Holy Willie's Prayer

by Robert Burns

And send the godly in a pet to pray.


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 before Thee !
I bless and praise Thy matchless might,
When thousands Thou hast left in night,
That I am here before 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 burning lakes,
Whare damnèd 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 !
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,
                                        Defiled wi’ sin.
O Lord ! yestreen, Thou kens, wi’ Meg
Thy pardon I sincerely beg
O, may’t ne’er be a living plague
                                       To my dishonour !
An’ I’ll ne’er lift a lawless leg
                                       Again upon her.
Besides, I farther maun avow
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 should turn
                                       That he’s sae gifted :
If sae, Thy han’ maun e’en be borne
                                        Until Thou lift it.
Lord, bless Thy chosen in this place,
For here Thou has a chosen race !
But God confound their stubborn face
                                         An’ blast their name,
Wha bring Thy elders to disgrace
                                         An’ open shame !
Lord, mind Gau’n Hamilton’s deserts :
He drinks, an’ swears, an’ plays at cartes,
Yet has sae monie takin arts
                                         Wi’ great and sma’,
Frae God’s ain Priest the people’s hearts
                                         He steals awa.
And when we chasten’d him therefore,
Thou kens how he bred sic a splore,
And set the warld in a roar
                                          O’ laughin at us :
Curse Thou his basket and his store,
                                          Kail an’ potatoes !
Lord, hear my earnest cry and pray’r
Against that Presbyt’re of Ayr !
Thy strong right hand, Lord, mak 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’ pish’d wi’ dread,
While he, wi’ hingin lip an’ snaking,
                                            Held up his head.
Lord, in Thy day o’ vengeance try him !
Lord, visit him wha did employ him !
And pass not in Thy mercy by them
                                             Nor hear their pray’r,
But for Thy people’s sake destroy them,
                                             An’ dinna spare !
But, Lord, remember me and 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 !
Robert Burns | Classic Poems

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