Verse > Anthologies > Joseph Friedlander, comp. > The Standard Book of Jewish Verse
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Joseph Friedlander, comp.  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse.  1917.
 
Servant of God
By Judah Ha-Levi (Trans. Israel Zangwill)
 
(Hymn for the Day of Atonement)

O WOULD that I might be
A servant unto Thee,
Thou God of all adored!
Then, though by friends outcast,
Thy hand would hold me fast,        5
And draw me near to Thee, my King and Lord.
 
Spirit and flesh are Thine,
O Heavenly Shepherd mine;
My hopes, my thoughts, my fears, Thou seest all,
Thou measurest my path, my steps dost know        10
When Thou upholdest, who can make me fall?
When Thou restrainest, who can bid me go?
O would that I might be
A servant unto Thee,
Thou God by all adored.        15
Then, though by friends outcast,
Thy hand would hold me fast,
And draw me near to Thee, my King and Lord.
 
Fain would my heart come nigh
To Thee, O God on high,        20
But evil thoughts have led me far astray
From the pure path of righteous government.
Guide Thou me back into Thy holy way,
And count me as one impenitent.
O would that I might be        25
A servant unto Thee,
Thou God, by all adored!
Then, though by friends outcast,
Thy hand would hold me fast,
And draw me near to Thee, my King and Lord.        30
 
If in my youth I still
Fail to perform Thy will,
What can I hope when age shall chill my breast?
Heal me, O Lord; with Thee is healing found.
Cast me not off, by weight of years oppress’d,        35
Forsake me not when age my strength has bound.
O would that I might be
A servant unto Thee,
Thou God, by all adored!
Then, though by friends outcast,        40
Thy hand would hold me fast,
And draw me near to Thee, my King and Lord.
 
Contrite and full of dread,
I mourn each moment fled,
’Mid idle follies roaming desolate,        45
I sink beneath transgressions manifold
That from Thy presence keep me separate,
Nor can sin-darkened eyes Thy light behold.
O would that I might be
A servant unto Thee,        50
Thou God by all adored!
Then, though by friends outcast,
Thy hand would hold me fast,
And draw me near to Thee, my King and Lord.
 
So lead me that I may        55
Thy sovereign will obey;
Make pure my heart to seek Thy truth divine,
When burns my wound, be Thou with healing near!
Answer me, Lord! for sore distress is mine,
And say unto Thy servant, I am here.        60
O would that I might be
A servant unto Thee,
Thou God, by all adored!
Then, though by friends outcast,
Thy hand would hold me fast,        65
And draw me near to Thee, my King and Lord.
 
 
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