Birinus, Bishop of Dorchester (Oxon), Apostle of Wessex, 650
I cry aloud to the Lord; to the Lord I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before him and tell him of my trouble.
When my spirit faints within me, you know my path; in the way wherein I walk have they laid a snare for me. I look to my right hand, and find no one who knows me; I have no place to flee to, and no one cares for my soul.
I cry out to you, O Lord, and say: ‘You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.
‘Listen to my cry, for I am brought very low; save me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name; when you have dealt bountifully with me, then shall the righteous gather around me.’
Blessed be the Lord my rock, who teaches my hands for war and my fingers for battle; my steadfast help and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I trust, who subdues the peoples under me.
O Lord, what are mortals that you should consider them; mere human beings, that you should take thought for them?
They are like a breath of wind; their days pass away like a shadow.
Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down; touch the mountains and they shall smoke.
Cast down your lightnings and scatter them; shoot out your arrows and let thunder roar.
Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and take me out of the great waters, from the hand of foreign enemies, whose mouth speaks wickedness and their right hand is the hand of falsehood.
O God, I will sing to you a new song; I will play to you on a ten-stringed harp, You that give salvation to kings and have delivered David your servant. Save me from the peril of the sword and deliver me from the hand of foreign enemies, whose mouth speaks wickedness and whose right hand is the hand of falsehood; so that our sons in their youth may be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters like pillars carved for the corners of the temple; our barns be filled with all manner of store; our flocks bearing thousands, and ten thousands in our fields; our cattle be heavy with young: may there be no miscarriage or untimely birth, no cry of distress in our streets.
Happy are the people whose blessing this is.
Happy are the people who have the Lord for their God.
And I looked up and saw four horns. I asked the angel who talked with me, ‘What are these?’ And he answered me, ‘These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.’ Then the Lord showed me four blacksmiths. And I asked, ‘What are they coming to do?’ He answered, ‘These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no head could be raised; but these have come to terrify them, to strike down the horns of the nations that lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.’
I looked up and saw a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then I asked, ‘Where are you going?’ He answered me, ‘To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.’ Then the angel who talked with me came forward, and another angel came forward to meet him, and said to him, ‘Run, say to that young man: Jerusalem shall be inhabited like villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and animals in it. For I will be a wall of fire all round it, says the Lord, and I will be the glory within it.’
Up, up! Flee from the land of the north, says the Lord; for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven, says the Lord. Up! Escape to Zion, you that live with daughter Babylon. For thus said the Lord of hosts (after his glory sent me) regarding the nations that plundered you: Truly, one who touches you touches the apple of my eye. See now, I am going to raise my hand against them, and they shall become plunder for their own slaves. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.
Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.
When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. He asked them, ‘What are you arguing about with them?’ Someone from the crowd answered him, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.’ He answered them, ‘You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’ And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You spirit that keep this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!’ After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’
Almighty God, you search us and know us: may we rely on you in strength and rest on you in weakness, now and in all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.