Standing on the stairs were the Levites1--Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Kenani--who called with loud voices to the LORD their God.
And the Levites--Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah--said: "Stand up and praise the LORD your God,2 who is from everlasting to everlasting.a " "Blessed be your glorious name,3 and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.
You alone are the LORD.4 You made the heavens,5 even the highest heavens, and all their starry host,6 the earth7 and all that is on it, the seas8 and all that is in them.9 You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven10 worship you.
"You are the LORD God, who chose Abram11 and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans12 and named him Abraham.138
You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites.14 You have kept your promise15 because you are righteous.169
"You saw the suffering of our forefathers in Egypt;17 you heard their cry at the Red Sea.b1810
You sent miraculous signs19 and wonders20 against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of his land, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians treated them. You made a name21 for yourself,22 which remains to this day.
You divided the sea before them,23 so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths,24 like a stone into mighty waters.2512
By day26 you led27 them with a pillar of cloud,28 and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take.
"You came down on Mount Sinai;29 you spoke30 to them from heaven.31 You gave them regulations and laws that are just32 and right, and decrees and commands that are good.3314
You made known to them your holy Sabbath34 and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.
In their hunger you gave them bread from heaven35 and in their thirst you brought them water from the rock;36 you told them to go in and take possession of the land you had sworn with uplifted hand37 to give them.3816
"But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked,39 and did not obey your commands.4017
They refused to listen and failed to remember41 the miracles42 you performed among them. They became stiff-necked43 and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery.44 But you are a forgiving God,45 gracious and compassionate,46 slow to anger47 and abounding in love.48 Therefore you did not desert them,4918
even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf50 and said, 'This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,' or when they committed awful blasphemies.5119
"Because of your great compassion you did not abandon52 them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud53 did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.
You gave your good Spirit54 to instruct55 them. You did not withhold your manna56 from their mouths, and you gave them water57 for their thirst.
For forty years58 you sustained them in the desert; they lacked nothing,59 their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.6022
"You gave them kingdoms and nations, allotting to them even the remotest frontiers. They took over the country of Sihonc61 king of Heshbon and the country of Og king of Bashan.6223
You made their sons as numerous as the stars in the sky,63 and you brought them into the land that you told their fathers to enter and possess.
Their sons went in and took possession of the land.64 You subdued65 before them the Canaanites, who lived in the land; you handed the Canaanites over to them, along with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with them as they pleased.
They captured fortified cities and fertile land;66 they took possession of houses filled with all kinds of good things,67 wells already dug, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in abundance. They ate to the full and were well-nourished;68 they reveled in your great goodness.6926
"But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they put your law behind their backs.70 They killed71 your prophets,72 who had admonished them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies.7327
So you handed them over to their enemies,74 who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion75 you gave them deliverers,76 who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.
"But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight.77 Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion78 you delivered them79 time after time.
"You warned80 them to return to your law, but they became arrogant81 and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, by which a man will live if he obeys them.82 Stubbornly they turned their backs83 on you, became stiff-necked84 and refused to listen.8530
For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets.86 Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples.8731
But in your great mercy you did not put an end88 to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful89 God.
"Now therefore, O our God, the great, mighty90 and awesome God,91 who keeps his covenant of love,92 do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes--the hardship93 that has come upon us, upon our kings and leaders, upon our priests and prophets, upon our fathers and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today.
In all that has happened to us, you have been just;94 you have acted faithfully, while we did wrong.9534
Our kings,96 our leaders, our priests and our fathers97 did not follow your law; they did not pay attention to your commands or the warnings you gave them.
Even while they were in their kingdom, enjoying your great goodness98 to them in the spacious and fertile land you gave them, they did not serve you99 or turn from their evil ways.
"But see, we are slaves100 today, slaves in the land you gave our forefathers so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces.
Because of our sins, its abundant harvest goes to the kings you have placed over us. They rule over our bodies and our cattle as they please. We are in great distress.101