Special Prayers

The Book of Common Prayer contains the order of worship for churches that are part of the Anglican Communion, offshoots of the Church of England. It also contains a number of prayers designed for inclusion in a service or for private use, two of which are set to music in For Those in Peril. “Keep watch” is traditionally used in the evening service known as compline; in the opera it is sung by Madeleine Griffith before she goes to bed. The other prayer is dedicated to loved ones, who for whatever reason, are far away. It is sung as a duet by Gwendolyn Howell and Madeleine Griffith as they await news of their husbands.

In the Evening

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for thy love’s sake. Amen.

For the Absent

O God, whose fatherly care reaches to the uttermost parts of the earth: We humbly beseech Thee graciously to behold and bless those whom we love, now absent from us. Defend them from all dangers of soul and body; and grant that both they and we, drawing nearer to Thee, may be bound together by Thy love in the communion of the Holy Spirit, and in the fellowship of Thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Left: title page from a 1760 printing of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer)

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