Who Shall Lighten My Darkness?: Lancelot Andrewes

From “Meditation on the Day of Judgment,” in Private Devotions.

“God of penitents, Savior of sinners, I have sinned before thee… Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death; how fearful is thy judgment, O Lord, when the thrones are set and Angels stand around…the books opened, the works enquired into, the thoughts examined, and the hidden things of darkness [exposed]?  

 What judgment shall be upon me? Who shall quench my flame? Who shall lighten my darkness, if thou pity me not? Lord, as thou art loving, give me tears, give me floods….   

 I repent, O Lord, I repent.  Help thou mine impenitence, and more, and still more, pierce, rend, crush my heart….I humble myself under thy mighty hand.  I bend to thee, O Lord, my knees.  I fall on my face to the earth.  Let this cup pass from me!…Out of the deep, my soul cries unto thee, as a thirsty land… Lord; hear my voice.”

Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626) was Bishop of Chichester and Winchester, one of the most influential scholars and church leaders of his day. He was one of the principal translators of the Authorized “King James” Version of the Bible, and a widely admired preacher. He reputedly prayed for five hours every day, and drafted the Preces Privatae (Private Devotions) for his own use, mostly in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. They were first published 22 years after his death. On the Kalendar of the Episcopal Church, he is commemorated on September 26.


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