- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Grigor Narekatsi


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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 34

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart


Here is my profession of faith, here,1
the yearnings of my wretched breath to you
who constitute all things with your Word, God.
What I have discoursed upon before, I set forth again,
these written instructions and interpretations
for the masses of different nations.
I offer these prayers of intercession
in the thanksgiving prayer below.


I pray to your unchanging, almighty Spirit:
Send the dew of your sweetness upon my soul
to rule over the impulses of my senses.
Send the all-filling gifts of your merciful grace
and cultivate the reasoning fields hardened by my heart,
that they might bear the fruit of your spiritual seeds.
All gifts that flourish and grow with us, Teacher,
come from your all-encompassing wisdom.2
You who laid hands on the apostles,
filled the prophets,
taught the teachers,
made the speechless speak,
and opened the ears of the deaf.
You, of the same family as the first and
only begotten Son of your consubstantial Father,
carry all this out through your mutual effort.
You proclaimed as the co-equal of your Father,
grant me, a sinner, to speak boldly of the life-giving,
mystery of the good news of your Gospel,
that I might follow with soaring mind,
the infinite course of the inspired breath of
your testament.
And when I embark upon the solemn interpretation
of the Word, send me first your compassion,
and let it speak through me
in a manner worthy, useful and pleasing to you,
in glory and praise for your Godhead,
and in the silence of the universal church.
Extend over me your right hand,
and fortify me with your grace.
Clear my mind of the fog of forgetfulness,
dispelling the darkness of sin,
that I might rise above this earthly life through wisdom.
May the dawn of that unobscured miracle,
the knowledge of your Godliness,
shine within me again, Almighty.
To be worthy to do and teach
and be an example of goodness for god-loving listeners.
To you all glory in all things,
with your Father almighty and
your only begotten and benevolent Son,
now and forever, without end.


The creed of the co-existing Holy Trinity,
the rule of life and grace of salvation,
I taught in the following way:
We confess and profess, honor and worship
the shared glory and unity of the Holy Trinity,
Godhead beyond description, always good,
of the same substance, equal in honor,
beyond the flight of the wings of our thought,
higher than all examples, beyond all analogies,
surpassing the limits on high.
Before the creation of eternal undifferentiated matter
and the categories of creatures
with blessing that cannot be translated,
crowned forever with the richest greatness,
setting time in motion and all that has taken shape as time unfolds,
himself the cause and shaper of everything visible
and invisible,
who cannot be defined by name or denoted by label,
nor likened in quality, nor weighed in quantity,
nor formed by rules, nor known by kind,
nor spread to exhaustion,
nor occupying space,
nor appearing in a place.


Father of compassion, God of the universe,
creator of everything in heaven and on earth
except the only begotten Word, through whom
all things exist, creator and giver of breath to all things
except for the consubstantial Holy Spirit,
through whom you formed all else.


One of three glorified persons equal in power and awe,
who descended from on high to here below,
who was indeed by nature indistinguishable
from those below,
without relinquishing the throne of glory,
without leaving the watchful gaze of the parent of love,
merely entering the vessel of the virgin womb purely
and coming out joined with a body
inseparable in essence,
without any flaw in his humanity and lacking
nothing in divinity,
one and only Son of the only Father and
the first born of the Mother of God, Virgin Bearer
of the Lord,
creator becoming a true man as originally created,
not in the fallen state of mortals,
but new and splendid with the sublime glory of kings,
not seen in the ages or existing in time.
The first born, as the Psalmist said,
higher than all the kings of earth,3
formed from an incorruptible combination
like us in body,
in the manner of the soul with body,
and as gold with fire,
or to put it more plainly,
light in air, neither transformed nor separated.


He submitted himself willingly to the cross of death,
like an innocent lamb led to slaughter,4
and girded himself with mighty self-discipline
for the salvation of those he created.
He truly suffered like a mortal.
He was placed in a tomb with no special treatment for his divinity.
On the third day, in the hell of Tartarus,
he preached to the
downcast captives and showed renewal and light.
And having carried out his providential
mission of redemption,
he came back to life as God,
and ruled on the wings of the winds,
rising upon the Cherubim,
covered in an inscrutable cloud.5
He ascended into heaven on high,
sat in splendor upon the throne bequeathed to him
from the beginning, equal with his Father,
from whom he had never been separated,
neither losing what had been acquired,
nor diluting that which was his own.
Therefore, he shall come to the judgment of retribution,
examining the unseen with the scales of justice,
for which we wait and pray
with faith in his almighty Lordship over and through all,
who truly is the only one of the only one
in equal glory forever worshiped as one.


We always praise along with the Son and Father, the Holy Spirit,
which is of the same essence,
mighty, true, perfect and holy,
who from nothing brought into existence
everything that exists,
who acts through itself and shares rule with
the other two,
in the same indestructible, boundless kingdom,
who is the first cause, the awesome Word of his selfhood.
And the same exalted Holy Spirit,
good ruler, who dispenses the gifts of the Father,
in praise of the name and the glory of
the only begotten Son,
who acted through the Laws and inspired the Prophets,
with the encouragement of your co-equal Son
commissioned your apostles.6
In the form of a dove you appeared at the River Jordan,
for the greater glory of the one who had come,
shone forth in the writings of the evangelists,
created genius, strengthened the wise,
filled the teachers, blessed the kingdom,
assisted the kings, appointed the guardians,
issued the decree of salvation, granted talents,
prepared atonement,7
cleansed those baptized into Christ’s death that
you might dwell in them
a sacrament performed jointly by the Father and
Son with the Holy Spirit,
who is God, honored as Lord, in all ways in all things.


Being named first among the Trinity does not make one greater than the other,
or being named after the other, less than the rest,
or by saying that they are one, that there is a
confusion of persons,
or by dividing into three, a separation of wills.
For the Father would be diminished
if he did not have the power of the Word
so too if he did not have the Holy Spirit and
was speechless,
lifeless and deprived of any power to command.
And the Word, if it were not known by
the name of the Father,
would be abandoned like some orphan or just
another mortal being.
Similarly the Holy Spirit, if not commissioned
by its cause,
would be vagabond, an unruly wind.8


But if one presumes in a refutation
to snatch the Father from his Word,
on the ground that there was a time when
the Word was not,
believing that such speculations exalt
the sublime greatness of the divine,
or if one subordinates the Spirit which proceeds forth
on the ground that it is not by nature spiritual,
thereby introducing an alien being or some
unstable mixture
into the pure and sublime unity of the Holy Trinity,
we must reject such persons from our midst.
We must drive them away in disgrace
with our confession of faith
like a stoning of fierce demons or vicious beasts,
and cast a curse upon their devilish lot,
shutting the gates to the church of life in their face.
While we glorify the Holy Trinity in the same lordship of unified equality,
in parallel praise, uniform level,
blessed on earth and in heaven,
in the congregation of the nation of
earthly thinking beings,
now and forever.


Now, I offer to your all-hearing ears, almighty God,
the secret thoughts in this book,
and thus equipped, I venture forth in conversation,
not with the idea that my voice could
somehow exalt you,
for before you created everything,
before the creation of the heavens
with the immortal choir of praise and
the earthly thinking beings,
you yourself in your perfection were already glorified,
but still you permit me, a reject, to taste
your indescribable sweetness, through
the communion of words.
And what good is it to mouth your
royal command about
“Adonai, Lord,” and not carry it out.9
I destroyed with my own hand
the golden tables of speech,
dedicated to your message, written by
the finger of God.10
That was true destruction.
And I, with ashen-faced sorrow,
now provide a second copy, made in its likeness.
But now, since I have prayed much,
in a voice of passionate and sincere praise,
hear me, compassionate God, with this
profession of faith.
May the voice of this prayer be joined with those offered
by clean worshipers obedient to your will
so that this meager offering, a dry loaf of
unleavened bread,11
might be served with oil upon your altar of glory.


But you, beneficent and charitable in all things,
O Christ, of one God, mighty and powerful,
who surpasses all with your sweet and
caring compassion
not only humanity in general and those like me
who are susceptible to all manner of contrariness,
but also the uncontaminated angels,
and even the pure and saintly, who give praise.
There was Elijah, for example,12
whose austere signs on Mt. Horeb were shown
in three ways:
a great earthquake, strong winds and burning fire.
But you act in the mildness of patience and
the calm peacefulness of the sweet air,
for you alone, as the Scripture says,
are the will of mercy.13
And although our kind found joy in virtue
and otherwise adopted heavenly ways,
still they were earthlings, though chosen
among mankind.
You, on the contrary, are not even capable of evil:
You are good in your very essence
and blessed in all things,
salvation for all, tranquility in all,
calm for all, cure for all disease,
the fount of life-giving water in the words of Jeremiah.14


Turn toward me and have mercy upon me,
O God, who so thirsts, hungers and longs for
my salvation.
You have gone so far as to designate
a heavenly host of blessed immortals,
to act as priests and intercessors for man’s salvation,
so that on behalf of us earthly beings,
for the reconciliation of the wretched and
abandoned like me,
they might perpetually pray for your great
blessed mercy,
with this light-giving phrase,
“Have mercy upon Jerusalem,”
so that based upon your great revelation
places left empty by the fallen angels,
might be filled by human beings,
who have joined you, in the manner of
the earthly Jerusalem,
about which you sent us good news.15


Truly, you hear, kind God,
You listen, king.
You lent an ear, life and light.
You paid attention, heavenly one.
You respected us, almighty.
You noted, knower of secrets.
You saw, keeper.
You empathized, Lord beyond telling.
You humbled yourself, exalted one.
You became meek, awesome one.
You were revealed, Lord beyond words.
You were defined, boundless one.
You were measured, unexaminable one.
You focused light, radiant one.
You became human, incorporeal one.
You became tangible, immeasurable one.
You took shape, you who are beyond quality.
You truly fulfilled the yearnings of those
who pray to you.
With the voice of the blissful,16
you were even for me, miserable soul that I am,
a kind intercessor, a living mediator,17
an immortal offering, an endless sacrifice,
a gift of purity, a priceless burnt offering,
an inexhaustible cup.
Merciful Lord, who loves mankind,
may you always show
the favor of your life-giving will and your
long-suffering patience toward me, a sinner.
To you glory forever.

1. This prayer, along with parts of Prayers 34, 35, 75, 97, 92 and 93, is believed by leading commentators to be part of an earlier apologetic work that St. Gregory wrote circa 987, during a period of doctrinal tension between the Armenian and Byzantine and Georgian Churches. See, S. Boghosian, Narekatsu Hetkerov, 31.
2. The next 6 lines from the Jerusalem text, since the critical edition was garbled.
3. Ps. 89:27.
4. Is. 53:7.
5. Ps. 18:11
6. Jn. 20:22.
7. Rom. 6:3.
8. Wis. 2:3.
9. Lk. 6:46.
10. Ex. 32:19.
11. Num. 6:15.
12. 1 Kg. 19:8.
13. Mic. 7:18.
14. Jer. 2:13.
15. Zech. 1:12.
16. 1 Jn. 2:1.
17. Heb. 7:25.



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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