ANCIENT MEDITATION OF JUDITH, OF THE TRIBE OF SIMEON
Lord God of my father Simeon, thou didst put a sword in his hand to punish the alien for foul wrong done, for a virgin stripped and shamed; thou didst mark down their wives for spoil, their daughters for slavery, their goods as forfeit, to reward the men who had thy honour at heart. Listen now, O Lord my God, to a widow’s prayer. Thine are the deeds of long ago; that this event should succeed that, was of thy contriving; all thy designs are long a-brewing, all thy awards made in full foreknowledge.
Turn thy eyes now to yonder Assyrian camp, as thou didst let them fall long ago on the Egyptians, the armed host that went in pursuit of thy servants, boasting so proudly of its chariots and horsemen, its warrior strength. One glance from thee, and on that camp darkness fell; their feet were sucked down into the depths, and the waters closed above them! So be it, Lord, with these others, that boast of their great array,now of chariots, now of pike and shield, of arrow and lance, and know not the name thou bearest, thou, our God, crushing the invader still. Lift up thy hand, as it was lifted up long ago; break power of theirs with power of thine! Helpless may they lie beneath thy vengeance, who now think to profane thy holy place, dishonour the very shrine of thy name, violate, at the sword’s point, the sanctity of thy altar.
The sword of Holofernes! Lord, if it might be his own pride’s undoing! Be the eyes he casts on me a lure to catch himself, the professions of love I make, his death-blow! Too bold be my heart to fear, too resolute to spare him! Let him fall by a woman’s hand, and all the glory of it will be ascribed to thy name. Not in the mustering of great armies, Lord, thy power is shewn; not on the well-horsed warrior thy choice falls; never did boasting earn thy favour. Still from a humble soul, an obedient will, the prayer must come that wins thee. God of the heavens, maker of the floods, Lord of this universal frame, listen to the defenceless plea of one who trusts only in thy mercy. Bethink thee, Lord, of thy covenant; grant my lips utterance, my heart firm resolve; so shall thy temple ever remain inviolate, so shall all the Gentiles learn that thou art God, and hast none to rival thee.