Petroc, Abbot of Padstow, 6th century
Why are the nations in tumult, and why do the peoples devise a vain plot?
The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his anointed:
‘Let us break their bonds asunder and cast away their cords from us.’
He who dwells in heaven shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak to them in his wrath and terrify them in his fury:
‘Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.’
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord; he said to me: ‘You are my Son; this day have I begotten you.
‘Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance and the ends of the earth for your possession.
‘You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’
Now therefore be wise, O kings; be prudent, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and with trembling kiss his feet, lest he be angry and you perish from the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Happy are all they who take refuge in him.
Ascribe to the Lord, you powers of heaven, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation; the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon; He makes Lebanon skip like a calf and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord splits the flash of lightning; the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare; in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’
The Lord sits enthroned above the water flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people; the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.
So Balak said to him, ‘Come with me to another place from which you may see them; you shall see only part of them, and shall not see them all; then curse them for me from there.’ So he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah. He built seven altars, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Balaam said to Balak, ‘Stand here beside your burnt-offerings, while I meet the Lord over there.’ The Lord met Balaam, put a word into his mouth, and said, ‘Return to Balak, and this is what you shall say.’ When he came to him, he was standing beside his burnt-offerings with the officials of Moab. Balak said to him, ‘What has the Lord said?’ Then Balaam uttered his oracle, saying:
‘Rise, Balak, and hear; listen to me, O son of Zippor:
God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind.
Has he promised, and will he not do it?
Has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it?
See, I received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob; nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them, acclaimed as a king among them.
God, who brings them out of Egypt, is like the horns of a wild ox for them.
Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
“See what God has done!”
Look, a people rising up like a lioness, and rousing itself like a lion!
It does not lie down until it has eaten the prey and drunk the blood of the slain.’
Then Balak said to Balaam, ‘Do not curse them at all, and do not bless them at all.’ But Balaam answered Balak, ‘Did I not tell you, “Whatever the Lord says, that is what I must do”?’
So Balak said to Balaam, ‘Come now, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.’ So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the waste-land. Balaam said to Balak, ‘Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.’ So Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
‘No one after lighting a lamp hides it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, nor is anything secret that will not become known and come to light. Then pay attention to how you listen; for to those who have, more will be given; and from those who do not have, even what they seem to have will be taken away.’
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’
One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side of the lake.’ So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A gale swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, ‘Master, Master, we are perishing!’ And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’ They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?’
O God the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
we beseech you, leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.