Since the dawn of time, man has contemplated death. Also since the dawn of time I think, when the days begin to get shorter, this contemplation increases. How appropriate, then, that the Church has this psalm end our Friday in early September, a day traditionally set aside to contemplate the death of Christ in a month with increasingly shortening days.
This psalm is to be said at night prayer, when all is dark and quiet and sleep is near.
As frightening as this type of contemplation can be, it is also humbling and oddly comforting to know that men writing up to 3000 years ago had the same thoughts and went through the same challenging times as we do to this day.
Friday, Night Prayer
Lord my God,
I call for help by day;
I cry at night before you.
Let my prayer
come into your presence.
O turn your ear to my cry.
For my soul is filled with evils;
my life is on the brink
of the grave.
I am reckoned
as one in the tomb;
I have reached the end of my strength,
Like one alone among the dead,
like the slain lying in their graves,
like those you remember no more,
cut off, as they are, from your hand.
You have laid me in the depths of the tomb,
in places that are dark, in the depths.
Your anger weighs down upon me;
I am drowned beneath your waves.
You have taken away my friends
and made me hateful in their sight.
Imprisoned, I cannot escape;
my eyes are sunken with grief.
I call to you, Lord, all the day long;
to your I stretch out my hands.
Will you work your wonders for the dead?
Will the shades stand and praise you?
Will your love be told in the grave
or your faithfulness among the dead?
Will your wonders be known in the dark
or your justice in the land of oblivion?
As for me, Lord, I call to you for help;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Lord, why do you reject me?
Why do you hide your face?
Wretched, close to death from my youth,
I have borne your trials; I am numb.
Your fury has swept down upon me;
your terrors have utterly destroyed me.
They surround me all the day like a flood,
they assail me all together.
Friend and neighbor you have taken away:
my one companion is darkness.