Holy Willie's Prayer

Robert Burns 1759 (Alloway) – 1796 (Dumfries)

'And send the godly in a pet to pray.' - Pope
 
O Thou, that in the heavens does dwell,
Wha, as it pleases best Thysel',
Sends ane to heaven an' ten to hell,
A' for Thy glory,
And no for onie guid or ill
They've done afore Thee!
 
I bless and praise Thy matchless might,
When thousands Thou hast left in night,
That I am here afore Thy sight,
For gifts an' grace
A burning and a shining light
To a' this place.
 
What was I, or my generation,
That I should get sic exaltation,
I wha deserv'd most just damnation
For broken laws,
Sax thousand years ere my creation,
Thro' Adam's cause.
 
When from my mither's womb I fell,
Thou might hae plung'd me deep in hell,
To gnash my gooms, and weep and wail,
In burnin lakes,
Where daned devils roar and yell,
Chain'd to their stakes.
 
Yet I am here a chosen sample,
To show thy grace is great and ample;
I'm here a pillar o' Thy temple,
Strong as a rock,
A guide, a buckler, and example,
To a' Thy flock.
 
O Lord, Thou kens what zeal I bear,
When drinkers drink, an' swearers swear,
An' sining here, an' dancin there,
Wi great and sma';
For I am keepit by Thy fear
Free frae them a'.
 
But yet, O Lord! confess I must,
At times I'm fash'd wi' fleshly lust:
An' sometimes, too, in warldly trust,
Vile self gets in;
But Thou remembers we are dust,
Defil'd wi' sin.
 
O Lord! yestreen, Thou kens, wi' Meg -
Thy pardon I sincerely beg;
O! may't ne'er be a livin plague
To my dishonour,
An' I'll ne'er lift a lawless leg
Again upon her.
 
Besides, I farther maun allow,
Wi' Leezie's lass, three times I trow -
But Lord, that Friday I was fou,
When I cam near her;
Or else, Thou kens, Thy servant true
Wad never steer her.
 
Maybe Thou lets this fleshly thorn
Buffet Thy servant e'en and morn,
Lest he owre proud and high shou'd turn,
That he's sae gifted:
If sae, Thy han' maun e'en be borne,
Until Thou lift it.
 
Lord, mind Gaw'n Hamilton's deserts;
He drinks, an' swears, an' plays at cartes,
Yet has sae mony takin arts,
Wi' great and sma',
Frae God's ain priest the people's hearts
He steals awa.
 
An' when we chasten'd him therefor,
Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,
An' set the warld in a roar
O' laughing at us; -
Curse Thou his basket and his store,
Kail an' potatoes.
 
Lord, hear my earnest cry and pray'r,
Against that Presbyt'ry o' Ayr;
Thy strong right hand, Lord make it bare
Upo' their heads;
Lord visit them, an' dinna spare,
For their misdeeds.
 
O Lord, my God! that glib-tongu'd Aiken,
My vera heart and flesh are quakin,
To think how we stood sweatin, shakin,
An' p-'d wi' dread,
While he, wi' hingin lip an' snakin,
Held up his head.
 
Lord, in Thy day o' vengeance try him,
Lord, visit them wha did employ him,
And pass not in Thy mercy by them,
Nor hear them their pray'r,
But for Thy people's sake destroy them,
An' dinna spare.
 
But, Lord, remember me an' mine
Wi' mercies temporal and divine,
That I for grace an' gear may shine,
Excell'd by nane,
And a' the glory shall be thine,
Amen, Amen!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Robert Burns

Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyricist. more…

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