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Since all He comes to ransom,
By all be He adored,
The Infant born in Bethlehem,
The Saviour and the LORD!
And idol forms shall perish,
And CHRIST shall wield His sceptre,
IDIOMELON FOR CHRISTMAS.
In Bethlehem is He born,
Maker of all things, everlasting GOD!
He opens Eden's gate,
Monarch of Ages! Thence the fiery sword Gives glorious passage; thence
That severing mid-wall overthrown, the Powers
Of earth and Heav'n are one :
Angels and men renew their ancient league,
In happy union! Now the Virgin-womb,
Bears Him, Whom while they bear
The Seraphs tremble: bears Him, as He
To shower upon the world
The fulness of His everlasting love.
A.D. 726.... A.D. 820.
The second period of Greek Hymnology is very nearly, as I said, coincident with the Iconoclastic controversy. Its first writer, indeed, died shortly after the commencement of that stormy age, and took no share in its Councils nor sufferings; while the last hymnographer who bore a part in its proceedings, S. Joseph of the Studium, belongs to the decline of his art. With these two exceptions, the ecclesiastical poets of this period were not only thrown into the midst of that great struggle, but, with scarcely one exception, took an active share in it.
A few words on that conflict of one hundred and sixteen years are absolutely necessary, if we would understand the progress
and full development of Greek Hymnography. No controversy has been more grossly misapprehended; none, without the key of subsequent events, could have been so difficult to appreciate. Till Calvinism, and its daughter Rationalism, showed the ultimate development of Iconoclast principles, it must have been well-nigh impossible to realize the depth of feeling on the side of the Church, or the greatness of the interests attacked by her opponents. We may perhaps doubt whether even the Saints of that day fully understood the character of the battle; whether they did not give up ease, honour, possessions, life itself, rather from an intuitive perception that their cause was the cause of the Catholic faith, than from a logical induction of the results to which the Image-destroyers were tending. Just so, in the early part of the Nestorian controversy, many and many a simple soul felt intuitively that the title of the Theotocos was to be defended, without seeing the full consequences to which its
denial would subsequently lead. The supporters of Icons, by universal consent, numbered amongst their ranks all that was pious and venerable in the Eastern Church. The Iconoclasts seem to have been the legitimate development of that secret creeping Manichæism, which, under the various names of Turlupins, Bogomili, or Goodmen, so long devasted CHRIST's fold.
We must keep the landmarks of the controversy in sight. Commenced by Leo the Isaurian, in A.D. 726, the persecution was carried on by his despicable son, Constantine Copronymus, who also endeavoured to destroy monasticism. The great Council of Constantinople, attended by 338 prelates, in 752, which rejected the use of images, was the culminating success of the Iconoclasts. Lulling at the death of Constantine, the persecution again broke out in the latter years of his successor Leo, and was only terminated by the death of that prince, and the succession of Constantine and Irene. The Second Council of Nicæa, seventh