Scripture Verse

The first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared. Luke 24:1

Introduction

illustration
The Holy Women at the Tomb
William Bouguereau (1825–1905)

Words: Trans­lated to Eng­lish from Greek (Τὸν πρὸ ἡλ­ί­ου ἥλ­ιν δύ­ναν­τα πο­τὲ ἐν τά­φῳ) by Will­iam C. Dix in Ly­ra Mes­si­an­i­ca, ed­it­ed by Or­by Ship­ley (Lon­don: Long­man, Green, Long­man, Ro­berts & Green, 1864), pag­es 292–93.

Music: Al­ba­ce­te Ro­bert F. Smith (🔊 pdf nwc).

If you know where to get a good pho­to of Smith (head-and-shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els), or a bet­ter one of Dix, would you ?

portrait
William C. Dix
(1837–1898)

Origin of the Hymn

This is an Οῑκος, or short hymn, in hon­our of the ho­ly wo­men who brought spic­es to an­oint the bo­dy of Je­sus, and fol­lows in the Greek Of­fice for East­er Day, a κοντάκιον (an­oth­er short hymn), by St. Ro­man­us (q. v.), to whom, pos­si­bly be­cause of this close as­so­ci­a­tion, it is some­times as­cribed.

It dates prob­ab­ly about 500, and is found in­sert­ed be­tween Odes vi. and vii. of the Gold­en Can­on of St. John of Dam­as­cene in the Pen­te­cos­tar­i­on.

Julian, p. 1182

Lyrics

As those who seek the break of day
Full early in the morning,
The women came where Jesus lay,
Who late had borne the scorning.
Sweet ointment in their hands they brought,
And ere the sun had risen,
The Sun of Righteousness they sought,
Now set within death’s prison.

And thus they cried—the body here,
Let us give new anointing;
The quickening flesh, the body dear,
Which by divine appointing
From this dark sepulcher shall rise,
And Adam’s race deliver,
And lift the fallen to the skies
To reign in bliss for ever.

And like the Magi, hasten we
To Him with love adoring;
Sweet spices, too, our gifts shall be,
And we must weep, imploring
That He, in swaddling clothes no more,
But in fine linen lying,
Would grant the fallen when life is o’er,
The gift of life undying.