Holy Willie's Prayer (Poem by Robert Burns)

the Old Poems

Holy Willie's Prayer
By Robert Burns

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 gude 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 and grace,
A burnin' and a shinin' light
                    To a' this place.

What was I, or my generation,
That I should get sic exaltation,
I wha deserve sic just damnation,
                    For broken laws,
Five 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' lake,
Whar damned devils roar and yell,
                    Chain'd to a stake.

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.

But yet, O Lord! confess I must,
At times I'm fash'd wi' fleshly lust;
And sometimes, too, wi' 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 came near her,
Or else, thou kens, thy servant true
                    Wad ne'er hae steer'd her.

Maybe thou lets this fleshly thorn,
Beset thy servant e'en and morn,
Lest he owre high and proud should turn,
                    'Cause he's sae gifted;
If sae, thy han' 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
                    And public shame.

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

An' whan we chasten'd him therefore,
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 and pray'r,
Against the presbyt'ry of Ayr;
Thy strong right hand, Lord, mak 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 saul are quakin',
To think how we stood groanin', shakin',
                    And swat wi' dread,
While Auld wi' hingin lips gaed sneakin'
                    And hung his head.

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

But, Lord, remember me an 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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