- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Grigor Narekatsi


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Prayer 95  Colophon

Prayer 51

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart


Now, should I, a mortal who has strayed in every way,
plead with another earthly being,
to whom it is vain to cry out?
To a mere rational mortal, on whom it would be false to place hope of salvation?1
To a frail human, whose strength is as feeble and
faltering as his word?
To the princes on earthly thrones,2
whose trappings are as transitory as their beings?
To a blood brother,
who likewise is needy of contentment?
To my earthly father,
whose care diminishes with his dwindling days?
To my mother, who bore me,
whose compassion waned with her retreating life?
To the kingdoms of this world, perhaps, who are always more artful in killing than giving life?
Or to you, beneficent God, glorified in the highest,
who live and give life to all and
who after death are able to work incorruptible renewal.3


For if we flee, it is you who come after us.
If we are weak, you give us strength.
If we falter, you set us on the right and easy path.
If we faint, you encourage us.
If we are ailing in body and soul, you heal us.
If we lie, you justify us with your truth.
If we stumble into the abyss, you direct us to heaven.
If we do not turn from our willfulness, you guide us.
If we sin, you weep.
If we are just, you smile.
If we are estranged, you mourn.
If we approach, you celebrate.
If we give, you receive.
If we become stubborn, you are patient.
If we are ungrateful, you grant abundantly.
If we quit, you are sad.
If we are brave, you rejoice.


The blessed and wonderful Psalm One Hundred Three4
comforts my failing heart,
and heralds the good news of the hope of life.
It is an assurance of salvation
that triumphs over demons and the doubts of
the Slanderer.
It is like the Lord’s cross, a sign of good fortune,
glorious and resplendent,
unshakable in its exalted light,
invincible in the strength on high,
standing as an irresistible champion,
unmovable forever
against the immoral ways of Satan’s tyranny.
For the discerning soul, it is a treasure of spiritual goods,
showing the defeat of death and the absolution
of sin, plus
double hopes for each, now and eternally.
It promises restoration for the righteous.
Its rules preach goodness and give life as
written by the Spirit of God.
The Psalms were songs of everything for
the pure in heart:
a testament of life, written for all people.


For the Old law was a faint image of the New,5
holding in its bosom good news and assurance
of the great, blessed victory over death
and heavenly life like that of the angels forever,
beyond telling.
They were passing writings and replaceable rules.6
Their function was to condemn the frailties
of transgressors,7
and they were to be taken as earthly commitment and
weak as an intercessor for reconciliation.8
They leave undone the words of those who prayed.
Although they show the salvation of Manasseh,9
who after so many unforgivable sins,
in the trustworthy account of the prophet,
guilty of spilling the blood of the righteous in
the city of his ancestors, a city
renowned for its miracles and dedicated to
the great king.10
Even the greatest of the seers, his teacher11
and the steward of the estate built by his forebears,
was hacked in two by Manasseh with horrific torment.
As a symbol of his revolt, cutting off the last
hope of his salvation,
he committed yet another brutal misdeed and still
he had the arrogance to enter into unlawful battle with the Most High.
Never even having respected the honor of the creator
and having denied the name of him who
dwells in the altar,
he persecuted the spirit of God and pledged
himself to Satan.
And that very temple of the Lord,
designated by God for adoration with incense,
the most renowned gathering place,
revered by the nations as a sacred place,
where angelic visions and triumphant divine signs
appeared in brilliant revelation.
In that place reminiscent of heaven,
awesome, resplendent,
he erected the four-faced idol Kevan as
a competing deity,12
turning it into a vile cult center, a wasteland of rubble,
and altar for satanic sacrifices,
dispossessing the heavenly king of his regal
dwelling place,
stripping the most bountiful of his belongings.
Transforming the landlord into a vagabond with
no place to rest,
he built a splendid tabernacle to Beelzebub,13
and expelled the awesome name from there.
Taking the legacy of the praiseworthy hostage,14
wretchedly degrading the stature of the most merciful,
he turned the hall of light into a small fox hole
and for him who holds the world in his hand,
he left not even a hut from his own creation to
cover his head.15
He tore down the sanctuary of the Holy of Holies,
where the mysteries of blood sacrifice were conducted,
and in their place installed fortune tellers.16
He opened many ways to sinfulness.17
Like a shepherd of destruction he led his flock
to slaughter, a frenzied priest of waywardness.
And all this he did, knowing full well the religion
of the Laws, having as a father the great King Hezekiah, the likeness of David.18


He was so resourceful in his evil-doing that
he blasphemed and contested God’s honor
with which he had been granted the glory
of the kingdom.
He butchered the multitude of the pious at prayer,19
a traitor to his family, a bane to his associates,
murderer of his intimates, killer of his companions,
he could not turn toward God, for he had rejected him.
He could not remember Abraham,
for he had become estranged.
He could not pray by Isaac, for he had cursed him.
He could not take pride in Israel, for he had been
banished from the glory of that name
of great mystery.
He could not sing a song of David,
for he had reprimanded him.
He could not approach the place of penitence,
for he had befouled it.
He could not take refuge in the tabernacle of God,
for he had replaced it with a molten idol.
He could not call to Moses, for his sins
against him were unforgivable.
He could not pray to Aaron, for he was
guilty before him.
He could not turn to the group of prophets close at hand,
for he had killed them all.

Nevertheless, he was granted forgiveness of sins
and regained his rule over the kingdom,20
so that you, Lord who does good,
might multiply and inspire
praise beyond words that cannot be silenced,
through the peoples of all nations and
the ages of all times,
so that you might keep the gates of hope open for entry,
for the glory of your exaltation
and as salvation for condemned people like me, to whom
Christ gives the gift of immortality.
Praise forever.

1. Ps. 108:12 (Arm 107:13).
2. Ps. 146:3 (Arm 145:3).
3. Phil. 3:21.
4. Arm 102.
5. Heb. 7:18.
6. Heb. 10:9.
7. 2 Cor. 3:7-9.
8. Heb. 10:3-8.
9. 2 Chr. 33:11-20.
10. 2 Kg. 21:1-16
11. referring to Isaiah.
12. Am. 5:26, Ezek. 8:3, 2 Kg. 21:5. Kevan has been identified in various ways, including the Assyrian god Kiun, which Eusebius describes as having four eyes, and later is used in Arabic and Syriac to refer to the planet Saturn.
13. 2 Kg. 1:2, Mt. 12:24, name for Baal.
14. This has been identified as the treasures King Hezekiah. 2 Kg. 20:13
15. Mt. 8:20
16. 2 Kg. 21:6.
17. Mt. 8:13.
18. 2 Kg. 18:3-6.
19. 2 Kg. 21:16.
20. 2 Chr. 33:13.



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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