Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh - Help Requested.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,218
    'Behold, the Bridegroom Cometh in the Middle of the Night', from a Greek Troparion, c. VIIIth cent., translated by G Moultrie and found at no. 3 in The English Hymnal, is the text which I have chosen for an Advent anthem which I have been commissioned to write. I would like to know more (date, provenance, author, etc.) about this profound text but have not found anything in my library or on the internet. If anyone here can point the way to the information I seek I would be grateful. There is not even anything about it in the Companion to Hymns Ancient and Modern. - except a reproduction of the Greek text in Greek (the English do know a thing or two about scholarship!).
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,641
    I’ve always been interested in comets.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,218
    Matthew -
    Um, I was a 'star gazer' for a very brief time in my adolescence. (In fact, my best friend and I used to go out on very dark nights searching the skies for flaying saucers - that was then.) I don't, though, think that comets and such have any relevance to this Greek hymn, except that maybe the coming of the Bridegroom, the Anointed One, could have been read in the stars (?). You may be onto something.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,347
    Here is some of the Orthodox perspective, wherein the hymn is more often associated with the second Advent, and the service of the Bridegroom is celebrated in Holy Week:

    http://saintandrewgoc.org/home/2017/4/14/behold-the-bridegroom-cometh-in-the-midst-of-the-night-part-i

    which continues:

    http://saintandrewgoc.org/home/2017/4/14/behold-the-bridegroom-cometh-in-the-midst-of-the-night-part-ii
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,232
    This text is sung in the Byzantine rite at Matins of Monday to Wednesday of Holy Week; in the Melkite Church where I have attended this service, it is anticipated on the preceding evenings.

    The "Bridegroom Service" takes the parable of wise and foolish virgins as its theme, and places before the faithful the icon of "Extreme Humility":image
    Christ the Bridegroom comes to meet humanity in the paradoxical guise of his extreme humiliation, and the Troparion of Matins, sung after the Alleluia, is:
    "Behold, the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night: blessed is the servant He shall find awake. But the one He shall find neglectful will not be worthy of Him. Beware, therefore, O my soul! Do not fall into a deep slumber, lest you be delivered to death and the door of the kingdom be closed on you. Watch instead and cry out: 'Holy, Holy, Holy are you, O God!'"
    An example: https://youtu.be/pbEjqw4qhZ8?t=60

    The psalms and hymns of the office are punctuated with interrupting chants that serve as meditations on the Passion. Here are a few examples:

    Monday Matins:
    "Today the holy passion rises like a light of salvation upon the world; for Christ, Who loves us, is going to His suffering, and He Who holds the universe in His hands, is willingly nailed to the cross for the salvation of the human race."

    "Your incarnation reveals You to our eyes, O Judge invisible; and You allow Yourself to be condemned to death by the lawless ones. By Your passion, You condemn our own condemnation, and we all praise You with one voice: Glory and honor to Your power, O Word of God!"

    Tuesday:
    "O faithful, let us be on fire with love for the Bridegroom, and with lamps burning, let us go out to meet Him. May the light of our virtues shine brightly, and may our faith be radiant. With the wise virgins, let us prepare to enter the banquet hall of the Lord, for the divine Spouse offers us all the crown of immortality."

    Perhaps the high point of the service is this chant, the Exapostilarion: "I see your bridal chamber adorned, O my Savior; but I do not possess the right garment to go in; brighten the robe of my soul, O Lord, and save me."

    (The particular English texts vary across the various Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches, so you may find it worthwhile to examine various versions.)
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  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,232
    PS: This isn't the only time when Moultrie lifted Byzantine Holy Week chants and applied them to another time of year. The hymn "Let all mortal flesh keep silence" is taken from a Holy Saturday chant.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,218
    Many thanks for the above expostulation.
    I have fallen in love with this hymn and its possible interpretation as possibly relevant to the tinge of the second coming which runs through Advent.
    However, you have given me grave misgivings.
    Your thoughts?

    The translation, by R M Moorsom in Hymns Ancient and Modern lacks the colour, richness, and potency of Moultrie's version.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen