American Minute with Bill Federer SEPT. 7 - Prayer in Congress
American Minute with Bill Federer
SEPT. 7 - Prayer in Congress- 'All this we ask...through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Saviour, Amen'
SEPTEMBER 7, 1774, the First Session of the Continental Congress was opened with prayer in Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia.
by the most powerful monarch in the world, Britain's King George III,
America's founding fathers heard Rev. Jacob Duche' begin by reading
Psalm 35, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer's "Psalter" for that day:
my cause, Oh, Lord, with them that strive with me, fight against them
that fight against me. Take hold of buckler and shield, and rise up for
Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who
pursue me; Say to my soul, 'I am your salvation.' Let those be ashamed
and dishonored who seek my life; Let those be turned back and humiliated
who devise evil against me."
Then Rev. Jacob Duche' prayed:
Thou present, O God of Wisdom, and direct the counsel of this Honorable
Assembly; enable them to settle all things on the best and surest
foundations; that the scene of blood may be speedily closed;
Order, Harmony and Peace may be effectually restored, and that Truth
and Justice, Religion and Piety, prevail and flourish among the
the health of their bodies, and the vigor of their minds, shower down
on 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 and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Saviour, Amen."
That same day, John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, describing the prayer:
"When the Congress met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with Prayer.
was opposed by Mr. Jay of New York, and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina
because we were so divided in religious sentiments, some Episcopalians,
some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some Presbyterians, and some
Congregationalists, that we could not join in the same act of worship.
Samuel Adams arose and said that he was no bigot, and could hear a
Prayer from any gentleman of Piety and virtue, who was at the same time a
friend to his Country.
was a stranger in Philadelphia, but had heard that Mr. Duche' deserved
that character and therefore he moved that Mr. Duche', an Episcopal
clergyman might be desired to read Prayers to Congress tomorrow morning.
motion was seconded, and passed in the affirmative. Mr. Randolph, our
president, vailed on Mr. Duche', and received for answer, that if his
health would permit, he certainly would..."
next morning Reverend Mr. Duche' appeared with his clerk and in his
pontificals, and read several prayers in the established form, and read
the collect for the seventh day of September, which was the
You must remember, this was the next morning after we heard the horrible rumor of the cannonade of Boston.
I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning.
this, Mr. Duche', unexpectedly to every body, struck out into an
extemporary prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present. I must
confess, I never heard a better prayer, or one so well pronounced.
as he is, Dr. Cooper himself never prayed with such fervor, such
ardor, such earnestness and pathos, and in language so elegant and
sublime, for America, for the Congress, for the province of
Massachusetts Bay, and especially the town of Boston. It has had an
excellent effect upon everybody here. I must beg you to read that
The Library of Congress printed on an historical placard of Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia:
was kneeling there with Henry, Randolph, Rutledge, Lee, and Jay, and
by their side there stood, bowed in reverence the Puritan Patriots of
'It was enough' says Mr. Adams, 'to melt a heart
of stone. I saw the tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave, Pacific
Quakers of Philadelphia.'"