The Congregation at Duke University Chapel

Lamentations 1 - The Deserted City

A presentation by The Rev. Dr. Stephen Chapman, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Duke Divinity School on February 21, 2016.

For the ears, you can listen to an audio recording of this presentation and conversation.
[high fidelity audio playable under all personal computer operating systems via VLC media player, Microsoft Windows Media Player with the codecs for FLAC et al, OS X QuickTime with the XiphQT plugin, etc., on many Android-based mobile devices, and on iOS-based mobile devices via apps such as FLAC Player or Golden Ear]

Introduction to Lamentations

Lamentations 2
Lamentations 3
Lamentations 4
Lamentations 5
Lamentations 1
1 How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people!
How is she become as a widow!
She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces,
how is she become tributary!

2 She weepeth sore in the night,
and her tears are on her cheeks;
she hath none to comfort her
among all her lovers;
all her friends have dealt treacherously with her,
they are become her enemies.

3 Judah is gone into exile
because of affliction, and because of great servitude;
she dwelleth among the nations,
she findeth no rest;
all her pursuers overtook her within the straits.

4 The ways of Zion do mourn,
because none come to the solemn assembly;
all her gates are desolate,
her priests sigh;
her virgins are afflicted,
and she herself is in bitterness.

5 Her adversaries are become the head,
her enemies are at ease;
for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions;
her young children are gone into captivity before the adversary.

6 And gone is from the daughter of Zion all her splendour;
her princes are become like harts
that find no pasture, and they are gone without strength
before the pursuer.

7 Jerusalem remembereth
in the days of her affliction and of her anguish
all her treasures
that she had from the days of old;
now that her people fall by the hand of the adversary,
and none doth help her,
the adversaries have seen her,
they have mocked at her desolations.

8 Jerusalem hath grievously sinned,
therefore she is become as one unclean;
all that honoured her despise her,
because they have seen her nakedness;
she herself also sigheth,
and turneth backward.

9 Her filthiness was in her skirts,
she was not mindful of her end;
therefore is she come down wonderfully,
she hath no comforter.
'Behold, O LORD, my affliction,
for the enemy hath magnified himself.'

10 The adversary hath spread out his hand
upon all her treasures;
for she hath seen that the heathen
are entered into her sanctuary,
concerning whom Thou didst command that
they should not enter into Thy congregation.

11 All her people sigh,
they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things
for food to refresh the soul.
'See, O LORD, and behold,
how abject I am become.'

12 'Let it not come unto you, all ye that pass by!
Behold, and see
if there be any pain like unto my pain,
which is done unto me,
wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of His fierce anger.

13 From on high hath He sent fire
into my bones, and it prevaileth against them;
He hath spread a net for my feet,
He hath turned me back;
He hath made me desolate and faint all the day.

14 The yoke of my transgressions is impressed by His hand;
they are knit together,
they are come up upon my neck;
He hath made my strength to fail;
the Lord hath delivered me into their hands,
against whom I am not able to stand.

15 The Lord hath set at nought all my mighty men
in the midst of me;
He hath called a solemn assembly against me
to crush my young men;
the Lord hath trodden as in a winepress
the virgin the daughter of Judah.'

16 'For these things I weep;
mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water;
because the comforter is far from me,
even he that should refresh my soul;
my children are desolate,
because the enemy hath prevailed.'

17 Zion spreadeth forth her hands;
there is none to comfort her; the LORD hath commanded concerning Jacob,
that they that are round about him should be his adversaries;
Jerusalem is among them
as one unclean.

18 'The LORD is righteous;
for I have rebelled against His word;
hear, I pray you, all ye peoples,
and behold my pain:
my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity.

19 I called for my lovers,
but they deceived me;
my priests and mine elders perished in the city,
while they sought them food to refresh their souls.

20 Behold, O LORD, for I am in distress,
mine inwards burn;
my heart is turned within me,
for I have grievously rebelled.
Abroad the sword bereaveth,
at home there is the like of death.

21 They have heard that I sigh,
there is none to comfort me;
all mine enemies have heard of my trouble, and are glad, for Thou hast done it;
Thou wilt bring the day that Thou hast proclaimed,
and they shall be like unto me.

22 Let all their wickedness come before Thee;
and do unto them,
as Thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions;
for my sighs are many
and my heart is faint.'

from The Jewish Publication Society (1917 edition) of The Holy Scriptures (Old Testament)

E.g. BibleGateway is a source of newer translations.

Lamentations 1:1-6 (translation by Delbert Hillers, adjusted)

How deserted lies the city               once with people
Greatest among the nation               now a widow
The very noblest of states               forced to labor
By night she weeps aloud               tears on her cheeks
No one can comfort her               none of her lovers
Desolate are her gates               her priests sigh
Troubled her young women               she is bitter
Supreme her enemies now               at ease, her foes
Her children were driven as prisoners               before the enemy
All her wealth and splendor               departed from Zion.

The text from verse 12 of this chapter, O vos omnes, has been chosen for many musical settings. We listened to a recording of the tenor arioso Behold and See by Handel.

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