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Father of mercies,
Thou who hast given me not only the ability to think,
but the power to express my thoughts in appropriate words;
Thou who hast gilded my earthly lot with a gift so precious,
that time never hangs heavily,
nor are my spirits depressed from a mind
vacant and unemployed;
oh, my God, may Thy blessing fall upon
my new appointed task.
Grant me the power to embody the thoughts
that are constantly flitting across my brain.
Permit me to show forth
Thy glory in all I write.
And if worldliness and frivolity must mingle in my task,
let them be hallowed by showing clearly
those rocks against which,
were I tempted, I might fall.
In portraying the characters of others, oh my God,
let my own heart stand before me
with all its natural sins and faults.
Let Thy blessing so sanctify my appointed task,
that it may assist me in the knowledge of myself.
Let my religious and moral duties
appear even more clearly before me
as I thus write.
Oh, my God, I acknowledge Thy beneficent hand
with fervent gratitude and thanksgiving,
in the pleasure that Thy gift bestows;
do Thou bless it unto me,
by enabling me thus to show forth Thy glory,
and obtain a better knowledge of myself.
Father, Thou knowest my heart;
oh have mercy on Thy servant.
In my newly designed task,
let it not gain as much dominion over my heart
as did the last.
I trust in Thy mercy, mighty Father.
Oh guard me in future
from such engrossing fancies.
Enable me to give up
with cheerfulness and good temper
this, my favourite amusement,
if duty in any way demands it.
Guard me from sacrificing
employments of more consequence
to find time for this.
Let Thy blessed spirit be with me, merciful Father;
and oh! let me never for one moment forget
that this enjoyment is Thy gift,
and as such commands me ever
to be prepared to render it back to Thee,
whenever and however it may please Thee
to recall it.
let not these thoughts depart from my soul,
but sanctify and bless them.
If it be acceptable to Thee, oh my God,
grant me health and leisure,
peace and ability
to complete the task Thou hast enabled
and permitted me to commence.
But if such be not Thy will —
if ill-health in those around me,
or any other cause,
prevent the indulgence of my favourite pursuit,
oh do Thou pour Thy blessing on my soul,
that I may say from my heart
with rejoicing love
and trusting faith,
“Not my will, not mine,
but Thine, oh Lord, be done.” Cf. Mark 14:36 and Luke 22:42.
My fervent petitions are before Thee,
almighty and beneficent God,
oh grant them according to Thy will. —
“Prayer (Father of mercies)” by Grace Aguilar was published posthumously by her mother Sarah Aguilar in Essays and Miscellanies (1853), in the section “Sacred Communings,” pp. 219-221. In the UK edition of Sacred Communings (1853) the prayer appears with small variations of spelling and punctuation on pages 132-134.
This prayer at the commencement of an as yet unidentified writing project seems to me to be possibly related to her “Hymn of Praise,” a prayer of gratitude at the culmination of a writing project. A detail in the prayer indicates this wasn’t her first writing project, so we know this prayer cannot refer The Vale of Cedars; or, the Martyr, begun in 1831 at the age of 15. (That work was published posthumously in 1850.) Aguilar began writing a number of works in the 1830s while she lived in Teignmouth, Devon. In 1835, Aguilar began writing The Magic Wreath of Hidden Flowers, published anonymously in 1839. In 1836, she began drafting the manuscript of her novel Home Influence, published in 1847. And in 1838, her translation of Israel Defended by Orobio de Castro was published. Any of these is a plausible candidate for the inspiration for this prayer. –Aharon Varady
|1||Cf. Mark 14:36 and Luke 22:42.|
“Prayer [at the commencement of a writing project] (Father of mercies), by Grace Aguilar (ca. 1830s)” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 Universal license.