Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Execution Day

O All-seeing Light, and Eternal Life of all things, look upon my misery with Thine eye of mercy, and let Thine infinite power vouchsafe to limit out some portion of deliverance unto me, as unto Thee shall seem most convenient.  But yet, O my God, I yield unto Thy will, and joyfully embrace what sorrow Thou wilt have me suffer.  Only thus much let me crave of Thee (let my craving, O Lord, be accepted of Thee, since even that proceeds from Thee)—let me crave even by the noblest title, which in my greatest affliction I may give myself, that I am Thy creature, and by Thy goodness (which is Thyself), that Thou wilt suffer some beam of Thy Majesty so to shine into my mind, that it may still depend confidently on Thee—Amen.
King Charles I of England is said to have uttered this prayer from The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia by Sir Philip Sidney as he mounted the scaffold on the day of his execution, January 30, 1649.  See, e.g., The Booklover's Almanac, (Robert Brittain, comp. and ed. 1991).

1 comment:

The New York Crank said...

Praying does provide some people with the perception of comfort, but it is a misleading comfort. When the axe fell, his head came off just the same – another testament to the near-uselessness of prayer.

Which brings to mind a question that has long troubled me: Why do football players pray in the locker room? So that God will smite this University and ensure the triumph of that University? Has God, if there is one, nothing better to do? Might (s)he better spend the day sparing the habitats of a diminishing population of wild animals, or feeding the starving, or making oppressors in Chad think better of their evil intentions?

Prayer is a finger-in-the-dike strategy, which in the end has little impact on either history or the outcomes of football games. And when the dike breaks, fingers are of no use.

Yours with philosophical crankiness,
The New York Crank