Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, *
Hath shined upon the world the light of knowledge; *
for thereby, they that worshipped the stars *
were taught by a star *
to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, *
and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on high. *
O Lord, glory be to Thee. (Nativity Troparion, Tone 4)
“Dayspring” means a rising of light from the East.
The Persian wise men were astrologers. The star of Bethlehem (actually an angel) arose in the East and was seen by them in the West, in Persia (modern day Iran). They had been awaiting the fulfillment of Baalam’s prophesy:
“I will point to him, but not now; I bless him, but he draws not near: a star shall rise out of Jacob, a man shall spring out of Israel; and shall crush the princes of Moab, and shall spoil all the sons of Seth.” (Numbers 24:17 Brenton)
The East is associated with the Lord Jesus Christ, and in His second coming, He will appear from the East.
Here “light” is referred to four times, and refers to:
- Enlightenment (“the light of knowledge”)
- The star of Bethlehem (“were taught by a star”)
- The Lord Jesus Christ (“the Sun of Righteousness”)
- The Lord Jesus Christ (“the Dayspring from on high”)
It would be entirely appropriate to sing or chant this troparion daily during the festal Nativity season (the Twelve days of Christmas). If you cannot sing, just ask Jenny or Deacon Nicholas or even me to chant it for you. It is not so hard to learn! The Serbian melody for this troparion is particularly beautiful and easy to sing.
For a catechetical audio discussion on the Nativity Troparion and Kontakion, go here: http://www.orthodox.net/catechism/prayers-of-the-church_2008-01-08+nativity-of-the-savior,-troparion-and-kontakion.mp3