The Final Word

O first word from the only voice
before the founding of the world
when voice and word and breath rejoiced,
let mercy be the final word.

You echoed into light and shade,
reverberating in our earth.
We heard you then and disobeyed;
let mercy be the final word.

For our words, scattered and confused,
are sharp as knives and long as swords.
These bloodied weapons we have used—
let mercy be the final word.

All these swrodstrokes we fall beneath,
that lay us silent in the dirt,
let them fall silent in their sheaths.
Let mercy be the final word.

And when our wars at last are stilled,
O first and last song ever heard,
ring out, our silent graves to fill.
Let mercy be the final word.

The A and Z and all between,
the music of the universe,
put in our mouths your song to sing.
Let mercy be the final word!

The incipit of the Gregorian chant introit Misericordia Domini in the Liber Usualis. By Scan or digital reproduction of original work., PD-US,


Show Us, O Lord, Your Mercy

Show us, O Lord, your mercy
and grant us your salvation,
as water for the thirsty,
a feast in our starvation.
For we have walked a desert
in search of your oasis.
Give us, O God, your presence
to fill our empty places.

Let justice flow like rivers,
a great unfailing fountain,
and righteousness forever,
a flood to quench the mountains.
Your endless mercy give us,
depths that defy all sounding,
the peace that is forgiveness
in our dry souls abounding.

Pour out your grace in showers,
in deluge your compassion,
to drown despair's grim power
in hope's waves ever crashing.
And let our wasteland flower,
our desert turn to pasture
not blooming just an hour,
but unto death and after.

Rain, depicted in the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle By Michel Wolgemut, Wilhelm Pleydenwurff – Self-scanned, Public Domain,


From Jonah’s song in the belly of the fish:

From the bottom of the ocean,
from the belly of the deep,
in the current's ceaseless motion
where the roots of mountains sleep,
I am crushed and I am frozen,
tangled up in wrack and weeds.
Hell alone is left below this:
You have cast me in the dea.

Swallowed by a deeper darkness
when the parted waters closed,
I am drowned within the heartbeat
of a mind that won't let go.
Can you hear me still, O Father?
Could your hand reach down so low?
I am buried in these waters;
I am carried where they go.

You who made both light and shadow
wrote your name upon them all;
I could read it if I knew how
somewhere on these prison walls.
So I cry to you—I shout it!—
just a whisper in your halls.
Father, send your mercy down here!
How much deeper will I fall?

The Pistrix, the Sea Monster that swallows Jonah (La Pistrice che ingoia Giona, XIII sec. – Campanile del Duomo di Gaeta) By Sergioizzo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The Night Has Not Been Silent

The night has not been silent,
not for two thousand years:
It's broken down by sirens
and flooded with our tears.
But still we search the skyline
and pray—Oh,do you hear?—
that dawn from high will find us
and bring your mercy near.

For still we walk in darkness
and hide within its folds;
we take despair as armor
against a warring world.
But though the sky is starless
and though our hearts are cold,
we whisper still the promise
that there is hope to hold.

So come and grant us stillness—
for just one moment, peace.
Give us a light that fills us
when shadows will not cease.
Come, long-delayed fulfillment
of hopes we can't defeat.
Come, Christ, and be God-with-us,
the mercy we still seek.

By Vincent van Gogh – bgEuwDxel93-Pg at Google Arts & Culture, Public Domain,


When you tally gains and losses,
when you weigh us in the scales,
count the thieves upon their crosses,
your divine accounting fails.

Like a Prime Mathematician,
God, you know how it adds up:
Pennies here and there go missing
'til the whole scheme is corrupt.

All the numbers ought to balance,
credits given, credit owed.
We're all drawing on your bankdraft:
Just how long can this cash flow?

Like a squinting, tired accountant
took his reading glasses off,
you make hay with rows and columns,
and now nothing's adding up.

All we have, we had to finance,
borrowed from your great largesse.
When we take, we rob you blinder.
When will you cash in our chips?

Yet with ink you douse the pages,
cook the books beyond belief,
strike the debts of all the ages,
cheat yourself to pay the thief.

1892-1893 HFD Accountant book, which recorded the date that HFD became a paid fire department, March 1st 1893. By Jackin808 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Creator of All Things That Are

Before the LORD the whole universe is as a grain from a balance
 or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.
 But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
 and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.
 For you love all things that are
 and loathe nothing that you have made;
 for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
 And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
 or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?
 But you spare all things, because they are yours,
 O LORD and lover of souls,
 for your imperishable spirit is in all things!
 Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little,
 warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing,
 that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!

Wisdom 11:22-12:2
Creator of all things that are,
of all that's been or yet shall be,
each mote of dust and shining star
is but a speck to all you see.

The universe a grain of sand,
a fading drop of morning dew,
is yet a treasure in your hand,
you hold and constantly renew.

For all that is must be upheld,
or all would crumble into dust,
and even dust to nothing melt,
if ever you abandoned us.

Do not, O maker, let us sink
into the nothingness unmade!
But hold us still, through all you think,
and let us ever be remade!

You would not fashion what you hate,
but breathe your grace in all you've called,
and early though we hark or late,
you pour your mercy on us all.

For we are yours, creator God,
called into being by your will,
and though we wander from your law,
you look on us with mercy still.

Give us the time still to repent;
give us the grace that turns our hearts;
oh, draw us to you step by step,
and from you let us never part!
The Latin “sidus” (“siderum”) means more than just a “star”, encompassing also the sun (technically also a star), the moon, and the planets, as well as all the heavenly constellations and comets and meteors.[1] At first glance, this cosmic kaleidoscope of purple, blue and pink offers a strikingly beautiful — and serene — snapshot of the cosmos. However, this multi-coloured haze actually marks the site of two colliding galaxy clusters, forming a single object known as MACS J0416.1-2403 (or MACS J0416 for short). MACS J0416 is located about 4.3 billion light-years from Earth, in the constellation of Eridanus. This new image of the cluster combines data from three different telescopes: the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope (showing the galaxies and stars), the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory (diffuse emission in blue), and the NRAO Jansky Very Large Array (diffuse emission in pink). Each telescope shows a different element of the cluster, allowing astronomers to study MACS J0416 in detail. As with all galaxy clusters, MACS J0416 contains a significant amount of dark matter, which leaves a detectable imprint in visible light by distorting the images of background galaxies. In this image, this dark matter appears to align well with the blue-hued hot gas, suggesting that the two clusters have not yet collided; if the clusters had already smashed into one another, the dark matter and gas would have separated. MACS J0416 also contains other features — such as a compact core of hot gas — that would likely have been disrupted had a collision already occurred. Together with five other galaxy clusters, MACS J0416 is playing a leading role in the Hubble Frontier Fields programme, for which this data was obtained. Owing to its huge mass, the cluster is in fact bending the light of background objects, acting as a magnifying lens. Astronomers can use this phenomenon to find galaxies that existed only hundreds of million years after the big bang. For more information on both Frontier Fields and the phenomenon of gravitational lensing, see Hubblecast 90: The final frontier. Links Hubblecast 90: The final frontier Link to Hubblesite release

Be Merciful, O God

Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14
Have mercy on me, O my God,
though none do I deserve,
but crush me not beneath your rod
nor drive me from the earth.
If I have any hope, it's you;
if I have faith at all.
And though my love is far from true,
be merciful, O God.

I long to stand before your sight
upright and lift my head,
but do not dare to raise my eyes.
I stand far off instead.
For I collect those taxes, too,
far more than I am owed,
and hold back what I owe to you—
Be merciful, O God.

If you are ruthless to me, Lord,
there is no God in heav'n,
no grace in all the fallen world,
no hope beyond our death.
For mercy is your very name,
the truth of what you are.
I am a sinner, in my shame.
Be merciful, O God.
The painter signed the work BENIN BORIN DIPINGEVA ΝΕΙ PRIMIANNIDEL SECOLOXVII. It was the name Venediktos Emporios used. By Venediktos Emporios – Page 165, Public Domain,

As Children, We Inherit

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy
 and destroy the poor of the land!
 “When will the new moon be over,” you ask,
 “that we may sell our grain,
 and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?
 We will diminish the ephah,
 add to the shekel,
 and fix our scales for cheating!
 We will buy the lowly for silver,
 and the poor for a pair of sandals;
 even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!”
 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
 Never will I forget a thing they have done!

Amos 8:4-7
How long, O Lord, your patience?
How long will this go on?
Swear by the pride of Jacob:
Remember what we've done!

We buy and sell the needy
to throw their lives away.
Look down, O God, and see them:
How long will you delay?

But still you offer mercy,
and still our hearts and turn.
Take our dishonest earnings
and comfort the forlorn!

For if we are the stewards
who tally your accounts,
let justice make us true ones
who pay back every ounce.

But if we are the beggars
in need around your door,
let mercy make us gen'rous,
for we ourselves are poor.

All that we hold and cherish
we never could afford:
As children, we inherit—
so may we share it, Lord.
Woodcut of the Parable of the Unjust Steward: the rich man and his housekeeper seated at a desk on which a calculating table has been drawn. Printed in Basel by Adam Petri. By Hans Schäufelein – Digitised image, British Museum, Public Domain,

You See Into My Secrets

Riffing on Psalm 32:

You see into my secrets,
forever open-eyed;
what I have buried deepest,
from you I could not hide.
You see into my failure,
my anger, and my shame;
you know the sins I cherish,
and still you call my name.

O God, I have been silent
while embers burned in me:
I have not wept or cried out,
nor set my anger free.
But you, who hear the stars sing,
hear what I do not say:
You know my heart still hard'ning,
but have not turned away.

Then, Lord, hear my confession
of sins you know full well.
O, hear and give me blessing,
though things unblessed I tell.
Put out the burning embers,
the buried bones renew
as softness I remember
and turn again to you.
The page from the Seven Pentiential Psalms for Five Voices by Simon Bar Jona Madelka. – Madelka, Simon Bar Jona; Michl, Jakub (preface) (2007). Sedm kajících žalmů pětihlasem vyzdobených. Prague: Editio Bärenreiter, Public Domain,

If You Will Not Take Up Your Cross

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:25-33
If you will not take up your cross,
you cannot my disciple be,
says he who fell down under his
'til helped by  Simon of Cyrene.

If you don't hate your kith and kin,
you cannot follow after me,
says he who loved his Father still 
and sought his will in everything.

O kings and princes, build your tow'rs,
but count your bricks before you start:
The splendor of your earthly pow'rs
cares nothing for a longing heart.

Arrange your armies in the field,
if you would best a stronger foe—
or else you must to conquest yield
and sue for mercy evermore.

I am no king or mighty prince—
O Christ, can I your foll'wer be?
I cannot bear the weight of this
unless your mercy carries me!

I cannot wrestle with you here
and win the right to love my own,
but let your mercy draw us near
as one to worship at your throne!
Carrying the Cross, from the Gelati Gospels MSS By Anonymous – Center of MSS (Tbilisi, Georgia), Public Domain,