A Prayer for Every Day of All Seasons, Especially Lent and Passiontide
Richard of Chichester served the Lord as a priest and bishop in England in the 13th Century. He was a contemporary of both Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas.
The Wikipedia article about him says that although he was born into a high social class (the gentry), and could have continued to remain in it, he chose an ascetic life "of study and the Church". As a bishop, he was a clerical reformer, who, the article says:
[. . .] showed much eagerness to reform the manners and morals of his clergy, and also to introduce greater order and reverence into the services of the Church.
The Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion regard him as a saint.
Nowadays he is best known as the author of a short prayer which is attributed to him. He is said to have uttered the original version of it on his deathbed. In it, Richard first thanks the Lord Jesus Christ, and then asks Him to have mercy upon him, and commends his spirit to Him. It was recorded in Latin.
The Wikipedia article contains a few versions of it in English. The versions which are best known are so different from the original that the only resemblance they have to it is that they are addressed to the Lord Jesus.
Following is the version which was published in The Churchman's Prayer Manual (1913), compiled by G.R. Bullock-Webster, M.A.:
Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.
The first part of this version is close to the first part of the original one; the second part is unlike anything in the original. Ironically, the petitions of the second part have become famous, and thereby spread Richard's name, while the first part has not.
The phrase "Day by day" has been added to those three petitions to create a song that was published in the hymnal Songs of Praise, Enlarged Edition, from which was derived the song "Day by Day" of the musical play Godspell. In these two songs, "know Thee more clearly" has been changed to "see thee more clearly".
Both the petition to know the Lord more clearly and the petition to see Him more clearly are according to His will. So are the petitions to love Him more dearly and to follow Him more nearly. Therefore, we who petition the Lord with them should confidently believe that He hears us and grants us that for which we ask, as His perspicacious, loving, and faithful follower and friend John teaches:
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
—I John 5:14–15
With or without the phrase "day by day", all three of these petitions are fitting for prayer every day of every season.
The portion of Richard's prayer in which He gives thanks to the Lord is also so fitting, but it is especially fitting for the liturgical seasons in which special attention is given to the sufferings our Lord endured during His earthly ministry: namely, Lent and Passiontide.
One way we could do this is by making the petitions more specific in accord with the liturgical season in which we are praying. For example, one could pray the first petition as follows:
Just as the original version of Richard's prayer was used to make the derivative version presented in this article, so we can use this version to make other derivative prayers.
May I know/see Thee in Thy coming more clearly
May I know/see Thee in Thy nativity more clearly
May I know/see Thee in Thy manifestations more clearly
May I know/see Thee in Thy temptations more clearly
May I know/see Thee in Thy suffering and death more clearly
May I know/see Thee in Thy resurrection more clearly
May I know/see Thee in Thy ascension more clearly
May I know/see Thee in relation to the Holy Spirit more clearly
Two other changes we might want to make are restoring Richard's two petitions. That is:
1. As Richard pleaded for the Lord to have mercy on him, we plea likewise, as we all need the His mercy every day, whether it be our last one or not.
2. As Richard commended his spirit to the Lord, we commend likewise, as He can care and preserve them better than we can—perfectly, in fact—not only at the point of death in this world, but at all times and in all places. (See Psalm 31:5, Luke 23:46, and Acts 7:59 for other examples of a man commending his spirit in prayer.)
None of this is to say that Richard's version, or any of the other versions attributed to him, are in some way lacking, and cannot or should not be prayed as they are.
Whether or not one observes Lent, Passiontide, or any other liturgical season, I recommend praying the version of Richard's prayer in this article, with confidence in the Lord Jesus that He hears us and grants us its petitions.
May the Lord Himself be greatly blessed, honored, and glorified with all of the versions of the prayer attributed to Richard of Chichester. Amen.
Questions for consideration
1. What do you think about the version of the prayer attributed to Richard of Chichester which is present in this article?
2. Would you like to pray this prayer? If so, why? If not, why not?
3. Would you like to pray this prayer every day of a liturgical season, such as Lent and Passiontide? If so, why? If not, why not?
4. Would you like to make a new version of this prayer that is a derivation of it? If so, why? If not, why not?
5. If you would like to make such a new version, what would you like to say in it?
6. Does I John 5:14–15 affect the way you pray? If so, how and why? If not, why not?
7. Would you like I John 5:14–15 to affect the way you pray? If so, how and why? If not, why not?
This article was written based upon the Wikipedia article about Richard of Chichester. These are some of its bibliographic details:
Page name: Richard of Chichester
Author: Wikipedia contributors
Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Date of last revision: 7 February 2024 09:06 UTC
Date retrieved: 10 February 2024 09:09 UTC
Page name: Richard of Chichester