Despise Me Not

Essence beyond essence, Nature increate,
Framer of the world,
I set thee, Lord, before me,
and unto Thee do I lift up my soul.
I worship Thee on my knees,
and humble myself under Thy mighty hand.
I stretch forth my hands unto Thee:
my soul thirsteth after Thee, as a thirsty land.

I smite upon my breast,
and say, with the publican,
God be merciful to me a sinner,
the chief of sinners;
to the sinner above the publican
be merciful, as to the publican.
Father of mercies, I beseech Thy fatherly pity,
despise me not,
an unclean worm, a dead dog, a body of death;
despise not Thou the work of Thine own hands;
despise not Thine own image,
though bearing the brands of sin.
Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.
Lord, speak the word only, and I shall be healed.

And Thou, my Saviour Christ,
Christ my Saviour,
Saviour of sinners, of whom I am chief,
despise me not; despise me not, O Lord,
who am purchased with Thy blood,
called by Thy name;
but look on me with those eyes
with which Thou didst look upon
Magdalene at the feast,
Peter in the hall,
the thief on the cross:
that with the thief I may entreat Thee humbly,
Lord, remember me when Thou comest
into Thy kingdom;
that with Peter I may weep bitterly and say,
O that mine eyes were a fountain of tears,
that I might weep day and night;
that with Magdalene I may hear Thee say,
Thy sins are forgiven thee,
and with her may love much,
for my sins, which are many and manifold,
are forgiven.

And Thou, all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit,
despise me not, Thy breath,
despise not Thine own holy things;
but return, O Lord; how long?
and let it repent Thee concerning Thy servant.

(a prayer of Lancelot Andrewes, from Lancelot Andrewes and His Private Devotions)

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