Bethlehem, prepare, let the manger be made ready

AND thou, Bethlehem, house of Ephratha, art few in number to be reckoned among the thousands of Juda; yet out of thee shall one come forth to me, to be a ruler of Israel; and his goings forth were from the beginning, even from eternity.

Micah 5:2 (LXX)


A poem by Sophronios, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

BETHLEHEM, prepare! Let the manger be made ready. Let the cave receive him. The Truth is come. Darkness hath fled. God is revealed unto men from the Virgin. What belongeth to us he hath changed, and what he hath put on he hath made divine. And thus Adam is made anew with Eve, and they cry: Goodwill hath been revealed upon earth, to save our race.

BETHLEHEM, prepare!
Let the manger be made ready.
Let the cave receive him.

(Sung in Serbian by the monks of the Hilander Monastery, Mount Athos.)


St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

THOU O Word without beginning, didst not leave the bosom of the Father without beginning, as Matthew wrote, telling the good news: God hath taken flesh from thee, O pure Lady, praised by all, in every way clothing himself in the whole form of men, and accepting upon himself what belongs to it.

WHEN he that walketh within the hearts of men saw by divine foreknowledge, O Apostle, thy godly good judgment, and redeemed thee from the unrighteous world, then did he fashion thee into a light for all the world, commanded to flood the furthest bounds of the world of men with light, with light all around; and thou wast made worthy to write his Gospel in plain words. Intercede with him, that he save and illumine our souls.

O LADY blest of God, thou hadst the Maker of all things embodied in thy womb, remaking mankind, which once had fallen into transgression through the serpent, in a new form; for thou gavest birth to God the word in a manner beyond telling, O Pure Lady, and didst set free the whole nature grown old from corruption, through thy childbearing. Therefore, we praise and glorify thy grace, O Virgin unwedded: by it, shelter and save those who trustingly glorify thee.

From the Feast of St Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist, which falls today. Source.


AND thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Matthew 2:6


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