THANKSGIVING DAY PRAYER

 
By the Rev. Hon. Owen Lovejoy

Hampshire Colony Congregational Church

Princeton, Illinois
November 26, 1863
Bureau County Republican, August 4, 1864
 

O, thou Most High, who ruleth among the children of men, thou who dwellest between cherubins, shine forth in to our hearts and by the influence of thy spirit bring us into harmony and sympathy with thee, our God: and aid us while we render thee thanks for thy goodness and invoke thy blessing upon ourselves and our country. We render thanks to thee, merciful Father, that thou has inclined the heart of our chief magistrate to call upon the people of the United States as one people to render thanks to God for his manifold benefits. We thank thee that we are thus for the first time, with one exception, called together to praise thee as a nation. and now, our Father as part of those people we have assembled here this morning to sing thy praise and to make mention of thy loving kindness, and recount thy mighty and beneficent acts towards the children of men. We thank thee as individuals and as families for thy kindness to us. We thank thee for thy providential dealings with us in regard to the season, and the productiveness, healthfulness and advantages which thou hast to an immeasurable degree extended over our country. We thank thee, our Heavenly Father, that thou hast thus been mindful of us that thou has supplied our returning wants, casing the fruits of the earth to grow abundantly; and thus thou art supplying the wants of every living thing.

We thank thee, our Heavenly Father, for the blessings of a civil nature which thou hast bestowed upon us as a people. We thank thee that thou has planted this nation; that thou didst sift out the just seed from the Old World and scatter it upon these shores; that thou dist bring our fathers across a difficult and stormy sea; and that though many of them perished through wants and privations, and the enmity of the savages, thou didst not allow them to be exterminated, but that thou has multiplied their number and extended their border from the river to the end of the earth, from ocean to ocean. we thank thee for our speedy and unparalleled growth among the nations of the earth. We thank thee that the forest has disappeared before the axe of the laborer, and that beautiful and happy free homes have sprung up in the path of our progress. We thank thee that so large a portion of this land has been cultivated, and that it has poured forth such abundance for men and beasts. We thank thee for that freedom of thought which we have enjoyed and which is so essential to individual and national develop0ment. We thank thee that we have been permitted to worship thee under our own vine and fig tree, that we have been permitted freedom of the press and freedom of the lips, and that the church and school house have risen wherever settlements have been made. We bless thee for all thy kindness to us.

We thank thee for the wisdom of the fathers in the formation of this government, and for the assistance thou didst render them in arriving at the great principles relating to the equality of man. We thank the for the glorious declaration which they made "that all mean are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." We thank thee for the partial practical exemplification of this truth in our land. We thank thee for the Constitution our father framed, based upon these great principles of equality among men, and which is so opposed to the despotism and aristocracy of the Old World.

Our Father, we bless thee for thy wonderful and manifold kindnesses which have followed us as a nation to the present time. We have, our Father, to lament that we have not fully obeyed the great principles which we avowed to be self-evident. We feel that we are called upon in accordance with the sentiments of the chief magistrate, to acknowledge our sins and to humble ourselves before thee. We have been guilty in that we have oppressed our fellow-man, in that we have robbed the slave of his wages, and his most valuable and sacred rights. Our Father, thou has had a controversy with us on this subject. Inasmuch as we have not proclaimed liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof, when thou didst proclaim liberty to us, we feel that thy judgements are upon us, and justly we are suffering for disregarding thy commands. Our hearts are torn with anguish in view of the terrible calamities upon us, and we feel that thou art saying to the nation, let my people go, that they may serve me, that they may enjoy their rights, which thou hast claimed for every human being. We thank thee that thy chastening hand has been so far recognized by the people of the United States, and that we have made such rapid progress in the principles of righteousness towards the slave. We pray thee to guide us and give us the victory. We thank thee that thou has shown thy kindness towards us in guiding the minds of the nation. We thank thee, our God, that thou hast given us a President who will call us together for thanksgiving, one whose integrity and honesty are above the suspicion even of his enemies. We pray thee to guide him by thy infinite wisdom. May he see the truth in regard to the claims of all to liberty and their rights. We thank thee for the success which has attended his administration. We thank thee for all the wonderful success which has attended our arms during the last twelve months--since the proclamation of freedom. We thank thee that our armies are moving forward and we thank thee for the imposing brilliancy of their repeated and important successes. Give other and new victories to our arms, we pray thee, and prosper the cause of freedom. Bless our brave soldiers who are fighting for their Government, and for the Institutions of civil and religious freedom. Our God, thou who art the Lord of hosts, mighty and terrible, lead our armies to universal victory. Grant that this unholy and causeless rebellion my be speedily and effectually put down, and that our Government may be firmly established upon the basis of universal freedom, and may this freedom be recognized and read of all men in its constitution and its laws. Our ‘Father, restore to us all that old prosperity which as a nation we have enjoyed. Our Father, we know that if we are just and true our prosperity will come back redoubled, and that we shall not only be a great and prosperous and enlightened nation, but that we shall be a holy nation. Our Father, help us to be true to thy teachings. May freedom triumph over our land. l Hasten the day when there shall not be a slave, a single human chattel in all our land. We bless thee, O God, for they mercies, so numerous that we have neither time nor strength to recount them. Be with us as a people. Visit all our rulers, all our officers, all our brave soldiers in the field and hospital, or wherever they may be, fighting or suffering for their country. The Lord bless those who have been afflicted in this war by the loss of friends. Pour into their hearts the oil of consolation. Be to them better than the friends which they have lost. Assist us in the remaining duties of this occasion; we ask it for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.