“The Three-Bar Cross!”
By Emil Kubek
Here, on our churches shines the sign of happiness
Of the Rusyn people, the tripartite Cross of Christ
The eternal sign of victory over Hell;
Under it thundered the terrible Golgotha,
And on it shined our salvation!
On the three-bar cross Christ was crucified,
Redeemer of the world, holy God in the trinity!
The bar above his head, in three languages
Told the world about his sins,
They condemned Christ,
To a shameful death on the Cross!
He was “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews,”
And Pilate wrote this above his head;
“The Nazarene” was our Savior, the prophetic word, –
“The King of the Jews,” the miracles, his royal birth, –
And the “Son of God” by the voice
Of God the Most High,
Who called Him:
“My Beloved Son!”
On the middle bar they crucified Jesus,
His outstretched arms they pierced with nails;
In great pain he looked to the heavens:
“My God, why have You forsaken me?”
From the top of the Cross his blood flowed in streams,
It poured over the ground, –
He mercifully Suffered,
From the whole world
He washes the curse!
“Forgive them Father, they know not what they do,”
His pale lips uttered with pity!
They nailed his feet to the wood,
And under them they affixed the third bar,
So that his hanging body on sharp nails,
From the top of the Cross,
Would rest on them!
There were three bars on Christ’s Cross,
When he gave his soul on Golgotha.
This was the Cross of Christ, the one on which he endured
Under this cross Cyril and Methodius instructed
The Apostles of the Slavs, among the Carpathians,
In Christ’s faith; —
Under this same Cross,
Under the swift Beskids,
Made a sacrifice
To the irreproachable God!
From these two apostles, we took this cross –
And the liturgy, and the rite,
The alphabet and writing – so that we wouldn’t forget
That this Cross exists for us, the pledge of salvation,
In times of need, a sign of redemption!
On this Cross the Lord suffered death for us,
So that we Rusyns could receive eternal happiness.
Under this holy Cross
In the far away fatherland
The bones of our grandfathers,
In the green Beskids,
We are in a foreign land, –
The land of Washington, –
Although we can’t rest with them right now,
Under this Cross we want to live and die!
Oh, You holy Cross, Godlike power,
Protect your people in all times:
So that we would be faithful to You,
In life and in death.
Save your people,
Give them peace.
Grant them sincere leaders, a good Pastor
To your people;
So that peace, harmony, and the glow of your love will shine,
For happiness, for fortune,
Be with us
Save us Jesus, Christ the Nazarene,
Help us, have mercy upon us! Amen!
Translated by Nick Kupensky
Emilij A. Kubek, “Triramennyj Krest!” Narodny povísti i stichi, tom 1 (Scranton: OBRANA, 1922), 233-236.
“My Beloved Son!” Kubek’s language here references Jesus’s baptism, when “a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased'” (Matthew 3:17).
Cyril and Methodius. Saints Cyril and Methodius, the apostles of the Slavs, worked in Greater Moravia in the late 9th century and developed the first Slavic alphabet. Kubek’s suggestion that the Carpatho-Rusyns received Christianity from Cyril and Methodius is a telling choice, for in Carpatho-Rusyn historiography, many Carpatho-Rusyns, typically of the Ukrainian orientation, claim that they received Christianity not from the Methodian Mission (i.e. the West) but from St. Vladimir, who accepted Christianity and baptized Kievan Rus’ in 988 (i.e. the East). Since Kubek is writing during the interwar period, it is perhaps not unexpected that he would emphasize the “Western” origins of the Carpatho-Rusyn faith, thus signaling an affinity with the then contemporary homeland of the majority of Carpatho-Rusyns – the first Czechoslovak Republic.
The Czechs and the Poles, … and Slovaks. Here, Kubek is referring to Slavs who adopted the Western Rites (Roman Catholicism or Protestantism) rather than the Eastern Rite (Greek Catholicism or Orthodoxy).
We Uhro-Rusyns and brothers from Galicia. Uhro-Rusyns refers to Carpatho-Rusyns from the Kingdom of Hungary. Today, Uhro-Rusyns would include those living in the Prešov Region (modern day Slovakia) and Transcarpathia (modern day Ukraine). Galicia was a province of the Austrian Empire and, for Kubek’s purposes, was inhabited by Lemkos (Carpatho-Rusyns living in Lemkovina) and Ukrainians.