Over the course of this past Lent, we incorporated the “Prayer of Humble Access” from the Book of Common Prayer into our communion liturgy. There’s both a beauty and a rawness to that prayer, as it calls us away from all presumption and self-righteousness into a posture of dependence on the mercy of a gracious Lord. Perfect for Lent in other words.
Partway through the season, Charles Garinger wrote a new song based on that prayer. Still very confessional in tone – and fitting for the Sunday we sang it in Lent – we decided it also made sense to use it for the final Sunday in Eastertide; a Sunday on which we read in Acts of how following the Ascension the disciples and other followers placed themselves in a posture of prayerful openness and trust, as they waited for the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that the Spirit would soon come upon them. In that context, the song really speaks to the need to place ourselves in openness to the graciousness of God.
- To listen to a live recording of the song, simply press play:
Here’s the text of the original prayer, followed by the lyrics of the new song:
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, So to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
We would not presume
O Lord O Lord
To come to Your table
In our righteousness
O Lord O Lord
We would not be able
In Your mercy
Please grant us gracious Lord x3
To eat the bread
Drink the wine
Of your precious Son
O Lord O Lord x2
Make us clean…
(Charles Garinger, from the Book of Common Prayer)