Saturday, 24 September 2016

Matins readings for the Fourth Sunday of September (Nocturns I&II)

Nocturn I: Judith 1:1-12;2:1-3

Reading 1: Now Arphaxad king of the Medes had brought many nations under his dominions, and he built a very strong city, which he called Ecbatana, Of stones squared and hewed: he made the walls thereof seventy cubits broad, and thirty cubits high, and the towers thereof he made a hundred cubits high. But on the square of them, each side was extended the space of twenty feet.  And he made the gates thereof according to the height of the towers: And he gloried as a mighty one in the force of his army and in the glory of his chariots.

R. O Adonai, O Lord God, Thou art great and glorious. Who hast given salvation into the hand of a woman:* Graciously hear the prayers of thy servants.
V. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, Who failest none that put their trust in thee, and humblest such as boast themselves in their own strength.
R. Graciously hear the prayers of thy servants.

Reading 2: Now in the twelfth year of his reign, Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, who reigned in Ninive the great city, fought against Arphaxad and overcame him, In the great plain which is called Ragua, about the Euphrates, and the Tigris, and the Jadason, in the plain of Erioch the king of the Elicians. Then was the kingdom of Nabuchodonosor exalted, and his heart was elevated: and he sent to all that dwelt in Cilicia and Damascus, and Libanus, And to the nations that are in Carmelus, and Cedar, and to the inhabitants of Galilee in the great plain of Asdrelon, And to all that were in Samaria, and beyond the river Jordan even to Jerusalem, and all the land of Jesse till you come to the borders of Ethiopia.

R. We have heard of the tribulation of those cities, which they have suffered, and we have fainted. Fear and confusion of mind are fallen upon us. Even the mountains will not give us a refuge.* Lord, have mercy.
V. We have sinned like our forefathers, we have done unjustly, and wrought iniquity.
R. Lord, have mercy.

Reading 3: To all these Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, sent messengers:  But they all with one mind refused, and sent them back empty, and rejected them without honour. Then king Nabuchodonosor being angry against all that land, swore by his throne and kingdom that he would revenge himself of all those countries.

R. The Lord bless thee by His power, Who hath brought our enemies to nought through thee.
* And may the praise of thee never fail from the mouth of men.
V. Blessed be the Lord, Who hath created the heaven and the earth, because that He hath so glorified thy name this day.
R. And may the praise of thee never fail from the mouth of men.

Reading 4:  In the thirteenth year of the reign of Nabuchodonosor, the two and twentieth day of the first month, the word was given out in the house of Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, that he would revenge himself.  And he called all the ancients, and all the governors, and his officers of war, and communicated to them the secret of his counsel:  And he said that his thoughts were to bring all the earth under his empire.

Nocturn II: St Ambrose on Elijah and fasting

Reading 5: It is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes strong drink, lest they drink and forget the law. The rulers drank wine even unto drunkenness, who planned to deliver themselves into the hand of Holofernes, captain of the host of the King of the Assyrians but the woman Judith drank not, who fasted all the days of her widowhood, saving the solemn Feast-days. She went forth in the harness of this abstinence, and over - reached the whole army of the Assyrians. By the clear thought of her soberness she took away the head of Holofernes, kept her chastity, and carried off the victory.

R. We know no strange God before the Lord. In Him we trust.
* He despiseth us not, neither putteth He away His salvation from our nation.
V. His mercy let us seek with tears, and humble our souls before Him.
R. He despiseth us not, neither putteth He away His salvation from our nation.

Reading 6: Armed with fasting, she entered the camp of the strangers he lay soaked in wine, so that he could not feel the blow that slew him. And thus the fast of one woman overthrew the countless armies of the Assyrians. Esther also became fairer by fasting for the Lord gave favour unto her for her soberness. She delivered all her nation, that is, the whole people of the Jews, from the fierceness of persecution, so that she brought down the King himself under her will.

R. O Lord, Ruler of the heavens and of the earth, Maker of the waters, King of every creature,
* Graciously hear the prayer of thy servants.
V. Thou, O Lord, unto Whom the supplications of the humble and meek are alway well-pleasing
R. Graciously hear the prayer of thy servants.

Reading 7: Thus also (Esther) who fasted three days, and washed her body with water, found greater favour, and obtained vengeance, whereas Haman, who boasted himself at the King's table, paid the penalty of his drunkenness, even while yet he was in his cups. Fasting, therefore, is a sacrifice of reconciliation, a means of strength, whereby in the might of grace, women wax manful.

R. O Lord God, That breakest the battles from of old, lift up thine arm against the Gentiles, that devise evil against thy servants.* And let thy right hand be glorified in us.
V. Throw down their strength in thy power, and bring down their force in thy wrath.
R. And let thy right hand be glorified in us.

Reading 8: Fasting knoweth not usury, nor the gain of the usurer the faster's table smelleth not of usury, but the fast itself giveth favour to them that sit at meat. A banquet is all the pleasanter after hunger, whereas by constant use it becometh unattractive, and when it is long carried on cometh to be lightly esteemed. Fasting is a good sauce for meat. The keener the appetite, the more toothsome the food.

V I have never put my hope in any other but in You, O God of Israel*who can show both anger and graciousness, and who absolves all the sins of suffering man
R: Lord God, Creator of Heaven and Earth be mindful of our lowliness
V: who can show both anger and graciousness, and who absolves all the sins of suffering man
R: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and the Holy Ghost
V: who can show both anger and graciousness, and who absolves all the sins of suffering man

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