Reflections for Sunday, July 2, 2017: The First Prayer in Congress

by / Friday, 30 June 2017 / Published in Worship

The First Prayer in Congress

Reverend  Jacob Duché, an Episcopal clergyman, officiated, becoming the first of an unbroken chain of Christian chaplains to open each session of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate in prayer, to this day. 

 Following is the text of the First Prayer in Congress:

 O Lord, our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth, and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all kingdoms, empires, and governments, look down in mercy, we beseech Thee on these American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor, and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee.  To Thee they have appeared for the righteousness of our cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support which Thou alone canst give.  Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care.  Give them wisdom in council and valor in the field.  Defeat the malicious designs of our adversaries; convince them of the righteousness of our cause; and, if they still persist in sanguinary purposes, oh, let the voice of Thine own unerring justice sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle.

Be Thou present, O God of Wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assemblage; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation, that the scenes of blood may be speedily closed, and order, harmony, and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety prevail and flourish amongst Thy people; preserve the health of their bodies and the vigor of their minds; shower down upon them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come.  All this we ask, in the name through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Saviour.  Amen.

 Reverend Jacob Duché
Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m.

 Congressional Record, April 13, 1965
U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.