9th December Evening Prayer

Holy One, make speed to save us:
O God, come quickly to help us.

Glory to God, Source of all being, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit;*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever.  Amen.


Wednesdays: From Psalm 44, Deus, auribus

We have heard with our ears, O God, our ancestors have told us, *
the deeds you did in their days, in the days of old.
Every day we gloried in God, *
and we will praise your name for ever.
Nevertheless, you have rejected and humbled us *
and do not go forth with our armies.
My humiliation is daily before me, *
and shame has covered my face;
Awake, O Lord! why are you sleeping? *
Arise! Do not reject us for ever.
Why have you hidden your face *
and forgotten our affliction and oppression?
We sink down into the dust; * our body cleaves to the ground.
Rise up, and help us, * and save us, for the sake of your steadfast love.

Reflection: Hannah, mother of Samuel

Hannah’s story will be particularly evocative for all those who have longed for children but found conceiving or bearing them difficult.

Hannah’s anguish becomes most poignant in the family’s yearly pilgrimages to the shrine of Shiloh. Here the sacrificial feast exposes the rivalry between the wives: Hannah, more beloved by Elkanah, suffers the envious scorn of Peninnah who has a tableful of children.

Steadfast in her wish to become a mother Hannah uses her voice, unheard so far, directly addressing the only one who can turn her fortune: “O Lord of hosts …” She then makes themes extraordinary vow: “if only you will look on the misery of your servant and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head” (1Sam 1:11NRSV). 

Strangely, Hannah’s first use of her voice amounts to a voiceless prayer that is mistaken for drunkenness by Eli, the priest of Shiloh. God nevertheless hears her, granting her the child of her desire. Hannah then fulfills her part of the deal, devoting Samuel to God. She is later blessed with three more sons and two daughters.

Hannah’s cry of compassion calls out asking God only to allow her womb to be part of the creative work God is undertaking. She promises not to grasp or hold onto the child. It is supremely selfless, yet born of deep longing.

What do you long for most deeply?


1 My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,*
my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;
2 for he has looked with favour on his lowly servant;*
from this day all generations will call me blessed.
3 The Almighty has done great things for me* and holy is his name.
4 He has mercy on those who fear him* in every generation.
5 He has shown the strength of his arm;*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
6 He has cast down the mighty from their thrones*
and has lifted up the lowly.
7 He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
8 He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
9 the promise he made to our forebears,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be for ever.  Amen.

We have been afraid of the fierceness of your love, which sears our hearts as with a laser. Lord, have mercy upon us.
We have refused to believe that you are gentle in judgment, that your hands loosen the knots of our bitterness. Christ, have mercy upon us.
We have failed to see that your eyes are wise in discernment, that your justice restores us and heals. Lord, have mercy upon us.

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Do not bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

Stir up our hearts, Lord, to prepare the way of your only-begotten Son: that, in his coming, we might serve you with our hearts made pure; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

 Lord God almighty, come and dispel the darkness from our hearts, that in the radiance of your brightness we may know you, the only unfading light, glorious in all eternity. Amen.

The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing:
through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A priest and poet in the Scottish Episcopal Church, exploring the workings of the Holy Spirit in Banchory .