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Prayers: Ancient & Modern

These prayers are taken from an out-of-print book of prayers, by this name, assembled by Mary W. Tileston, copyrighted in 1897 and last published in 1927.

This collection of prayers for daily use has been gathered from many sources, ancient and modern; or which were modern in 1897. The collection has historical interest, and the literary quality has been carefully considered by the compiler, but the primary object is to nourish the spiritual life.

As the design is to provide a brief selection for every day, in many cases a portion only of a long prayer is given, or it is condensed by omission, but alterations have been made as sparingly as possible.

Fourteen centuries of prayer, aspiration, and praise unite here in one harmony of devotion. A large number of these prayers date from the fifth and sixth centuries, taken from the Leonine, Gelasian, and Gregorian Sacramentaries, from which the collects in the Book of Common Prayer are in great measure derived.

The earnest and impassioned prayers of St. Augustine belong to the same period. Many of the prayers attributed to him, however, are of later origin and doubtful authorship, some of them, probably, being by St. Anselm and St. Bernard.

There are some striking and fervent collects from the Mozarabic Sacramentary, which was in use in Spain before A.D. 700.

In the Middle Ages, St. Anselm, Thomas Kempis, and others contribute devout prayers, and the age of the Reformation in England and Germany is very rich in devotional treasures.

In the succeeding centuries, Bishop Andrews, Jeremy Taylor, Bishop Wilson, Dr. Johnson, and many others, continue the golden chain down to the present (late 19th & early 20th) century. The names of Christina G. Rossetti, George Dawson, Rowland Williams, and E.B. Pusey are enough to show that the spirit of prayer still burns with a steady flame.

I acknowledge, with gratitude, my indebtedness to “Ancient Collect,” by Rev. William Bright; Bunsen’s “Collection of Prayers”; “Annus Domini,” and “The Face of the Deep,” by Miss Rossetti; “Prayers,” by George Dawson; “Private Prayers,” by Rev. E.B. Pusey; “Psalms and Litanies,” by Rev. Rowland Williams; “Home Prayers,” by Rev. James Martineau; “Moments on the Mount,” and “Voices of the Spirit,” by Rev. George Matheson; “Prayers,” by Rev. Rufus Ellis, and others too numerous to mention. I am indebted to Rev. J.R. Miller for a prayer contributed by him to this book. I must also express my thanks to the publishers who have kindly given me permission to use copyrighted material; to Messrs. Armstrong & Son, for prayers from the works of Dr. Matheson, above mentioned; and to Mr. Charles Baxter for the prayers by Robert Louis Stevenson.

-- Mary Wilder Tileston

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