St. Ephrem The Syr­i­an, Hymns on Paradise”

The fol­low­ing are the stan­zas from the trans­lat­ed work of Hyms on Par­adise” by St. Ephrem the Syr­i­an.St Ephrem the Syr­i­an, Hymns on Par­adise, trans. Sebas­t­ian Brock (Crest­wood NY : St Vladimir’s Sem­i­nary Press, 1990). We have retained the page num­bers and the stro­phy para­graphs when­ev­er pos­si­ble. The back­ground sto­ry behind these stan­zas is explained in our fea­ture arti­cle Vir­gins Of Par­adise” In Chris­tian­i­ty.

    Page 119

    Stro­phy 7.1

    In times of temptation
    con­sole your­selves with God’s promises,
    for there is no deceit
    in the word of Him who repays all,
    and His trea­sure house is not so paltry
    that we should doubt His promise ;
    He has sur­ren­dered His own Son for us
    so that we might believe in Him ;
    His Body is with us, His assur­ance is with us,
    He came and gave us His keys,
    since it is for us that His trea­sures lie waiting.

    Res :
    Blessed is He who, with His keys,
    has opened up the Gar­den of Life

    Stro­phy 7.2

    In the evening the world sleeps,
    clos­ing its eyes,
    while in the morn­ing it arises.
    He who repays is distant
    as it were but a night’s length away ;
    now light dawns and He is coming.
    Weary not, my brethren,
    nor suppose
    that your strug­gle will last long,
    or that your res­ur­rec­tion is far off,
    for our death is already behind us,
    and our res­ur­rec­tion before us

    Stro­phy 7.3

    Bear up, O life of mourning,
    so that you may attain to Paradise ;
    its dew will wash off your squalor,
    while what it exudes will ren­der you fragrant ;
    its sup­port will afford rest after your toil,
    its crown will give you comfort,


    Page 120

    it will prof­fer you fruits
    in your hunger,
    fruits that puri­fy those who par­take of them ;
    in your thirst
    it will pro­vide for you a celes­tial draught,
    one that makes wise those who drink of it

    Stro­phy 7.4

    Blessed is the poor man
    who gazes on that place ;
    rich­es are poured in profusion
    out­side and around it ;
    chal­cedony and oth­er gems
    lie there cast out
    to pre­vent their defiling
    the glo­ri­ous earth of Paradise ;
    should some­one place there
    pre­cious stones or beryls,
    these would appear ugly and dull
    com­pared with that daz­zling land

    Stro­phy 7.5

    Both men and women
    are clothed in rai­ment of light ;
    the gar­ments pro­vid­ed to cov­er their nakedness
    are swal­lowed up in glory ;
    all the limbs’ vile emotions
    are silenced,
    the foun­tains of lust
    are stopped up,
    anger is removed
    and the soul purified
    and, like wheat, it flour­ish­es in Eden,
    unchoked by thorns

    Stro­phy 7.6

    There vir­gin­i­ty dances
    because the serpent,


    Page 121

    who secret­ly poured ven­om into her ears,
    is now destroyed ;
    the fig rush­es up to her
    and full of joy exclaims :
    Put away your ignorant
    childhood–
    the day when you became naked
    and hid in my bosom.
    Praise to Him who has clothed
    your naked­ness with the robe!”

    Stro­phy 7.7

    There youth exults
    because of what it has achieved ;
    in Par­adise it beholds
    and cast away the lust
    that flared up among the senseless ;
    it sees too the child who over­came the asp
    in its hole.
    Sam­son over­came a lion,
    but a viper conquered
    and smote him, caus­ing him straight­way to lose
    his Nazirite locks.

    Stro­phy 7.8

    There the mar­ried state
    finds rest after hav­ing been anguished
    by the pangs of giv­ing birth, brought on by the curse,
    and by the pain of childbearing ;
    now it sees the children
    whom it had buried amid laments,
    pas­tur­ing like lambs
    in Eden ;


    Page 122

    exalt­ed in their ranks,
    glo­ri­ous in their splendors,
    they are like kindred
    of the spot­less angels.

    Stro­phy 7.9

    Thanks be to the Mer­ci­ful One
    who plucked them while still young–
    the chil­dren who are
    the late fruits
    to become in Paradise
    the first fruits of all.
    A nov­el sight may be seen there :
    these fruits” pluck
    the fruit­ing produce,
    the firstlings pluck the firstfruits.
    In their puri­ty both plucked
    and pluck­er are alike.

    Stro­phy 7.10

    Bind up your thoughts, Old Age,
    in Paradise
    whose fra­grance makes you young ;
    its waft­ing scent reju­ve­nates you,
    and your stains are swal­lowed up
    in the beau­ty with which it clothes you.
    In Moses He depict­ed for you
    a parable :
    his cheeks, ashen with age,
    became shin­ing and fair,
    a sym­bol of old age
    that in.

    Stro­phy 7.11

    No blem­ish is in them,
    for they are with­out wickedness ;


    Page 123

    no anger is in them,
    for they have no fiery temper ;
    no mock­ing scorn is in them,
    for they are with­out guile.
    They do not race to do harm–
    and so them­selves be harmed ;
    they show no hatred there,
    for there they are with­out envy ;
    they pro­nounce no judg­ment there,
    for there no oppres­sion exists.

    Stro­phy 7.12

    Peo­ple behold themselves
    in glory
    and won­der at themselves,
    dis­cov­er­ing where they are.
    The nature of their bodies,
    once trou­bled and troublesome,
    is now tran­quil and quiet,
    resplendent
    from with­out in beauty,
    and from with­in with purity,
    the body in evi­dent ways,
    the soul in hid­den ways.

    Stro­phy 7.13

    In Par­adise the cripples,
    who had nev­er walked, leap around ;
    the deformed, who had nev­er even crawled,
    fly about through the air ;
    the eyes of the blind and deaf,
    who had yearned from the womb,
    hun­ger­ing for the light
    which they had failed to see,
    now rejoice to behold
    the beau­ty of Paradise,
    and the mighty sound of its harps
    gives com­fort to their ears.


    Page 124

    Stro­phy 7.14

    At him who has uttered
    no curse or abuse
    does Par­adis­e’s blessing
    rejoice all the more ;
    upon him whose eyes’ glance
    remained always chaste
    does Par­adis­e’s beauty
    gaze the more ;
    in the limbs of him
    who quelled the ven­om of his thoughts
    do its springs of sweetness
    well up

    Stro­phy 7.15

    The vir­gin who rejected
    the mar­riage crown that fades
    now has the radi­ant mar­riage chamber
    that cher­ish­es the chil­dren of light,
    shin­ing out because she rejected
    the works of darkness-
    To her who was alone
    in a lone­ly house
    the wed­ding feast now grants tranquility :
    here angels rejoice,
    prophets delight,
    and apos­tles add splendor

    Stro­phy 7.16

    Fasters, who have cho­sen Daniel’s
    mea­ger diet of vegetables
    –and before Daniel kings with their crowns
    bowed down and did reverence
    fasters like these do the trees,
    not kings, extol,
    bow­ing down in all their beauty
    and invit­ing them


    Page 125

    to turn aside to the place where they grow,
    and take up their abode amid their boughs,
    bathe in their dew
    and rejoice in their fruits.

    Stro­phy 7.17

    Who­ev­er has washed the feet of the saints
    will him­self be cleansed in that dew ;
    to the hand that has stretched out
    to give to the poor
    will the fruits of the trees
    them­selves stretch out ;
    the very foot­steps of him
    who vis­it­ed the sick in their affliction
    do the flow­ers make haste
    to crown with blooms,
    jostling to see
    which can be first to kiss his steps.

    Stro­phy 7.18

    The man who abstained,
    with under­stand­ing, from wine,
    will the vines of Paradise
    rush out to meet, all the more joyfully,
    as each one stretch­es out and prof­fers him
    its clusters ;
    or if any has lived
    a life of virginity,
    him too they wel­come into their bosom,
    for the soli­tary such as he
    has nev­er lain in any bosom
    nor upon any mar­riage bed.

    Stro­phy 7.19

    Those who have been crowned for our Lord’s sake
    with the mar­tyr’s death by the sword
    shine out in glo­ry there
    with their crowns


    Page 126

    because their bod­ies despised
    the per­se­cu­tors’ fire.
    Like stars do they blossom
    in Paradise,
    those sev­en sons of light
    with their radi­ant mother,
    who, in their deaths,
    spurned the wrath of the impi­ous king.

    Stro­phy 7.20

    The hap­pi­ness of this place
    gives joy to the women who labored
    in the ser­vice of the saints :
    there they see that widow
    who took in Elias
    savor Eden’s delights ;
    instead of those two fountains
    –the jar and the cruse–
    which gave her her livelihood,
    now the boughs of the trees
    pro­vide this in Eden
    for all women who have giv­en liveli­hood to the poor.

    Stro­phy 7.21

    Noth­ing there in Paradise
    is useless :
    both grass and roots
    bring ben­e­fit and profit ;
    who­ev­er tastes them is rejuvenated,
    who­ev­er breathes in their scent grows fair ;
    in the bosom of its blos­soms and flowers
    is hidden


    Page 127

    a ver­i­ta­ble treasure,
    a gift for those who pluck it ;
    the fruits of Par­adise bear rich wealth
    for those who gath­er them.

    Stro­phy 7.22

    None toil there,
    for none go hun­gry there ;
    none endure shame there,
    for none do wrong there ;
    none feel con­tri­tion there,
    for there is no cause to repent there.
    Those who run the course
    find rest and quiet.
    None grow old there,
    for none die there ;
    none are buried there,
    for none are born there.

    Stro­phy 7.23

    They know no worry,
    for they have no suffering ;
    they have no fear,
    for no snare awaits them ;
    they have no adversary,
    for they have passed through the contest.
    They count themselves
    blessed
    unendingly,
    for their war­fare is over ;
    they have tak­en up their crowns
    and found rest in their new abode.

    Stro­phy 7.24

    I saw that place, my brethren,
    and I sat down and wept,
    for myself and for those like me,
    at how my days have reached their fill,


    Page 128

    dis­si­pat­ed one by one, fad­ed out,
    stolen away with­out my noticing ;
    remorse seizes hold of me
    because I have lost
    crown, name and glory,
    robe and bridal cham­ber of light.
    How blessed is the person
    who of that heav­en­ly table is held worthy !

    Stro­phy 7.25

    May all the chil­dren of light
    make sup­pli­ca­tion for me there,
    that our Lord may grant them
    the gift of a sin­gle soul.
    Thus would I have renewed occasion
    to praise Him
    whose hand is, to be sure,
    stretched out in readiness.
    May He who gives
    both in jus­tice and in grace
    give to me, in His mercy,
    of the trea­sure store of His mercies.

    Stro­phy 7.26

    And if none who is defiled
    can enter that place,
    then allow me to live by its enclosure,
    resid­ing in its shade.
    Since Par­adise resembles
    that table,
    let me, through Your grace,
    eat of the crumbs” of its fruit
    which fall outside,
    so that I too may join
    those dogs who had their fill
    from the crumbs of their mas­ters’ tables.


    Page 129

    Stro­phy 7.27

    And may I learn how much I will then have received
    from that para­ble of the Rich Man
    who did not even give to the poor man
    the left­overs from his banquet ;
    and may I see Lazarus,
    graz­ing in Paradise,
    and look upon the Rich Man,
    in anguish,
    so that the might of jus­tice outside
    may cause me fear,
    but the breath of grace within
    may bring me comfort.

    Stro­phy 7.28

    Allow me to dwell by the enclosure
    of that Gar­den, so that I may be
    a neigh­bor to those within,
    envied by those outside.
    Yet who is able to look, at the same time,
    on delight and torment,
    to behold both Gehenna
    and the Garden ?
    May the crown of those within
    rebuke me for all my sins ;
    may the pun­ish­ment of those without
    teach me how great is Your mer­cy toward me.

    Stro­phy 7.29

    Who can endure
    to look on both sides,
    whose ears can stand
    the ter­ri­ble cries of the wicked,
    who pro­claim, in Gehenna,
    that the Just One is righteous,
    while the good utter praise
    in the Garden ?


    Page 130

    Stro­phy 7.19

    The two sides gaze on each other
    in amazement,
    the works of each side, revealed,
    serve to admon­ish the other.

    7.30

    May my sins not be revealed
    to my brethren on that day,
    –yet by this we show
    how con­temptible we are, Lord ;
    if our sins are revealed to You,
    from whom can we hide them ?
    I have made shame
    an idol for myself ;
    grant me, Lord, to fear You,
    for You are mighty.
    May I feel shame and self-reproach
    before You, for You are gentle.Endmark

    Stro­phy 7.31

    A man’s neigh­bor has become his god :
    every moment he seeks to please him ;
    if he does wrong, he feels shame before him,
    if he does him an injury, he is afraid ;
    or if he does him some good,
    then he has spoiled that good by his thirst for praise.
    Such a man has become an abject slave
    in all these ways.
    The Good One gave us freedom,
    but we have reduced this to slavery.
    May we exchange, for Your lordship,
    this over­lord we have made for ourselves !

Cite this arti­cle as : Asif Iqbal, St. Ephrem The Syrian, Hymns on Par­adise”,” in Bis­mi­ka Allahu­ma, Octo­ber 16, 2005, last accessed Feb­ru­ary 28, 2024, https://​bis​mikaal​lahu​ma​.org/​c​h​r​i​s​t​i​a​n​i​t​y​/​h​y​m​n​s​-​o​n​-​p​a​r​a​d​i​se/

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