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Title: Prayers Written At Vailima, and A Lowden Sabbath Morn
Author: Stevenson, Robert Louis
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Prayers Written At Vailima, and A Lowden Sabbath Morn" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



_Prayers Written At Vailima_ was transcribed from the 1916 Chatto &
Windus edition by David Price, proofing by Stephen Booth.

_A Lowden Sabbath Morn_ was transcribed from the 1898 Chatto & Windus
edition by David Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

                      [Picture: Public domain cover]



                                 PRAYERS
                            WRITTEN AT VAILIMA
                                   and
                                 A LOWDEN
                               SABBATH MORN


                        by Robert Louis Stevenson

                                * * * * *



PRAYERS
WRITTEN AT VAILIMA


                                    BY
                          ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
                                   WITH
                             AN INTRODUCTION
                                    BY
                              MRS. STEVENSON

              [Picture: Decorative Chatto & Windus graphic]

                                * * * * *

                                  LONDON
                             CHATTO & WINDUS
                                MDCCCCXVI



INTRODUCTION


IN _every Samoan household the day is closed with prayer and the singing
of hymns_.  _The omission of this sacred duty would indicate_, _not only
a lack of religious training in the house chief_, _but a shameless
disregard of all that is reputable in Samoan social life_.  _No doubt_,
_to many_, _the evening service is no more than a duty fulfilled_.  _The
child who says his prayer at his mother’s knee can have no real
conception of the meaning of the words he lisps so readily_, _yet he goes
to his little bed with a sense of heavenly protection that he would miss
were the prayer forgotten_.  _The average Samoan is but a larger child in
most things_, _and_ _would lay an uneasy head on his wooden pillow if he
had not joined_, _even perfunctorily_, _in the evening service_.  _With
my husband_, _prayer_, _the direct appeal_, _was a necessity_.  _When he
was happy he felt impelled to offer thanks for that undeserved joy_;
_when in sorrow_, _or pain_, _to call for strength to bear what must be
borne_.

_Vailima lay up some three miles of continual rise from Apia_, _and more
than half that distance from the nearest village_.  _It was a long way
for a tired man to walk down every evening with the sole purpose of
joining in family worship_; _and the road through the bush was dark_,
_and_, _to the Samoan imagination_, _beset with supernatural terrors_.
_Wherefore_, _as soon as our household had fallen into a regular
routine_, _and the bonds of Samoan family life began to draw us more
closely together_, _Tusitala felt the necessity of including our
retainers in our evening devotions_.  _I suppose ours was the only white
man’s family in all Samoa_, _except those of the missionaries_, _where
the day naturally ended with this homely_, _patriarchal custom_.  _Not
only were the religious scruples of the natives satisfied_, _but_, _what
we did not foresee_, _our own respectability_—_and incidentally that of
our retainers_—_became assured_, _and the influence of Tusitala increased
tenfold_.

_After all work and meals were finished_, _the_ ‘_pu_,’ _or war conch_,
_was sounded from the back veranda and_ _the front_, _so that it might be
heard by all_.  _I don’t think it ever occurred to us that there was any
incongruity in the use of the war conch for the peaceful invitation to
prayer_.  _In response to its summons the white members of the family
took their usual places in one end of the large hall_, _while the
Samoans_—_men_, _women_, _and children_—_trooped in through all the open
doors_, _some carrying lanterns if the evening were dark_, _all moving
quietly and dropping with Samoan decorum in a wide semicircle on the
floor beneath a great lamp that hung from the ceiling_.  _The service
began by my son reading a chapter from the Samoan Bible_, _Tusitala
following with a prayer in English_, _sometimes impromptu_, _but more
often from the notes in this little_ _book_, _interpolating or changing
with the circumstance of the day_.  _Then came the singing of one or more
hymns in the native tongue_, _and the recitation in concert of the Lord’s
Prayer_, _also in Samoan_.  _Many of these hymns were set to ancient
tunes_, _very wild and warlike_, _and strangely at variance with the
missionary words_.

_Sometimes a passing band of hostile warriors_, _with blackened faces_,
_would peer in at us through the open windows_, _and often we were forced
to pause until the strangely savage_, _monotonous noise of the native
drums had ceased_; _but no Samoan_, _nor_, _I trust_, _white person_,
_changed his reverent attitude_.  _Once_, _I remember a look of surprised
dismay crossing_ _the countenance of Tusitala when my son_, _contrary to
his usual custom of reading the next chapter following that of
yesterday_, _turned back the leaves of his Bible to find a chapter
fiercely denunciatory_, _and only too applicable to the foreign dictators
of distracted Samoa_.  _On another occasion the chief himself brought the
service to a sudden check_.  _He had just learned of the treacherous
conduct of one in whom he had every reason to trust_.  _That evening the
prayer seemed unusually short and formal_.  _As the singing stopped he
arose abruptly and left the room_.  _I hastened after him_, _fearing some
sudden illness_.  ‘_What is it_?’ _I asked_.  ‘_It is this_,’ _was the
reply_; ‘_I am not yet fit to say_, “_Forgive us our trespasses_ _as we
forgive those who trespass against us_.”’

_It is with natural reluctance that I touch upon the last prayer of my
husband’s life_.  _Many have supposed that he showed_, _in the wording of
this prayer_, _that he had some premonition of his approaching death_.
_I am sure he had no such premonition_.  _It was I who told the assembled
family that I felt an impending disaster approaching nearer and nearer_.
_Any Scot will understand that my statement was received seriously_.  _It
could not be_, _we thought_, _that danger threatened any one within the
house_; _but Mr. Graham Balfour_, _my husband’s cousin_, _very near and
dear to us_, _was away on a perilous cruise_.  _Our fears followed the
various vessels_, _more or_ _less unseaworthy_, _in which he was making
his way from island to island to the atoll where the exiled king_,
_Mataafa_, _was at that time imprisoned_.  _In my husband’s last prayer_,
_the night before his death_, _he asked that we should be given strength
to bear the loss of this dear friend_, _should such a sorrow befall us_.



CONTENTS

                                        PAGE
FOR SUCCESS                                1
FOR GRACE                                  3
AT MORNING                                 4
EVENING                                    5
ANOTHER FOR EVENING                        7
IN TIME OF RAIN                            8
ANOTHER IN TIME OF RAIN                    9
BEFORE A TEMPORARY SEPARATION             10
FOR FRIENDS                               11
FOR THE FAMILY                            12
SUNDAY                                    14
FOR SELF-BLAME                            16
FOR SELF-FORGETFULNESS                    18
FOR RENEWAL OF JOY                        19



FOR SUCCESS


LORD, behold our family here assembled.  We thank Thee for this place in
which we dwell; for the love that unites us; for the peace accorded us
this day; for the hope with which we expect the morrow; for the health,
the work, the food, and the bright skies, that make our lives delightful;
for our friends in all parts of the earth, and our friendly helpers in
this foreign isle.  Let peace abound in our small company.  Purge out of
every heart the lurking grudge.  Give us grace and strength to forbear
and to persevere.  Offenders, give us the grace to accept and to forgive
offenders.  Forgetful ourselves, help us to bear cheerfully the
forgetfulness of others.  Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.  Bless us, if it may
be, in all our innocent endeavours.  If it may not, give us the strength
to encounter that which is to come, that we be brave in peril, constant
in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune, and,
down to the gates of death, loyal and loving one to another.  As the clay
to the potter, as the windmill to the wind, as children of their sire, we
beseech of Thee this help and mercy for Christ’s sake.



FOR GRACE


GRANT that we here before Thee may be set free from the fear of
vicissitude and the fear of death, may finish what remains before us of
our course without dishonour to ourselves or hurt to others, and, when
the day comes, may die in peace.  Deliver us from fear and favour: from
mean hopes and cheap pleasures.  Have mercy on each in his deficiency;
let him be not cast down; support the stumbling on the way, and give at
last rest to the weary.



AT MORNING


THE day returns and brings us the petty round of irritating concerns and
duties.  Help us to play the man, help us to perform them with laughter
and kind faces, let cheerfulness abound with industry.  Give us to go
blithely on our business all this day, bring us to our resting beds weary
and content and undishonoured, and grant us in the end the gift of sleep.



EVENING


WE come before Thee, O Lord, in the end of thy day with thanksgiving.

Our beloved in the far parts of the earth, those who are now beginning
the labours of the day what time we end them, and those with whom the sun
now stands at the point of noon, bless, help, console, and prosper them.

Our guard is relieved, the service of the day is over, and the hour come
to rest.  We resign into thy hands our sleeping bodies, our cold hearths,
and open doors.  Give us to awake with smiles, give us to labour smiling.
As the sun returns in the east, so let our patience be renewed with dawn;
as the sun lightens the world, so let our loving-kindness make bright
this house of our habitation.



ANOTHER FOR EVENING


LORD, receive our supplications for this house, family, and country.
Protect the innocent, restrain the greedy and the treacherous, lead us
out of our tribulation into a quiet land.

Look down upon ourselves and upon our absent dear ones.  Help us and
them; prolong our days in peace and honour.  Give us health, food, bright
weather, and light hearts.  In what we meditate of evil, frustrate our
will; in what of good, further our endeavours.  Cause injuries to be
forgot and benefits to be remembered.

Let us lie down without fear and awake and arise with exultation.  For
his sake, in whose words we now conclude.



IN TIME OF RAIN


WE thank Thee, Lord, for the glory of the late days and the excellent
face of thy sun.  We thank Thee for good news received.  We thank Thee
for the pleasures we have enjoyed and for those we have been able to
confer.  And now, when the clouds gather and the rain impends over the
forest and our house, permit us not to be cast down; let us not lose the
savour of past mercies and past pleasures; but, like the voice of a bird
singing in the rain, let grateful memory survive in the hour of darkness.
If there be in front of us any painful duty, strengthen us with the grace
of courage; if any act of mercy, teach us tenderness and patience.



ANOTHER IN TIME OF RAIN


LORD, Thou sendest down rain upon the uncounted millions of the forest,
and givest the trees to drink exceedingly.  We are here upon this isle a
few handfuls of men, and how many myriads upon myriads of stalwart trees!
Teach us the lesson of the trees.  The sea around us, which this rain
recruits, teems with the race of fish; teach us, Lord, the meaning of the
fishes.  Let us see ourselves for what we are, one out of the countless
number of the clans of thy handiwork.  When we would despair, let us
remember that these also please and serve Thee.



BEFORE A TEMPORARY SEPARATION


TO-DAY we go forth separate, some of us to pleasure, some of us to
worship, some upon duty.  Go with us, our guide and angel; hold Thou
before us in our divided paths the mark of our low calling, still to be
true to what small best we can attain to.  Help us in that, our maker,
the dispenser of events—Thou, of the vast designs, in which we blindly
labour, suffer us to be so far constant to ourselves and our beloved.



FOR FRIENDS


FOR our absent loved ones we implore thy loving-kindness.  Keep them in
life, keep them in growing honour; and for us, grant that we remain
worthy of their love.  For Christ’s sake, let not our beloved blush for
us, nor we for them.  Grant us but that, and grant us courage to endure
lesser ills unshaken, and to accept death, loss, and disappointment as it
were straws upon the tide of life.



FOR THE FAMILY


AID us, if it be thy will, in our concerns.  Have mercy on this land and
innocent people.  Help them who this day contend in disappointment with
their frailties.  Bless our family, bless our forest house, bless our
island helpers.  Thou who hast made for us this place of ease and hope,
accept and inflame our gratitude; help us to repay, in service one to
another, the debt of thine unmerited benefits and mercies, so that, when
the period of our stewardship draws to a conclusion, when the windows
begin to be darkened, when the bond of the family is to be loosed, there
shall be no bitterness of remorse in our farewells.

Help us to look back on the long way that Thou hast brought us, on the
long days in which we have been served, not according to our deserts, but
our desires; on the pit and the miry clay, the blackness of despair, the
horror of misconduct, from which our feet have been plucked out.  For our
sins forgiven or prevented, for our shame unpublished, we bless and thank
Thee, O God.  Help us yet again and ever.  So order events, so strengthen
our frailty, as that day by day we shall come before Thee with this song
of gratitude, and in the end we be dismissed with honour.  In their
weakness and their fear, the vessels of thy handiwork so pray to Thee, so
praise Thee.  Amen.



SUNDAY


WE beseech Thee, Lord, to behold us with favour, folk of many families
and nations gathered together in the peace of this roof, weak men and
women subsisting under the covert of thy patience.  Be patient still;
suffer us yet awhile longer;—with our broken purposes of good, with our
idle endeavours against evil, suffer us awhile longer to endure, and (if
it may be) help us to do better.  Bless to us our extraordinary mercies;
if the day come when these must be taken, brace us to play the man under
affliction.  Be with our friends, be with ourselves.  Go with each of us
to rest; if any awake, temper to them the dark hours of watching; and
when the day returns, return to us, our sun and comforter, and call us up
with morning faces and with morning hearts—eager to labour—eager to be
happy, if happiness shall be our portion—and if the day be marked for
sorrow, strong to endure it.

We thank Thee and praise Thee; and in the words of him to whom this day
is sacred, close our oblation.



FOR SELF-BLAME


LORD, enlighten us to see the beam that is in our own eye, and blind us
to the mote that is in our brother’s.  Let us feel our offences with our
hands, make them great and bright before us like the sun, make us eat
them and drink them for our diet.  Blind us to the offences of our
beloved, cleanse them from our memories, take them out of our mouths for
ever.  Let all here before Thee carry and measure with the false balances
of love, and be in their own eyes and in all conjunctures the most
guilty.  Help us at the same time with the grace of courage, that we be
none of us cast down when we sit lamenting amid the ruins of our
happiness or our integrity: touch us with fire from the altar, that we
may be up and doing to rebuild our city: in the name and by the method of
him in whose words of prayer we now conclude.



FOR SELF-FORGETFULNESS


LORD, the creatures of thy hand, thy disinherited children, come before
Thee with their incoherent wishes and regrets: Children we are, children
we shall be, till our mother the earth hath fed upon our bones.  Accept
us, correct us, guide us, thy guilty innocents.  Dry our vain tears, wipe
out our vain resentments, help our yet vainer efforts.  If there be any
here, sulking as children will, deal with and enlighten him.  Make it day
about that person, so that he shall see himself and be ashamed.  Make it
heaven about him, Lord, by the only way to heaven, forgetfulness of self,
and make it day about his neighbours, so that they shall help, not hinder
him.



FOR RENEWAL OF JOY


WE are evil, O God, and help us to see it and amend.  We are good, and
help us to be better.  Look down upon thy servants with a patient eye,
even as Thou sendest sun and rain; look down, call upon the dry bones,
quicken, enliven; recreate in us the soul of service, the spirit of
peace; renew in us the sense of joy.

                                * * * * *



A LOWDEN SABBATH MORN


                        BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON



I


   THE clinkum-clank o’ Sabbath bells
   Noo to the hoastin’ rookery swells,
   Noo faintin’ laigh in shady dells,
            Sounds far an’ near,
   An’ through the simmer kintry tells
            Its tale o’ cheer.



II


   An’ noo, to that melodious play,
   A deidly awn the quiet sway—
   A’ ken their solemn holiday,
            Bestial an’ human,
   The singin’ lintie on the brae,
            The restin’ plou’man.



III


   He, mair than a’ the lave o’ men,
   His week completit joys to ken;
   Half-dressed, he daunders out an’ in,
            Perplext wi’ leisure;
   An’ his raxt limbs he’ll rax again
               Wi’ painfü’ pleesure.



IV


   The steerin’ mither strang afit
   Noo shoos the bairnies but a bit;
   Noo cries them ben, their Sinday shüit
            To scart upon them,
   Or sweeties in their pouch to pit,
            Wi’ blessin’s on them.



V


   The lasses, clean frae tap to taes,
   Are busked in crunklin’ underclaes;
   The gartened hose, the weel-filled stays,
            The nakit shift,
   A’ bleached on bonny greens for days,
            An’ white’s the drift.



VI


   An’ noo to face the kirkward mile
   The guidman’s hat o’ dacent style,
   The blackit shoon, we noon maun fyle
            As white’s the miller:
   A waefü’ peety tae, to spile
            The warth o’ siller.



VII


   Our Marg’et, aye sae keen to crack,
   Douce-stappin’ in the stoury track,
   Her emeralt goun a’ kiltit back
            Frae snawy coats,
   White-ankled, leads the kirkward pack
            Wi’ Dauvit Groats.



VIII


   A thocht ahint, in runkled breeks,
   A’ spiled wi’ lyin’ by for weeks,
   The guidman follows closs, an’ cleiks
            The sonsie misses;
   His sarious face at aince bespeaks
            The day that this is.



IX


   And aye an’ while we nearer draw
   To whaur the kirkton lies alaw,
   Mair neebours, comin’ saft an’ slaw
            Frae here an’ there,
   The thicker thrang the gate, an’ caw
            The stour in air.



X


   But hark! the bells frae nearer clang
   To rowst the slaw, their sides they bang
   An’ see! black coats a’ready thrang
            The green kirkyaird;
   And at the yett, the chestnuts spang
            That brocht the laird.



XI


   The solemn elders at the plate
   Stand drinkin’ deep the pride o’ state:
   The practised hands as gash an’ great
            As Lords o’ Session;
   The later named, a wee thing blate
            In their expression.



XII


   The prentit stanes that mark the deid,
   Wi’ lengthened lip, the sarious read;
   Syne way a moraleesin’ heid,
            An then an’ there
   Their hirplin’ practice an’ their creed
            Try hard to square.



XIII


   It’s here our Merren lang has lain,
   A wee bewast the table-stane;
   An’ yon’s the grave o’ Sandy Blane;
            An’ further ower,
   The mither’s brithers, dacent men!
            Lie a’ the fower.



XIV


   Here the guidman sall bide awee
   To dwall amang the deid; to see
   Auld faces clear in fancy’s e’e;
            Belike to hear
   Auld voices fa’in saft an’ slee
            On fancy’s ear.



XV


   Thus, on the day o’ solemn things,
   The bell that in the steeple swings
   To fauld a scaittered faim’ly rings
            Its walcome screed;
   An’ just a wee thing nearer brings
            The quick an’ deid.



XVI


   But noo the bell is ringin’ in;
   To tak their places, folk begin;
   The minister himsel’ will shüne
            Be up the gate,
   Filled fu’ wi’ clavers about sin
            An’ man’s estate.



XVII


   The tünes are up—_French_, to be shüre,
   The faithfü’ _French_, an’ twa-three mair;
   The auld prezentor, hoastin’ sair,
            Wales out the portions,
   An’ yirks the tüne into the air
            Wi’ queer contortions.



XVIII


   Follows the prayer, the readin’ next,
   An’ than the fisslin’ for the text—
   The twa-three last to find it, vext
            But kind o’ proud;
   An’ than the peppermints are raxed,
            An’ southernwood.



XIX


   For noo’s the time whan pows are seen
   Nid-noddin’ like a mandareen;
   When tenty mithers stap a preen
            In sleepin’ weans;
   An’ nearly half the parochine
            Forget their pains.



XX


   There’s just a waukrif’ twa or three:
   Thrawn commentautors sweer to ’gree,
   Weans glowrin’ at the bumlin’ bee
            On windie-glasses,
   Or lads that tak a keek a-glee
            At sonsie lasses.



XXI


   Himsel’, meanwhile, frae whaur he cocks
   An’ bobs belaw the soundin’-box,
   The treesures of his words unlocks
            Wi’ prodigality,
   An’ deals some unco dingin’ knocks
            To infidality.



XXII


   Wi’ snappy unction, hoo he burkes
   The hopes o’ men that trust in works,
   Expounds the fau’ts o’ ither kirks,
            An’ shaws the best o’ them
   No muckle better than mere Turks,
            When a’s confessed o’ them.



XXIII


   Bethankit! what a bonny creed!
   What mair would ony Christian need?—
   The braw words rumm’le ower his heid,
            Nor steer the sleeper;
   And in their restin’ graves, the deid
            Sleep aye the deeper.



AUTHOR’S NOTE


It may be guessed by some that I had a certain parish in my eye, and this
makes it proper I should add a word of disclamation.  In my time there
have been two ministers in that parish.  Of the first I have a special
reason to speak well, even had there been any to think ill.  The second I
have often met in private and long (in the due phrase) “sat under” in his
church, and neither here nor there have I heard an unkind or ugly word
upon his lips.  The preacher of the text had thus no original in that
particular parish; but when I was a boy he might have been observed in
many others; he was then (like the schoolmaster) abroad; and by recent
advices, it would seem he has not yet entirely disappeared.





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