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Holy Willie's Prayer

by Robert Burns

Robert Burns - Scottish Poet

O Thou, wha in the Heavens dost dwell,
Wha, as it pleases best thysel',
Sends ane to heaven and ten to hell,
A' for thy glory,
And no for ony guid or ill
They've done afore thee!

I bless and praise thy matchless might,
Whan thousands thou hast left in night,
That I am here afore thy sight,
For gifts an' grace
A burnin' an' a shinin' light,
To a' this place.

What was I, or my generation,
That I should get sic exaltation?
I, wha deserve most just damnation,
For broken laws,
Sax thousand years 'fore my creation,
Thro' Adam's cause.

When frae my mither's womb I fell,
Thou might hae plunged me in hell,
To gnash my gums, to weep and wail,
In burnin' lakes,
Where damned devils roar and yell,
Chain'd to their stakes;

Yet I am here a chosen sample,
To show thy grace is great and ample;
I'm here a pillar in thy temple,
Strong as a rock,
A guide, a buckler, an example
To a' thy flock.

O Lord, thou kens what zeal I bear,
When drinkers drink and swearers swear,
And singin' there and dancin' here,
Wi' great an' sma':
For I am keepit by thy fear
Free frae them a'.

But yet, O Lord! confess I must
At times I'm fash'd wi' fleshy lust;
An' sometimes too, in warldly trust,
Vile self gets in;
But thou remembers we are dust,
Defil'd in sin.

O Lord! yestreen, thou kens, wi' Meg-
Thy pardon I sincerely beg;
O! may't ne'er be a livin' plague
To my dishonour,
An' I'll ne'er lift a lawless leg
Again upon her.

Besides I farther maun allow,
Wi' Lizzie's lass, three times I trow-
But, Lord, that Friday I was fou,
When I cam near her,
Or else thy kens thy servant true
Wad never steer her.

May be thou lets this fleshly thorn
Beset thy servant e'en and morn
Lest her owre high and proud should turn,
That he's sae gifted;
If sae, thy hand maun e'en be borne,
Until thou lift it.

Lord, bless thy chosen in this place,
For here thou hast a chosen race;
But God confound their stubborn face,
And blast their name,
Wha bring thy elders to disgrace
An' public shame.

Lord, mind Gawn Hamilton's deserts,
He drinks an' swears, an' plays at cartes,
Yet has sae mony takin' arts
Wi' grit an' sma',
Frae God's ain priest the people's hearts
He steals awa'.

An' when we chasten'd him therefor,
Thou kens how he bred sic a splore
As set the warld in a roar
O' laughin' at us;
Curse thou his basket and his store,
Kail and potatoes.

Lord, hear my earnest cry an' pray'r,
Against thy presbyt'ry o' Ayr;
Thy strong right hand, Lord, make it bare
Upo' their heads;
Lord, weigh it down, and dinna spare,
For their misdeeds.

O Lord my God, that glib-tongu'd Aiken,
My very heart and soul are quakin',
To think how we stood sweatin', shakin',
An' piss'd wi' dread,
While he, wi' hingin' lips and snakin',
Held up his head.

Lord, in the day of vengeance try him;
Lord, visit them wha did employ him,
And pass not in thy mercy by them,
Nor hear their pray'r:
But, for thy people's sake, destroy them,
And dinna spare.

But Lord, remember me and mine
Wi' mercies temp'ral and divine,
That I for gear and grace may shine
Excell'd by nane,
And a' the glory shall be thine,
Amen, Amen!


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