Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, Teacher of the Faith, 444
Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or the earth and the world were formed,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You turn us back to dust and say:
‘Turn back, O children of earth.’
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday,
which passes like a watch in the night.
You sweep them away like a dream;
they fade away suddenly like the grass.
In the morning it is green and flourishes;
in the evening it is dried up and withered.
For we consume away in your displeasure;
we are afraid at your wrathful indignation.
You have set our misdeeds before you
and our secret sins in the light of your countenance.
When you are angry, all our days are gone;
our years come to an end like a sigh.
The days of our life are three score years and ten,
or if our strength endures, even four score;
yet the sum of them is but labour and sorrow,
for they soon pass away and we are gone.
Who regards the power of your wrath
and your indignation like those who fear you?
So teach us to number our days
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
Turn again, O Lord; how long will you delay?
Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us with your loving-kindness in the morning;
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Give us gladness for the days you have afflicted us,
and for the years in which we have seen adversity.
Show your servants your works,
and let your glory be over their children.
May the gracious favour of the Lord our God be upon us;
prosper our handiwork; O prosper the work of our hands.
It is a good thing to give thanks to The Lord
and to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
To tell of your love early in the morning
and of your faithfulness in the night-time,
Upon the ten-stringed instrument, upon the harp,
and to the melody of the lyre.
For you, Lord, have made me glad by your acts,
and I sing aloud at the works of your hands.
O Lord, how glorious are your works!
Your thoughts are very deep.
The senseless do not know, nor do fools understand,
That though the wicked sprout like grass
and all the workers of iniquity flourish,
It is only to be destroyed for ever;
but you, O Lord, shall be exalted for evermore.
For lo, your enemies, O Lord, lo, your enemies shall perish,
and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.
But my horn you have exalted like the horns of wild oxen;
I am anointed with fresh oil.
My eyes will look down on my foes;
my ears shall hear the ruin of the evildoers who rise up against me.
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.
Such as are planted in the house of The Lord
shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bear fruit in old age;
they shall be vigorous and in full leaf;
That they may show that the Lord is true;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
And the Lord said to Job:
‘Shall a fault-finder contend with the Almighty?
Anyone who argues with God must respond.’
Then Job answered the Lord:
‘See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, and I will not answer;
twice, but will proceed no further.’
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:
‘Gird up your loins like a man;
I will question you, and you declare to me.
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be justified?
Have you an arm like God,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?
‘Deck yourself with majesty and dignity;
clothe yourself with glory and splendour.
Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
and look on all who are proud, and abase them.
Look on all who are proud, and bring them low;
tread down the wicked where they stand.
Hide them all in the dust together;
bind their faces in the world below.
Then I will also acknowledge to you
that your own right hand can give you victory.
‘Look at Behemoth,
which I made just as I made you;
it eats grass like an ox.
Its strength is in its loins,
and its power in the muscles of its belly.
It makes its tail stiff like a cedar;
the sinews of its thighs are knit together.
Its bones are tubes of bronze,
its limbs like bars of iron.
‘It is the first of the great acts of God—
only its Maker can approach it with the sword.
For the mountains yield food for it
where all the wild animals play.
Under the lotus plants it lies,
in the covert of the reeds and in the marsh.
The lotus trees cover it for shade;
the willows of the wadi surround it.
Even if the river is turbulent, it is not frightened;
it is confident though Jordan rushes against its mouth.
Can one take it with hooks
or pierce its nose with a snare?
This is the reason that I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints; for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them; for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things. So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain; and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.
O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ's sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.