- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Grigor Narekatsi


Tenets of Prayer  Prayer 1  Prayer 2  Prayer 3  Prayer 4  Prayer 5  Prayer 6
Prayer 7  Prayer 8  Prayer 9  Prayer 10  Prayer 11  Prayer 12  Prayer 13  Prayer 14
Prayer 15  Prayer 16  Prayer 17  Prayer 18  Prayer 19  Prayer 20  Prayer 21  Prayer 22
Prayer 23  Prayer 24  Prayer 25  Prayer 26  Prayer 27  Prayer 28  Prayer 29  Prayer 30
Prayer 31  Prayer 32  Prayer 33  Prayer 34  Prayer 35  Prayer 36  Prayer 37  Prayer 38
Prayer 39  Prayer 40  Prayer 41  Prayer 42  Prayer 43  Prayer 44  Prayer 45  Prayer 46
Prayer 47  Prayer 48  Prayer 49  Prayer 50  Prayer 51  Prayer 52  Prayer 53  Prayer 54
Prayer 55  Prayer 56  Prayer 57  Prayer 58  Prayer 59  Prayer 60  Prayer 61  Prayer 62
Prayer 63  Prayer 64  Prayer 65  Prayer 66  Prayer 67  Prayer 68  Prayer 69  Prayer 70
Prayer 71  Prayer 72  Prayer 73  Prayer 74  Prayer 75  Prayer 76  Prayer 77  Prayer 78
Prayer 79  Prayer 80  Prayer 81  Prayer 82  Prayer 83  Prayer 84  Prayer 85  Prayer 86
Prayer 87  Prayer 88  Prayer 89  Prayer 90  Prayer 91  Prayer 92  Prayer 93  Prayer 94
Prayer 95  Colophon

Prayer 92

A Prayer of Instruction on the wooden bell that calls us to worship, symbol of the trumpet on the Day of Judgment.


I give you thanks, compassionate Lord,
friend of mankind,
creator of heaven and earth,
Son of the living God.
As soon as I awake I am seized by yearning
for your love, thanks to the sounding of your wooden bell.
Hearing the bell’s clipped resonance
we awake and arise from our deathlike slumber.
And as if called by a consoling voice,
we are drawn to the service of blessing and come
with joy before your throne to be judged.1


Glory to you,
name beyond definition, uncontainable power,
who went to such amazing lengths to provide
for my salvation.
Immortal essence, praised with thanksgiving,
your miracles in this world
foreshadow the world to come.
By this instrument, this wooden vessel,
you firmly shake me from the stupor of sleep,
as if you rouse me from my slothfulness
with an admonishing reproach,
adding percussive accompaniment
to the gentleness of your fatherly love.
By the clapping of two mallets,
you sweetly rain your loving-kindness upon us.
You do not plunge me back into the depths of sleep
with hushed syllables,
nor frighten my anxious soul
with needless harshness.
I worship you, upon my knees, Creator of all,
who has given us in this world a sample
of the sound of that terrifying alarm that will echo
on the great day of resurrection.
You brought me back to life
from the tomblike numbness of oblivion.
You sought a fool like me to invite
to taste the wine of joy.2
You made this instrument to prepare
the immaculate bride for your love, O groom.3
With this humble spur, you struck fear in the
monstrous demons.
You tamed the Rebel by placing a massive yoke
upon his shoulders.
You muzzled the jaw of the Troublemaker with a restraining bridle.
May your infinite highness be forever exalted great God,
who turned the tree symbolizing our transgression
into the liberating grace of salvation4
and who brought a muddled fool like me
to my senses through the wisdom of your spirit.
Through the strokes of the mallet on this wooden board
you remind us that alone we cannot cure
the serpent’s bite.
By the three blows at the end of the call to worship,
which symbolize the Trinity,
you reinforce the three chains that restrain
my destroyer.5


I send up odes of praise, with fragrant incense, to you
God who cares for all,
for your ways are more potent than the multitude of pagan gods,
from whom you captured my sinful soul
guiding me to your worship.

With the voice of this sacred wood, hardy and robust,
you preached the truth.

With this worthy instrument
you increased the honor of your New Covenant.

Its clamor calls your heavenly host to arms,
Lord Christ, who rules over all earthly states
and emperors.
It is the sign of joy, Lord Jesus, upon your victory on the
field of battle, in which the Pharoah who oppresses souls is seized and bound.6
This well-shaped piece of wood delivers a daily beating
upon the head of the haughty evil doer.
By the sound of this wood, the sons of Zion are
summoned to battle against the despot who casts a
darkness over the world.7
And like a house of divine worship, built long ago,8
this wood consecrated with oil, which neither grows old
nor retires from service,
alerts us well in advance of the Day of Reckoning that
lies ahead.
It is like the tree of life in paradise, O God, inviting
us to gather and hasten to the house of blessings.
It resembles the tree of knowledge
created to distinguish good from evil.9
It is a solemn reminder of the sign of the cross
sealed upon my forehead by your Holy Spirit.
It announces the good news of your glorious
second coming to the bride, kept pure for you, O King.10
It encourages the ranks of the saintly to rejoice.
It inspires an innocent yearning for spiritual union
with the virgin queen, the mother of all, veiled
in splendor.
It prepares the secret treasures that adorn the soul.
It is reminiscent of the thunderous message on Mt. Sinai
and the aura of dwelling places of the Lord.
It crowns with glory the immaculate mother of
pure children, the splendid eternal virgin – the church.


With the sounding of this wood,
stronger than the trumpeting rams’ horns at Jericho,11
you brought down and leveled the tyranny of Satan.
With this wooden slingshot you slew Goliath.12
You fashioned this new javelin that foretells the
destruction of Satan,13
for with this tool you pulled up the deep roots of sin
and through its beneficial work
you recommitted me to duties I had forgotten.
If I call this alarm a voice,
that predicts the coming of your Word, O God,
I would not be wrong, but would be telling the truth.14
By this humble instrument,
though material, yet bearing the spirit,
the majesty of your works are proclaimed, O Jesus.
Through this unassuming sign,
signaling the place of refuge,
you draw our attention on earth
to your bounteous help from on high.


Your name is proclaimed,
God, who loves mankind,
who provides and cares for us beyond reason.
You are adored in the mystery of your Holy Trinity,
O light whose image cannot be drawn.
By this twice dedicated wood,15
you shot arrows of sound,
through the air, reaching their targets
across long distances, bearing a living spirit,
foiling the secret designs of the archer of darkness,
forcing him into retreat.
As if waging battle from a high fortress,
mighty and indestructible,
you hurl down the strokes of this wooden bell,
like an angel you send to confound the enemy.
With the words of your covenant, Your Majesty,
consecrated with grace by being mixed with your blood,
you have sharpened this horn
like a cross of redemption honed on the whetstone,
to strike down the blustering bully.
By the clamor of this wooden bell,
more tumultuous than a celestial chorus,
the doors of the human will
with its half-hearted and unseemly impulses,
are knocked down
taking with it the legalistic mentality of the
OldTestament heart and its house which is but a shadow
of your new covenant.


I offer you glory and praise,
immortal king,
I pray that you might renew
with your mighty right hand
all that you have created.
By the reverberating wooden bell
you drove away the wicked peril of the
cunning Troublemaker,
the feverish torment of sin,
the sour breath of the deceiver,
the impulsive and deadly misadventures and delusions,
the harmful and depressing acts caused by
weakness of the flesh,
the diabolical whining that causes us to faint.
Helped by the wings of the sign of your cross,
dispel again with this wooden armament
clouds that rain fire,
thunder that brings hail,
burning flames of smoky deception
of the many-footed fire-breathing dragon,
the butcher’s knife, the confrontation of battle,
the wild thoughts that overtake me
like prancing demons.
They are set to flight by this little bell,
overcome with trembling,
and they know the Lord
comes to judgment
with a sound like this.
And the pious warriors,
well armed with the sword of the Holy Spirit,
are spurred on with courage,
when they hear the alarm of the wooden bell,
which with an inarticulate cry calls all nations
to sacrifice themselves for justice.


Listen to the great trumpet sound
by which God is exalted in worship16
throughout the world.
It resounds in the ears of the heathens, causing
them to scatter.
It reinforces the voice of the watchmen of great God,
and, in the words of Isaiah, has us singing
together for joy.17
Thanks to this wooden bell, the enemies of the cross,
are separated like the waters.18
The fruit of the first tree loses its
far-reaching significance,19
when wood becomes celebrated as the symbol of life.20
Compared to this wooden bell emitting the sound of life,
the iron sword of war loses its luster.21
And like something sacred,
this wooden bell that rings out life
was deemed worthy to be inscribed
with the sign of the cross,
like bells on horses, holy to the Lord.22
The sword of human authority is sheathed23
in deference to this anointed staff of the
heavenly shepherd.
No hammer of any artisan has nicked a
stone of the temple,24
but on the altar built by God this sacred wood
soaring with the wings of the cross wields power.
Not only at the beginning of the month,25
nor upon the seven times seven years of the jubilee,26
is the wooden bell removed from its corner and sounded,
but from the dawn of the universe to its far reaches,27
upon the waves of the sea and its islands,
it echoes, divinely,
announcing the good news.
The swords of the butcher were broken
by the sight of this wood,
and the useless were transformed into ploughshares and pruning hooks.28


The sound of the wooden bell, is not like the harsh echo
of stones in the depths of a pit,
nor does it do violence to the air, in the words of
a foreign sage.29
It does not pierce the ear with a sharp and
annoying sound,
nor does it make the skull vibrate unpleasantly.
It does not cause bones to crack,
nor does it stun the mind.
It does not clang like a bell of copper,
nor does it clunk without any sweetness
like a stone on the pavement.
It is the invincible keeper of the New Zion.
It is one of the main, sacred vessels, given by God,
that Christian clerics, along with the Levites,
treat with care and reverence.
It is like the voice of an angel,30
which in the words of the parable-teller,
resemble the song of a bird.31
It is a new musical instrument to announce the grace of the good news.
It awakens in us the Spirit of God
more readily than the odes of Elishe’s harp.32
It is the prelude to the lamentations,
played upon the strings of a sweet and
harmonious violin.
It is cymbals with their allegorical expression.
It is a new flute of a different sort
that we have adopted instead of the old.
It does not make hollow noises like reeds of the pagans.
It does not make earthly noises like instruments of
the Jews, about which the Lord said through the prophet,
“Take these away from me.”33
Rather, it is a God-pleasing sound, doubly honored,
for it wards off attacking demons and other
strokes of evil.


And now, I have accepted with blessing,
veneration and praise, this sacred gift,
as protection for me and glory for you,
thanksgiving from me and worship to you,
a wonder of your creative glory, wanting in nothing.
May this Godly sound pierce through the joints
of my body 34 to drive from my soul the deceitful ways of the demons and block corruption.
Make this wooden bell a symbol,
a harp of light, an invitation that cannot be
retracted, an endless praise of your
lordly providence.
Hear us, O compassionate Lord, through
this wooden bell.
Grant us, I pray, almighty Lord,
twofold protection against visible and
invisible enemies.
Give us, O generous hand,
open and ready to offer and share good things,
the sweetness of air and beneficial rains.
May your order, voiced in this medium,
curb the hellish blasts, the painful breathing,
the attacks of the deceitful and evil brigands.
By this instrument may we be delivered from
the aggressive warriors who lead us to evil.
By the cheerful voice of this anointed wood,
may the worm, canker, and their kind,
that draw strength from our sins and fight
against us be driven away, cut down and killed.
By this plant of bliss
may our trust in you as our protector,
Creator of all, lord of creation,
take root, like the thicket where Abraham
found the ram,35 at the end of whose branches
the sacred inheritance of my present salvation
hangs before us, caused by you, Christ, to blossom
and bear the fruit of eternal life.
Before the ringing out of the good news heralded by
his glorious wood,
may the demon-possessed enemies
and the lying and tricky many-handed hellions
be set to flight and banished to the dark abyss.
May this bell drive away from the fertile fields
of our toil, the devastating blights and trampling
bands of animals.
Let this bell remove unbecoming excesses
caused by the devices of evil,
that render us yet more ugly.
May this bell truly eliminate
the faults generated by traitors
in our two natures:
from the spiritual, strange, false thoughts;
from the physical, corruption caused by
impure stirrings.
Deliver me, Lord Jesus, I pray you!
Deliver me, my benefactor.
Reach out to me with your almighty right hand,
and having helped me,
free me of these enemies.


Mix and unite your commandments with the
sound of the bell,
so that my callous heart, hard as a diamond,
might again bear the fruits of your word.36
May the sound of the bell strike and pierce
my worn heart and forsaken soul
and like a sharp stake of wonder,
reinforce and shore them up,
upright and steadfast,37
while softening the hardness of my soul,
so that I might awaken, sobered with humility,
like Paul and Matthew.38
O God who loves mankind,
through this venerable wooden bell
remind me of the gifts of your cross
by which you did things beyond words.
Lift away from me, Giver of life,
the weight of my sins
by the glorious yoke of your new tabernacle.39

By your will, Almighty,
may the ears of my stubborn heart be opened
to the sound of life.
By this tiding of your magnificent good works,
may the ears of the deaf hear.40
Through this bell may the tongues of the dumb speak.41
May the sight of the eyes be restored,
that they might look upon you purely in
unwavering adoration.42
May the weary wills of men be refreshed,
that they might repent and return to you.43
In my turmoil, O Lord,
grant me the rain of tears.
Let this be from you to us
a message of joy,
a jubilant shout,
a tranquil song,
a thing of bliss,
a means of salvation,
an occasion for pardon,
a banishment of grief,
an extrication from entanglements,
an easing of anxiety,
a ceasing of cares,
a dispelling of sighs
an alleviation of groaning,
an assurance of necessities,
a discipline of passions,
a consolation for disappointments,
a cure for pains,
an immunization against backsliding,
a contemplation of things invisible.


Lead me across this bridge of yearning,
which neither hinders nor causes us to stray,
on our upward journey,
upon this heaven-bound ladder marked44
by the footsteps of the saints.
Offer me to your blessed Father,
whose name inspires awe,
O doer of good,
may I be guided by your Holy Spirit,
to inseparable unity with you.
And to your one and only, holy and united Lordship and
incorruptible creatorship, for which your creatures,
both living and inanimate, give thanks,
glory and dominion, forever and ever.

1. Heb. 4:16.
2. Pr. 9:5.
3. Rev. 21:2.
4. Gen 3.
5. Rev. 20:2-3.
6. Rev. 19:11-21.
7. Eph. 6:12.
8. Gen. 28:18-19.
9. Gen. 2:9.
10. 2 Cor. 11:2, Rev. 21:2, 9, Eph. 5:27.
11. Jos. 6:1-21.
12. 1 Sam. 17.
13. Jos. 8:18-19.
14. Jn. 1:23 (Like John the Baptist).
15. The Holy Cross and Consecrated Bell that calls to worship.
16. Ps. 47 (Arm. 46):5, Is. 27:13.
17. Is. 52:8.
18. Ex. 14:15-31.
19. Gen. 3.
20. Prov. 3:18.
21. Is. 2:4.
22. Zech. 14:30.
23. 1 Sam. 17:32-51.
24. 1 Kg. 6:7.
25. Ps. 81 (Arm. 80):3.
26. Lev. 25:9.
27. Rom 10:18.
28. Is. 2:4.
29. Some commentators interpret this as a reference to Homer. Critical Edition, p. 1113, n. 14.
30. Mt. 25:31.
31. Ec. 12:4.
32. 2 Kg. 3:15.
33. Am. 5:23.
34. Heb. 4:12.
35. St. Gregory uses the Hebrew word sabec which means ‘bush’ or ‘thicket’, referring to the thicket where Abraham found the ram that he sacrificed in place of his son Isaac. Gen. 22:13. Critical Edition, p. 1114, n. 22.
36. Mt. 13:3-9, 18-23.
37. Is. 35:3-4.
38. Acts 9:1-9, Matt. 9:9.
39. Mt. 11:28-30, Ex. 25:14.
40. Is. 35:5.
41. Mk. 7:32-35.
42. Jn. 9, Mk. 10:46-52, Is. 35:5.
43. Is. 35:3-4.
44. Gen. 28:12-19 (Jacob’s Ladder).



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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