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Selections from
The Book of Common Prayer

For Our Country

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; we humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

About this Prayer

The magnificent general intercession for our country was composed by the Rev. George Lyman Locke (d. 1919), for fifty-two years rector of St. Michael's, Bristol, R.I., at the instigation and suggestion of the Rev. Dr. William Reed Huntington. It was published in The Book Annexed of 1883 as part of the proposed service for Thanksgiving Day. However, it was not admitted into the Prayer Book until the 1928 revision, and then with several alterations of Locke's striking phraseology. Though it has the timeless ring of all true liturgical prayer, it reflects no less truly the expansive and turbulent era of our national history in which the prayer was composed: the rapid development of the West, the tremendous influx of foreign immigration, the rise of 'big business,' the violence attendent upon the organization of labor, the corruption and scandals in high places, and, not least, the emergence of the United States as a world power. It is instructive to compare this prayer with 'A General Intercession,' composed by Dr. Huntington at about the same time. The concluding petitions of the prayer are redolent of the language and piety of the Psalter: thanksgiving in prosperity and trust in times of adversity.

 

from The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary by Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr. (New York : Oxford University Press, 1950)

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