|American Minute with Bill FedererThe FIRST PRAYER in Congress!|
SEPTEMBER 7, 1774, the First Session of the Continental Congress was opened with prayer in Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia.
Threatened by the most powerful monarch in the world, Britain’s King George III, America’s founding fathers heard Rev. Jacob Duche’ begin by reading Psalm 35, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer’s “Psalter” for that day:
Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me; Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’ Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life; Let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me.”
“Be Thou present, O God of Wisdom, and direct the counsel of this Honorable Assembly; enable them to settle all things on the best and surest foundations; that the scene of blood may be speedily closed;
that Order, Harmony and Peace may be effectually restored, and that Truth and Justice, Religion and Piety, prevail and flourish among the people…
All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Saviour, Amen.”
“When the Congress met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with Prayer.
It was opposed by Mr. Jay of New York, and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina because we were so divided in religious sentiments, some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists, that we could not join in the same act of worship.
He was a stranger in Philadelphia, but had heard that Mr. Duche’ deserved that character and therefore he moved that Mr. Duche’, an Episcopal clergyman might be desired to read Prayers to Congress tomorrow morning.
The motion was seconded, and passed in the affirmative. Mr. Randolph, our president, vailed on Mr. Duche’, and received for answer, that if his health would permit, he certainly would…”
John Adams continued:
“Accordingly, next morning Reverend Mr. Duche’ appeared with his clerk and in his pontificals, and read several prayers in the established form, and read the collect for the seventh day of September, which was the thirty-fifth Psalm.
You must remember, this was the next morning after we heard the horrible rumor of the cannonade of Boston.
After this, Mr. Duche’, unexpectedly to every body, struck out into an extemporary prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present. I must confess, I never heard a better prayer, or one so well pronounced.
The Library of Congress printed on an historical placard of Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia:
“Washington was kneeling there with Henry, Randolph, Rutledge, Lee, and Jay, and by their side there stood, bowed in reverence the Puritan Patriots of New England…
‘It was enough’ says Mr. Adams, ‘to melt a heart of stone. I saw the tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave, Pacific Quakers of Philadelphia.'”
The Journals of Congress then recorded their appreciation to Rev. Mr. Duche’:
Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m. Agreeable to the resolve of yesterday, the meeting was opened with prayers by the Rev. Mr. Duche’.
Voted, That the thanks of Congress be given to Mr. Duche’…for performing divine Service, and for the excellent prayer, which he composed and delivered on the occasion.”
“Considering myself under the twofold character of a minister of Jesus Christ, and a fellow-citizen…involved in the same public calamity with yourselves…
addressing myself to you as freemen…’Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty, wherewith Christ hath made us free’ (Galatians, ch. 5).”
For God’s Glory Alone Ministries thanks Bill Federer and www.AmericanMinute.com