Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, Teacher of the Faith, c.200
O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before you.
Let my prayer come into your presence; incline your ear to my cry.
For my soul is full of troubles; my life draws near to the land of death.
I am counted as one gone down to the Pit; I am like one that has no strength,
Lost among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.
You have laid me in the lowest pit, in a place of darkness in the abyss.
Your anger lies heavy upon me, and you have afflicted me with all your waves.
You have put my friends far from me and made me to be abhorred by them.
I am so fast in prison that I cannot get free; my eyes fail from all my trouble.
Lord, I have called daily upon you; I have stretched out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead? Will the shades stand up and praise you?
Shall your loving-kindness be declared in the grave, your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
Shall your wonders be known in the dark or your righteous deeds in the land where all is forgotten?
1But as for me, O Lord, I will cry to you; early in the morning my prayer shall come before you.
Lord, why have you rejected my soul? Why have you hidden your face from me?
I have been wretched and at the point of death from my youth;
I suffer your terrors and am no more seen.
Your wrath sweeps over me; your horrors are come to destroy me;
all day long they come about me like water; they close me in on every side.
Lover and friend have you put far from me and hid my companions out of my sight.
O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us heartily rejoice in the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving and be glad in him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God and a great king above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have moulded the dry land.
Come, let us worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God; we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
O that today you would listen to his voice:
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, on that day at Massah in the wilderness,
‘When your forebears tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my works.
‘Forty years long I detested that generation and said, “This people are wayward in their hearts; they do not know my ways.”
‘So I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter into my rest.” ’
‘Can you draw out Leviathan with a fish-hook,
or press down its tongue with a cord?
Can you put a rope in its nose,
or pierce its jaw with a hook?
Will it make many supplications to you?
Will it speak soft words to you?
Will it make a covenant with you
to be taken as your servant for ever?
Will you play with it as with a bird,
or will you put it on a leash for your girls?
Will traders bargain over it?
Will they divide it up among the merchants?
Can you fill its skin with harpoons,
or its head with fishing-spears?
Lay hands on it;
think of the battle; you will not do it again!
Any hope of capturing it will be disappointed;
were not even the gods overwhelmed at the sight of it?
No one is so fierce as to dare to stir it up.
Who can stand before it?
Who can confront it and be safe? - under the whole heaven, who?
‘I will not keep silence concerning its limbs,
or its mighty strength, or its splendid frame.
Who can strip off its outer garment?
Who can penetrate its double coat of mail?
Who can open the doors of its face?
There is terror all around its teeth.
Its back is made of shields in rows,
shut up closely as with a seal.
One is so near to another
that no air can come between them.
They are joined one to another;
they clasp each other and cannot be separated.
Its sneezes flash forth light,
and its eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.
From its mouth go flaming torches;
sparks of fire leap out.
Out of its nostrils comes smoke,
as from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
Its breath kindles coals,
and a flame comes out of its mouth.
In its neck abides strength,
and terror dances before it.
The folds of its flesh cling together;
it is firmly cast and immovable.
Its heart is as hard as stone,
as hard as the lower millstone.
When it raises itself up the gods are afraid;
at the crashing they are beside themselves.
Though the sword reaches it, it does not avail,
nor does the spear, the dart, or the javelin.
It counts iron as straw,
and bronze as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make it flee;
slingstones, for it, are turned to chaff.
Clubs are counted as chaff;
it laughs at the rattle of javelins.
Its underparts are like sharp potsherds;
it spreads itself like a threshing-sledge on the mire.
It makes the deep boil like a pot;
it makes the sea like a pot of ointment.
It leaves a shining wake behind it;
one would think the deep to be white-haired.
On earth it has no equal,
a creature without fear.
It surveys everything that is lofty;
it is king over all that are proud.’
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my relative Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; and greet his mother—a mother to me also. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
God of peace,
who through the ministry of your servant Irenæus
strengthened the true faith
and brought harmony to your Church:
keep us steadfast in your true religion,
and renew us in faith and love,
that we may always walk in the way that leads to eternal life;
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.