Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
 
Holy Willie’s Prayer
By Robert Burns (1759–1796)
 
OH, Thou, wha in the heavens dost dwell,
Wha, as it pleases best Thysel’,
Sends ane to heaven and ten to hell,
            A’ for Thy glory,
And no for ony guid or ill        5
            They’ve done afore Thee!
 
I bless and praise Thy matchless might,
Whan thousands Thou hast left in night,
That I am here afore Thy sight,
            For gifts an’ grace,        10
A burnin’ an’ a shinin’ light
            To a’ this place.
 
What was I, or my generation,
That I should get sic exaltation!
I, wha deserve sic just damnation,        15
            For broken laws,
Five thousand years ’fore my creation,
            Thro’ Adam’s cause.
 
When frae my mither’s womb I fell,
Thou might hae plung’d me into hell,        20
To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,
            In burnin’ lake,
Whare damned devils roar and yell,
            Chain’d to a stake.
 
Yet I am here a chosen sample,        25
To show Thy grace is great and ample;
I’m here a pillar in Thy temple,
            Strong as a rock,
A guide, a buckler, an example
            To a’ Thy flock.
*        *        *        *        *
        30
Lord, bless Thy chosen in this place,
For here Thou hast a chosen race;
But God confound their stubborn face,
            And blast their name,
Wha bring Thy elders to disgrace        35
            And public shame.
 
Lord, mind Gawn Hamilton’s deserts,
He drinks, and swears, and plays at cartes,
Yet has sae mony takin’ arts
            Wi’ great and sma’,        40
Frae God’s ain priests the people’s hearts
            He steals awa’.
 
An’ whan we chasten’d him therefore,
Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,
As set the warld in a roar        45
            O’ laughin’ at us.
Curse Thou his basket and his store,
            Kail and potatoes.
 
Lord, hear my earnest cry and pray’r,
Against the presbyt’ry of Ayr;        50
Thy strong right hand, Lord, mak’ it bare
            Upo’ their heads;
Lord, weigh it down, and dinna spare,
            For their misdeeds.
 
Oh Lord my God, that glib-tongu’d Aiken,        55
My very heart and saul are quakin’
To think how we stood groanin’, shakin’,
            And swat wi’ dread,
While Auld wi’ hinging lip gaed snakin’,
            And hid his head.        60
 
Lord, in the day of vengeance try him;
Lord, visit them wha did employ him;
And pass not in Thy mercy by ’em,
            Nor hear their pray’r;
But for Thy people’s sake destroy ’em,        65
            And dinna spare.
 
But, Lord, remember me and mine,
Wi’ mercies temp’ral and divine,
That I for gear and grace may shine,
            Excell’d by nane,        70
An’ a’ the glory shall be Thine.
            Amen! amen!
 
 
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