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The First Prayer In Congress

Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior. Amen.”

“O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!

Commentary: At the suggestion of Samuel Adams, the Reverend Jacob Duché, rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, delivered the opening prayer of the Continental Congress on September 7, 1774, at 9 o’clock AM. Joseph Warren, via express letters, followed events closely and sought counsel from his friend and political mentor Samuel Adams. Warren judged Duché’s address of sufficient importance signaling religious tolerance for Patriotic Anglicans, that he publicized it in the Boston press.

Joseph Warren exhibited effective leadership for the cause of American Liberty during a tumultuous month. From helping to quiet thousands of self-mobilized militia responding to the Cambridge Powder Alarm; to authoring the Suffolk Resolves; to dispatching Josiah Quincy, Jr. on a secret mission to England to rally American sympathizers there; to being part of cat-and-mouse intrigue with the British over purloined cannon; Joseph Warren seemed to be everywhere at once. The day following their passage, he dispatched Paul Revere to ride the Suffolk Resolves express to Philadelphia for a dramatic presentation to the Continental Congress. There the elegantly and rousing Resolves provided focus and were adopted enthusiastically word for word as a resolution of the Congress.

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