I Must Praise God

By Epictetus (1st century), as published in Rabbi Morrison David Bial (ed.), An Offering of Prayer: Prayers and Meditations Private and Public (Summit, NJ: Temple Sinai of Summit, 1962), p. 21.

And what words can truly express our praise of the works of Providence? if we had understanding, ought we not incessantly sing hymns to the Deity to rehearse His benefits? Ought we not as we dig or we plow or eat, sing a hymn to God? Great is God who has given us the strength and skill and tools to till the ground! Who has given us limbs and power and organs! And that which should be the subject of the greatest and most divine hymn: that he has granted us the faculty of apprehending his gifts!

What else then can I, a lame old man, do but chant the praise of God? If I were a nightingale, I would sing as a nightingale; if a swan, as a swan. But as I am a rational creature, I must praise God. This is my task and I will do it. nor will I leave this duty so long as I live; and I exhort you all to join in this same thing.


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