“O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in thy mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last.”
Book of Common Prayer, 1928
When I was growing up in Belton, my family went to a tiny little Episcopal church. St. Luke’s was the oldest church building in the county, and it only held a handful of people. Twenty was a big crowd for us. We only had one service a week. It was a beautiful little church with stained glass windows, and it was never locked so that all who wanted to enter could come and pray. We were sent new vicars every two or three years and sometimes had no priest at all! During those times, our organist doubled as our lay reader. St. Luke’s was a mission until the 1980s, even though it was the first Episcopal church in the county, and the congregation, sadly, disbanded several years ago. My sister and I still have pews from that church, built in the 1870s, in each of our homes. During my formative years, we had a young priest named Armistead Powell who was 6’8” tall! An imposing figure, he could barely get in the door of this small church. I just fell in love with his calm demeanor and gentle nature — in fact, he came back and married my late husband, Jerry, and me in 1975. Before we were dismissed after the service, he would often say the prayer I have written above. I thought it was beautiful, and at my young age, assumed it was about protecting us each day and granting us safe rest each night. I now realize that the prayer is not just about the end of one day, it is about the end of our lives on this earth, and our holy rest is our life with God after work on earth is done. This prayer and the Lord’s Prayer are my two favorites. My mother had a copy of it at her bedside as I now do. My sister has one also. Every Sunday in church, before I leave, I kneel and say it. It has calmed me during times of crisis and pain, uncertainty and anxiety. I hope it brings you peace as it does me.