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Saturday night, Dec. 31, 1836.
The last Sabbath,
and the last day of the year!
one of the periods of time
that mark out my existence.
Oh, merciful Father,
when I look around me,
and feel another year hath rolled by,
and the parents I revere,
the relations and the friends I love,
the darling brothers of my heart,
are yet spared to me in life,
while so many of my fellow creatures
are afflicted and bereaved ones,
I ask myself, why am I so peculiarly favoured?
Many changes have indeed been mine,
and petty trials and vexations,
anxieties and sorrows.
I feel I have more cause for thanksgiving and praise,
yet my polluted heart,
though it hath learned to pray,
still knows not how to praise.
I hate myself for my ingratitude;
yet this night my soul appears deadened within me,
dejected and sad with unknown sorrow,
instead of being elastic and glad
and glory unto Thee.
Oh Thou who seest every whisper of devotion
as it rises on my soul,
let the moments of silent gratitude,
of acknowledged mercies,
which Thou hast graciously permitted me
sometimes to feel glowing within me,
now be acceptable, oh my God, to Thee.
As in the awful hour of death,
my lips refuse at this instant to utter words of praise,
for my soul is borne down with the load of sin,
that deprives it of its heavenly nature;
yet my heart acknowledges Thy mercies, blessed Lord,
and Thou who canst read the heart,
let its feelings be acceptable to Thee.
Let David speak for me, my God and my Father:
“I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises unto my God while I have my being.
My meditation of Him shall be sweet.
I will be glad in the Lord.” (Psalms 104:33-34)
“Bless thou the Lord, oh my soul,
praise ye the Lord!” (Psalms 104:35 part)
manifold indeed have been Thy loving kindnesses
to an erring child this year.
Thou hast permitted me to lean more to Thee,
and trust less in my own righteousness.
Thou hast given me grace to know
that I am full of corruption and sin.
Thou hast allowed me to praise Thee in joy,
to call unto Thee in grief,
and Thou hast drawn nigh unto me in sorrow.
Thou hast raised me up friends.
Thou hast given me many moments of happiness, of peace,
when all around seemed a dreary waste, a dismal gloom.
Thou hast given me grace to study,
and wisdom in some cases to expound Thy Law.
Thou hast mercifully made my belief clearer,
and strengthened me in my faith.
Thou hast given me time and inclination
to cultivate the talents Thou hast bestowed on me.
Thou hast given me grace in some few things
to adhere to my resolution
and withstand temptation
for love of Thy Law.
Thou hast mercifully permitted me to feel the holy joy,
the never failing comfort of religion, of trusting in Thee.
this year Thou hast drawn me nearer Thee!
blessed be Thy name even for that alone!
arise, my soul,
cast off this lethargy,
that I may praise my God
for all that He hath done for me this year.
Yes, I have felt the blessed influence of Thy Holy Spirit,
oh my God, more than I ever did before.
Even as I prayed,
I have been answered;
in not one thing have I referred to my gracious God in vain.
I feel now how sweet it is to trust in Him,
How soothing to fly to Him
in every trouble or perplexity;
to praise Him,
to call upon Him,
to lean confidingly on His bosom;
to feel there is One who will never change,
who, however earthly friends may change, will never forsake me.
“Thou encompassest my path,
and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalms 139:3)
“Yea, the darkness hideth me not from Thee,
but the night shineth as the day,
the darkness and the light are alike to Thee.” (Psalms 139:12)
Oh, I feel as if the spirit of the Lord
dwelt more fervently with me at the end
than at the beginning of this year.
grant that it may be so;
each year make me more worthy in Thy sight,
that I may shine more and more unto perfect day,
that when I come to die,
I may not feel the horrors of a misspent life rising to appal me.
Then let Thy mercy uphold me, blessed Lord,
then let me feel how good it is to trust in Thee,
and if it may please Thee to take me to Thyself
ere another year has run its course,
let me end this book and this year
with avowing my belief in the unity of God,
the truth of the Jewish faith,
in the Bible, as the only law
which should guide our actions and our lives,
being the written Word of God,
and in the firm belief that not my own righteousness,
but the mercy of the one sole God,
can render me fit to die,
to ascend to Him,
and be one of the blessed who will rise again,
and glorify Him in the second Paradise —
Oh God, my God,
let the contents of this little book,
my thoughts and meditations here transcribed,
be an acceptable offering in Thy sight.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting. —
Amen and Amen.
“Saturday night, Dec. 31, 1836” by Grace Aguilar was published posthumously by her mother Sarah Aguilar in Essays and Miscellanies (1853), in the section “Sacred Communings,” pp. 196-199. In the UK edition of Sacred Communings (1853) the prayer appears with small variations of spelling and punctuation on pages 112-115.
“[Prayer for] Saturday night [on New Year’s Eve], by Grace Aguilar (31 December 1836)” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 Universal license.
Works of related interest:
📖 Sabbath Thoughts and Sacred Communings, by Grace Aguilar [ca. late 1830s] (ed. Sarah Aguilar 1852/1853)