Corrected Verse in Matins Canon Nativity Eve
December Menaion page 360 (sjkp)
Eve of the Nativity of Christ (December 24)
Matins canon of the forefeast, Ode IX, 3rd verse:
"O my child most sweet, how can I feed Thee Who nourishest all things? How can I hold Thee Who holdest all things in Thy hand? How can I wrap in swaddling-bands Thee Who dost enchorud the whole word in gloom?" cried the most pure Mistress, whom we magnify unceasingly.
Is there a better translation? Yes, says our ROCA typicon expert, Rdr. Daniel.
1. “word” is indeed a typo. It was probably intended to be “world”; but that itself is not an accurate translation of both the Greek and the Slavonic. A better rendering would be “earth”.
2. “gloom” is a possible translation of the Slavonic word. The original Greek word means “mist” or “fog”, either of which would be better in the context of this troparion. The Greek word is sometimes translated as “gloom” with the meaning of “partial or total darkness”. This probably is because “mist” or “fog” often results in general darkening. The problem with “gloom” is that it also has the metaphorical meaning of “state of depression or despondency”.
Note also that the use of “enshroud” is not a very accurate translation. Both the Greek and Slavonic words indicate that a better translation would be “swathe”.
I suggest the following translation of this troparion from the Greek text, from which the Slavonic differs slightly:
“O sweetest Child, how do I nourish Thee who nourishest [all]; how do I hold Thee who holdest all things by a command; and how do I swaddle [Thee] who swathest all the earth with mist?" the all-pure Mistress cried aloud, whom in faith we magnify.
I have used two words – “swaddled” and “swathest” – to translate what in the original Greek text (and the Slavonic also) is just one word. But in English, the words “swaddle” and “swathe” are etymologically the same. The dictionaries say that “swaddle” is just a frequentative form of “swathe”. The main distinction between them is that “swaddle” usually refers to the wrapping of an infant in swaddling clothes, while “swathe” has a more generally connotation of “wrap” in some material.