Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, Nonjuror, Hymn Writer, 1711
You only are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to keep your words. I entreat you with all my heart, be merciful to me according to your promise. I have considered my ways and turned my feet back to your testimonies. I made haste and did not delay to keep your commandments. Though the cords of the wicked entangle me, I do not forget your law. At midnight I will rise to give you thanks, because of your righteous judgements. I am a companion of all those who fear you, those who keep your commandments. The earth, O Lord, is full of your faithful love; instruct me in your statutes.
You have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word, O Lord.
O teach me true understanding and knowledge, for I have trusted in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
You are gracious and do good; O Lord, teach me your statutes.
The proud have smeared me with lies, but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart. Their heart has become gross with fat, but my delight is in your law. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is dearer to me than a hoard of gold and silver.
Your hands have made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn your commandments. Those who fear you will be glad when they see me, because I have hoped in your word. I know, O Lord, that your judgements are right, and that in very faithfulness you caused me to be troubled.
Let your faithful love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
Let your tender mercies come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight.
Let the proud be put to shame, for they wrong me with lies; but I will meditate on your commandments.
Let those who fear you turn to me, even those who know your testimonies.
Let my heart be sound in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame.
Then Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying:
‘When locks are long in Israel, when the people offer themselves willingly - bless the Lord!
Hear, O kings; give ear, O princes; to the Lord I will sing, I will make melody to the Lord, the God of Israel.
Lord, when you went out from Seir, when you marched from the region of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens poured, the clouds indeed poured water. The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai, before the Lord, the God of Israel.
In the days of Shamgar son of Anath, in the days of Jael, caravans ceased and travellers kept to the byways. The peasantry prospered in Israel, they grew fat on plunder, because you arose, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel. When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel?
My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people.
Bless the Lord.
Tell of it, you who ride on white donkeys, you who sit on rich carpets, and you who walk by the way.
To the sound of musicians at the watering-places, there they repeat the triumphs of the Lord, the triumphs of his peasantry in Israel. Then down to the gates marched the people of the Lord.
‘Awake, awake, Deborah!
Awake, awake, utter a song!
Arise, Barak, lead away your captives, O son of Abinoam.
Then down marched the remnant of the noble; the people of the Lord marched down for him against the mighty. From Ephraim they set out into the valley, following you, Benjamin, with your kin; from Machir marched down the commanders, and from Zebulun those who bear the marshal’s staff;
the chiefs of Issachar came with Deborah, and Issachar faithful to Barak; into the valley they rushed out at his heels. Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
Why did you tarry among the sheepfolds, to hear the piping for the flocks?
Among the clans of Reuben there were great searchings of heart. Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan; and Dan, why did he abide with the ships?
Asher sat still at the coast of the sea, settling down by his landings.
Zebulun is a people that scorned death;
Naphtali too, on the heights of the field.
The kings came, they fought; then fought the kings of Canaan, at Taanach, by the waters of Megiddo; they got no spoils of silver. The stars fought from heaven, from their courses they fought against Sisera. The torrent Kishon swept them away, the onrushing torrent, the torrent Kishon. March on, my soul, with might!
Then loud beat the horses’ hoofs with the galloping, galloping of his steeds.
Curse Meroz, says the angel of the Lord, curse bitterly its inhabitants, because they did not come to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, of tent-dwelling women most blessed.
He asked water and she gave him milk, she brought him curds in a lordly bowl.
She put her hand to the tent-peg and her right hand to the workmen’s mallet;
she struck Sisera a blow, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple.
He sank, he fell, he lay still at her feet; at her feet he sank, he fell; where he sank, there he fell dead.
Out of the window she peered, the mother of Sisera gazed through the lattice:Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the hoofbeats of his chariots?”
Her wisest ladies make answer, indeed, she answers the question herself:
“Are they not finding and dividing the spoil? - A girl or two for every man; spoil of dyed stuffs for Sisera, spoil of dyed stuffs embroidered, two pieces of dyed work embroidered for my neck as spoil?”
So perish all your enemies, O Lord!
But may your friends be like the sun as it rises in its might.’
And the land had rest for forty years.
Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’ He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us”, then in reply he will say to you, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” But he will say, “I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!” There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.’
At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” ’
O God, from whom all blessings flow, by whose providence we are kept and by whose grace we are directed: help us, through the example of your servant Thomas Ken, faithfully to keep your word, humbly to accept adversity and steadfastly to worship you; 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.