A prayer uttered by Jesus, son of Sirach. O Lord, my king, I give thee thanks, O God, my deliverer, I praise thee;
I extol thy name, for all the succour and protection thou hast given me,
saving my life from deadly peril, when calumny lay in wait, and lying tongues assailed me. In full sight of all that stood by thou didst come to my rescue;
roaring lions stood ready to devour me, and thou in that great mercy, that renowned mercy of thine, didst deliver me.
I was in the hands of my mortal enemies, shut in on every side by misfortune;
there were stifling flames all round me, and I stood in the heart of the fire uninjured.
I looked down into the deep womb of the grave, when foul lips brought lying accusations, and cruel king gave unjust sentence.
And still I would praise the Lord, long as I had breath to praise him,
though death’s abyss yawned at my very feet,
though I was cut off on every side, with none to aid me. Man’s help I looked for, and could not find;
yet I bethought me, Lord, of thy mercy, thy deeds of long ago;
if men will but wait for thee patiently, thou, Lord, dost deliver them, dost rescue them from the power of the heathen.
It was thou who hadst prospered my life on earth, and now, death ready to overwhelm me,
to the Lord, Father of the Master I serve,✻ I made my plea. Would he leave me unaided when I was in distress, when my enemies were triumphing over me?
I will extol thy name unceasingly, with grateful praise; my prayer did not go unregarded.
Thou didst rescue me from deadly peril, didst save me in the hour of defeat;
shall I not give thanks, shall I not praise and bless thy name?
A young man still, ere ever my wanderings began, I made my prayer for wisdom.✻
Before the temple I asked for this, my life’s quest to the end. Came early the ripening of those grapes,
and my heart rejoiced at it. Down a straight path I sped, the ardour of youth to aid my search.
Ear that little listens shall yet hear;
much wisdom that little listening gave.
Further and further yet I travelled, thanks be to the God that all wisdom bestows.
Good use to make of her was all my love and longing; never was that hope disappointed.
Hardily I strove to win her, put force on myself to keep her rule;
I stretched out my hands towards heaven, and grieved for the want of her.
Kept I but true to the search for her, I found and recognized her still.
Long since trained by her discipline, I shall never be left forsaken.
Much heart-burning I had in the quest for her, but a rich dowry she brought me.
Never shall this tongue, with utterance divinely rewarded, be negligent of praise.
O hearts untutored, come near, and frequent the school of learning!
Parley at the gates no more, complaining of thirst ever unsatisfied.
Rather, to my proclamation give heed; win the treasure that is to be had without price paid.
Suffice it that you bow your necks to her yoke, are content to accept her schooling. To find her, needs no distant travel …✻
Unlaborious days, as all can testify, what a harvest they have won me of repose!
Would you grudge free expense of silver in the search for wisdom, that shall make you ample returns in gold?
Your hearts shall yet triumph in his mercy, nor ever rue the day when you learned to praise him.
Do, while time serves, what needs doing; when the time comes, he will reward you.
The Holy Bible