- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Grigor Narekatsi


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Prayer 95  Colophon

Prayer 64

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart


In everything and toward everything you are upright,
O God.
You judge justly and weigh fairly.
You measure truly and dispense blessings.
You act with goodness and uphold steadfastness.
You seek clarity and embrace enlightenment.
You admonish with experience and examine
with forbearance.
You are without guile and arrogance,
but in all things show gentleness, tranquility
and compassion.


You showed your justice, heavenly wisdom of
the Father’s unchanging genius,
which those adopted by grace confirm through
the witness of their unstinting praise.
As told in the holy sayings of the Gospel,
“They wailed, but I did not mourn,
they played their flutes, but I did not dance.”1

You advised me in my lawlessness, “Do not
break the law,” but I persisted in errant ways.

To me a sinner, you said, “Do not lift your horn,”2
but I opposed you. Oblivious and wayward,
I never noticed that you lift and lower the
royal trumpets, as told by Habakkuk,3
David4 and Zechariah.5
You wanted blessings for me, merciful Lord,
but I lean toward the damnation I deserved.
I preferred anger to calm,
groping in darkness without light,
as the Scripture says,6
I answered your compassionate voice with impudence.

Through Isaiah you said, “Even the worm is immortal,
the fire unquenchable,”7 the condemnation unending,
the place eternal, the image terrifying.
As in the words of the Psalmist, I neither heeded
nor understood, but walked in the darkness of
intellectual blindness.8


Through prophecy you revealed, “he who upholds
the law shall be blessed,”9
while I was quick to cut corners.
Lord Jesus, you raised David with his writing,
as a spiritual monument, a rock inscribed by you,
while he, one of the elect, said,
“I shall keep your law at all times,”10
and repeated, “forever and ever” for good measure.
But I, despite these words of warning and
encouragement, was unmoved.
I rushed to worship Baal instead of God,
as Elijah said in his satirical admonition,11
I stumbled along the path of doubt,
being of two inclinations, then
I abandoned the right.
I have the example of Moses with his laws
returning from the dead and I have the
letters of the prophets, written on the tablet of my heart
and the books of the apostles as bindings on
my fingers.12

And you, Lord of all, through your good news,
you raised countless dead from the grave,13
still I remained on the blacksmith’s anvil,
inert, with a heart of stone,14
more disbelieving than the five brothers of15
that rich man, who in that apt parable,
were as numb with gluttony as Belial,
yet I was unrepentant.16


But grant your mercy nevertheless upon
my forsaken self, good king, who inspires awe,
loves humanity and cares for his people,
living and holy Lord who always
enlightens us by the power of the mystery of
your exalted cross.
In my barren fields, hardened by sin,
filled with folly, with fruitless heart,
I am still sustained by your compassion, Almighty.
My soul shall be refreshed with springs of water
and my sore eyes quenched with streams of tears,
offered for purification and salvation and released
by your acceptance, all-giving Lord, who is
glorified forever.

1. Mt. 11:16-19.
2. Ps. 75 (Arm 74):4-5 (pursuant to the Armenian version of the Psalms).
3. Hab. 3:4 (pursuant to the Armenian version).
4. Ps. 75 (Arm 74):11.
5. Zech. 1:21.
6. Job 12:25.
7. Is. 66:24.
8. Ps. 82 (Arm 81):5.
9. Ps. 84 (Arm 83):8 (pursuant to the Armenian).
10. Ps. 119 (Arm 118):44 (the Armenian version, says “kept the law”).
11. 1 Kg. 18:21.
12. Pr. 7:3.
13. Mt. 27:52.
14. Mk. 8:17, 10:5, 16:14.
15. Lk. 16:28-30.
16. Satan, the rebellious angel; 2 Cor. 6:15.



Source: St. Gregory of Narek
Provided by: Thomas J. Samuelian

© 2002, Thomas J. Samuelian. Published with the permission of the author.

See also:

Biography of Grigor Narekatsi (in Armenian)
The Christ-Child ( translated by Alice Stone Blackwell )

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