Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, 304
Samuel Johnson, Moralist, 1784
O God, make speed to save me; O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let those who seek my life be put to shame and confusion; let them be turned back and disgraced who wish me evil. Let those who mock and deride me turn back because of their shame. But let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation say always, ‘Great is the Lord!’
As for me, I am poor and needy; come to me quickly, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.
O God, why have you utterly disowned us?
Why does your anger burn against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your congregation that you purchased of old, the tribe you redeemed for your own possession, and Mount Zion where you dwelt. Hasten your steps towards the endless ruins, where the enemy has laid waste all your sanctuary. Your adversaries roared in the place of your worship; they set up their banners as tokens of victory. Like men brandishing axes on high in a thicket of trees, all her carved work they smashed down with hatchet and hammer.
They set fire to your holy place; they defiled the dwelling place of your name and razed it to the ground. They said in their heart, ‘Let us make havoc of them altogether,’ and they burned down all the sanctuaries of God in the land. There are no signs to see, not one prophet left, not one among us who knows how long.
How long, O God, will the adversary scoff?
Shall the enemy blaspheme your name for ever?
Why have you withheld your hand and hidden your right hand in your bosom?
Yet God is my king from of old, who did deeds of salvation in the midst of the earth.
It was you that divided the sea by your might and shattered the heads of the dragons on the waters; You alone crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him to the beasts of the desert for food. You cleft the rock for fountain and flood; you dried up ever-flowing rivers. Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the moon and the sun. You set all the bounds of the earth; you fashioned both summer and winter.
Remember now, Lord, how the enemy scoffed, how a foolish people despised your name. Do not give to wild beasts the soul of your turtle dove; forget not the lives of your poor for ever. Look upon your creation, for the earth is full of darkness, full of the haunts of violence. Let not the oppressed turn away ashamed, but let the poor and needy praise your name.
Arise, O God, maintain your own cause; remember how fools revile you all the day long. Forget not the clamour of your adversaries, the tumult of your enemies that ascends continually.
Thus says the Lord:
Where is your mother’s bill of divorce with which I put her away?
Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you?
No, because of your sins you were sold, and for your transgressions your mother was put away.
Why was no one there when I came?
Why did no one answer when I called?
Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem?
Or have I no power to deliver?
By my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a desert; their fish stink for lack of water, and die of thirst.
I clothe the heavens with blackness, and make sackcloth their covering.
The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens—wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backwards.
I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries?
Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?
All of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up.
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant, who walks in darkness and has no light, yet trusts in the name of the Lord and relies upon his God?
But all of you are kindlers of fire, lighters of firebrands. Walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled! This is what you shall have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.
1 Thessalonians 5.12-end
But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
Beloved, pray for us. Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. I solemnly command you by the Lord that thletter be read to all of them.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
God our redeemer, who gave light to the world that was in darkness by the healing power of the Saviour's cross: shed that light on us, we pray, that with your martyr Lucy we may, by the purity of our lives, reflect the light of Christ and, by the merits of his passion, come to the light of everlasting 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.