Editors’ Note: Christina Rossetti wrote a devotional entitled Annus Domini: A Prayer for the Days of the Year, Founded on a Text of Holy Scripture (1874). We will be featuring one of her prayers for the next 365 days. Today, we begin with the opening poem in her corpus.
Alas my Lord,/How should I wrestle all the livelong night/With Thee my God, my Strength and my Delight?
How can it need/So agonized an effort and a strain/To make Thy Face of Mercy shine again?
How can it need/Such wringing out of breathless prayer to move/Thee to Thy wonted Love, when Thou art Love?
Yet Abraham/So hung about Thine Arm outstretched and bared,/That for ten righteous Sodom had been spared.
Yet Jacob did/So hold Thee by the clenched hand of prayer/That he prevailed, and Thou didst bless him there.
Elias prayed,/And sealed the founts of Heaven; he prayed again/And lo, Thy Blessing fell in showers of rain.
All Nineveh/Fasting and girt in sackcloth raised a cry,/Which moved Thee ere the day of grace went by.
Thy Church prayed on/And on for blessed Peter in his strait,/Till opening of its own accord the gate.
Yea, Thou my God/Hast prayed all night, and in the garden prayed/Even while, like melting wax, Thy strength was made.
Alas for him/Who faints, despite Thy Pattern, King of Saints:/Alas, alas, for me, the one that faints.
Lord, give us strength/To hold Thee fast, until we hear Thy Voice/Which Thine own know, who hearing It rejoice.
Lord, give us strength/To hold Thee fast until we see Thy Face,/Full Fountain of all Rapture and all Grace.
But when our strength/Shall be made weakness, and our bodies clay,/Hold Thou us fast, and give us sleep till day.