On Christ’s All-holy first shedding of blood, and the sweetest Name of Jesus

Greiffenberg wrote several sonnets for the new year. This one’s title seems to refer to the fact that, in liturgical churches, January 1 traditionally marked the Circumcision of Christ. Although this feast doesn’t get much attention these days, it’s still in the liturgical calendar, but now it’s called The Naming of Jesus. Luke 2:21 says, “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb” (RSV).

Lovely morning glow drops crimson pearls
of childhood, and soon the Jesus-sun arises,
in whom God’s brightness mingles with love’s warmth.
His heart’s grace streams from this salvation-light.
Redemption’s vein of gold must flow, love-melted.
This wondrous child cries with desire and longing:
Will the hour of salvation ever come, when he
at last pours out his blood, a blessing-flood, for all?

Eternal godhead wrapped in a little cloud: this child.
Just as, from a great distance, the sun
seems small enough to grasp, so he, as God,
fills everything, yet will himself be cradled.
Peace will have no peace until it stills
all human misery, greed, and hate of God.

This translation is published in Wonder-Work: Selected Sonnets of Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (CMU Press, 2023). Click here to read the sonnet in the original German.

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