“Christ’s Nativity” by John Milton and Wiliam Blake

A few decades prior to writing his famous epic, Paradise LostJohn Milton composed this thirty-one-stanza ode—his first major work in English. Written in 1629 when he was just 21, the poem examines the cosmic significance of the incarnation, celebrating Christ’s triumph over the gods of paganism from the manger.

Regarding the poem’s composition, Milton wrote to his friend Charles Diodati,

I am singing the King of Heaven, bringer of peace, and the fortunate days promised by the Holy Book, the wanderings of God and the stabling under a poor roof of Him who rules with his Father the realms above; the star that led the wizards, the hymning of angels in the air and the gods flying to theirendangered fanes. This poem I made as a birthday gift for Christ; the first light of Christmas dawn brought me the theme.” (qtd. by Walter Taylor Field, 1907)

Between 1803 and 1815, visionary poet and visual artist William Blake painted on commission two sets of watercolors to illustrate the poem—one for the Rev. Joseph Thomas (the “Thomas set”), and one for Thomas Butts (the “Butts set”). Each set contains six watercolors which are very similar to one another, though not identical. The list of illustrations is as follows. (You’ll notice that not all the stanzas are illustrated.)

  1. The Descent of Peace (stanzas 1-3)
  2. The Annunciation to the Shepherds (stanzas 8-12)
  3. The Old Dragon (stanza 18)
  4. The Overthrow of Apollo and the Pagan Gods (stanzas 19-23)
  5. The Flight of Moloch (stanza 23)
  6. The Night of Peace (stanza 27)

 

“On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”

THE HYMN

I.
It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature, in awe to him,
Had doffed her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize:
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the Sun, her lusty Paramour.

II.
Only with speeches fair
She woos the gentle air
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow,
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
Confounded, that her Maker’s eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

III.
But he, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace:
She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphere,
His ready Harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;
And, waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.

Blake nativity

The Descent of Peace (stanzas 1-3)

William Blake, “The Descent of Peace” (Thomas set), 1809. Watercolor on paper, 19.4 x 25.5 cm. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England. Description: Peace breaks through the heavenly spheres, dispersing the clouds and waving her myrtle wand, while Nature (below) covers her nakedness with a snowy veil as she pays reverence to her Lord.

VIII.
The Shepherds on the lawn,
Or ere the point of dawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they than
That the mighty Pan1
Was kindly come to live with them below:
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.

IX.
When such music sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet
As never was by mortal finger strook,
Divinely-warbled voice
Answering the stringèd noise,
As all their souls in blissful rapture took:
The air, such pleasure loth to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.

X.
Nature, that heard such sound
Beneath the hollow round
Of Cynthia’s seat2 the airy Region thrilling,
Now was almost won
To think her part was done,
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling:
She knew such harmony alone
Could hold all Heaven and Earth in happier union.

XI.
At last surrounds their sight
A globe of circular light,
That with long beams the shamefaced Night arrayed;
The helmèd Cherubim
And sworded Seraphim
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displayed,
Harping in loud and solemn quire,
With unexpressive3 notes, to Heaven’s newborn Heir.

XII.
Such music (as ’tis said)
Before was never made,
But when of old the Sons of Morning sung,
While the Creator great
His constellations set,
And the well-balanced World on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.

William Blake, "The Annunciation to the Shepherds," 1809. Watercolor on paper, 19.3 x 25.5 cm. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England. The Annunciation to the Shepherds (stanzas 8-12)

William Blake, “The Annunciation to the Shepherds” (Thomas set), 1809. Watercolor on paper, 19.3 x 25.5 cm. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England.

XVIII.
And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begins; for from this happy day
The Old Dragon under ground,
In straiter limits bound,
Not half so far casts his usurpèd sway,
And, wroth to see his Kingdom fail,
Swindges6 the scaly horror of his folded tail.

The Old Dragon by William Blake

William Blake, “The Old Dragon” (Thomas set), 1809. Watercolor on paper, 19.3 x 25.3 cm. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England.

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The Beast and the Whore of Babylon, elsewhere associated with institutionalized religion by Blake, are here overthrown along with Satan

The Overthrow of Apollo by William BlakeThe Overthrow of Apollo and the Pagan Gods (stanzas 19-23)

William Blake, “The Overthrow of Apollo and the Pagan Gods” (Thomas set), 1809. Watercolor on paper, 19.3 x 25 cm. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England. Description: Pagan worshipers burn an offering to Apollo as his spirit flees its statue in fear. (The statue depicts Apollo’s defeat of the giant serpent Python, who had tormented his mother during her pregnancy.) To the right, a disheveled Nymph hides in a thicket to mourn, while above her, a train of refugee gods and goddesses fills the sky.

XIX.
The Oracles are dumb;
No voice or hideous hum
Runs through the archèd roof in words deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
Will hollow shriek the steep of Delphos1 leaving.
No nightly trance, or breathèd spell,
Inspires the pale-eyed Priest from the prophetic cell.

XX.
The lonely mountains o’er,
And the resounding shore,
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
Edgèd with poplar pale,
From haunted spring, and dale
The parting Genius2 is with sighing sent;
With flower-inwoven tresses torn
The Nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.

XXI.
In consecrated earth,
And on the holy hearth,
The Lars3 and Lemures4 moan with midnight plaint;
In urns, and altars round,
A drear and dying sound
Affrights the Flamens5 at their service quaint;
And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar power forgoes his wonted seat.

XXII.
Peor and Baalim6
Forsake their temples dim,
With that twice-battered god of Palestine;7
And moonèd Ashtaroth,8
Heaven’s Queen and Mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers’ holy shine:
The Libyc Hammon9 shrinks his horn;
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz10 mourn.

XXIII.
And sullen Moloch,11 fled,
Hath left in shadows dread
His burning idol all of blackest hue;
In vain with cymbals’ ring
They call the grisly king,
In dismal dance about the furnace blue;
The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
Isis,12 and Orus,13 and the dog Anubis,14 haste.

The Flight of Moloch by William Blake

The Flight of Moloch (stanza 23)

William Blake, “The Flight of Moloch” (Thomas set), 1809. Watercolor on paper, 19.7 x 25.7 cm. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England. Description: Worshipers of Moloch clang together cymbals and blow on trumpets as part of their infant sacrifice ritual. As they do, Moloch’s winged spirit departs from the molded image. The advent of his enemy, Jesus, has scared him away.

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The winged figure of the accuser, so like the spirit of Moloch, cements that god’s identification with Blake’s Spectre

XXVII

But see the Virgin blest,
Hath laid her Babe to rest.
Time is our tedious Song should here have ending,
Heav’ns youngest-teemed Star [ 240 ]
Hath fixt her polisht Car,
Her sleeping Lord with Handmaid Lamp attending.
And all about the Courtly Stable,
Bright-harnest Angels sit in order serviceable.

blake6The Night of Peace (stanza 27)

Posted on December 14, 2012by Victoria Emily Jones

Also see “Winged Life” at https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2015/09/12/william-blakes-mystic-visions-stunning-paintings/

 

 
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The Blood of the Lamb

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Fr Daniil Sysoev (1974-2009)

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“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11)

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With the rising wave of genocidal persecution of Christians by Muslims, we can properly begin speaking of the ‘New Martyrs of the 21st Century under the Sword of Islam’. One of the most important of these New Martyrs, if not the pre-eminent, is the righteous Priest-Martyr Fr. Daniil Sysoev of Moscow (1974 -2009), who was killed by a masked Muslim gunman in front of the altar at the church he founded. Sysoev’s murder was claimed by a militant Islamic group based in the North Caucasus. According to a statement made by Russian Islamists “One of our brothers who has never been to the Caucases took up the oath of (former independent Chechen president Doku Umarov) and expressed his desire to execute the damned Sysoyev.”

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Fr Daniil was not any ordinary casualty of Islam’s renewed war on Christians in the early third millennium after Christ’s First Coming in the Flesh. He was a towering figure in the Russian Orthodox Church, a theologian, writer, evangelist and missionary, extending his endeavours to all Muslims, neo-Pagans, Jews, Protestants, excluding none.. He particularly engaged in open debate with Muslims, and converted scores of them from Islam to the Orthodox Gospel, including a number of Wahhabi extremists. In the Islamic space of Russia he had earned the nickname “Russian Salman Rushdie”.

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For his profound faith and tireless efforts, he has earned the titles of Confessor, Evangelist, Apostle to the Muslims, and Pillar of Orthodoxy in the 21st Century. That his zealous but loving and peaceful missionary work among Muslims enraged some of them to resort to murder in order to silence him, proves the strength and validity of his witness to Christ, and seals his life’s work with the pure blood of holy martyrdom.

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The purpose of this page is to provide a representative collection of essential resources on New Martyr Fr. Daniil Sysoev, to promote the veneration of Father Daniil as a Saint of the Church, and to inspire others to follow his example, take up their crosses, and labour for our Lord Jesus Christ.

†Nov. 19, 2009

Give rest, O Lord, to the soul of thy servant

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Special Resource Page

You Wish to See Many Miracles? – You Should Become a Missionary or a Martyr!

Fr. Daniel’s Autobiography and the Interview with Him on the Occasion of the Opening of the Missionary Centre

http://facingislam.blogspot.gr/2013/11/you-wish-to-see-many-miracles-you.html

http://www.pravmir.com/article_793.html

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Writings of Fr. Daniel Sysoev now available in English

http://facingislam.blogspot.gr/2015/02/new-martyr-fr-daniel-sysoevs-writings.html

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New online store for book ordering, plus digital publication on the ISSUU platform, bring Fr. Daniel’s works to the English-speaking world. Numerous titles available with many more to follow. More info with links here.

http://facingislam.blogspot.com/2015/02/new-martyr-fr-daniel-sysoevs-writings.html

https://lessonsfromamonastery.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/book-review-catechetical-talks-by-new-martyr-daniel-sysoev/

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Fr. Peter Alban Heers: Podcasts on New Martyr Fr. Daniil Sysoev

Three audio podcasts from 2011…

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Orthodox Word #268, ‘The Blood of the Martyrs is the Seed of the Church’

The Life and Martyric Death of the Righteous Missionary, Father Daniel Sysoev

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http://facingislam.blogspot.gr/2013/11/fr-daniil-sysoevs-last-sermon-video.html

Fr. Daniel Sysoev’s Last Sermon (VIDEO)

With English subtitles. A message on Christian love and concord, full of scriptural references and spiritual truths.

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Priest-Martyr Fr. Daniil Sysoev with His Family, Video

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/11/priest-marty-fr-daniil-sysoev-with-his.html

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Interview with Fr Daniil

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/11/interview-with-fr-daniil-sysoyev-on-his.html

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ON THE DEATH OF MY HUSBAND: THE MATUSHKA OF THE MARTYRED PRIEST DANIEL SPEAKS AND REVEALS THAT A PROPHECY HAS BEEN FULFILLED

Fr Daniel had already foreseen his death several years before it happened. He had always wanted to be worthy of a martyr’s crown. … He used to say that they would kill him. I would ask him who would look after us. Me and the three children. He would answer that he would put us in safe hands. ‘I‘ll give you to the Mother of God. She’ll take care of you’. Read her full, moving testimony at http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/32818.htm

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Can One Consider the Death of Fr. Daniel Sysoev to be a Martyrdom? by Hieromonk Job Gumerov

Death is the last event in a person’s earthly life. For a missionary, death is the last homily, the last message preached, the last witness for Christ, Whom the missionary loved with complete readiness to sacrifice his or her life for the sake of the triumph of the Faith. Father Daniel Sysoev[1] had prepared himself for this sacrifice long before…  Read the full article.

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Serbian Conversations, Part 1 – An Interview with Fr. Daniil Sysoev and Dcn. Yuri Maximov

To shortly describe Fr. Daniel, he walked before God. … He walked with a light step, like a person who knows where he is going and why, one who is calm in the present and that does not worry about the future because he has entrusted all his cares to the Lord, Who is as close to him as a Loving Father. Read the full article and interview.

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Serbian Conversations, Part 2 – An Interview with Fr. Daniil Sysoev and Dcn. Yuri Maximov

“True Christianity is having pity for the perishing people. Fear to be punished by the Lord for burying one’s talent and desire to receive great reward in heaven-these are what must move a missionary. We should walk with God as the Lord said of Enoch, Enoch walked with God and…God took him (Gen. 5:24). Just that walking with God is the root of missions. “Read the full interview…

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Orthodox Priest Murdered in Moscow for his anti-Muslim stance

(Pravda, Moscow, 11/20/2009) Orthodox Priest Daniil Sysoyev was assassinated in Moscow on the night of November 19. … The unidentified assassin was wearing a doctor’s mask when he attacked the priest, Interfax reports. The criminal entered Holy Apostle Thomas Church in the south of Moscow on Thursday night, at about 10:40 p.m. …The man rushed into the church and shouted: “Who is Sysoyev here?” The 35-year-old priest came forward, the attacker pulled out a gun with a silencer, and shot him in the neck and in the head. … Read the full article.

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On the Murder of Father Daniil Sysoev. By Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

http://www.pravmir.com/article_792.html

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For Daniel Sysoev’s biography .. «the good shepherd giveth his life…» John. 10,11…Read the full article at http://mission-center.com/en/daniil-sisoev

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Father Daniel, priest and martyr

“… His clerical colleagues called him the “Orthodox Wahhabi” for the fire gleaming in his eyes and his passionate speeches. …

The day he was assassinated was the 24th Sunday after Pentecost …I preached on Sunday in Mamelodi. And .. Father Daniel preached in Moscow. But he didn’t merely preach it, he lived it, and died for it.” Read the full interview at https://khanya.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/father-daniel-priest-and-martyr/

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Remembering Fr. Daniel Sysoev By ARCHPRIEST OLEG STENIAEV

…We met in the mid-1990s: I was a priest and he was still a deacon. … Thereafter we were in constant contact. …He felt no animosity towards people of other faiths. He himself mentions this in his lectures: “I love these people, but I do not share their faith and beliefs.” … They killed him out of fear. … I said to him: “They’re going to kill you!” To which he replied: “What are you talking about? I’m unworthy!” He felt that if he were killed for the faith he would become a martyr. There was no shadow of fear in him, only reverence before martyrdom. …Read the full interview at http://www.pravmir.com/remembering-fr-daniel-sysoev/

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Fr. Daniel Sysoev: “To Make the Whole World Love Christ”

He very much loved to preach about Christ; and I can say for myself that the greatest commandment that I received from my preceptor is this: “The purpose of a missionary is to make the whole world love Christ.” Read the full interview at

http://www.pravmir.com/daniel-sisoev-to-make-the-whole-world-love-christ/

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Seraphim Maamdi’s memories of Father Daniel

“My acquaintance with Fr. Daniel was God’s mercy toward me. … When I met him I was impressed by his burning faith and the brave spirit which he was able to share with those around him. … inspired me to go by the same path. ….Fr. Daniel told me to fear nothing, that the Muslims had threatened him personally fourteen times, saying that they would behead him — but should we hold back out of fear? The important thing, he said, is to firmly and bravely bear the Word of God, and to be witnesses of Christ … He often said spoke of martrydom, as if he knew that the Lord would glorify him in precisely this way. And behold, the Lord made him worthy of a martyr’s crown. The ancient Christians rejoiced in this situation, but we were saddened. .. I remember that when I learned of his death I was very grieved and thought, “If only he could have had a few more years.” But later I acknowledged that the will of God is in all things. Read the full article at http://www.pravmir.com/daniel-sisoev-to-make-the-whole-world-love-christ/

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MANY MUSLIMS WERE BAPTIZED AFTER THE DEATH OF FR. DANIEL SISOYEV

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/57085.htm

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Priest Daniel Sysoev: Even Provincial Imams Come to our Church … “Russian Salman Rushdie”

http://www.pravmir.com/priest-daniel-sysoev-even-provincial-imams-come-to-our-church/

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“DON’T BE AFRAID TO PREACH CHRIST”

Three men from the Caucasus region, Monk Madai (Maamdi), a Kurd Mikhail, a Kabardinian and Nectary Mikhaelyan, an Armenian recount how Fr. Daniel Sisoyev influenced their lives. Read the full article at http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/75392.htm

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FATHER DANIEL SISOYEV’S POSTHUMOUS MISSION: THREE STORIES: Aviv Saliu-Diallo (Switzerland), Stanoe Stankovic (Serbia), Oana Iftime (Romania). Read the full article at http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/57660.htm

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Sources:

http://facingislam.blogspot.gr/p/new-marty.html

Pravoslavie;  Pravmir

Edited and Updated

Ashes and Snow — Qadeeshat Lamayouta

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Qadeeshat Hyeltana

Qadeeshat Lamayouta

Itrahem Alain

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Holy God

Holy Mighty One

Holy Immortal One

Have Mercy on us

For the stunning, heavenly singing of the Aramaic hymn, listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6tV679wXIU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwNkBaWxz_Y

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Worshipping God in Aramaic the language of Jesus the Semitic language of Israel, Levant, and Mesopotamia, by Father Seraphim and his choir from Georgia, brought me to mind Gregory Colbert’s Ashes and Snow images, visceral yet dreamlike, returning us to a place we long for but cannot name, reawakening an ancient memory in us of a time when we lived in balance and harmony with Nature and God.

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Gregory Colbert’s Ashes and Snow is an ongoing project comprised of photographic artworks, a one-hour film and two short film “haikus,” and a novel in letters all presented in a purpose-built temporary structure called the Nomadic Museum.

“Feather to Fire
Fire to Blood
Blood to Bone
Bone to Marrow
Marrow to Ashes
Ashes to Snow.”

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For the full text, go to: http://www.mycity.rs/Knjizevnost/Ashes-and-Snow-by-Gregory-Colbert.html

For the mesmerising videos watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSX444hQ5Vo&list=PLF8BA0D1D7E544A00&index=1

https://gregorycolbert.com