Lanfranc, Prior of Le Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury, Scholar, 1089
Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you.
The boastful will not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house,
I will bow down towards your holy temple in awe of you.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
For there is no truth in their mouths; their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves; they flatter with their tongues.
Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels;
because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover them with favour as with a shield.
O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, or discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who can give you praise?
I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eyes waste away because of grief; they grow weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror;
they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals[a] that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Then Bildad the Shuhite answered:
'How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind?
Does God pervert justice?
Or does the Almighty pervert the right?
If your children sinned against him, he delivered them into the power of their transgression.
If you will seek God and make supplication to the Almighty,
if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore to you your rightful place.
Though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.
‘For inquire now of bygone generations, and consider what their ancestors have found;
for we are but of yesterday, and we know nothing, for our days on earth are but a shadow.
Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?
‘Can papyrus grow where there is no marsh?
Can reeds flourish where there is no water?
While yet in flower and not cut down, they wither before any other plant.
Such are the paths of all who forget God; the hope of the godless shall perish.
Their confidence is gossamer, a spider’s house their trust.
If one leans against its house, it will not stand;
if one lays hold of it, it will not endure.
The wicked thrive[c] before the sun, and their shoots spread over the garden.
Their roots twine around the stoneheap; they live among the rocks.
If they are destroyed from their place, then it will deny them, saying, “I have never seen you.”
See, these are their happy ways, and out of the earth still others will spring.
‘See, God will not reject a blameless person, nor take the hand of evildoers.
He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy.
Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.’
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’) - in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already[b] as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith[c] ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given us your servants grace,
by the confession of a true faith,
to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity
and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity:
keep us steadfast in this faith,
that we may evermore be defended from all adversities;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.