Monday, June 27, 2016

St Ephraim: Protecting the vineyard of your life with psalms

Get ready to go forth to thy work, and gird thyself to cultivate thy field.

The field is your present life, and for a hoe take with you the Old together with the New Testament.

Put a hedge of thorns about your field and your soil, by prayer and fasting together with instruction.

If you are protected by this enclosure, the wild beast shall not invade thee, by which I mean the devil.

Tend thy soul after the manner of a beautiful vineyard.

And as the guardians of the vineyard strike at the thieves with their fists, and call out to them with warnings, and keep them at a distance with stones, so you cry out in prayer, and shout with the song of psalmody, and put to flight the thieving fox, that is the devil of whom Scripture says: catch the little foxes that destroy the vines (Cant ii15).

(St Ephraim: On Patience, the Second Coming and the Last Judgment, Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, vol 1, Advent 1).


  1. Hello Kate, thank you for your post which I found most intriguing - I also found the whole piece here at

    I was wondering why you chose this piece from St Ephraim (whom I didn't know) as it's a piece that to my mind deals with the End Times and the need for our awareness for these events which seems very much the vogue these days...
    I wonder if you could give me your thoughts on the topic...

    Best wishes

  2. Yes it is indeed focused on the end times but as Christians we surely believe we have been in the end times, waiting for the return of Christ, since his Resurrection. Are we any closer now than 2000 years ago? I'm not sure, no one knows the day or the hour after all, so we should always be preparing and prepared for it.

    The main reason I chose it though, is that the imagery seems to me to reflect an important Scriptural theme that St Benedict also employs in the Rule, for in the Prologue (and a few other places) he explicitly talks about the Lord seeking workers in his vineyard. There is an implicit link, it seems to me between the workers in the vineyard and psalmody, hence the terminology of 'the work of God' and so forth.

    St Ephrem (306-373) is mainly known for his hymns, but is one of those Eastern Fathers who deserves to be better known in the Western Church in my view.

  3. PS Thanks for that link, useful!