Prayers of Archbishop Laud for the Church

The following prayers are taken from The Private Devotions of Dr. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Martyr, edited by the Rev. Frederic(k) W. Faber, B.A., Fellow of University College, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1838, a reprint of A Summarie of Devotions, Compiled and used by Dr. William Laud, Sometime Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Now Published according to the Copy written in his own hand, and reserved in the Archives of St. John Baptist's Colledge [sic] Library in Oxon., printed by William Hall, anno Dom. 1667.

From the Preface to the 1838 reprint:

His martyrdom saved the Church at the time.  The evil spirit was cast out; and though outside her walls it raged violently, and did her much harm, yet it was not able then to re-enter, so long as his body lay across the breach.  If there are any symptoms in these days of the revival of like spirit, it may bring to our minds very fearfully those words of Jeremiah, (xxvi. 15.) which the venerable Martyr quoted so emphatically on the scaffold:

"But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears!"

Somehow these prayers seem just as apposite today as they were in the 1640s.  The "rents of the Church" are indeed grievous and "we have done wickedly," but let us pray with Archbishop Laud that God will "let not all the trouble seem little before [Him] that hath come upon us" and finally grant unto us the unity that Our Blessed Lord desires.  Ut omnes unum sint!

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O LORD, we humbly beseech thee to keep thy church and household continually in thy true religion, that they which do lean only upon hope of thy heavenly grace, may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; and that I may humbly and faithfully serve thee in this thy Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Gracious Father, I humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church, fill it will all truth, in all truth with peace.  Where it is corrupt purge it; where it is in error, direct it; where it is superstitious, rectify it; where any thing is amiss, reform it; where it is right, strengthen and confirm it; where it is in want, furnish it; where it is divided and rent asunder, make up the breaches of it; O thou Holy One of Israel.  Amen.

O merciful God, since thou has ordered me to live in these times, in which the rents of thy church are grievous, I humbly beseech thee to guide me, that the divisions of men; may not separate me either from thee or it that I may ever labour the preservation of truth and peace, that where for and by our sins the peace of it succeeds not, thou wilt yet accept my will for the deed, that I may still pray, even while thou grantest not, because I know thou wilt grant it when thou seest it fit.  In the mean time bless, I beseech thee, this Church in which I live, that in it I may honour and serve thee all the days of my life, and after this be glorified by thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

O Lord, thou hast brought a Vine out of Egypt, and planted it (Psalm lxxx. 8.); thou madest room for it, and when it had taken root and filled the land.  O why hast thou broken down her hedge, that all which go by pluck off her grapes?  The wild boar out of the wood rooteth it up, and the wild beasts of the field devour it.  O turn thee again, thou God of hosts, look down from heaven, behold, and visit this Vine, and the place of the vineyard that thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest so strong for thyself.  Lord, hear me, for Jesus Christ his sake.  Amen.

O Lord, except thou buildest the house, their labour is but lost that build it: and except thou, O Lord, keep the city, that watchman waketh but in vain.  It is but lost labour to rise early, and take late rest, and to eat the bread of carefulness (Psalm cxxvii. 1, 2.), if thou bless not the endeavours that seek the peace and welfare of thy Church.  Therefore, O Lord, build thy Church and keep it, and take care for it, that there may be no lost labour among the builders of it.

Ecclesia Angl. post Possessiones direptas. O Lord our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God; O thou which keepest covenant and mercy, let not all the trouble seem little before thee that hath come upon us, upon our priests, upon the houses built and dedicated to thy name, upon the maintenance from them that serve at thy altar, upon our kings, state, and people since that day of affliction.  Thou art just in all that is brought upon us: for thous hast done right, but we have done wickedly (Nehemiah ix. 32, 33.).  Yet, O Lord, have mercy, and turn to us again, for Jesus and his mercy sake.  Amen.

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organized the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. He is also the CEO of Three Fish Consulting, LLC, an Information Technology consultancy based in Orlando, FL. He can be reached via email at ccampbell at threefish dot co.

1 thought on “Prayers of Archbishop Laud for the Church”

  1. This is glorious. There is so much to appreciate about Laud, his deep prayer-life, his example of repentance, his Catholicism, but all we hear about is the Puritan caricature.

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