God of all who rejoice forever

Of the Instructor
Song of the sacrifice of the seventh Sabbath on the sixteenth of the month.

Praise the God of heights,
exalted ones among all the potentates of knowledge!
May the holy ones of God magnify the King of Glory,
Who makes holy in holiness every holy one.
The chiefs of praises of all the mighty ones,
praise the God of praises of majesty,
for in the splendor of the praises
     is the glory of His majesty.
In it are the praises of all the mighty ones,
with the splendor of all His majesty.
And exalt his exaltation to the height,
mighty ones of the potentates of exaltation,
and the Divinity of His glory
     above all heights of exaltation.
For He is God of gods of all the chiefs of the heights,
and King of kings of all the councils of the ages.
At the words of His mouth,
     the potentates of exaltation are,
at what leaves His lips, all the spirits of the ages,
by the will of His knowledge,
     all His works in their missions.
Sing with joy, you joyful of His knowledge,
with rejoicing among the mighty ones of wonder.
And proclaim His glory with the tongue of
     all who proclaim knowledge,
joyful songs of His wonder
     in the mouth of all proclaiming Him.
For He is God of all who rejoice forever,
and Judge in His might of
     all the spirits of understanding.
Give thanks, all you potentates of majesty,
     to the King of Majesty,
for to His glory all the potentates of knowledge
     give thanks,
and all the spirits of righteousness give thanks
     in His truth.
And they make their knowledge pleasing
     with the judgments of His mouth,
and their thanksgivings with the return
     of the arm of His might,
for judgments of salvation.
Sing to the God of strength
     with the portion of the chief spirit,
for a song in the joy of God,
and a rejoicing among all the holy ones,
for a song of wonder in the joy of ages.
With these praise all the foundations
     of the Holy of Holies,
the columns bearing up the palace,
     Exalted of Exalteds,
and all the corners of His building.
Sing to God, terrifying of strength,
     all spirits of knowledge and light,
to exalt together the firmament Pure of Pures,
of the holy place of His holiness.
And praise Him, spirits of the mighty ones,
to praise for ages of ages
     the chief firmament of the heights,
all its beams and its walls,
His building, the work of His construction.
The spirits of the Holy of Holies,
     the living mighty ones,
the spirits of holiness of the ages,
above all the holy ones
     of the firmament of wonder,
the wonder of majesty and splendor,
and wonderful is the glory in the light
     of their brightness of knowledge.
…in all the holy places of wonder.
The spirits of the mighty ones are around the dwelling
     of the King of Truth and Righteousness.
All its walls….

This is one of the Songs of Sabbath Sacrifice, 4Q403, 4QShirShabbd, Fragment 1, column 1, lines 30-46. It appears to be the most completely preserved, though even it is incomplete. One note on the translation is that where I’ve used “mighty ones,” the Hebrew has אלהים, and where I’ve used “potentates” the Hebrew has אלים. Rather than confusing readers into thinking this a polytheistic text, when it’s really all about the angelic orders praising God, I avoided translation in those instances as “gods” while maintaining the above-mentioned alternatives consistently.

The Qumran community of Essenes celebrated these Sabbaths with various different songs of praise in which they find themselves sharing in the angelic heavenly praise of God, a situation familiar to those of us belonging to those churches which have maintained ancient mystical liturgical traditions. The worship is twofold: as we praise and offer on earth, the same is occurring in heaven, and eternity and incorruptibility are for a time overlapping with the timebound and corruptible. No doubt the Essenes considered something of the same to be occurring, with swarms of angels careening about them, but also themselves being to a degree transported to the heights of heaven.

This translation is also due to the suggestion of Mike Aquilina, as today is the Feast of the Archangels on the Western Calendar, and one of these songs is thus entirely appropriate!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *