This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Monday, 26 November 2012

Oh Lordy, Prayer So Hard

When I read accounts of the debate over whether prayer should be allowed in American schools, I love to think back to when I was a six-year old, back in my first year at St Edmund’s.

I was educated in a school run by the Christian Brothers of Edmund Rice, which is just as Catholic as it sounds. While it was then, and still is, open to pupils of all faiths, we had compulsory school prayers each and every morning. The prayer was always the same...the Our Father.

Now, of course, this prayer meant nothing whatsoever to the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Niam Tre and Protestants of various sects who made up the majority of the school’s pupils. I – with a very imperfect understanding of the English language at the time (I didn’t speak a word of English until I began school) – got an even less comprehensible version of the prayer. 

Here’s what the prayer is in the version we used, for those who either forgot or never knew it:

Our Father in heaven, 
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, 
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins 
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the Test
and deliver us from evil.

And this is what I heard, and repeated as faithfully as I could:

Our Father in Heaven

(thinking...”Huh? My dad’s far from being in heaven; I saw him just fifteen minutes ago!”)

Harold be your name

(I swear I heard “Harold”, and they were lucky it wasn’t “Herod”)


(All in one breathless word).

Give us today our daily bread

(But...I have bread already in my lunchbox, don’t I?)

And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us

(What sins? What have I gone and done now?...and, today, this bitstill makes no sense to me at all.)

Do not bring us to the Test

(I could totally relate to that...”Please postpone the exams!”)

But deliver us from evil women.

(Ditto; my class teacher, Mrs Wahlang, was a horrible bitch, a woman who should never have been allowed to be a teacher. To this day I still get a Pavlovian aversion to any woman who uses the perfume she used to drench herself with.)

I doubt a deity who heard my version would have been too impressed...and I wonder what my classmates’ versions were like.

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