridegroom went down into Jordan;-the Holy One was baptized and straightway went up,-and His Light shone forth on the world.
49. The doors of the highest were opened above,-and the voice of the Father was heard,-” This is my Beloved in Whom I am well pleased.”-All ye peoples, come and worship Him.
50. They that saw were amazed as they stood, at the Spirit Who came down and bare witness to Him.-Praise to Thy Epiphany that gladdens all,-Thou in Whose revelation the worlds are lightened!
(source Fifteen Hymns for the Feast of the Epiphany. (Translated by Rev. A. Edward Johnston, B.a.)
Kontakion Holy Theophany of Our Lord: (Fourth Tone)
Today Thou hast appeared to the universe, end Thy Light, O Lord, has shone on us, who with understanding praise Thee: Thou hast come and revealed Thyself, O Light Unapproachable!