What I have compiled in this extraordinary treasury are the very private thoughts of American philosophers, farmers, athletes, statesmen, mothers, laborers, scientists, industrialists, and others in their relationship with God. Some are simple, straightforward entreaties; others are elaborate invocations. All of them, however, provide indelible imprints and keys to understanding the inner sanctum of the individuals who made America what it is today.
The prayers of these Americans are intimate snapshots of how they dealt with the gamut of human emotions, conditions, and events they experienced. They found comfort, hope, and the ability simply to endure by turning to God in their often unpredictable lives.
While the language of these prayers may vary from era to era, the essence remains the same. Americans from all walks of life and faiths have found their existences incomplete without being able to reach out to a higher power. It is through the words of their prayers that they find purpose in a larger context and from a greater perspective.
--James P. Moore Jr.
Since its inception, America has remained a deeply religious and spiritual nation, fostering a prayer culture that has thrived among its diverse population and its wide-ranging faith traditions.
The Treasury of American Prayers brings together hundreds of prayers composed largely by Americans from all walks of life to create an unparalleled and comprehensive collection of "home-grown" expressions of spirituality and religious conviction. These prayers form an inspiring portrait of the country's rich and profound faith and provide access to the innermost thoughts of such individuals as Benjamin Franklin, Elvis Presley, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Conrad Hilton. They have helped sustain Americans in times of war and recession as well as in periods of change and even prosperity.
Jim Moore has compiled an extraordinary anthology in The Treasury of American Prayers, arranged by such topics as patience, thanksgiving, despair, love, and other timeless themes. He provides context, historical perspective, and a personal insight for each prayer. While this collection reflects the great history of the American experience, these prayers also hold great resonance for Americans today.
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November 24, 2008
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Excerpt from The Treasury of American Prayers by James P. Moore
LOVE AND DEVOTION Renewed Wonderment Earth our mother, breathe forth life All night sleeping Now awaking In the east Now see the dawn. Earth our mother, breathe and waken Leaves are stirring All things moving New day coming Life renewing Eagle soaring, see the morning See the new mysterious morning Something marvelous and sacred Though it happens every day Dawn the child of God and Darkness This prayer has been handed down for generations among members of the Pawnee tribe in modern-day Kansas. It is an invocation of renewal and wonderment at the beginning of each new day. Prayer of Chief Seattle Earth mother, star mother, You who are called by A thousand names, May all remember We are cells in your body And dance together You are the grain And the loaf That sustains each day, And as you are patient With our struggles to learn So shall we be patient With ourselves and each other. We are radiant light And sacred dark --the balance-- You are the embrace that heartens And the freedom beyond fear. Within you we are born We grow, live, and die-- You bring us around the circle To rebirth, Within us you dance Forever. Composed by Chief Seattle in the early nineteenth century, this tribute gives glory to creation and nature's continual regeneration. Chief Seattle was the leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes, located in today's Washington State. The city of Seattle was named in his honor. Prayer at Dawn Blessed be the light of day And the Holy Cross, we say; And the Lord of the Verity And the Holy Trinity. Blessed be th' immortal soul And the Lord who keeps it whole, Blessed be the light of day And He who sends the night away. Each morning as they crossed the Atlantic, Christopher Columbus and his men were awakened by this chant sung by one of the young mates on board. It was one in a series of prayers that was invoked at specific times during the day, creating discipline among the men while they praised God in hopes of safe passage. Rise, O My Soul Rise, O my soul, with thy desires to heaven, And with divinest contemplation use Thy time where time's eternity is given, And let vain thoughts no more thy Thoughts abuse; To thee, O Jesu, I direct my eyes; To thee my hands, to thee my humble knees; To thee my heart shall offer sacrifice; To thee my thoughts, who my thoughts only sees; To thee my self--my self and all I give; To thee I die; to thee I only live. Having led one of the more colorful and accomplished lives among the courtiers of Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh wrote this prayer when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for unproven crimes. Although he would never set eyes on the New World, he was a critical force in the British settlement of Virginia. His deep faith would endear him to many of America's earliest colonists, and this invocation would become part of The Book of Common Prayer of America's Episcopal Church. En Este Nuevo Dia En este neuvo dia gracias te tributamos, oh, Dios omnipotente, Senor de todo lo creado... Por ti nacen las flores y reverdece el campo, los arboles dan fruta y el sol nos da sus rayos... Dirige Dios immenso y guia nuestros pasos para que eternamente tu santa ley sigamos. On This New Day (English Translation) On this new day thanks we pay in tribute oh, omnipotent God, Lord of all creation... For you the flowers grow and the countryside turns green, and trees give fruit and the sun gives us your rays... Immense God direct and guide our steps so that eternally We follow your holy law. When the Franciscan priests of Spain established their mis